cover image Born Again and Again: Surprising Gifts of a Fundamentalist Childhood

Born Again and Again: Surprising Gifts of a Fundamentalist Childhood

Jon M. Sweeney, . . Paraclete, $19.95 (173pp) ISBN 978-1-55725-431-3

It is refreshing to read a book by an ex-fundamentalist who is not bitter. Sweeney, associate publisher of Paraclete Press, writes fondly of his parents' faith with its emphasis on personal experience, scripture, right doctrine, mission and the power of words. Even in religiously charged Wheaton, Ill., he must have been an unusually devout youngster. "Sunday afternoons I would close my door and strip my action figures naked, leaving Batman, Aquaman, and G.I. Joe to hang on crosses of my own design, easy to create with Lincoln Logs.... I would sit quietly gazing at them, thinking on Jesus and his sacrifice, praying with as deep a sorrow as I could muster." In his teens, experiencing other cultures and other approaches to God, the budding mystic felt at odds with fundamentalism's certainties; by his mid-20s he no longer identified with his childhood subculture. And yet he still acknowledges its "surprising gifts": "Fundamentalism taught me that it is possible to stir the soul, to rouse our affections, conscience, emotions, will, and intellect by an earnest approach to matters of faith." Fundamentalists and those who love them will appreciate Sweeney's abiding affection for the faith he left, while those who fear the religious right may be relieved to discover that it has a gentle side. (Sept.)