Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis

Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis

3.5 6
by Lauren F. Winner
     
 

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Following up her highly acclaimed Girl Meets God, author Lauren F. Winner has written an engrossing reflection of literary grace and spiritual wisdom with Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis.

As she lives through a failed marriage and the loss of her mother, Winner finds her Christian faith slipping away. Through reading religious works and tomes

Overview

Following up her highly acclaimed Girl Meets God, author Lauren F. Winner has written an engrossing reflection of literary grace and spiritual wisdom with Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis.

As she lives through a failed marriage and the loss of her mother, Winner finds her Christian faith slipping away. Through reading religious works and tomes and being counseled by leaders of the church, she learns she must find the courage to trust in God in order to to find His presence.

Elegantly written and profound, Still offers reflections on how murky and gray the spiritual life can be while, at the same time, shows us how to see the light we do encounter more clearly.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In present-tense, lyrical essays of varying lengths, some brief paragraphs, others pages long, the author explores her emotional landscape as she struggles to move beyond the depression that plagues her following her mother’s death and her own divorce. Examining feelings of grief, failure, and doubt that she never expected to encounter after her conversion from Judaism to Christianity, Winner’s (Girl Meets God) use of rhythm and image bring poetic nuances to her exquisitely crafted prose. Narrative accounts of visiting her mother’s grave; “the failed cool-professor moment;” infiltrating a synagogue, in costume, to participate in Purim; and a church visit that results in her holding hands with “one of the people from whom Jesus would have cast a demon” all provide an intimate window into a seeker trying to find equilibrium in a stage of faith and life that is neither beginning nor end, but, she fears, “an extended sojourn into the spiritual equivalent of middle school.” Evocative section titles (“hospitality: an icon,” “female saints, their intimacy with Jesus”) and quotes from poets, theologians, and friends prove inviting, while a circumspect honesty conveys both intimacy and privacy. Author interview included. (Feb.)
Christianity Today (Christianity Today 2013 Book Award
“Despite deep pain and doubt, Winner relentlessly searches God’s mysteries, seeking peace and authenticity in her faith. Her spiritual memoir is unblinking, credible, and compelling.”
the Oprah Magazine O
“Titles to pick up now... Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis: insights on spiritual uncertainty from a devout Christian convert.”
Library Journal
Winner (Duke Divinity Sch.; Girl Meets God: On the Path to a Spiritual Life; Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity) has a knack for a certain kind of candor in both her titles and her topics. This latest finds Winner in the aftermath of a typically painful divorce, coming up against an equally painful wall in her faith. Compulsively readable, direct yet never indiscreet, Winner's book shows intelligence and verve as it seriously addresses the spiritual crises around God's apparent absence or silence, as faced by many. VERDICT A must-have for Winner's readers and fans of Anne Lamott, this title is recommended for educated readers as well as people of faith somewhere in midlife.
Kirkus Reviews
Duke Divinity School professor Winner (A Cheerful and Comfortable Faith: Anglican Religious Practice in the Elite Households of Eighteenth-Century Virginia, 2008, etc.) examines her struggle to keep her faith. In a previous memoir, Girl Meets God (2002), the author detailed her religious conversion to Orthodox Judaism and then Christianity. A decade and a divorce later, she looks at her Episcopalian life post-conversion. Shaken by her failed marriage and her mother's death, Winner found herself in what she characterizes as an unsettling "middle" moment, "when the things you thought you knew about the spiritual life turn out not to suffice for the life you are actually living." Throughout this provocative memoir, Winner maintains her insistent deflection of the personal. She claims the book is neither a "manual for ‘getting through' the middle," nor a "defense of Christianity," nor a memoir--"it is not consistently storied enough to count, by my lights, as a memoir." Yet the book's most poignant moments are those obviously gleaned from intimate self-reflection or personal experience. While these "notes" may not adhere to the tight chronology characteristic of many memoirs, they do outline a linear spiritual progression common to Christian belief. These kinds of introspective works only succeed when the authors own their doubts and inspiration, which Winner does here, try as she might to claim otherwise. Note, for example, this evocative passage on the plight of losing the ability to pray: "when you don't know what you believe…prayer sounds like a barefoot hike from Asheville to Paris: it would be nice if you got there, you are sure there is a nice glass of wine and a nice slice of brie waiting for you at some café somewhere, but there is really no way you can imagine actually making the walk." Second-person posturing and Lady Macbeth protestations aside, an open, honest contemplation of a spiritual impasse.
O: the Oprah Magazine
“Titles to pick up now... Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis: insights on spiritual uncertainty from a devout Christian convert.”
Sara Miles
“Lauren Winner’s brave, spare, and subtle book is a great gift to the church. She lifts up doubt and absence with enough honesty to reveal the unfinished edges, and the radiance, of faith itself.”
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove
“Winner grabs God’s hiddenness by the shoulders and will not let go. She knows the grace that can only be learned when we stand with Moses, staring into the raging waters, and hear a voice say, ‘The LORD will fight for you; you need only to stand still.”
Philip Yancey
“Still water reveals depth—as does this account of ordinary life and what lies beneath.”
N.T. Wright
“An unusually painful story, told with rare honesty by an unusually gifted writer.”
Christianity Today
“Despite deep pain and doubt, Winner relentlessly searches God’s mysteries, seeking peace and authenticity in her faith. Her spiritual memoir is unblinking, credible, and compelling.”
Booklist
“Elegantly written . . . eminently readable.”
Shelf Awareness
“Winner writes thoughtfully and eloquently about finding herself in the middle and accepting her place there.”
Relevant Magazine
“Lauren Winner’s prose is insightful, honest and always right on point. In each best-selling book, the Duke professor reclaims previously cliché-laden topics and has developed a new vocabulary for a generation fed up with conventional answers.”
Beliefnet Editors
“Soft and vulnerable, yet blunt and veracious . . . If you’re a lover of books like Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott or any other writers who are not afraid to unveil their imperfections in hopes of finding kindred spirits, then take this walk with Winner.”
Worship Leader Magazine
“Not for the faint-hearted, Winner’s book not only undresses and confronts doubt, but imparts new courage to trust God through it.”
Christian Century
“In an age when it is much easier to make fun of the church than to love it ... Winner has made the church a main character so honestly drawn that we recognize it ... treasure it and laugh in amazement that God can work with it. Still.”
Washington Post
Still is about losing the connection to God, or Jesus, and then getting that connection back.”
The Washington Post
“Winner possesses a flair for narrative and a willingness to use her life’s story as an easel. . . . Like Anne Lamott (Traveling Mercies), or Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love), Winner is at her best spinning small but hopeful meditations on life’s imperfections.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061768118
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
01/31/2012
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are saying about this

Philip Yancey

“Still water reveals depth—as does this account of ordinary life and what lies beneath.”

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

“Winner grabs God’s hiddenness by the shoulders and will not let go. She knows the grace that can only be learned when we stand with Moses, staring into the raging waters, and hear a voice say, ‘The LORD will fight for you; you need only to stand still.”

N.T. Wright

“An unusually painful story, told with rare honesty by an unusually gifted writer.”

Sara Miles

“Lauren Winner’s brave, spare, and subtle book is a great gift to the church. She lifts up doubt and absence with enough honesty to reveal the unfinished edges, and the radiance, of faith itself.”

Meet the Author

Lauren F. Winner is an ordained Episcopal priest and the author of numerous books, including Girl Meets God, Real Sex, Mudhouse Sabbath, and Still, which won the Christianity Today Book Award in Spirituality. She teaches at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Books & Culture, and other periodicals.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Charlottesville, Virginia
Date of Birth:
October 13, 1976
Place of Birth:
Asheville, North Carolina
Education:
B.A., Columbia University, 1997; M.A., Cambridge University, 1999

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Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
resurgence27 More than 1 year ago
Not as strong a narrative as Girl Meets God -- but somehow more beguiling. The book sneaks up on you, and just when you're feeling a bit rudderless for how (understandably) cagey Winner is being about the circumstances surrounding her divorce, the little gorgeous moments begin to accrue -- the epiphanies with their roots not in certainties or conscious, and demanding, responses from God or from Scripture (one is reminded of the speaking-in-tongues section in Girl Meets God), but rather in the act of humbling oneself, of making room for Christ to do what he will in us, on whatever timetable, however mysteriously. When she writes, for instance, of one's loneliness as an environment that Christ might inhabit or about Dickinson's poems reflecting a a relationship with Christ deeper and richer than scholars tend to recognize, I found myself thrilling at the observations and what those observations might mean for me.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
In her critically-acclaimed memoir Girl Meets God, Lauren F. Winner explores her religious identity as she made the transition from Judaism to Christianity. A thought-provoking glimpse into 21st century religion, Winner was praised as "insatiable, and dauntless, in her search for religious truth at whatever the personal cost" by the New York Times. In Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, Lauren offers readers a quietly powerful and fiercely honest exploration of love, loss and what it means to land at the "middle stage" of the spiritual life. Taking her spiritual quest even deeper, she navigates difficult new terrain as she confronts the spiritual aftermath of personal tragedy. At a time of crisis - grieving her mother's death, navigating a painful divorce - Lauren finds that she is mourning her faith as well. She hasn't lost sight of God entirely, but she's watching him gradually fade away. She offers us a "picture of the end of darkness, of the stumbling out of the darkness into something new." I received Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis compliments of Authors On The Web for my honest review and have to say, no matter where we are at in our religious beliefs, we've all come to a place where we find ourselves in the middle. Whether we are waiting on answers for prayer, looking for water in the desert when we find ourselves parched and searching, we all hit our dry spells. This is just the point that Lauren takes the readers into her personal life. Between experiencing the newness of finding God and the moment when we find ourselves just accepting life as it is, until we can find our way back to God at some point. An interesting look at something most Christians don't share in their walk with others this is a refreshing look at things from a different perspective not often talked about and for that reason I rate this a 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ever since I saw Lauren Winner, in crazy looking spectacles, followed around by a mob of adoring, menopausal church ladies after a Calvin College lecture, I have wondered what her appeal was, and if I was missing something. I read STILL; and I STILL wonder. What is the appeal? I'm not at all surprised that she got divorced...I thought she was aloof and took herself very seriously. My opinion has not changed. STILL was as tedfiius read. While some if the recipes shed talked about made me hungry, she certainly didn't make the Christian life seem like anything I would want to mess with. Oh well, there's a B&N gift card I'll never get back.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The writing was beautiful as always, but it was particularly helpfuj since I am also in a middle. It doesn't give answers, it gives us an honest view of someon walking through a period qhere God feels absent.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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