A memoir offers the experiences of a progressive minister and her radical ideas to reshape Christianity.
Pearce’s (No One in I Land, 2015) latest work is not just a retelling of her life, but also an exploration of the origins of the concepts that have molded her efforts as a pastor and humanitarian. As a child attending a Presbyterian church in Denver, the author showed remarkable conviction from an early age. But it was after studying abroad in Germany and then working with the Peace Corps in Ecuador that she began to truly see the world—and herself— differently. Upon her return, Pearce became uneasy with a typical middle-class lifestyle, noticed incredible pride within contemporary churches, and felt a strong call to become engaged politically. These thoughts eventually led her to a seminary in San Francisco, where she met her lifelong friend Tricia and opened her eyes to sexism and imperialism. The author then moved to Philadelphia and became the pastor of Tabernacle United Church, where she discovered a strong, like-minded community. But over the years, she grew more experimental and courageous in both her actions and thoughts; eventually she even served prison time for nonviolent civil disobedience and began to examine the ideas of Eastern and Wiccan religions to totally redesign her view of Jesus. “When we focus our spiritual journey on Jesus himself…we fail to see what he was showing us about our own nature,” the author writes, deftly elaborating her thesis that the Christian church’s fixation on Jesus actually works against his most important teachings. It’s a progressive stance and an idea that could be difficult for more traditional readers to embrace, especially with her tendency to throw in New Age–style lingo about “Ultimate Reality” and “the quantum void.” But the narration of her life and reflections moves with swift efficiency, and her passionate voice helps sell even the strangest of notions: Her eloquent passages on life in South America and her own experiences with sexism are particularly moving and convincing. By the time she reaches her most unconventional arguments, it will be hard for readers not to agree.
An unusual take on contemporary Christianity grounded in a remarkable life story and told with exceptional prose.