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Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis Hardcover – January 31, 2012

3.8 out of 5 stars 96 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In Girl Meets God (2002), Winner wrote about moving from Judaism to Orthodox Judaism to Christianity. Now, 10 years on, she has hit a rough patch. The death of her mother and a much-stewed-over divorce have thrown her into a spiritual crisis, and she no longer feels God near. To miss the presence of God is not new. In the sixteenth century, St. John of the Cross called it “the long night of the soul,” and more recently, Mother Teresa’s letters recount the absence of Jesus for more than half her life. Within this framework, Winner seems, well, a bit of a whiner. Even her spiritual advisor tells her at one point that she might do less thinking and more serving church, God, and neighbor. Although she muses throughout, Winner never really makes clear to readers, or perhaps to herself, why she thinks this space has formed between her and God. That said, those musings, in short chapters, are elegantly written, and the author’s strong personality makes the book eminently readable, even when you want to tell her to snap out of it. --Ilene Cooper


“Anyone committed to truly examining the shape of personal faith, unfolding over the years in a broken world, should sense a fruitful opportunity, if not a solemn obligation, to expound at length…[Winner] probes these depths as deftly and eloquently as anyone writing today… An instant spiritual classic.” (Christianity Today)

“In present-tense, lyrical essays . . . [Winner] explores her emotional landscape as she struggles to move beyond the depression that plagues her following her mother’s death and her own divorce. Examining feelings of grief, failure, and doubt . . . Winner brings poetic nuances to her exquisitely crafted prose.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Compulsively readable, direct yet never indiscreet, Winner’s book shows intelligence and verve as it seriously addresses the spiritual crises around God’s apparent absence or silence, as faced by many. A must-have for Winner’s readers and fans of Anne Lamott.” (Library Journal (starred review))

“Titles to pick up now... Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis: insights on spiritual uncertainty from a devout Christian convert.” (O, the Oprah Magazine)

“Elegantly written . . . eminently readable.” (Booklist)

“The book is made to pour over again and again. You’ll fill the pages with underlines, the margins with notes. Each short chapter is loaded with insights that don’t so much build on one another as weave a rich tapestry of possibilities in the midst of a spiritual desert.” (Relevant Magazine)

“[A] provocative memoir . . . an open, honest contemplation of a spiritual impasse.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Winner writes thoughtfully and eloquently about finding herself in the middle and accepting her place there.” (Shelf Awareness)

Still grasps for faith in a Middle space and discovers a stranger, bigger and more faithful God than we expected.” (Relevant Magazine)

“Soft and vulnerable, yet blunt and veracious . . . If you’re a lover of books like Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott or any other writers who are not afraid to unveil their imperfections in hopes of finding kindred spirits, then take this walk with Winner.” (Beliefnet)

“Winner possesses a flair for narrative and a willingness to use her life’s story as an easel. . . . Like Anne Lamott (Traveling Mercies), or Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love), Winner is at her best spinning small but hopeful meditations on life’s imperfections.” (The Washington Post)

“Lauren Winner’s brave, spare, and subtle book is a great gift to the church. She lifts up doubt and absence with enough honesty to reveal the unfinished edges, and the radiance, of faith itself.” (Sara Miles, author of Take This Bread and Jesus Freak)

“Winner grabs God’s hiddenness by the shoulders and will not let go. She knows the grace that can only be learned when we stand with Moses, staring into the raging waters, and hear a voice say, ‘The LORD will fight for you; you need only to stand still.” (Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, author of The Wisdom of Stability)

“Still water reveals depth--as does this account of ordinary life and what lies beneath.” (Philip Yancey, author of What Good Is God?)

“An unusually painful story, told with rare honesty by an unusually gifted writer.” (N.T. Wright, author of Simply Jesus)

“Not for the faint-hearted, Winner’s book not only undresses and confronts doubt, but imparts new courage to trust God through it.” (Worship Leader Magazine)

“Winner is one of those gifted teachers who slips in some wisdom along with the sweet stuff on the spoon. We take our medicine from the ancients, the Christian mystics and the scriptures while tasting the sweetness of her narrative.” (Christian Century)

“In an age when it is much easier to make fun of the church than to love it ... Winner has made the church a main character so honestly drawn that we recognize it ... treasure it and laugh in amazement that God can work with it. Still.” (Christian Century)

Still is about losing the connection to God, or Jesus, and then getting that connection back.” (Washington Post)

“Despite deep pain and doubt, Winner relentlessly searches God’s mysteries, seeking peace and authenticity in her faith. Her spiritual memoir is unblinking, credible, and compelling.” (Christianity Today (Christianity Today 2013 Book Award, Spirituality))

“Lauren Winner’s prose is insightful, honest and always right on point. In each best-selling book, the Duke professor reclaims previously cliché-laden topics and has developed a new vocabulary for a generation fed up with conventional answers.” (Relevant Magazine)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 244 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (January 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061768111
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061768118
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #778,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Adam Shields VINE VOICE on January 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have been sitting on this book for over a week. Normally I write my reviews almost immediately after I finish the book, read through them a couple of times and publish them. But I am not sure how to review this book. It is not because I didn't like it. I really did like it.

It is more because I am not sure how to describe the book. This is not a straight forward memoir, or standard prose Christian Living book. Parts of it are more like diary entries. There are chapters that are just a single quote. It is a book intended to take a while to work your way through. It is the taking the reader through the arc of pain and spiritual loneliness that the author went through.

I finished the book last Tuesday. On Monday, Christianity Today posted a review that was probably ill advised. Winner is a regular contributor to Christianity Today and Books and Culture. So she is well known to the other editors and to many of the readers. When the reviewer ended the review with:

"Still is an instant spiritual classic, and a balm for disillusioned Christians who don't know or particularly like the God to whom they pledged fidelity years ago, as well as for those who divorced God long ago but are looking into remarriage. The Christ who wooed Lauren Winner away from her lively Judaism so many years ago is the same today and forever, till death do us part."

I knew there would be a problem. Many of the comments decried her divorce and a few hinted that she should no longer be considers an author of spiritual works. A couple almost danced at the fact that Winner (whose previous books includes a book on Christian sex) did not manage to have a marriage last more than six years.

There is something particularly nasty about Christians that cannot give grace.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
After reading an advance copy of Lauren Winner's new (forthcoming in February) memoir Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, it occurred to me that far more egocentric than writing a book all about oneself is the feat of writing a book all about oneself and trying to play it off as a book about anyone or anything else.

Furthermore, the one thing more outrageously premature and obnoxious than writing a memoir--a spiritual memoir, no less--before old or even middle age or even 35, is writing two. There are, of course, exceptional circumstances under which a very young person's memoirs may be notable or especially insightful. The occasion of being a privileged young academic from the American South East does not rise to this level of notability. Winner cannot be blamed for this, entirely. Confessional prose is one of the few publishing avenues wide open to talented young female writers, and only open then given that they fulfill certain prerequisites (attractive, willing to talk about sexuality...) and even then, privilege and connections are required to even get in the door. Winner's career as a 30-something serial memoirist illustrates, through no fault of her own, everything that is wrong and corrupt in the current American publishing industry.

Nonetheless, I was excited to read Still, and despite my slight quibbles and larger objections to Winner's style and theology, I had enjoyed her previous works. The book purports to not be a straight memoir, nor a guidebook, but more of a public service, I suppose, a companion for those of us Christians who might ourselves experience a sort of...dark night of the soul. Which is, of course, an allusion to a work far better suited to serve such a purpose than Winner's present volume.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is advertised as exploring what happens at a crisis of faith, when one reaches the "middle" of the spiritual life and feels stuck, or bored, or unsure whether or not to continue. It does not do so in any way that needed to be published.

Lauren Winner is an engaging and gifted writer. Her prose is easy to read and in many places beautiful. However, this story really was not helpful. As others have said, the VAST majority of it was just her self-centered introspection. Not the kind of introspection that lends itself to growth and wisdom, but the kind that just comes across as navel-gazing.

There are many books for the spiritual life that cover this theme far better. Even on desolation, on wrestling with God, or finding yourself not even wanting to wrestle with God anymore.

I do not mean this as an attack on the pain Ms. Winner must have felt following her divorce, the death of her mother, or her spiritual crisis and dryness. But I see very little to recommend here for others.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Lauren Winner is a talented writer and a provocative thinker, but I do not believe that this book is her best work. The subtitle says the book is "Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis," and the author describes it as "an autobiographically inflected rumination on a focused spiritual theme -the theme of desolation and consolation," and acknowledges that it is "not really a narrative . . . the chapters are reflections." This is generally accurate, but to use the term "chapter" to describe many of these observations is a bit of overstatement: many are only a page or two in length, some only a few sentences. The author admits that "structuring this book was hard," and it shows - the book has the feel of a collection of blog or journal entries that have been bound between two covers in roughly chronological sequence. "Mid-Faith" is also a bit of a stretch, given that the author is in her thirties and is a relatively recent convert to Christianity from Orthodox Judaism (although Wikipedia tells us that she was recently ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church, notwithstanding her "mid-faith crisis").

I found the content of the book to be sometimes interesting, but usually when the author was quoting another thinker or writer. The author acknowledges at one point that her complaining "sounds tinny and childish," and that same tone is present in many of the chapters of the book. She mocks another post-divorce memoir (snarkily calling it "Masticate, Meditate, and Masturbate"), yet her style constantly - relentlessly - evokes that other work with its references to the type of food being eaten, the wine being drunk, the color of the dress she was wearing, the music that is playing, the piece of artwork being contemplated during the discussion with "my friend [fill in the blank - e.g.
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