exercises in compound storytelling

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Girl Meets God

No she doesn't. Not really. But then, Girl converts to one religion, waits a while, then converts to another religion isn't really a snappy book title.

My sister sent me Lauren Winner's memoir a while back, but I didn't get around to reading it until a few months ago. There's a good summary of the story here, thanks to Amy Wellborn.

There just aren't enough of these spiritual memoirs, especially written by ordinary people, which Lauren Winner was when she wrote this. She's currently faculty at Duke Divinity School, and so I suppose qualifies for "professional Christian" status. There are sections of this book that are just brilliant, and I may return to these at some point. Others could have been dropped altogether without harming the basic stories: one being the cycle of one year from (I think) Advent to Advent, the other being Winner's spiritual journey from Reformed Judaism to Orthodox Judaism to Christianity (Anglican and Episcopal) and her ambiguous return to Judaism, sort of, at the end of the book.

She draws a parallel I hadn't read before between the Talmudic tradition in Orthodox Judaism and the liturgical/credal tradition within mainline Christianity: the cycle of the liturgical year, the use of the Book of Common Prayer, the holidays, the recitations of various religious formulas. I hate to say it, but the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth: both traditions come across as being closed, self-congratulatory, and frankly stale.

I may track down her other books (I'm hoping Mudhouse Sabbath turns out to be a sequel of sorts), but probably not.

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Sara Z. said...

Mudhouse Sabbath isn't really a sequel, but I think I actually liked it better than GMG. It sort of takes a bunch of traditions from Judaism and reframes them through a gospel lens.

MDSF said...

Thanks Sara.

Did I miss something, or did Girl Meets God just kind of tail off at the end?

I was kind of disappointed at how un-Jesus-y she turned out to be.

The handful of summaries of Mudhouse Sabbath say pretty much what you're saying, except that she focused on the idea of keeping the Sabbath (hence the title, I guess, the other part being a coffee house in Charlottesville).