Sunday, July 29, 2012

Why You Might Want to Consider Being a Lutheran

A review of my friend Daisy Rain Martin's Juxtaposed: Finding Sanctuary on the Outside:

Years ago, Saturday Night Live had a sketch set in heaven. As I recall, the sketch ended with some mortal asking Someone In The Know (An angel? St. Peter? Dana Carvey? I forget) what the one true religion is. Someone In The Know said, "Lutheran." After reading about the diabolically patriarchal upbringing of Ms. Martin and the Pentecostal culture which supported it (with a little help from the Good Book, of course), you may want to consider MISTER Martin's arguments for being a Lutheran (he sold me at "Lutherans go to church for 59 minutes flat and we get to the Olive Garden before everybody else"). Growing up Lutheran myself, I certainly can't recall my mother saying that she had to obey my father in all things simply because the Bible told her so. Ultimately, though, this Christian memoir isn't about claiming that there's one denomination (or even religion) that will get you the closest to God. That alone is refreshing. The brutal honesty here is also something greatly to be admired, even when it leads the reader down the same dark roads of abuse and other familial betrayals which Ms. Martin was forced to travel. The frank critique of conservative Christianity by a, yes, true believer with almost unheard of (for a religion-tinged memoir) frank language gives us the feeling that a real honest-to-Someone person is doing the narrating. While T.V. preacher Joel Osteen--he of the football stadium-sized church and megawatt smile--might put all the inexplicable negative outcomes on planet Earth into what he calls his "I Don't Know" file, Daisy Martin breaks it down the way you or I or Forrest Gump might. She says, "Shit happens." And while there is, no joke, some tough shit to get through in this memoir thanks to the villain at the heart of its darkness, Martin's sense of humor, sharp observations, and vivid imagery always keep the narrative compelling. In short, to offer up another relevant cliche, she lights a candle in the dark.


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