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Radical Reinvention: An Unlikely Return to the Catholic Church Paperback – June 26, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint (June 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593764316
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593764319
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #192,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Oakes... not only treats readers to gorgeous prose, but manages to provide an overview and history of the best of the Catholic faith, without losing momentum." Starred Review, Publisher's Weekly

"Honestly, humorously, and irreverently recounted... A clarion call for an institution's radical reinvention." --Booklist

"Bold and affecting... passionate ...informative, irreverent, and often hilarious, Oakes has written one of the most important books about religion of the year." LargeHearted Boy

"Turns the typical conceit of the conversion memoir on its head... a fascinating window into the world of belief that doesn't lead the reader to a foregone conclusion about the nature of God or Christianity." Zyzzyva Magazine

"Her eventual belief in a church that meets the needs of everyone, sinners and skeptics alike, is palpable -- and perhaps enough to get other disenfranchised believers to look twice." Bitch Magazine

Praise for Radical Reinvention

"Oakes not only treats readers to gorgeous prose, but manages to provide an overview and history of the best of the Catholic faith, without losing momentum." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Honestly, humorously, and irreverently recounted... A clarion call for an institution’s radical reinvention." —Booklist

"[An] uneasy entry back into the Catholic church, with plenty of F-bombs thrown in for good effect." —Kirkus

Praise for Slanted and Enchanted

“An impassioned, optimistic case for indie’s vitality that doesn’t assume readers are coming to [the] book already well versed in the subject . . . Fresh and perceptive.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Oakes is no dry outsider. She believes in what she describes, she contributes to it and she speaks its language.” —The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

“As an explanation and excavation of the already fading recent past, it is essential reading.” —Publishers Weekly

From the Author

Radical Reinvention is a memoir about being a skeptical, anti-dogmatic feminist who falls back in love with the Catholic faith after leaving it behind as a teenager.  But it's not just a memoir; it's also a profile of the many people, and groups of people, who are working to make the church a more welcoming and inclusive place. It is totally a safe read for atheists, agnostics, and believers of all styles. The book involved three years of research and writing, including travels to Rome and Assisi, two of the oldest homes of the Catholic church. It's a big evolution from my previous book on indie culture, but it still shares some of the spirit of that book. DIY Catholicism!

Customer Reviews

When I converted, I saw a very liberal side of the church.
H. Case
Oakes shows her readers that it IS possible to fight for LBGT rights, AND be a fan of that crucified guy without selling out your feminist roots.
C. Curtis
A very honest and forthright witness of how one person struggles with her faith yet stays persistent in pursuing it.
MarkGTS

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Kaulika on June 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
I didn't expect to find this book so interesting and engrossing as it is - not being Catholic myself, I wasn't sure what was in it for me. But what Oakes hits on is a kind of universality in the quest for meaning and inner resolution. As a feminist, I found myself wanting to pump my fist in the air and shout "yeah!" at some of the more striking passages where she directly challenges the church on homosexuality and marriage equality, the place of women, reproductive rights, and so on. She's refreshingly honest about her difficulties along the way (the oppressively hot spiritual retreat full of professional Catholics - read: monks and nuns - she can't make it through; her crush on the cute Italian priest), which makes her realizations more meaningful as a reader. Some of my favorite moments come in the chapter about her Pray and Bitch circle - like a Stitch and Bitch for the God set - and the remarks from nuns that really, well, kick ass as progressive feminists.

What I like about the book is that it's essentially a very well thought-out "WTF, Pope?" from a sincere Catholic, and seems to echo the voices of a lot of modern, progressive Catholics. Not just Catholics, but progressive Christians of all stripes, and progressive/liberal believers who are in traditionally patriarchal religions will find some resonance here, as will those who may not be believers of any kind but are interested in how progressive ideals are being reconciled with traditionally conservative institutions, one believer at a time. It's a story of faith - but not just blind faith. Rather, what happens when you mix faith with compassion, reason, and common sense. And a fair amount of rock and roll.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Christine Gipson on June 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
I am a "fallen catholic" who has her challenges with the Roman Catholic church; Ms. Oakes' book reminded me the heart of religion is about connection, community and love regardless of our individual differences. It is one thing to write a memoir these days that recounts drama and sin, its another to talk about admitting our spiritual lives are filled with conflict and contradiction. Biblical references, research regarding women's role in the church, literary quotes and personal observations mix together with an accessible, well written story of personal evolution... an evolution we can all recognize in some part of our life as we progress toward our past.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By M. Kinney on November 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
Let me say first, that I really like reading spiritual memoirs. And I was thrilled when I saw this book at my local library. But, now having read the work, I don't think it lives up to its promise, and it left me puzzled. What the book does well--and I think some of the earlier reviews get this--is offer a sociological reflection on the church today, particularly in the Diocese of Oakland, where I lived and worshiped for many years (seventeen, to be exact). Oakes gets the welcoming, yet fragmented nature of that diocese absolutely right. We do see that many of the people she encounters have the same sort of questioning stance to Catholicism that she also embodies. And, so, that's the book's strength--showing that Catholicism as it's practiced today is far from the monolith that the bishops might like it to be.

But I wanted more--I wanted to know WHAT drove the author back to the Church. She describes her sense that something was missing, but she never explores what was missing in any depth. She missed the ritual--but why? What does the ritual give her that nothing else could give? And, how does she see God and Jesus? How does the divine meet her in the Catholic faith? I feel like I got to know the Church and her fellow-seekers at some level, but Oakes herself remains a mystery to me. The reader becomes privy to some of her foibles--the crush on the spiritual director, the retreat that didn't live up to its billing--but how do those experiences affect the author? How does she change as a result of these episodes? So--in short, a good sociological overview, but the personal examen was missing in my read of this memoir.

If it's a detailed examination of what it means to be feminist yet fiercely Catholic that you're after, I recommend instead Nancy Mair's Ordinary Time.

http://www.amazon.com/Ordinary-Time-Cycles-Marriage-Renewal/dp/0807070572/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1353860166&sr=8-6&keywords=nancy+mairs
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By theexistentialporcupine on July 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
In her just released, Radical Reinvention, Kaya Oakes writes another beautiful book. For most of her adult life, Oakes identified as an atheist. She grew up loving punk music and bashing our homophobic, misogynistic, racist, 99% on the outside culture. She is a pro-choice, pro-women, gay community loving, leftist, political activist. But in her late thirties she began to feel an emptiness that could not be filled by her past passions. Oakes found herself longing for the sanctity and calm of the Catholic Church, the place of her father, her family, her Irish working-class heritage. She never envisioned herself returning to the Catholic Church, mainly because so many of its political stances are fundamentally at odds with what she believes. But in the book she documents her return to the Catholic Church in brutal honesty.

The book is hysterical (Oakes is so self-deprecating at times it hurts), incredibly well edited and researched, and documents a profound acceptance of Oakes's faith, her belief in God, Jesus, and the Catholic Church. But Oakes is no passive parishioner. She rails on the many failings of the Catholic Church, including its sexist beliefs and policies. She isn't content to simply complain. She gives example after example of strong women from the Catholic Church's beginnings to its present day, including women she now calls friends. Oakes attacks the Catholic Church with a sledge hammer for its destructive position on homosexuality. She does not tolerate the injustice of the Church's refusal to include the LGBT community as equal and loved members of the flock.
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More About the Author

Kaya Oakes' third book, a hybrid memoir/ethnography/theological rant, Radical Reinvention, was published by Counterpoint Press in 2012. Her fourth book, on faith, doubt, and the evolution of religion, is forthcoming from Orbis Books in 2015. Her previous nonfiction book, Slanted and Enchanted: The Evolution of Indie Culture, was published by Henry Holt in 2009 and was selected as a San Francisco Chronicle notable book. She's also the author of a collection of poetry, Telegraph, which received the Transcontinental Poetry Prize from Pavement Saw Press. In 2002, Kaya co-founded Kitchen Sink Magazine, which received the Utne Independent Press Award for Best New Magazine in 2003. Currently, she writes about faith and feminism for Killing the Buddha, America, Commonweal, and other magazines and websites. Since 1999, she has taught writing at the University of California, Berkeley.

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