I Want to Be Left Behind: Finding Rapture Here on Earth

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Overview

In Brenda Peterson's picaresque memoir, Fundamentalism meets Deep Ecology. Peterson's childhood with her forest ranger father in the high Sierra led her to embrace the natural world, while at the same time, her Southern Baptist relatives prepared fervently and eagerly to leave this earthly life. Peterson survived fierce "sword drill" competitions over total recall of the Scriptures and awkward dinner table questions ("Will Rapture take the cat, too?") only to find that environmentalists with prophecies of doom ...

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I Want to Be Left Behind: Finding Rapture Here on Earth

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Overview

In Brenda Peterson's picaresque memoir, Fundamentalism meets Deep Ecology. Peterson's childhood with her forest ranger father in the high Sierra led her to embrace the natural world, while at the same time, her Southern Baptist relatives prepared fervently and eagerly to leave this earthly life. Peterson survived fierce "sword drill" competitions over total recall of the Scriptures and awkward dinner table questions ("Will Rapture take the cat, too?") only to find that environmentalists with prophecies of doom can also be Endtimers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Booklist, 12/1/09
“[An] unusually affecting and radiant spiritual memoir… Peterson seeks a meeting of church and earth in this witty, enrapturing account of a spiritual journey of great relevance to us all.”

Kirkus Reviews, 12/1/09
“The author offers a selective memoir that blends her unique autobiography with compassionate and levelheaded observations about family, food, religion, life and our relationships with living things…Peterson has a gift for describing her life’s many adventures with disarming understatement and narrative poise.”

Library Journal, 11/5/09
“This tender, lyrical account of turning away from her religious roots starts with the painful realization that there is no place in a fundamentalist heaven for her beloved animals and the growing sense that her love of the natural world is antithetical to those eagerly anticipating the Rapture. Charting her evolution into an environmental writer of fiction and nonfiction, Peterson always seeks common ground, eschewing fundamentalism of all kinds, whether religious or environmental.”

Publishers Weekly, 1/11/10
“Talk of the rapture surrounds Peterson, and she engages this conversation with delicacy, humor, frustration, and, at times, a begrudging respect, in this memoir.”

City Arts Seattle, February 2010
“Peterson’s I Want to Be Left Behind is a tonic, the least acridly dogmatic of the new God books, pro or con...Her book has humor, which the divine debate could use more of. Instead of another volley in the God wars, her book can be seen as a kind of peace offering. She makes you think maybe everybody is in more harmony than they think.”

Los Angeles Times, 1/31/10
“It is a rich and often lovely life—full of humor and Peterson’s own unique brand of faith.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer, 1/31/10
“Lovely, irreverent humor…Her journey is fascinating, and when she writes about spiritual revelation through nature, she’s captivating...We are left with a good feeling: it is possible to have meaningful discussions with people we don’t agree with and still love them."

Huffington Post, 2/10/10
“With this luminous, surprising memoir, Brenda Peterson completes her own assignment, giving us a story where no one is killed, dismissed, or left behind, where empathy is not only possible but imperative, where rapture can be ours here and now.”

Hudson Valley News, 2/3/10
“A thought-provoking, beautifully written and challenging memoir.”

North Kitsap Sun, 2/14/10
“[A] comedic spiritual memoir.”

Seattle Times, 2/14/10
“[A] thoughtful, witty meditation…Peterson has distilled her life experiences to create the sense of a woman on an idiosyncratic spiritual journey.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer, 2/18/10
“Lovely, irreverent humor…[Peterson’s] journey is fascinating, and when she writes about spiritual revelation through nature, she’s captivating.”

Harborwalk Books, in the Columbus Dispatch, 2/28/10
“At once precocious and thoughtful, [Peterson] weaves her way through the contradictions of growing up to find her own spiritual place in the world. ‘Glowing’ would not be too strong of an adjective for this book!”

The Center of Progressive Christianity website, 3/9/10
“Talk of the rapture…surrounds Peterson, and she engages this conversation with delicacy, humor, frustration, and, at times, a begrudging respect, in this memoir about growing up among Southern Baptists and not quite fitting in.”

HistoryWire.com, 3/8/10
“In a memoir that is truly sui generis, veteran author Brenda Peterson humorously recounts the dynamic tension between her nature-loving parents and her Southern Baptist relatives… [A] big hearted book... Peterson’s memoir is more even-handed than Pollyanish, as she critiques both evangelicalism and holier-than-thou environmentalism. Through it all, the author expresses her deep love and appreciation for nature.

Christian Science Monitor, 3/15/10
“Peterson wraps her story in down-home warmth and a quick wit…Peterson’s stories are gems.”

Miami Herald, 3/21/10
“[An] outstanding memoir…[Peterson’s] vivid imagination combined with a lilting writing style make the book a pleasure to read.” 

Spirituality and Practice website, 3/22/10
“[A] well-written and consistently compelling spiritual memoir.”

Portland Oregonian, 4/4/10
“[Peterson] merges her quest for spirituality with her love of nature…[She] writes with gentle humor of being a stranger in her own family, while highlighting both the beauty and the holiness of our physical world.”

Curled Up With a Good Book, June 2010

“An often pointed, sometimes funny but always thoughtful history of a young girl's quiet rebellion against the noisy (to her) faith of her family.”

Publishers Weekly
Talk of the rapture—the ascent to heaven of true Christians before the end of the world—surrounds Peterson (Duck and Cover), and she engages this conversation with delicacy, humor, frustration, and, at times, a begrudging respect, in this memoir about growing up among Southern Baptists and not quite fitting in. Peterson’s story is told through what is really a series of vignettes, tied together by two themes, faith and the environment. She looks back at her childhood, college, and then adulthood, stopping here and there, selecting scenes from her life that show why she finds God outdoors, and why the rapture-obsessed family and community of her youth quickly loses its appeal. Her love for this world and everything in it is far greater than any promise of salvation apart from and above it. Readers interested in a story about leaving behind theologically conservative Christianity and other types of extremism will find Peterson’s collection of anecdotes and remembered conversations engaging. The chapters can be read on their own, and her prologue, “The Trumpet Shall Sound,” and chapter “In the Garden” are among the best. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews
An environmentalist writer's lifelong struggle with her evangelical roots. Given her career of writing passionately about nature and her ecological activism, one might think that Peterson (Animal Heart, 2004, etc.) was reared in a family of liberal environmentalists. In fact, her household was just the opposite: fundamentalist, Southern Baptist, and evangelical to the core. She began to doubt her place in God's Christian army from a young age, when her pensive questions about animals' souls and the afterlife got her kicked out of Sunday School and regularly rebuked at the family dinner table. She could never come to terms with the way that Christian fundamentalists, who considered themselves "in this world but not of it," could fixate on a future in heaven while disregarding the beauty and fragility here on earth. This dangerous backwardness was most appalling in her father, who eventually headed of the U.S. Forestry Service. It wasn't until well after college, newly recovered from a harrowing stint as an editorial staffer at the New Yorker, that Peterson learned to hold her own with her boisterous, highly conservative relatives. After years spent on the West Coast among liberals supposedly more like herself, Peterson began to recognize parallels between the rigid fundamentalism of End Times evangelists and the doomsday environmentalist camp. Both dwelled on the negative and used fear of annihilation as their main conversion tactic, and neither could satisfy her longing for a spiritual home in the natural world. By keeping the thread of her theme running consistently throughout the book, the author offers a selective memoir that blends her unique autobiography with compassionate andlevelheaded observations about family, food, religion, life and our relationships with living things. Whether rabble-rousing at Baptist summer camp or guarding seal pups by the Salish Sea, Peterson has a gift for describing her life's many adventures with disarming understatement and narrative poise. Author tour to Seattle and Portland, Ore. Agent: Sarah Jane Freymann/Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780306818042
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press
  • Publication date: 2/2/2010
  • Pages: 277
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Brenda Peterson
Brenda Peterson is the author of 18 books, including the novel, Duck and Cover, a New York Times "Notable Book of the Year, which the Los Angeles Timescalled "hauntingly funny."
Her first memoir, Build Me an Ark: A Life with Animals, was selected as a Best Spiritual Book of the Year. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, NPR, and Oprah magazine.
Peterson lives on Seattle's Salish Sea.
www.BrendaPetersonBooks.com
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Table of Contents

Prologue: The Trumpet Shall Sound 1

Pt. 1 My Old Testament

1 Shall We Gather at the River? 11

2 Helmet of Salvation, Sword of Spirit 31

3 Render to Them Their Desserts 48

4 Spirit of the Beasts 71

5 I've Cot a Home in Glory Land 91

6 Then Are the Children Free 113

7 I Love to Tell the Story 135

8 In the Garden 161

Pt. 2 My New Testament

9 The Way of the Sea 185

10 Fire from Heaven 213

11 When We All Get to Heaven 235

12 Song in a Strange Land 248

Epilogue: We Shall All Be Changed 260

Acknowledgments 273

About the Author 277

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 8, 2010

    Me Too

    A very entertaining read. Coming from a Southern Baptist background myself, I could relate. However, no religious affilation is needed to appreciate the warmth, humour and honesty with which this is written. This is not a mean spirited book, but a loving, honest tale of family dynamics and spiritual growth. I want to be left behind also as long as I can have lots of Brenda Peterson's books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2013

    Me too

    I want to be left behind to help those who do not know jesus christ.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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