Monday, October 12, 2009

2-in-1: Amazing Grace & I Do Again

For today’s edition of 2-in1 I have two Christian non-fiction books. And this is pretty much where the similarities end.

1. Amazing Grace by Kathleen Norris

It is Ms. Norris’s recounting of her struggles with going back to the Christianity. What seemed to have kept her away from it for many years was the language that is used in connection with this religion and the misunderstandings stemming from it. Amazing Grace is a memoir of sorts with many personal and very endearing stories in which Kathleen rediscovers the meanings of words such as ‘dogma’, ‘antichrist’ or ‘annunciation’. There is also a lot of theology and etymology woven through this memoir which surprisingly is very captivating to read about.

I am a member of the Roman-Catholic Church and I for once found a book where author didn’t bash this close to my heart religion. As soon as I realized that Amazing Grace is more about opening one’s eyes to the art of living with the abstract and turning it into reality of everyday life, I began treating it more seriously than I initially intended. Obviously, I heard and encountered all the words talked about in this book many, many times in my life but I experienced ‘Aha’ moments in pretty much every chapter. I suspect that a lot of it has to do with the way Kathleen writes about her own understanding, her faith and her struggles that brought me closer to the faith I thought I was pretty much close enough. Probably, the best part of the book is that there is no discrimination, no ridicule and no off-putting passages that could otherwise turn an atheist or non-Christian away.

2. I Do Again by Cheryl & Jeff Scruggs

This one is part memoir, part self-help for broken couples and marriages. Cheryl & Jeff write about their paths coming together to join them in marriage and how those paths went separate ways after a few years. Cheryl felt misunderstood and really unloved on a deeper, spiritual level, which pushed her into the arms of another man. What came next is what happens to so many couples nowadays: a painful divorce that affected not only Jeff & Cheryl but also their twin daughters, their families and their mutual friends. That’s the memoir part. The self-help part is that they actually got back together and remarried after seven dreadful years of divorce and are now actively working together to help other couples find the spiritual path to a happy marriage, no matter how broken they might appear to be.

I mentioned above that I am Catholic. I am also a divorced and remarried person, although not to the same man. Talk about two things that cannot possibly exist together. But yet, here I am. Needless to say, this book brought upon a lot of feelings of guilt and sadness. I Do Again might be good for people who are better Christians than I am and want to fix their marriages before it’s too late. But I also felt that there was no place for people like myself in this book. The Srcuggs’s apparently are full of faith that every marriage can be fixed if there is God in a relationship. But what about a person like myself, who from the day of the wedding until the day of divorce knows that the marriage is a mistake? I was pushed into marrying, even though I knew this wasn’t what I wanted. I honestly felt like the biggest sinner in the world while reading this book and kept asking myself what was wrong with me that I couldn’t fix my relationship even though I had been a spiritual person. So, all and all, this book might be a saving grace for someone who is teetering on the verge and wants to turn to God for help. But if you already are past the divorce and (God forbid) building a life with someone who should have been your partner all along, then I think you should skip this book. You might otherwise be thrown into a guilt trip of your life.