sex and the Church, two book reviews

Here are a couple church-related recent book reviews. I tend to gravitate toward the ex-evangelical genre, as these two wonderful books attest.

Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke FreePure: Inside the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free by Linda Kay Klein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was a revelation for me! I thought I knew most of what there was to know about the purity movement in the Evangelical world, having grown up in that culture right before it took off. But no, there was so much in that world that affected me and I didn’t even realize it.

Particularly, so much of that trauma resides in the body, without you realizing it. The book’s subtitle is “Inside the Evangelical Movement that Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free.” But as a man, the book was extremely relevant to me still. For instance, the portions delving into shame about one’s body and thoughts, and the false ideals of Christian relationships.

I appreciated that the book was filled with real world accounts from people who survived purity culture. They made the topic more relevant and personal.

I also was very pleased to hear the author talk about Our Whole Lives, the curriculum from UU and UCC.

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Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics--and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) AnywaySex, Mom, and God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics–and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway by Frank Schaeffer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I feel I relate to Frank’s stories so much. This one is not for everyone. It’s rambling and way too confessional in that perpetual teenaged sex-crazed boy way. And yet it’s his frankness (pun intended) that I find endearing. He’s not sugarcoating his experiences or unhealthily downplaying his struggles. That was what he would have done in his former Evangelical days. Instead now, he’s living a fuller, more genuine life outside that old church world.

There’s a large section in the middle which tackles abortion rights in a way I hadn’t heard before, regarding how Roe v Wade came about and it’s implications for progressive politics. I found it very compelling and challenging.

The final two chapters and epilogue are beautiful, classic Frank Schaeffer. He talks about apophatic theology, given his new path in life as an Eastern Orthodox convert. It’s not the path, as he would say, but a path. This resonates with me.

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