Angry Conversations With God

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I decided to start writing tonight's entry a little bit earlier than usual to make up for how incredibly slow my computer is. Maybe this way I might actually be able to get tonight's entry up before 11 o'clock. I've been complaining to my sister a lot lately about how slow my computer but I don't think she understood the extent of how annoying it was until she was visiting and got a chance to use the worlds slowest computer. After a frustrating attempt we decided that it would be faster to carve my blog entry in stone and then run it individually to each person's house. So don't be surprised if you see my jogging up your driveway tomorrow with a giant rock in my hands. But for today, I'm going to attempt another long and frustrating effort to write about today's book.

Today's book, "Disillusioned, disenfranchised, and disinterested in anything churchy, Susan Isaacs knew of only one thing to do when she hit spiritual rock bottom at age forty: She took God to couples counseling. In this cuttingly poignant memoir, Susan chronicles her rocky relationship with the Almighty."

Thoughts on today's book:

  • I picked today's book based on the title - it intrigued me. I was very torn about this book. I wavered between finding it amusing as well as interesting and then thinking it was a little bit corny (although not overpoweringly so, it didn't come off like a 241 page Hallmark card as some books of this nature do).

  • I also picked the book because I read the description (for once) before picking out the book, and I was curious as to what the book meant by "She took God to couples counseling." Well here's what it meant, the author found a Christian counselor, a pastor, and attempted to talk him into a joint counseling session with God. Or as she describes it, "We can role-play. I'll be Susan the neglected wife, and you'll be God the abusive dead-beat husband." - This is the part of the book where I became torn again, part of me finds it offensive that someone would refer to God as an abusive, dead-beat husband (although if I'm really honest, I would have to admit that there have been moments of anger when I've called Him worse things), and the other part of me is impressed that anyone would have the guts to say something like that to a pastor. The reason being that I become a pathetic people-pleaser around really religious people, especially ministers. I morph into a horrifying version of a Stepford Wife and engage in ridiculously over-the-top displays of fake perfection. My voice changes and I start to talk a little bit too much like Mrs. Duggar, and I start censoring everything I do as if to say Hey Mr. Minister, look how good and holy I am. I have absolutely no idea why I do this. Does that every happen to you dear readers - where you're watching yourself act like an idiot and yet you feel powerless to stop it. It happens to me often enough that I can't help but be impressed by a person who will say exactly what they think in front of a pastor, even if what they say might not be what that person wants to hear.

  • In case you're wondering, Mr. Minister was not willing to play along. Well actually he sort of did, he refused to speak for God because he said the therapy sessions would be more productive if they approached it from the angle of what the author thought/felt about God and not what he thought or felt. I found the dialogue from those sessions a little tedious to read - but then I hate reading dialogue, I find it mind numbing and it reminds me of being in high school English class where we had to read one boring play after the other. But those parts where short - and the rest of the book, which chronicled the author's journey of faith was very interesting.

  • The part of the book that I enjoyed the most was the author's honesty - she doesn't pretend to be more pious than she feels (a short-coming of many books about faith), or sugar-coat her life, or try to make herself out to be some kind of saint, she also doesn't fall into the trap of mocking religion (which is what I expected after reading the whole "God as abusive dead-beat husband" thing.) And so I felt like I could relate to it in a way that I can't with books about faith where the author pretends to have all the answers. I also appreciate that the author has enough self-awareness to not carry on and on through the whole book as if her problems are the biggest problems anyone has ever faced. As she puts it, "Let's be honest: this wasn't Darfur. I hadn't witnessed my family getting slaughtered; I hadn't grown up in a gang war zone or been forced into a polygamous marriage at age thirteen. So what if my lifelong dream died and my relationship tanked? These were nothing but middle-class white girl's tragedies."

  • What I didn't appreciate about the book was that the author has planted an image in my head so hideous I don't think I'll ever get it back out again: a permed mullet. There's a point in the book when the author goes to a new church and meets several people who have permed mullets. Ick. Every feeling revolts. I fear I'm going to fall asleep tonight with visions of permed mullets dancing in my head, and of course a vision of a permed mullet naturally leads to an image of the clothes a woman with a permed mullet would wear. I'm seeing stonewashed jean shorts that are rolled up at the bottom, with a peach colored t-shirt and a denim vest over it - and even more heinous than that are the shoes, they're all white like the kind nurses wear in movies that are set in the 1960's, and she's wearing peach socks. Oh it's so hideous I can hardly stand it. It's another middle-class white girl tragedy.

P.S. - Would someone who isn't as computer illiterate as I am like to explain to me why I have to but those stupid bullet points in EVERY entry or else the whole entry will end up blurred together. If I write out the entry and hit publish, the entire thing comes up as one big paragraph, but if I add in the bullet points it seperates. What am I doing wrong?