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See Me Naked: Stories of Sexual Exile in American Christianity Hardcover – November 1, 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“An essential book [that] will perhaps begin the national conversation that we deserve.”—Paul Landerman, Edge
“Frykholm and the brave souls she interviews will challenge your understanding of grace.”—David K. Wheeler, Burnside Writers Collective
“The most redemptive book I've ever read.”—Dave, Elliot Bay Bookstore

“A culturally significant collection that explores the challenges of reconciling pleasure with piety.”—Kirkus

“A Christian herself, Frykholm does not offer this book as a means to discourage people from the religion. Rather, she holds up these wounded but not lost souls to critique dogmatic practices that, in disdaining the body, disdain the spirit.”—Crystal K. Wiebe, Bitch
“A fascinating, troubling, and finally heartening book that subtly shows ways that Christians might reconcile their bodies with their devotion to God. Highly recommended for individual Christians but also for pastors and church groups.”Library Journal, starred review

“Amy Frykholm has gathered the intimate stories of people of faith in search of wholeness. These tender tales both challenge and encourage the church to listen to voices it might not hear otherwise. When it comes to integrating mind, body and spirit, the Church can serve as curse or blessing. These searingly honest stories compel us to strive for the latter.”—The Rev. Lillian Daniel, author of Tell it Like it is: Recovering the Practice of Testimony
“This is a compelling book that traverses the teeming intersection of sexuality and faith in the life of nine individuals. They are stories of very ordinary people's struggles to live as whole beings. Their stories are rendered with such compassion and insight, however, that the result is anything but ordinary. The reader is left with the conviction that the church must, and the hope that it will, minister to people in the fullness of their lives.”—The Rev. Martin B. Copenhaver, author of To Begin at the Beginning

“American Christianity is facing a crisis: our easy answers about life after death have left so many with little hope for life in their bodies here and now. Amy Frykholm chronicles this crisis in real time, inviting us to experience the pain of sisters and brothers living in exile from their flesh. But she also proclaims a gentle word of hope: ‘look again at our tradition,’ she seems to whisper. 'Christ is risen in a body with feet that touch the ground."–Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, author of The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture

“With singular gentleness and a palpable respect for those whose stories she is telling, Amy Frykholm lays bare whole areas of human sexual formation that I had never seen before, much less considered….This is an important book.”—Phyllis Tickle, author of The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and Why  

“These disarmingly honest life stories of people navigating the ‘tenacious strangeness’ of their sexual and spiritual lives will stay with you long after you finish this book. So will the gracious, honoring, and insightful ways Frykholm tells and interprets them. It should be on every Protestant pastor's coffee table.”—Timothy Beal, author of The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book

About the Author

Amy Frykholm is author of Rapture Culture: Left Behind in Evangelical America and Julian of Norwich: A Contemplative Biography. She works as a correspondent for the Christian Century and lives in Colorado. 

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (November 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807004669
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807004661
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,616,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Frykohlm has done us all a great favor: she's given us bodies, stories, lives of nine people who struggle within the confusing nexus of their faith and their sexuality. The portraits are well-written, compelling, sympathetic. The author has done an excellent job of getting inside others' skin. The introduction is particularly good, revealing the author's keen analytical mind,but See Me Naked expresses no real agenda beyond this: to complicate whatever narrative and simple fix we've given to this cluster of issues. It does this very successfully. But, while complication is always necessary----nearly every issue is thornier than we want to admit---I confess to a bit of impatience over the author's impatience with those who set rules for right sexual conduct. We often name "simple," "naive" or "fundamentalist" those who teach and set biblical rules for sexuality, or for anything. We may feel that we're too educated or sophisticated to simply follow "rules," and then we offer open doors sometimes to those who can't not go through them. (I remember, as well, that God's first revelation of Himself to his new people was through "rules," 10 of them.) We often pit story against "rule"--and I'm not sure this is a true or necessary divide. Despite this complaint, I do think "See Me Naked" is a valuable addition to a topic increasingly and necessarily under scrutiny.
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Format: Paperback
I found several aspects of this book to be particularly helpful for thinking through our process of introducing sexuality in student youth ministries. In the introduction, Frykholm describes the tensions that she sets out to explore in the book:

“Spirituality and sexuality, for many people in American society and perhaps especially Christians, are kept rigidly separate, and many struggle to find a way to reconcile the religious elements of their lives and their sexual realities.”

To unpack this idea, she divides her book into three parts, each featuring three different narratives from nine individuals. The book is unique in that it doesn’t present itself as a wellspring of information with all the research, statistics, bullet points, and practical tips that dominate most of our academic landscape. Rather she lets the stories speak for themselves leaving the reader(s) with the impression that our approach to sexuality cannot be whittled down to simplicity as our cumulative experiences are not simple. This is effective for those who bind sexuality to a pillar of statutes wherein the only answer is a simple answer. Unfortunately, our habits of acceptance have reduced any plan that God may have for our sexual redemption into a plan of mere compliance and suppression that renders our sexuality weak, shallow, and inaccessible for many who desire to see God’s presence in this part of their lives.

I highly recommend it.
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By JCM on December 8, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Whatever a person thinks about sexual ethics within a particular religious tradition it is important to listen before speaking. This book helps take all thoughtful people on a journey of close listening and thus it is an enriching book even where it challenges and perplexes.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For the most part, I liked the book. It provided an excellent and thorough overview of how American churches practices can create an unhealthy sexuality for its people, which can lead to damaging shame. This insight is sorely needed today in our American churches and I am thankful for her telling these stories along with a good amount of diversity within the different stories.

My problem with the book is two-fold. One, she is a journalist telling stories but with her own biases included throughout telling these stories. That is fine, I'm a critical thinker and none of us are objective. But it is a bit misleading: are you telling someone else's story or are you promoting your own agenda? She owns her bias at the end but the stories she has written have already been tainted by this point. Two, she offers a response that creates significant theological concerns needing to be addressed. No weight to the authority of the Bible is given, much less how to reconcile what the Bible says when our experience creates a conflict. So do we simply take the parts of the Bible we like and ignore the rest that does not measure up with our experience? She never addresses this and while I understand this was not the purpose of the book and that she is not a theologian, it is irresponsible to give a commentary for what we the church should do while completely ignoring this major tension. As a journalist, her response is akin to a pastor lecturing on science or a scientist lecturing on spirituality and philosophy-out your sphere of expertise and better left to those with it.
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I was very disappointed that after some great interviews in SEE ME NAKED, Frykholm attacked a narrow segment of evangelical Christianity by commenting on the 37-year-old THE ACT of MARRIAGE (LaHaye) as if it were the latest, last word from evangelicals on married sex. LaHaye did not write a bad book, but dozens of titles have appeared since, both by male and female authors, that show sex as the joyous relationship it's portrayed in the Bible. Frykholm needs to review her research and see what she missed.

Eric Wiggin
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