cover image Holy Runaways: Rediscovering Faith After Being Burned by Religion

Holy Runaways: Rediscovering Faith After Being Burned by Religion

Matthias Roberts. Broadleaf, $25.99 (266p) ISBN 978-1-5064-8565-2

Psychotherapist Roberts (Beyond Shame) offers an impassioned exploration of “how and why we leave our faith and what happens afterward.” When a planned talk in which he intended to come out as gay was scrapped by his Christian college in his senior year, Roberts “felt something crack open inside” and began to distance himself from his conservative Christian upbringing, a process that involved challenging stubborn notions of desire as inherently sinful; probing in therapy the hurt he’d experienced at the hands of unsupportive friends and family; and acknowledging that he wanted to be in a relationship rather than remaining “gay, Christian, and celibate.” In abbreviated, sermonlike chapters that wrap personal testimony around extended metaphors (faith as a safe yet limiting concrete box is a central analogy), the author marshals personal experience, René Girard’s mimetic theory, and the theological writings of James Alison to set out fresh understandings of God, desire, and a Christian love that “can only be learned by loving the victim, the weak, the outcasts, the scapegoats.” Readers seeking substantive advice may feel shortchanged, but others will be intrigued and invigorated by Roberts’s notion that faith means “believing that getting to a place where we are all safe, welcome, and at peace is possible.” Christians who feel alienated from their church communities will find plenty of food for thought. (Oct.)