Spiritual Sobriety

Spiritual Sobriety: Stumbling Back To Faith When Good Religion Goes Bad is Elizabeth Esther's second book. I read her first book, Girl At The End Of The World, and enjoyed reading her story (although I had mixed feelings about that book as well, but I did like it). So I knew I'd want to read her second book so hear what Elizabeth's been up to since her first book was released. I don't follow her blog or social media accounts,so all I know about her is what I read previously in Girl At The End Of The World. This book is less about Elizabeth's personal story and more of a self help book. The title is intriguing, obviously, and I wasn't sure what to expect. The book description reads:

"It’s easy to get high on God in America.
But is this good religion?

In a compelling follow-up to her memoir, Girl at the End of the World, Elizabeth Esther explores how religious fervor can become religious addiction.

The evidence is everywhere. In families who inexplicably choose to harm their children in order to abide by cultic church doctrine. But in ordinary believers too who use God the same way addicts use drugs or alcohol—to numb pain, alter their mood, or simply to escape the realities of this messy, unpredictable thing called life.

If you’ve ever wondered how a religion that preaches freedom and love can produce judgmental and unkind followers; if you’ve ever felt captive to the demanding God of your own childhood; if you’ve struggled to find contentment without needing another emotional hit from a “life-changing” conference or “mountain-top” experience, then Spiritual Sobriety is for you. The author, who grew up in a hyper-controlling church cult, will help you find hope and rebirth in the ruins of disillusioned faith.

Filled with stories and warm, practical advice, Spiritual Sobriety offers a gentle path out of the desperate cycles of craving-euphoria-hangover and into a freer, clean-and-sober faith practice."

I have major mixed feelings about this book. To start with a positive, I did quickly read this book (in less than a day) because it was interesting. It's also a very short read, the bulk of the book being just 170 pages. I loved reading Elizabeth's stories and experiences. I can relate to some of her experiences. While I would never class myself a "religious addict" (a term and concept that I find highly debateable, but that's another story), I did relate to her description of being a "habit addict". I really could relate to many of the behaviors and stories about being a habit addict. This book gives some great tips and advice for breaking bad habits and addictions.

On the other hand, I cringed at many of the things said in this book. It was full of New-Agey and non-Orthodox concepts and ideas, bordering on heresy, ie, along the lines of "find your version of God and religion and that's the right version for you". I'm sorry, but I just can't agree with that. The Bible is our guide for the Christian faith and it's got some very concrete concepts, truths, and practices that we are to follow. I'd tread cautiously while reading this book, especially if you are weak in your faith. However, there are some good ideas, stories, and helps in here. I'm giving this one three stars: some good things in here, but proceed with caution.

I received a copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


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