I’m not a follower of the Evangelical writer Lauren Winner’s work, but I was surprised to read that she has been ordained an Episcopal priest, has been divorced from her husband, and has written a book about it, her second memoir. She’s 35. Excerpt from a story about it:
Winner said she no longer feels comfortable doling out advice on sexual ethics. Nor does she want to talk about her marriage or any other subsequent relationships. The couple were married six years and split up in 2009.
“Still” reflects that tightrope act: It is at once a veiled attempt to describe a personal crisis and what Lischer called a “book of hours,” a collection of devotions comprising prayers and meditations.
If her life turned out messy, Winner seems to say, why not use that as an example to help others going through similar quandaries?
“In Christianity there’s this script of, you do the right things and you will not come to that place of despair, and something is wrong with you if you do,” she said. “I didn’t feel I had an abundance of preparation for hitting that experience.”
Hmm. I’ve read her work before, and she’s a good writer, but I’m not sure that someone that young, with so much tumult in her background — raised Reform Jewish, she converted to Orthodox Judaism as an undergraduate, then to Christianity as a grad student; married, divorced, and now a priest — I’m not sure what someone so incredibly unsettled has to teach others about the spiritual life. I say that as someone who has followed a comparably winding, rocky, and restless spiritual path. It’s no false humility to say that I don’t have anything all that useful to advise people about how to conduct their spiritual lives, given the disorder and instability in my own history. It’s a relief to be working on a book about my sister’s way of life, to just tell it like it was for her, and to try to convey the lessons in the life and death of someone so alien in her steadfastness and certainty. It’s a disburdening process, simply learning how to shut up and learn something.