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Breaking Up with God: A Love Story Hardcover – June 7, 2011
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“Provocative, penetrating, honest and real. Sarah Sentilles, in chronicling her own story, chronicles the journey that all of us must take in search of our own humanity. Would that institutional religion were big enough to embrace and affirm her work.” (John Shelby Spong, author of Sins of Scripture)
“Breaking Up With God is a beautiful reminder that truth is found in questions, not answers, in seeking, not finding. From Sarah Sentilles, I have learned my ‘No’ to God can be every bit as helpful as my ‘Yes.’” (Philip Gulley, author of If the Church Were Christian)
“Sarah Sentilles’ book is a treasure and a triumph of the heart. Wise, funny, and fearless, she dares to take the ultimate questions seriously enough to be outrageously honest. May her journey be a challenge to those whose imperturbable faith may filter out the anguish and fragility of our world.” (Joanna Macy, author of World as Lover, World as Self.)
“This is a wonderfully moving book, written with rare elegance, real passion, warm humor, and penetrating insight. Breaking Up With God will comfort those who no longer believe, guide those who are plagued with doubts, and challenge those who wonder how anyone could leave the faith.” (Bart D. Ehrman, author of Misquoting Jesus)
“[Sentilles] tells her story in a way that is never preachy or pushy. She is not angry or bitter and seems to have no intention of converting readers to her viewpoint. She simply shares her journey with a tenderness and authenticity that is both heartbreaking and hopeful.” (Library Journal)
“There is so much to love about this book...Her language is always straightforward, and her voice is strong and consistent, but straightforward isn’t just simple. At times the language is exalted, breathtaking, captivating and just stupid f-ing brilliant.” (The Parish)
From the Back Cover
I broke up with God. The breakup was devastating. It was like a divorce when all the friends you had as a couple are forced to choose sides and end up not choosing yours.
Sarah Sentilles's relationship with God was not casual. When it began to unravel she was in the ordination process to become an Episcopal priest, a youth minister at a church, and a doctoral student in theology at Harvard. You might say they were engaged and that the wedding was all planned. Calling it off would be more than a little awkward. But in the studying of the religion she'd been raised on and believed wholeheartedly, one day she woke up and realized . . . it was over.
In this powerful memoir of faith, Sentilles reveals how deep our ties to God can be, and how devastating they can be to break. Without God to mold herself to and without religion as her script, who was she and what was her purpose? Her relationship with God had been connected to everything—her family, her friends, her vocation, the places she frequented, the language she used, and her way of being in the world.
Not unlike after a divorce, she had to reorient her life and face a future that felt darkly unfamiliar. But this beautiful, brave book is surprisingly filled with hope, a coming-out story that lets others know it's safe to come out too, and that there's light on the other side.
Top Customer Reviews
Readers are privy to her tumultuous spiritual life while she gets a degree in literature from Yale, serves in the Teach For America program (a "within our borders" version of the peace corps), attends Harvard Divinity School, gets in and then out of an Episcopalean ordination program for the priesthood, and finally, finishes a PhD in Theology at Harvard. At the commencement for Harvard Divinity School she was chosen to be the student speaker. Academically, this girl is not a lightweight - she presents herself to be more fragile than she apparently is.
Her writing is irreverent, matter-of-fact, and elegant - all at the same time: "It was like an arranged marriage, my faith, God like an older man: He invited my parents to his house. They sipped wine and ate bread. They promised him their firstborn."
Her split with organized religion had something to do with feminism. Most of her teachers were female and they made it painfully clear what a misogynist book the Bible is. It also had to do with the other well-known liberal theologians she studied under - Gordon Kaufman and John Shelby Spong, among others - while she simultaneously had a position in a church, preparing her for the Episcopal priesthood.Read more ›
The first hundred pages or so, detailing her upbringing, should have been edited and condensed. We got the idea, fairly quickly, that she was scared of religion and prayed a lot as a child. The repeating of this in different examples was redundant. When she finally got into the `meat' of the subject, it felt disconnected and confused.
The promise in the prologue never fulfilled. I wanted to know about her realizations, and the anxiety facing those realizations, and what it was like for her to face life with a completely different outlook. Her story didn't match mine, at all, and I had wanted to read a similar story. Of course, no one would have the exact history that I have. But the problems created from losing one's religion could be more universal. I faced then, and now, discrimination for not believing. How did she tell those around her? How did the pity and disdain change her? These things I wanted to know, and she didn't tell. In fact, her breakup with god didn't really fully happen. She seems now to be agnostic, and not an atheist. She broke up with her career path. Maybe she'll write a more complete memoir when she comes fully to grip with her disbelief.
It's important for those of us who have chosen to step off the ingrained path of religiousness to speak out. Kudos to Sarah Sentilles for attempting to share her story with the rest of us, even if the attempt is flawed.
In fact I didn't understand why she suddenly felt she needed to become a priest, given her spotty history and it seemed another way of jumping around professionally instead of developing skills at what she was doing. Instead of leaving a good church for Harvard Divinity School, she would have been better advised to consolidate her spiritual growth and deepen her resources. So when she arrived at Harvard, she stopped attending church, intellectually distanced herself from any meaningful concept of God, took a position with a church that had a much narrower concept of God than she had and set herself up to fail.
In fact, I didn't have a sense that she actually broke up with God, so much as rejected a narrow concept of divinity and resisted the need to move from school to the real world. As a priest she would have real responsibility, but she didn't embrace stepping away from ivory-tower idealism. I think this is more the story of a perpetual student who keeps changing her focus than a spiritual journey,
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love this book! It's so funny and relatable. Professor Sentilles was my teacher and I thoroughly enjoyed her class. Her book was equally awesome!Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Why do we think our boring individual life has to be interesting for other people.Published 10 months ago by Nobody
I love this book...if anyone ever asked me to explain my life and where I stood right now with organized religion I would direct them to this book. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Kindle Customer
Poetic, heart-wrenching, disturbing and liberating. Sentiles bravely asks the questions that lie buried in our own hearts. Read morePublished 17 months ago by L. Whitlow
Checked this book out at the library and before long I knew I had to have my own copy. This frank discussion of modern religious issues is refreshing in a time when there are so... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Mountain Home
One of the things that jumps out at me in Sarah Sentilles’ riveting book, “Breaking up with God: A Love Story,” is the bare honesty of her prose, which manages to float clearly and... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Sandra M Matuschka
Thoughtful, honest, even profound in places. My only criticism would be that while the author outlined what so many of us in ministry go through, she offers little of what I... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Steve Horn
Very honest personal story. Thought provoking - I enjoyed it. The ending was weak and a disappointment.Published 21 months ago by Carole McCune
I bought this book at a time when my faith came into question as never before. Facing some of the greatest difficulties ever and wondering why I felt so alone, powerless and... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Fdykujkfvdgd