3.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · LGBTQIA+ Books · non fiction · religion

New Release | She’s My Dad by Jonathan Williams

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She’s My Dad by Jonathan Williams 

Published: November 8, 2018

Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press

Pages: 200

Genres: non fiction, LGBTQIA+, religion

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: modern day religion, real trans people’s stories, church and the LGBTQIA+

Foodie Vibes: sensible healthy meal to fuel your mind and body

 

Synopsis:

Jonathan S. Williams was three months into pastoring a new, evangelical church plant when his father confessed a secret: he was transgender. His father, Paul, a prominent evangelical pastor, soon became Paula, and Jonathan’s life and ministry went into a tailspin. Feeling betrayed by his mentor and confidante and scared that his church would lose funding and support if Paula’s secret was exposed, Jonathan sunk into depression and alcoholism.

She’s My Dad explores Jonathan’s long and winding journey toward reconciliation, forgiveness, and acceptance of his father as well as his church’s journey to become one of the few fully LGBTQ-inclusive, evangelical churches in America. Jonathan and Paula offer insight and encouragement for those with transgender family members, empathizing with the feelings of loss and trauma and understanding that even being LGBTQ-affirming doesn’t mean the transition of a family member will be easy. Jonathan writes of his family’s continuing evolution, the meaning of remaining loyal to one’s father even when she is no longer a man, the ongoing theological evolution surrounding transgender rights and advocacy in the church, and the unflinching self-scrutiny of a pastor who lost his God only to find God again in his father’s transition.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, the author and publisher for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

She’s My Dad tells the story of Jonathan’s Dad transitioning to her true self, Paula. The book is honest about the challenges, learning process and love that goes into having a family member transition. The process is made even more complex, because Paula is a pastor in the Evangelical church. 

I liked that the chapters alternated perspectives between Jonathan and Paula, allowing the reader to better understand the story from all perspectives. I didn’t realize the focus in religion would be so great. I’m not religious, but I learned a lot about churches excluding or choosing to include LGBTQIA+ people. I think the book could be very helpful and validating for people who are religious and identify as LGBTQIA+. 

While it was hard to hear Jonathan’s struggles about his dad transitioning, it was honest. For awhile he didn’t seem very kind to Paula, which bothered me. I think a lot of people can relate to the loss and confusion they may also feel. I feel like the book focused on the church a lot, and maybe would have been more well rounded by including a wider variety of experiences. 

Overall, an honest, educational and heartfelt book about Jonathan and his dad, Paula’s story. 

  • In the book, Jonathan refers to Paula as his dad, so to my knowledge I’m not misgendering anyone. But if I’m wrong, please correct me.

 

Answer me this:

How can churches work to better serve their LGBTQIA+ congregation?

3 Star Books · Book Reviews · Medical · memoir · mental health · non fiction · psychology · religion · Self Help

Mindfulness Matters: A Guide to Mastering Your Life by Pax Tandon

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Mindfulness Matters: A Guide to Mastering Your Life by Pax Tandon

Published: June 28, 2018

Publisher: Red Feather

Pages: 224

Genres: non fiction, psychology, memoir, self help, alternative medicine, spirituality

Rating: 3 stars 

Recommend to fans of: alternative medicine, preventative care for your body, taking charge of your life from all aspects

Foodie Vibes: well balanced healthy diet to fuel your mind, body and soul

 

Synopsis:

Get the insider’s scoop on how to attain a fully flourishing life. Encompassing deep dives into mind, body, and spirit, you will be introduced to the science of positive psychology, engage with the practice of mindfulness, learn how to build an optimally efficient body, and commit to an elevation of your spirit. This is flourishing in action! Whether struggling with anxiety or depression, searching to fill a missing void, or just interested in everyday self-care, you will learn to identify opportunities for growth and seamlessly integrate life-changing practices into daily habits. Replete with powerful affirmations and practice exercises throughout, you will be able to build the framework that fuels and furthers your evolutionary journey for years to come and changes the trajectory of your life forever.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Red Feather and Pax Tandon for an ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Mindfulness Matters is a fun, kind, lighthearted book that covers a lot of topics. If you want to know the author’s thoughts on basically all aspects of life ranging from physical and mental health to dating and even alternative medicine, you will find it all here. 

There are many topics in which I agree with her. The focus on sleep hygiene is great. I’m even going to take her suggestion and look into an app to filter out blue light. Also her focus on compassion which will help prevent anger is much appreciated. Most of the book highlights the importance of self care in some manner. 

A lot of the book is the author telling her story. While it’s interesting and informative, I found it difficult to apply to my life. There were also parts that I absolutely disagree with. While she meant well, talking about post traumatic growth as an option instead of PTSD felt a little invalidating. Also I wish the mentions of hot yoga came with a health waring. Hot yoga can be wonderful, but also not safe for people with certain health conditions. Great for her, but not for all. While incredibly interesting, I’m not sure that all of the information was scientifically accurate, so a reminder to all to do their own research before making health, wellness, and lifestyle changes. 

Obviously I have some strong concerns on the book. Enjoyable, informative, and highlights the benefits of alternative medicine and lifestyle choices. Just be cautious when making changes for yourself based on someone else’s lifestyle. Do what’s right for you.

What’s your favorite self care activity?

3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · feminism · non fiction · religion · Uncategorized

Book Review: The Beauty Suit: How My Year of Religious Modesty Made Me a Better Feminist by Lauren Shields 

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The Beauty Suit: How My Year of Religious Modesty Made Me a Better Feminist by Lauren Shields 

Published by Beacon Press on May 15, 2018

Pages: 192

Genres: non fiction, religion, feminism

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: social and personal experiments, feminist reads, learning about religion with modern interpretations

Read with food: whatever you want and your body needs, because it’s important that you do what’s best for you

 

Synopsis:

A young feminist finds herself questioning why “hotness” has become necessary for female empowerment–and looks for alternatives.

Looking good feels good. But in a society where looking good is posited as being strong, while negotiating for better pay is statistically proven to damage our careers, is it fair to say that wicked eyeliner, weekly blowouts, and a polished Instagram feed are the keys to our liberation? If so–if “hot” really is a good enough synonym for “empowered”–why do so many of us feel, deep in our bones, that the sexy-as-strong model is a distraction? Is “pretty” still the closest to power women can get? Why is looking fierce an acceptable substitute for living in a world where women are safe?

Inspired in seminary by American Muslimahs who wear the hijab for feminist reasons, Lauren Shields took off what she calls the Beauty Suit–the “done” hair, the tasteful and carefully applied makeup, the tight clothes and foot-binding shoes–for nine months. She’d really only wanted to do an experiment. Instead, her life–especially her views on what constitutes “liberation”–changed forever.

Rooted in feminist theory and religious history, and guided by a snappy personal narrative, The Beauty Suit unpacks modern American womanhood: a landscape where the female body is still so often the battleground for male ideals, and where we struggle with our rights as human beings to define and exercise our freedom.

Review:

I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. As always, an honest review.

Lauren Shields’ year of religious modesty, for herself, prompted her to write this book to share her thoughts about the journey. Overall the book reads as a bit disjointed, but that’s fairly in keeping with such a complex multi dimensional experiment. Throughout she’s figuring out for herself how to define her religion, other religions, modesty, feminism, the modern culture, and more. The author has a background in religious studies, so she’s very well versed in these topics. The book reads as an educational text combined with a memoir.

I enjoyed all the new information that I gained, especially the alternate interpretations of modest dress within a religious context. I also enjoyed the in depth discussions about feminism, both relating to religion and culture in general. 

However, there were some topics in which I disagreed with the author including women’s empowerment versus self objectification. Also it came across to me that Lauren believes being spiritual is less than being religious. I’m not sure this was what she was trying to convey, or maybe it’s what’s true for her personally. But that aspect bothered me. Also, I wish there were more written bout the actual modesty experiment. Much of the book was a lesson about religion, modesty, feminism, and cultural norms. 

In general, I enjoyed The Beauty Suit and learned more about religion, especially in a modern cultural context. I think this would be a good book for young women who are religious but struggle to connect feminism, choice and strength with some traditional religious teachings. 

 

How many of you want to take off the “beauty suit” defined by our culture?