Why this blog? Why Me? Why now?

Recently, after a series of particularly stressful events, I had a day that was full of tiny moments that all seemed designed to push me towards God. As I've never been a regular churchgoer and certainly not a believer, this came as a bit of a shock. I have never felt that I was missing anything, but it was too strong of a feeling to ignore. It is possible that in a month or week or day that the compulsion will pass. It is also possible that it will not.

I started this blog to document the process. I am starting from scratch, more or less, so please forgive me if I get some fact about your church or your faith wrong. I'm a work in progress.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thoughts on Girl Meets God by Lauren F. Winner

I continue to read and study about Christianity, as well as attend church weekly, and this week's reading saw me finish Girl Meets God: On the Path to a Spiritual Life by Lauren F. Winner. I've actually read this one before, shortly after it was first published. I wanted to read it again from the perspective of someone who was trying to decide her own beliefs about Jesus and Christianity.

Here's what the back of the book says:

The child of a Jewish father and a lapsed Southern Baptist mother, Lauren F. Winner chose to become an Orthodox Jew. But even as she was observing Sabbath rituals and studying Jewish law, Lauren was increasingly drawn to Christianity. Courageously leaving what she loved, she eventually converted. In Girl Meets God, this appealing woman takes us through a year in her Christian life as she attempts to reconcile both sides of her religious identity.

Ok, so this time I really did seem to read things a bit more personally than I did the first time. The first time I read it I enjoyed it, and gave it five stars on Goodreads, but it really didn't make me think about the religious aspects, beyond the intellectual. This time around I marked a few passages to think about further.

To start, on page 99, Winner is talking about skipping shul more to attend church, and in general being less Jewish. She says, "I doubt any of them knew I was filling my shul time with church, but they knew I was filling it with something, and none of them every said anything. None of them ever said, Hey, just checking up on you. Is something up? Is something the matter? Or, harsher, Lauren, you know, shul. You really need to be there. I was part of their religious body; saying those things was their job."

She explicitly says that it was the other members of her Jewish family's job to keep her going to church each week. That they share some of the blame (or credit, depending on your viewpoint) for her converting. Later in the book she's talking about her baptism, which happened during her years living in England, and lamenting that she will never again be a part of that specific church family- the ones who stood and promised to help her have strength in her faith. It is an interesting idea to me that other people have a responsibility to keep you on the straight and narrow, once you are there. It is a different thing from preaching to the heathens, and it is interesting.

A few chapters later, on page 190, a friend asks why she became a Christian. Winner considers telling her all the signs and all the reasons (which readers have already heard) but settles on, "I became a Christian because God gave me the grace to do it." She then tells a story about Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, who said people go to church for all kinds of reasons, but the real reason is that God sent them there. This is exactly how I came to feel about all the signs that pointed me to church a few months ago. God, if he exists, sent the signs that sent me to church. I realize this is not a new concept, that I am hardly the first person to realize that God may have sent me running to Him, but as someone who did not believe in signs, this is a pivotal moment for me.

One of the things that has been on my list to read more about is the Holy Spirit.  Winner spends a couple pages on that topic in the chapter on Pentecost.  The Holy Spirit is Elijah's still small voice.  The Holy Spirit (apparently) guides us in daily life, on what to do and what to say and how to live as a Christian. "Maybe that is what the Holy Spirit does. Maybe He silences all the voices in our head that keep us from hearing God." (p. 233) I take this to mean that the Holy Spirit is what is  urging me on in this exploration and study I've embarked on, and I've asked my friend G to find me reading material and verses to support this theory.

The last bit of the book that I marked is about sin (around pages 273-275.) I have never really stopped to think about sin beyond the ten commandments, and the idea that a person is inherently sinful, without having done anything wrong, is nearly new to me.  (I vaguely remember reading about this before, perhaps on my first reading of this book.) I am not quite sure how I feel about asking for forgiveness for my naturally sinful state, or about the idea that my toddler needs forgiveness. I like the concept of grace, but have never gotten the full implication of it before now. I suspect that this will be something that I stumble over again some day, and I'm not quite ready to tackle it just yet.

In general, Girl Meets God was still fascinating to me and I'm glad I choose to reread it. Winner is a lover of books and words and study and I could see myself in her (though I will never be the scholar she is.) I think she did a great job capturing what Christianity is like for her, what she gained and what she lost and why she did it. After I read this the first time, I checked out her other two books, Mudhouse Sabbath: An Invitation to a Life of Spiritual Discipline (Pocket Classics) and Real Sex: The Naked Truth about Chastity. I recall that I enjoyed the former more than the latter, but I don't really remember much of either. I see that she has recently published a new book, Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, that I will add to my list and begin pestering my library to get.


  1. i can honestly recommend all of her work. i just finished "still: notes on a mid-faith crisis" and it was excellent.

    1. You know, I think I've been reading your blog. Did you talk about it recently?

    2. i've referenced it in several posts.