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Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl Hardcover – January 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

Review

In her youth, Susan Campbell was the class virgin, the sophomore homecoming princess, and the perennial smarty-pants winner of her fundamentalist church's Bible Bowl. But she was also a scrappy little outfielder and a self-described Missouri hillbilly whose budding feminism led her to question why girls and women should be content with second-class spiritual citizenship. That isometric push of irresistible force against immovable object followed Campbell into adulthood and is both the engine and the energy that drives her remarkable memoir, Dating Jesus. Simultaneously wisecracking and scholarly, both heartfelt and hilarious, Campbell's story gives testament to a 'Christ-haunted' life that rejects the chauvinistic dictates of religious dogma and insists on fairness and equal footing for all. Amen to that. I loved this book!—Wally Lamb, author of The Hour I First Believed

"Engaging . . . seductively simple . . . intellectually honest . . . totally informed . . . affectionate and respectful . . . this confession of faith is all these things, and more too. I loved reading it, and I continue to enjoy savoring it." —Phyllis Tickle, author of The Divine Hours

"While it may be true that Jesus loves all of us, Susan Campbell is clearly His favorite. Her writing cuts to the quick and slices to the bone, thereby cleaning and healing old wounds for every woman who's struggled to find acceptance within, and without, conventional religion. Driven by anger and longing, but sustained by grace and joy, she offers the gift of her own journey to faith without sentimentality and with unmatched honesty and wit. An essential book."—Regina Barreca, author of Babes in Boyland

"Dating Jesus resists easy answers—or glib categorization. Susan Campbell is too bright—and funny—for that. From fundamentalist Christianity to why baseball trumps softball, from an exploration of Title IX to footnotes steeped in scripture (and the occasional 1970s TV reference), this book entertains, educates, and surprises."—Lindsey Crittenden, author of The Water Will Hold You: A Skeptic Learns to Pray

"Throughout this captivating memoir, I felt the presence of the spirit of Jesus merging with the feisty spirit of a fundamentally faith-full follower, guiding her through and beyond religious rigidity with liberating grace." —Miriam Therese Winter, professor of spirituality and feminist studies, Hartford Seminary in Connecticut

About the Author

Susan Campbell's writing has been recognized by the American Association of Sunday and Features Editors; National Women's Political Caucus; the Sunday Magazine Editors Association, and the Connecticut chapter of Society of Professional Journalists. She was also a member of the Courant's 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning team for breaking news. She is co-author of a travel book, Connecticut Curiosities and she lives in Connecticut with her husband.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (January 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807010669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807010662
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #501,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Susan Campbell's writing has been recognized by the American Association of Sunday and Features Editors; National Women's Political Caucus; the Sunday Magazine Editors Association, and the Connecticut chapter of Society of Professional Journalists. She was also a member of the Courant's 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning team for breaking news. She is co-author of a travel book, Connecticut Curiosities and she lives in Connecticut with her husband.

Photo Copywright Credit Name: Marc Yves Regis, 2011.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By John K. Currie on January 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I, too, emerged from a Midwest Fundamentalist upbringing---although more urban than that of Susan Campbell. I thought the primary thrust of her book would indicate great overlap with my roots. As I read her fine book, I found that not to be the case.

I learned from her book that a female raised in Fundamentalism has a DOUBLE DOSE of rules and regulations. Males raised in Fundamentalism still have the advantage of MALE PREROGATIVE. I believe that this male prerogative makes it easier for some males to break out of Fundamentalism---yet there are many males who wish to stay within Fundamentalism in order to benefit from male domination and male dominion.

I applaud Susan's ability to take a frank look at her Fundamentalist roots. She does so with mixed feelings. She wants to abandon much of that culture----yet at the same time she has a nostalgia for the close community and music from her Protestant Fundamentalism. I think her description of Fundamentalism as a sword that pierced her---with a broken piece of that sword still residing within her---will resonate with many who have a Fundamentalist background.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Linzi on January 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Dating Jesus is memoir of growing up as a girl in a fundamentalist Christian church. Susan Campbell was radically involved with her church - teaching youth groups, organizing buses to worship services, "knocking doors." But she runs into increasing difficulty of finding an acceptable place of her own within the church; as a woman, many positions are simply not open to her. The book chronicles her growing frustration that "if all believers are urged to stay on the straight and narrow, there seems to be an especially narrow road built for women."

Despite this, the tone of the book is never bitter or mean-spirited (as many recent publications about fundamentalist Christians have been). Campbell recounts her experiences and growth both with respect and an easy humor. And it's clear how much thought she has put into her faith - how well she knows her way around the Bible and around its rhetoric. As a feminist Christian, I really appreciated Dating Jesus. Not because it offers a solution to reconciling feminism with faith (if there is one), but because it adds a meaningful perspective to the discussion, going back to the Bible to discuss how women were treated and should be treated in the church. A very thoughtful and well-written book
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Margo Maine on January 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Dating Jesus demonstrates Campbell's unrivaled ability to use her personal experience to explore and and expose broader social issues, such as women's role in traditional Christian religions. While she writes of her experience as a fundamentalist, the struggles, themes, and disappointments will be familiar to so many women who have felt let down by their churches. Raised as a Catholic, I also had a strong relationship with Christ and with my church, until, painfully, I realized I would never be treated fairly there. Campbell poignantly reminds us that Jesus was a feminist and I needed that reminder desperately. This book is a great read for anyone who thinks about gender equity, women's rights, religion and the role of the church in our lives and in society. I have the privilege of reading Susan Campbell regularly as she writes for my local paper, the Hartford Courant. Her writing is always thought-provoking and gutsy with enriching personal insights and humor. Dating Jesus will get you thinking about your relationship with religion: it has already profoundly affected mine. Thank you Susan!
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By kim harty on December 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
What a delight to read Susan's book. What could be a dry subject is made engaging with Susan's personal style. She intercepts thought provoking ideas and historical perspectives with her witty sidebar comments. I especially enjoyed the final chapter where she pulls all of her history together and attempts to make some final conclusions, if that is at all possible. This book should be a must in all religious and feminist studies classes. It encourages the reader to look at their own belief systems.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Avid Reader on May 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I am weary of the depressing, dark memoirs of late and found this to be a refreshing change. With great wit, grace, and good humor, this memoir of growing up the Missouri Ozarks in a fundamental church is an outstanding read. Great for book groups.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mike Hicks on March 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Let's face it, reading the typical memoir is akin to watching someone's summer vacation video: deadly dull. It's only when the traveler explores exotic lands, encounters strangeness and returns (or better yet, escapes) to tell the tale that things truly become interesting.

Susan Campbell is such a traveler, sharing stories of a fundamentalist upbringing so different from what most Americans experience that it scarcely seems possible. We struggle to believe that it took place here rather than on foreign soil.

And, as with the best of travelers, Campbell is both changed by her experience and yet solidly the same. Her faith is no longer dogmatic, yet her values remain bedrock firm. With unflinching humor and quick wit, she asks questions that defy easy answers... and I can't help but nod in recognition. No matter what our backgrounds, we all ask many of the same questions. Who is this God person, anyway? And is it a sin to beat the snot out of my brother for being a jerk? :)

On average, I read 2-3 books a week. Dating Jesus took me over a week to read and absorb and reflect... a rare treat! Kudos to a book that does more than entertain, it enlightens.
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