Messy Spirituality by Mike Yaconelli is the last collection of his writing before he died. It's good but not great; kind of a cross between Donald Miller and Max Lucado. Too "inspirational" for me, but thought-provoking and perfect for lots of people I know.
OK, so on to two books that have really stayed with me:
Between Two Worlds is Elizabeth's Marquadt's clinical study into the experience of adult children of divorce who grew up with both parents involved and who show up in other studies as well-functioning. Although clinically, these children weathered their parents' divorces with few symptoms and minimal disruption, their answers to questionnaires and interviews tell another story.While Marquadt acknowledges that divorce is sometimes necessary and that it is preferable for both prents to stay involved, she describes the lack of place and identity that the children of even "good divorces" experience. Her subjects describe how children feel incomplete at each parent's house because the other parent isn't there; how they often feel required to split themselves in two psychically in order to survive emotionally at each house; how even under the best of circumstances they feel unable to resolve within themselves the very differences that their parents couldn't resolve in the marriage. This isn't a book about divorce but about children and I'm glad that Marquadt gave them a voice.
I also finally read Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor and I'll just put it this way: I had dog-eared 8 pages before I finished the first couple of chapters. This is not really the story of leaving church entirely but the story of a gifted Episcopal priest examining her journey into vocational ministry, her wrenching burn-out, and her decision to exchange the pulpit for a secular teaching position. She captured me in the introduction when she writes that there are really only two stages of faith for the Christian: a cycle of finding life and losing life and then finding life again. There are the best descriptions of the hidden motivations and subtle manipulations of ministers that I have ever read, followed by a deeply poignant description of what it means to burn out in ministry that made me want to cry for all my brothers and sisters who find this path unbearably difficult and painful. In the end, she finds life again and finds it abundantly and I'm glad, but also sad. Sad that she had to find it away from the ministry that promised so much life, away from the worshipping community that she clearly loves, sad that the church that birthed her couldn't nourish her. I'll reread this book several times, I imagine, before it finally sifts through all my own ambivalence and settles in to my own rhythm of finding life and losing life and finding it again.