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An NPR Best Book of 2017
"Rowe deftly juxtaposes dark humor with raw emotion without ever yanking the reader out of the story." The Guardian
As a young girl, Maggie Rowe took the idea of salvation very seriously. Growing up in a moderately religious household, her fear of eternal damnation turned into a childhood terror that drove her to become an outrageously dedicated Born-again Christian regularly slinging Bible verses in cutthroat scripture memorization competitions and assaulting strangers at shopping malls with the “good news” that they were going to hell.
Finally, at nineteen, crippled by her fear, she checked herself in to an Evangelical psychiatric facility. And that is where her journey really began. Surrounded by a ragtag cast of characters, including a former biker meth-head struggling with anger management issues, a set of identical twins tormented by erotic fantasies, a World War II veteran and artist of denial who insists that he’s only “locked up for a tune-up,” and a warm and upbeat chronic depressive who becomes the author’s closest ally, Maggie launches a campaign to, in the words of Martin Luther, “Sin bravely in order to know the forgiveness of God.”
Told in a voice both funny and heartfelt, Sin Bravely is a tour de force, voice-driven debut that examines how one woman finally found the middle ground between Heaven and Hell.
|Publisher:||Soft Skull Press, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
For the last fifteen years, Maggie Rowe has performed in and produced the Comedy Central stage show sitnspin, Los Angeles’ longest running spoken word, having taken over the reigns from creator Jill Soloway in 2002. She has written for Arrested Development and Flaked for Netflix. She co-wrote the screenplay for and directed the New Age religious mockumentary “Bright Day” and is the creator of the theatrical satires Hollywood Hellhouse and Hollywood Purity Ball. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, writer Jim Vallely.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 One Condition 3
Chapter 2 Peas in a Pod 25
Chapter 3 Bigger Than You Think 37
Chapter 4 Don't the Trees Look Like Crucified Thieves? 53
Chapter 5 Dreams 67
Chapter 6 Unequal Yoke 73
Chapter 7 First Day 89
Chapter 8 Bad Thoughts and Rubber Bands 105
Chapter 9 Unholy Desires 117
Chapter 10 Family and Friends 127
Chapter 11 Scrupulosity 135
Chapter 12 Junior God Badge 143
Chapter 13 God Picture 151
Chapter 14 Unpardonable 167
Chapter 15 Feast 183
Chapter 16 Girls' Night 195
Chapter 17 Morning Has Broken 207
Chapter 18 Sin Bravely 217
Chapter 19 Lookers 227
Chapter 20 Unresolved 243
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (1/18) “Sin Bravely: A Memoir of Spiritual Disobedience” by Maggie Rowe is the hilarious yet heartfelt story of the author’s struggles with salvation and the fear of damnation. Her literal interpretation of the Bible sets her on a whirlwind journey full of disillusion and anxiety. By the age of 19, Rowe is convinced she will be condemned to eternal punishment in hell, and checks herself into a Christian psychiatric facility, hoping to finally find the answers she needs in order to save her soul. The opening text produces the intensity with which Rowe struggles with her fears. While viewing a painting of Jesus she declares, “Jesus’s eyes seem kind, but I will not let myself be fooled,” (pg. 3). Going on to state that she knows Jesus could “turn” on her at any moment – it is Rowe’s inner thoughts that hold her hostage as indeed, she is her own worst demon. Unwilling or unable to accept her soul is saved, she repeats the Sinner’s Prayer, (which guarantees salvation) over and over throughout the course of her life, almost as a kind of insurance – just in case it didn’t “take” the first few thousand times. Little lyrical moments like this take the story to a level quite above anything I have read in a long time. The writing is absolutely brilliant, and I found myself hanging on every sentence – no, every word, eager to consume the wit and creativity that flows through Rowe seemingly effortlessly. Her ability to precisely describe her inner turmoil with the irreconcilable contradictions she obsesses over, really hits home and drives the story, and I was more than a little sad when I got to the final page. And the characters – they are oh-my-God hysterical! Maggie’s comrades at the psych unit will leave you breathless from their side-splitting antics and somewhat disturbing personalities. A sampling of her gang includes a former biker and meth-head, a set of twins that can’t stop their obsessive sexual compulsions for their mother, and a manic depressive woman who becomes Maggie’s best friend. All of the characters are genuine and relatable, even in their quirkiest and most frightening moments. Rowe really pulls you directly inside their minds as they navigate the road of spiritual enlightenment. Bethanie, one of the therapists, is so incredulous you just want to wring her neck as she unwittingly incites total frustration and hopelessness into her patients. “Sin Bravely: A Memoir of Spiritual Disobedience” by Maggie Rowe is an exceptional read full of wit, drama, insight and inspiration. This genuine, shining memoir will have you laughing out loud, all the while contemplating the condition of your own eternal soul, whether you believe or not. It is truly a five-star-must-read experience.
A comedic and endearing memoir of a woman's sincere quest to confront difficult questions about her faith and resolve personal struggles. Maggie Rowe with much depth, clarity and cleverness, communicates her anxieties and fears about her spiritual health and future as a Christian. Literalism and symbolism can be a two-edge sword, stabbing deep into a person's soul and in the spirit of Martin Luther's 'pecca fortiter' - sin bravely - Maggie attempts to reconcile an equilibrium she can live with. Her quest started unofficially as a little girl with an over-active conscience living in a moderately christian home. And like "The Simpson's" character "Flanders", becomes the bane of stale christian exposition that, at a minimum, doesn't properly feed a christian's mental and spiritual development. Growing into a young woman, she finds that the mold or "way a young lady should act" placed by disconnected, ill-defined christian ethics, no longer suits her. What results is a ship-wrecked conscience and an almost toxic anxiety disorder. Enter a certain christian counseling center she admits herself too, where the 'fun' begins, as we are introduced to a gallery of other struggling christian's. Maggie and gallery work through their issues in an imperfect institution, that at times seems as helpful as a magic 8-ball, with text-book diagnosis that completely miss the mark. The majority of her memoir takes residence here, which she captures with great insight and comedic touch - leaving behind, on the whole, a thought-provoking critique. "Sin Bravely" is definitely one of the better, honest explorations of the christian faith. As a christian, I appreciated some of the unanswered curiosities of theology presented in this book, that has brake-checked her faith and mine at times. And although the final 'event' of her memoir, is completely counter to christian teaching and probably her self-esteem, she does what she does if only to draw from God the grace of His forgiveness. Note for the sensitive crowd: there's use of graphic language and descriptions of sex; not mild, but not excessive, either.