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Becoming Myself: A Woman's Journey of Transformation by Stasi Eldredge (4 stars)
I reviewed this here.

Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee (5 stars)
Torn arrived on my doorstep the same day DOMA and Prop 8 were repealed. Talk about timely. From page one, I was riveted. By sharing his own story bravely and honestly, Justin Lee stands as proof that you can be gay AND a Christian. In the context of his personal journey, he examines evangelical "ex-gay" programs, the difference between orientation and behavior, the problem with "love the sinner, hate the sin," the real meat of what the Bible says on these issues, and much more. I have reservations about some of his conclusions, and think there's more to this Biblically than just the verses that speak directly about homosexuality. However, I feel a growing compassion for gay people of all faiths and non-faiths, and have wished for a way for gays and Christians to be on the same "side." This book points us toward that way.

Most of all, I related to Justin's heart as he struggled to reconcile his unwanted homosexuality with his devout faith. While I'm straight as can be, I went through a similar emotional and spiritual process when I got divorced. I consumed every Christian book, sermon, and Biblical commentary I could get my hands on about the topic, ashamed of this new label that I didn't ask for and had actively fought, afraid that I was derailing my life and my testimony. Because of that common experience, I feel certain that whether you agree with Justin or not, he's coming from a place of wanting to honor God, even if it costs him. Bottom line, read this book. I don't think it's hyperbole to say (along with the book) that the future of the American Church partly rests on how we respond to this issue. It's not going away anytime soon.

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez (3 stars)
Carmen is an internationally known violinist competing for the Guarneri prize, the most prestigious honor in her field. Her mother, a former opera singer whose promising career was cut short, has molded and managed her entire life to prepare her for this moment. Now, at 18, Carmen is suddenly aware that she's just a passive participant in her own life and career. Her realizations are complicated further when she falls in love with her competition, Jeremy King, a virtuoso just like her. I flew through this novel and think any professional musician would love it.

Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton (5 stars)
A selection from my writing class, this book is a documented year in the life of a poet living alone in a New England country house in the 1960s. It's mostly her musings about the craft of writing, the problems and blessings of being a creative person and/or a single homeowner, and anecdotes about her garden and animals. As others have noted, she also expresses views that were pretty brave and radical for the time. For better or worse, I often felt like Sarton was describing my own life. Something resonated with me on every single page. I give this five stars not because it's brilliant (though it often is), but for my own personal connection with it at this particular time. It encouraged and inspired me while also warning me away from some things I don't want to become. (PS – Despite this glowing review, I was really traumatized by what happened to the farm cats at the end of the book. It was a terrible twist ending!)

Books for July: 4
2013 year to date: 41

Date: 2013-08-01 04:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moredetails.livejournal.com
I'm always curious when the stars don't seem to match the review, so now I'm wondering what you didn't like about Virtuosity. :) Explain yourself, woman!

Date: 2013-08-01 06:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chestnutcurls.livejournal.com
Nothing in particular! I just didn't LOVE it. But I have been freer with my 4- and 5-star reviews lately. I used to think I shouldn't give anything 5 stars unless it was in, like, my top 10 EVER, but then I decided that was silly.

Date: 2013-08-01 07:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] moredetails.livejournal.com
Yeah, I love reading people's ratings, but I can't bring myself to do it. I'm too worried about being consistent, and figure I'd constantly be inaccurate. I guess I don't even know which books I would consider 5 stars to compare things to!

Date: 2013-08-01 08:11 pm (UTC)
ext_33795: (Default)
From: [identity profile] katharhino.livejournal.com
Oooh, I'm so happy you read "Torn" too, and your reaction was pretty much the same as mine (aside from the divorce parallel, of course). I was so impressed with how genuine Justin Lee seemed. I don't see how anyone could read it and not think he's a faithful Christian no matter how much you might disagree with him. I still need to post more about that book sometime.

Date: 2013-08-02 01:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chestnutcurls.livejournal.com
Well put. I think everyone should read it for a lot of reasons, but mainly because he's so genuine that you can't possibly put gay Christians in a box or feel removed from them after "getting to know" him.

Date: 2013-08-01 09:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hestergray.livejournal.com
I'm so glad you recommended Torn! I'm about halfway through it right now. It is a very compelling book! The gays vs. Christians issue is one that I have certain ties to, sort of indirectly. The denomination I grew up in, Disciples of Christ, passed a resolution a few weeks ago to be an open and affirming denomination. My sister Ellen was ordained in that denomination about a year and a half ago. This is a must-read for her! I was surprised she hadn't heard of it yet when I asked her.

Date: 2013-08-02 01:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chestnutcurls.livejournal.com
In that case, she should definitely read it!! I remember you mentioned that she was ordained and meant to ask you more about it, but I forgot.

Date: 2013-08-01 11:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] annabanana86.livejournal.com
I feel certain that whether you agree with Justin or not, he's coming from a place of wanting to honor God, even if it costs him.


And YESSSSSSSS. I think much of the reality, survival, and active effectiveness-in-society-for-Christ in the American church does depend on this issue. Until people know us as loving MORE instead of knowing us for hating, it's not going to get better. :-\

Date: 2013-08-02 01:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chestnutcurls.livejournal.com
Right. Like I just told Katharine, he puts a very sympathetic face on it. It's easy to emotionally remove yourself from an issue when it's only an issue to you, but when you look at it on an individual level, it becomes a lot more real.

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