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Mended Faith: A Life of Abuse, Pain and Redemption

Cornelia Jude, with Chris Jones. Morgan James, $14.99 trade paper (129p) ISBN 978-1-68350-875-5

In this heartrending debut, blogger Jude chronicles the abuse she suffered as an adolescent, its destructive aftermath, and the power of faith and forgiveness in helping her to heal. Writing with journalist Jones, Jude gives an account of a decade in which her mother’s boyfriend abused her. The abuse began when she was 10. Two years later, Jude began using drugs, alcohol, self-harm, promiscuity, and suicide attempts to try to alleviate the pain of her secret trauma, as well as to survive her volatile family life. Jude’s adulthood continued to be filled with dysfunctional relationships (including two unhappy marriages), but she eventually found her way to God through a local church. By praying for her abuser, Jude learned that forgiveness was the key to her own healing. Each chapter includes a brief scriptural passage that relates to the author’s life. Jude helpfully encourages fellow survivors to tell their stories, even if others refuse to believe them or try to silence them. This affecting memoir will move any reader and will be of particular help to survivors of abuse looking for hope and healing. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Walking Each Other Home: Conversations on Loving and Dying

Ram Dass and Mirabai Bush. Sounds True, $24.95 (224p) ISBN 978-1-68364-200-8

“Death is a thought” begins this dreamlike book from spiritual gurus Dass and Bush that uses a bedside conversation between two close friends to explore death as a journey to oneness. Dass muses on his own impending death (he is 87) while Bush, his longtime friend, sits beside him in Maui. As much about opening up and living with love and curiosity as it is about aging and dying, the book also reprints many familiar passages from Dass’s Be Here Now. Though the overall themes are consistent with that work—live consciously, identify with the soul, forgiveness is everything—Dass and Bush cover new ground by detailing adventures with people such as Tim Leary and Aldous Huxley. They also share stories about their own experiences with friends and family dying, and their ways of exploring death with love and courage. By confronting the idea that death is a mysterious and fearful conclusion to life, Dass and Bush encourage readers to enter the depths of their fears about dying and mortality in order to create more solace in their lives. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

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True Inclusion: Creating Communities of Radical Embrace

Brendan Robertson. Chalice, $14.99 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-0-82723-718-6

Robertson (Nomad), lead pastor of Missiongathering Christian Church in San Diego, Calif., draws on his life experience to offer ideas for creating a truly inclusive faith community. After being confronted by the administration of his Bible college about his “same-sex desires,” Robertson looked elsewhere for an inclusive Christian church that pursued the “good of the silenced, marginalized, and oppressed.” Now serving as an openly gay pastor, he shares how he has confronted homophobia throughout his life in order to break down a key misunderstanding: the notion that inclusivity is about tolerating other people. For Robertson, inclusivity isn’t about toleration, but about getting to know and love those who aren’t like you. “The spirit of true inclusion,” he writes, “is one that invites the full diversity of humanity into community so that we can learn, grow, and reflect the expansive, diverse God in whose image we are made.” Robertson provides carefully selected passages from Scripture to support his claims, and also dedicates a chapter to a searing critique of patriarchy (“The Bible and our faith come from the margins... how can we not be willing to allow the perspectives of the marginalized to inform and change our interpretation of Scripture?”). This challenging treatise, intended to ruffle feathers, is a much-needed salve in the current climate of polarization. (Sept.)

Reviewed on 09/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

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The Heart of the Shaman: Stories & Practices of the Luminous Warrior

Alberto Villoldo. Hay House, $19.99 trade paper (171p) ISBN 978-1-4019-5298-3

In this enthusiastic but unwieldy work, Villoldo (Shaman, Healer, Sage), founder of the Four Winds Society shamanic healing school, encourages readers interested in becoming shamans to follow their dreams. Building on the practices covered in his previous book, Villoldo attempts to reveal the path to the “Primordial Light” (creative power of the universe) that he believes can become available to any seeker. Through the primordial light, Villoldo writes, readers can create beauty and peace, heal themselves, love others, and (most importantly) become a “luminous warrior” (one who is able to channel primordial light, even in dark times). The most interesting stories in the book are Villoldo’s anecdotes of studying and training with shamans throughout the Andes, particularly his teacher Don Manual. Readers already interested in the Four Winds Society or with previous knowledge of shamanism will enjoy Villoldo’s quirky work. However, readers new to Villoldo or shamanistic practice will find this very rough going. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 09/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

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The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity

Matthew Kelly. Eucalyptus Media, $24.95 (128p) ISBN 978-1-6358-2040-9

Kelly (Resisting Happiness), motivational speaker and founder of the online resource, community, and ministry Dynamic Catholic, fervidly calls for Christians to reclaim God’s truth about their lives. Kelly begins with two simple propositions: everyone wants to be happy, and the world at large will always present a vision of happiness that comes up short. To get out of this trap, he proposes that readers ask themselves four questions: Who am I? What am I here for? What matters most? And what matters least? Kelly’s musings on these questions always lead back to Scripture and what he considers the lies currently believed about Christianity—that Jesus and the Resurrection didn’t happen, that Christianity preys on the weak and ignorant, and that holiness isn’t possible, among others. He suggests that “Holy Moments,” defined as “an instance where you set aside self-interest, personal desire, and embrace what you believe will bring the most good to the most people in that moment,” are the answer to uniting Christians. He calls on Christians to learn from history and opines that holy moments will provide a practical approach to living authentically, allowing readers to break out (however momentarily) from the common culture of self-interest to inspire hope in others. Composed of easily understood arguments and advice, Kelly’s book will appeal to Christians looking for spiritual fortitude in an increasingly irreligious world. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 09/14/2018 | Details & Permalink

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