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DATING JESUS by Susan Campbell

DATING JESUS

A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl

By Susan Campbell

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8070-1066-2
Publisher: Beacon

Incomplete account of one woman’s experience growing up as a fundamentalist Christian.

Hartford Courant columnist Campbell was raised in Missouri as a member of the church of Christ (they were taught not to capitalize church). She describes herself in girlhood as a true believer, utterly devoted to Jesus and immersed in the life of her congregation. As time passed, she began asking questions about the role of her gender within her church and society. Coming upon the story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton in the library one day, Campbell’s eyes were opened to the concept of feminism, changing her life forever. Despite holding on to her church involvement for a number of years, she eventually left organized religion. Though at times affecting and humorous, her memoir has a number of flaws. Campbell tends to dwell on particular events that highlight her personal insecurities and have little to do with the supposed subject matter. Several pages recall the night she spent as a sophomore at the homecoming game, hashing out her angst from that mundane moment. Though her faith background and her budding feminism color the event to some degree, readers are forced to act as therapists while the author relives her worries over being the only virgin (she thinks) in the homecoming court. Her tomboy status as a female athlete, her level of physical attractiveness and her inexperience with boys surface continually, revealing little new about such universal issues. Campbell also leaves out her entire transformation from churchgoing youth to “floater”: someone who does not attend worship but still believes in God. Although the author describes her personal experience of growing up in the church as characterized by fear and guilt, she displays an obvious nostalgia for her old faith. If it was so bad, why did she like it so much?

A few good anecdotes, but with few insights.