Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis

Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren Winner: A Week of Reviews

This all feels as deliberate as the many-valenced title of the book. The structure is still perhaps more easily grasped than the content. I read a review of Still where the writer complained that he felt Winner was lying to her audience, lying to herself, throughout, particularly when she writes about her dead mother and "how little I long for her; how rarely I think about her She even says so two paragraphs earlier," when describing her father describing her mother: I was not always certain if she was telling me the truth," to which Winner herself responds: It has taken me years years of deep failure, and years of living in my own spiritual middle to appreciate her uncertainty, to recognize that uncertainty as a place that many of us come to inhabit and -- if we are lucky, if we are loved -- move through.

I am glad that Lauren Winner meets me there.

In the middle, you feel alone, a little bored, confused about which direction to go, even unsure you're capable of going in any direction. Winner's approach to her faith and her experience of God have clearly changed, and she is honest about her doubts and her failings. This was a thoughtful and meaningful collection of essays on the phase of faith where enthusiasm wears thin and hollowness sets in. That she chose to make sexual fidelity the focus of her public preaching. Her prose is easy to read and in many places beautiful. Another essay, focuses on busyness.

Jun 24, Christy rated it it was ok Shelves: Sometimes, I even felt like writing this memoir was an intellectual exercise in navel gazing, like she was talking around God, looking for God in books, and ruminating on God as if He were an object sitting in a museum. There also seemed to be no proper ending. This is one of those books that I really wish I could like more.

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Apr 22, Deb Readerbuzz Nance rated it it was amazing Shelves: She thought finding God was a done deal, that she was finished with struggle. Then she divorced her husband and found that God was gone. Winner was bereft, filled with anxiety, filled with depression and fears.

Lauren Winner’s ‘Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis’

She felt abandoned, alone. She did not know what to do. She began to do what she does best: And somehow she found God again in the middle of all the struggle and she realized this would be something she would deal with every day of the rest of her life. Winner is smart and soulful and funny and poignant. I loved reading this book and I imagine that I will read it again one day. I recommend it for all of us who struggle with our faith and that is all of us, I think. Feb 01, Alaina rated it really liked it.

A really good, short read. Finished it in two sittings. I really love Winner's transparency and honesty in this book as well as the various authors and poetry referenced throughout. Sep 29, Debbie rated it liked it. I almost put this book down quite a few times. The author reveals to us her painful struggles with her divorce and her faith. She brings us through her OCD and intense introspection and I wasn't sure I wanted to continue to go through it with her. But this book got better as she got better. By the end I was saying over and over again to myself how profound some of her writing was - how beautifully she explained some things.

In one chapter she talks about how she can't always say It gets better In one chapter she talks about how she can't always say some things out loud because she's afraid she doesn't really mean them with her whole heart, but when she sings them in church - she means them at that moment.

I have said that to myself so many times. Here are some of my favorite quotes: When Jesus was nothing but Rule. I am now beginning to recollect that Jesus is Rule, but that he is also many other things: We are now getting reacquainted. Her father said to her, "What you promise when you are confirmed What you promise when you are confirmed is that that is the story you will wrestle with forever. By contrast, a saint can fail in a way that the hero can't, because the failure of the saint reveals the forgiveness and the new possibilities made in God, and the saint is just a small character in a story that's always fundamentally about God.

I am, however, beginning to learn that I am a small character in a story that is always fundamentally about God. Feb 05, Ellen Dollar rated it it was amazing. I read this in one afternoon. While my life is very different than Winner's I am older, married, have kids, do not have a Ph. In the middle, you feel alone, a little bored, confused about which direction to go, even unsure you're capable of going in any direction.

This is beautifully written I read this in one afternoon. This is beautifully written, and she manages to write about her divorce in a very discreet way that doesn't reveal too much about the marriage itself or lay blame at anyone's feet but her own. Yet she still conveys the raw grief of her sense that she failed at marriage. Apr 04, Kaylea rated it it was amazing Shelves: I became acquainted with Lauren F. Winner a few years ago when I found her spiritual memoir, Girl Meets God. That book recounts her faith journey which includes being raised Jewish, a conversion to Orthodox Judaism her mom wasn't Jewish, and the faith is passed through the mother , and then later, her conversion to Christianity.

Winner's authentic, honest and blunt writing style, along with her faith journey captured my attention. So when her newest release, Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, came across my path earlier this spring, I jumped at a chance to read it. This memoir opens in the "middle" of Winner's spiritual life. Her marriage has failed, her mother has died, and life isn't quite what she anticipated. But instead of turning away from her faith, Winner found herself turning back to church and to God. Part of the book follows the church calendar, so Winner's essays use seasons like epiphany and lent to provide a unique rhythm to her writing.

In one, Winner jokes about what she would give up during Lent. A friend suggests she give up anxiety. Another essay, focuses on busyness. I loved this quote: Business is the new sloth. I've heard that some people have criticized Winner for being open about her struggles with her faith and being honest about her divorce. I am not one of those people. I'm grateful that Winner is honest.

I identify and struggle with many of the things she writes about. I appreciate the integrity she pours into her writing. Reading Still has made me want to go back and pick up Mudhouse Sabbath - a book of spiritual practices for Christians which can be gleaned from the Jewish faith.

Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis | Harper Collins Australia : Harper Collins Australia

On a scale of one to five, I give this book a solid five. It's a genuine pursuit of faith. May 31, Emily Goldberg rated it it was ok. This book is advertised as exploring what happens at a crisis of faith, when one reaches the "middle" of the spiritual life and feels stuck, or bored, or unsure whether or not to continue. It does not do so in any way that needed to be published. Lauren Winner is an engaging and gifted writer. Her prose is easy to read and in many places beautiful.

However, this story really was not helpful. As others have said, the VAST majority of it was just her self-centered introspection. Not the kind of int This book is advertised as exploring what happens at a crisis of faith, when one reaches the "middle" of the spiritual life and feels stuck, or bored, or unsure whether or not to continue. Not the kind of introspection that lends itself to growth and wisdom, but the kind that just comes across as navel-gazing. There are many books for the spiritual life that cover this theme far better.

Lauren Winner Interview - Part One

Even on desolation, on wrestling with God, or finding yourself not even wanting to wrestle with God anymore. I do not mean this as an attack on the pain Ms. Winner must have felt following her divorce, the death of her mother, or her spiritual crisis and dryness. But I see very little to recommend here for others. Mar 27, Diana rated it liked it.

I reviewed this for The United Methodist Reporter. What I'll say here is that she's better trained as a theologian than Anne Lamott, but not nearly as outrageous and funny. Still, a good read, and informative. I think I'll like her better when she's a bit more aged.

Jan 31, Beth marked it as to-be-read-pile Shelves: I'm having trouble sticking with this one right now. I think I will set it aside for a bit and come back to it later. May 23, Amanda rated it really liked it Shelves: Today I finished a wonderful, shortish book that took me several weeks to read.

In between bursts, longer or shorter, of this, I read several other books. Mostly Regency romances, for which I have a huge weakness. While I live life in jeans and t-shirts and am not good ton, I am partial to a good Regency romp. Okay, back to the decidedly non-Regency, more meaningful is there anything more lowering tha Today I finished a wonderful, shortish book that took me several weeks to read. Okay, back to the decidedly non-Regency, more meaningful is there anything more lowering that being told a book is meaningful? And instead of that young graduate student who was passionately, madly, ON FIRE in love with Jesus and her faith, she is closer to middle age and she is struggling.

Winner and I are alike in some ways. We both like to read A LOT. We probably live too much inside our own minds and overthink everything. We are both nervy and struggle with anxiety and doubt. She arrived at a life of faith from a hunger for it, while I was born into the Christian faith and raised in and sometimes at the church. She mentions in this book that she is more well-read on books ABOUT the Bible than she is on the actual book itself, while I grew up hearing Bible stories in Sunday school and reading the Bible every week.

I rarely listened to a sermon as a child, I was usually reading the Bible, especially the naughty stories, full of sex and violence! Winner seems like a person I would like to know, and through her writing I feel like I have a literary friend. Winner wrote this when she was struggling out of a long, dark unhappy time. First, her mother died after a grueling bout with cancer, and then she struggled through five years of marriage that just did not work for her.

She gives relatively few details about her ex-husband or why she was so unhappy, just that somehow the marriage stifled her and left her in a dark, dry place in her soul and in her spiritual life. Still was written as things were getting better, as she saw a light in the darkness, so in many ways I feel it is a hopeful book, but it is one that acknowledges that during bad moments, even hope is hard. In my 30s had a terrible time in my life, the worst time I can remember, and I struggled with things that Winner reflects on in Still. For them, if for no other reason, I got out of bed every day.

I just put one foot in front of the other, hopeless, pissed off with how things were going, mad at life and God and the universe. If I had read this book back then, it might have helped. Even if all it did was tell me that sometimes showing up, even with a crummy attitude, and holding on by your fingertips, if that is all you can do, is enough.

God can work with angry prayers, and hopelessness, and coming to church just so you could go out to lunch with people who reminded you that you were loved. Even while I was living through my personal Long, Dark Teatime of the Soul, and it felt like faith was just a dry and dusty thing and God was Very. I had a God-shaped space in my life. Excellent book, and more relevant, to me, than GMG. This one just wasn't for me. Although, it's a little difficult to say exactly why. Winner is a gifted writer, but I found this book very Too careful, I guess, at least in the more narrative sections of the book.

There's flashes of risk and the "fierce honesty" promised by the advertising copy, but these are few and far between.

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Winner suggests that this book isn't a memoir in her introduction, but it is very "memoir-ish" especially "Part 1" and I wonder if the book would have been This one just wasn't for me. Winner suggests that this book isn't a memoir in her introduction, but it is very "memoir-ish" especially "Part 1" and I wonder if the book would have been stronger if she had cut that memoir lifeline entirely, and maybe tried a different riskier, for her, given her comfort with the genre structure or form. On my reading the book really is a memoir but Winner didn't want to write a memoir, and I don't find that tension interesting, or feel like Winner quite managed to resolve it in a satisfying way.

Again though, it seems most readers better readers than me - Rowan Williams was a fan based on the blurb liked this book much more than I did.

I did like this line: I am one of those overeducated library types who might be expected to look down her nose at self-help books—but the whole bookstore is a self-help section to me. When something needs to be fixed, when I need something to change, my first and abiding instinct is to read. I think I can read my way to a solution.

Or at least an evasion. Jan 01, Brenda rated it liked it. I enjoy Lauren Winner's writing, but found the subtitle of "notes on a mid-faith crisis" to be an overstatement for me. More like a faith slow-down after a hard decision, maybe. Overall, I think it just wasn't the right book for me at this particular time. Dec 20, Jim rated it really liked it Shelves: All of which suggests to me that the middle is the language of spirituality, of devotion, the language of religious choreography…it is the voice that tells you that I am changed when I do these things and that there is something about me that allows these happenings to happen; and yet it is a voice that insists that there is another agent at work, another agent always vivifying the action, even when unnamed.

Much has been written about helping people come to faith and what I consider the early stages of faith but outside of simply reading scripture, praying, going to worship, fellowshipping and serving, little, if anything, has been written about navigating the middles we encounter in our lives and in our faith. Winner has provided a unique and helpful set of snapshots that reveals her journey through crisis in light of her failed marriage and the crisis of faith it created.

I say snapshots because that is what they are. Snapshots of where she went, what she did and did not do, as she navigated the middle of her life, a life that was turned upside down. This is a wonderful pictorial directory of how one person, walking in and through the middle of a crisis and life, began to rediscover her faith in and with God. If you are looking for a how to book, you need to look elsewhere. Those of you who like first person narrative accounts will probably like this book. By the way, you might want to read the q and a that appears in the back of the book before you read this Sorry, Lauren as it might help you before you start reading.

Winner is a well read person and so there are numerous literary allusions that fill this book. Bible reading and reflection return. Baptism is a part her story. But this book is written by one who sought answers in familiar places and routines and ultimately returned to, and I think was found by, God as she kept moving forward.

Her description of middles as places where the strategy is developed is very helpful here. And I think those who are in the midst of their middles will find it helpful. In my very unscientific rating system, I give this book 4. It is a great book that requires more than one reading. It will be published in February by Harper One.

Jun 07, Stephen rated it really liked it. Man how does one review a book like this? Let me start with Dr. Winner has written some things that have provided me with some great theologically underpinnings. She is a writer that I love to read, and usually her writings leave me going off on tangents in my own mind. Her transparency is this book is in many ways raw, as she struggles with the aftermath of her mother's death and the end of her marriage. I often found myself feeling the way I do when I read Ecclesiastes, lament-full yet resonating with the ideas written.

I am sure this will be a hit or miss book for people, but there are some real moments of depth here.

Discussions of the middle places of life. I would say if you appreciate the anguish yet truth that comes with reading Ecclesiastes, you will enjoy this book. I did, and my person still anguishes with Lauren and resonates with her wrestlings in this book. The Poem Lauren Recites W. Listen with the night falling we are saying thank you we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings we are running out of the glass rooms with our mouths full of food to look at the sky and say thank you we are standing by the water looking out in different directions. Feb 01, Kathleen Kat Smith rated it really liked it Shelves: 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. Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, Lauren offers readers a quietly powerful and fiercely honest exploration of love, loss and what it means to lan In her critically-acclaimed memoir Girl Meets God, Lauren F. 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. 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.

View all 6 comments. Jun 24, Abby rated it liked it. In both knowing personally that Christian marriage is not all picnics and rainbows, and walking alongside a dear friend in the aftermath of marital dissolution, I have a hard time feeling sympathy for the trauma Winner faced after leaving her husband. In many ways, this book reminds us that life is tough and God, though sometimes hard to understand, is good. For that reason I think it deserves mention here.

Feb 12, Karen Blinn rated it really liked it. I stumbled onto this book at my local library and decided to read it as the topic of "Notes on a mid-faith crisis" sounded like an interesting one. And, indeed, that proved to be the case. Lauren Winner is a professor at Duke Divinity School and may, by this time, also be an ordained Episcopalian priest.

She was raised Jewish and converted to Christianity at around the age of twenty-one. An experience detailed in Girl Meets God, a book that I would like to read. Two events toppled her from the I stumbled onto this book at my local library and decided to read it as the topic of "Notes on a mid-faith crisis" sounded like an interesting one. Two events toppled her from the mountaintop of her conversion experience to the depths of a faith struggle--the death of her mother and her marriage shortly thereafter.

Her marriage never quite seemed to take, and the marriage eventually died, too. Throughout her marriage, her faith withered on her vine. This book begins just as she starts her long climb out of her personal pit of despair. What she discovers is that the time we spend in "the middle" of our faith journey is the part that endures the longest. The conversion high and the eventual entrance into glory both constitute fairly brief experiences in ones faith journey.

The time in the middle is what will make or break a Christian. This concept does not receive much attention so this is a welcome meditation on what surely must be a common situation faced by Christians everywhere. Dec 01, Susan Barnes rated it liked it Shelves: Lauren Winner's first book, Girl Meets God is the story of her conversion to Christian faith from a Jewish background.

Nor does she want to talk about her marriage or any other subsequent relationships. The couple were married six years and split up in It is at once a veiled attempt to describe a personal crisis and what Lischer called a "book of hours," a collection of devotions comprising prayers and meditations. If her life turned out messy, Winner seems to say, why not use that as an example to help others going through similar quandaries? She writes in one chapter about being served fresh baked Communion wafers made by the children of a local parish. The caramel aftertaste of the wafer lingers in her mouth, reminding her of the sweetness of her faith.

In another chapter, she tells a story she heard of a girl about to be confirmed who announces she's not sure she believes all the precepts of her faith. The girl's father, the pastor, tells her that confirmation is not about promising to believe forever; it's about forever wrestling with those promises.

Winner's appeal, Jobe thinks, lies in allowing other women, and men too, to open up about their own spiritual flaws. There's a larger story beyond your struggle. Although Winner's book does not end on a note of redemption, Winner said she is praying again. In her idiosyncratic way, she now draws -- or more correctly, doodles -- a form of prayer she picked up from a book called "Praying in Color. A serious bibliophile who devours books and said she wouldn't want to live in a town without a bookstore, Winner is nothing if not writer-ly.

Her typical first question at faculty gatherings, is, "What are you reading? But she agreed, writing popular books is where her calling lies. On a recent Sunday, she turned that act of translation on the congregation at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Durham, where she preaches about six times a year. As is her habit lately, she talked of spiritual contradictions, of people devoted to God who nonetheless turn to other idols. Tap here to turn on desktop notifications to get the news sent straight to you. This Blogger's Books and Other Items from