Tuesday, May 22, 2007

top 5 authors for people have been screwed by the church

So yesterday I met a really kewl guy who, like me, had very much been screwed by the Christian Church. In his particular case, the chief culprit was a big Christian university. I realized in talking with him that a lot of people actually have had it even worse than I have (and this is only part of my story), and that I've been very blessed to experience a lot of ... healing and ... moving on, compared to many, who are still very much in the thick of the horror and pain. I was hoping to encourage him a little with some of the things that have encouraged me. Some of what saved me, during and after all the bullshit that was rained on my head during my years in 'the church', was, and has been, a smallishish group of authors who have made their way into the ongoing attempt to satisfy my lifelong never ending book lust.

Here's my top five authors for people who have been screwed by 'the church', from a guy that's actually found a lot of encouragement throughout the whole hellish process. They are in chronological order of when I first read them.

1. George Macdonald. Honestly anything at all by him, and he's got a ton--my favorites are the two fantasy books for grown ups--Lilith and Phantastes. But his children's fantasies, his popular novels, his sermons, his poetry--it's all brilliant, all very readable, and all amazingly encouraging. George more then anyone else, I guess, saved me from the worst that fundamentalist christianity had to offer during my growing-up-in-the-sect years, I guess more than anything else because I found him first and kept going back for more. All George's stuff is way out of copyright and so most of it is available free online from project gutenberg and other such places (although that is never nearly as satisfying as an actual *book*--and of course all George's stuff is still in publication as well)

2. Brennan Manning. Anything by Brennan is basically brilliant, but most of all his Ragamuffin Gospel, which I have gone back to and back to and back to. And if you ever get to hear him speak--that's really enjoyable too.

3. Jeff van Vonderen's The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse. I haven't read any of Jeff's other books, but this one was beyond helpful to me when I was in the process of finally figuring out that it *was* abuse, and how to get the hell out (which can be inordinately difficult!).

4. Brian McLaren. I've only read a couple of his, and heard bits and pieces of his latest The Last Word and the Word after That (read out loud by my lovely wife). I've found what I've read, and also hearing him speak in person, *so* refreshing! I think of him and George as the top two people on my short list entitled "People who create a space within which it is possible to imagine myself a christian". And like the first guy on my list, George, he argues from inside a deep understanding of and love for Jesus and the bible *against* the insane and heinous idea of "eternal conscious suffering of the lost in hell".

5. Tony Campolo. I've only read his Let Me Tell You a Story, but I found it very uplifting, and I got to hear him speak a SPU once, and it was .... great.

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