Breaking Up with God
A Love Story
By Sarah Sentilles
(HarperOne, Hardcover, 9780061946868, 256pp.)
Publication Date: June 2011
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I broke up with God. The breakup was devastating. It was like a divorce when all the friends you had as a couple are forced to choose sides and end up not choosing yours.
Sarah Sentilles's relationship with God was not casual. When it began to unravel she was in the ordination process to become an Episcopal priest, a youth minister at a church, and a doctoral student in theology at Harvard. You might say they were engaged and that the wedding was all planned. Calling it off would be more than a little awkward. But in the studying of the religion she'd been raised on and believed wholeheartedly, one day she woke up and realized . . . it was over.
In this powerful memoir of faith, Sentilles reveals how deep our ties to God can be, and how devastating they can be to break. Without God to mold herself to and without religion as her script, who was she and what was her purpose? Her relationship with God had been connected to everythingher family, her friends, her vocation, the places she frequented, the language she used, and her way of being in the world.
Not unlike after a divorce, she had to reorient her life and face a future that felt darkly unfamiliar. But this beautiful, brave book is surprisingly filled with hope, a coming-out story that lets others know it's safe to come out too, and that there's light on the other side.
Sarah Sentilles is the author of A Church of Her Own and Taught by America. She is a scholar of religion and earned a bachelor's degree in literature from Yale and a master's of divinity and a doctorate in theology from Harvard. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
“Honest, like down-to-the-core honest, beyond what most people are capable of, especially in public on the topic of faith. I admire her as much for her conviction as for her talent as a writer.”
-Kelly Corrigan, author of the New York Times bestsellers The Middle Place and Lift
“Provocative, penetrating, honest and real. Sarah Sentilles, in chronicling her own story, chronicles the journey that all of us must take in search of our own humanity. Would that institutional religion were big enough to embrace and affirm her work.”
-John Shelby Spong, author of Sins of Scripture
“Breaking Up With God is a beautiful reminder that truth is found in questions, not answers, in seeking, not finding. From Sarah Sentilles, I have learned my ‘No’ to God can be every bit as helpful as my ‘Yes.’”
-Philip Gulley, author of If the Church Were Christian
“Sarah Sentilles’ book is a treasure and a triumph of the heart. Wise, funny, and fearless, she dares to take the ultimate questions seriously enough to be outrageously honest. May her journey be a challenge to those whose imperturbable faith may filter out the anguish and fragility of our world.”
-Joanna Macy, author of World as Lover, World as Self.
“This is a wonderfully moving book, written with rare elegance, real passion, warm humor, and penetrating insight. Breaking Up With God will comfort those who no longer believe, guide those who are plagued with doubts, and challenge those who wonder how anyone could leave the faith.”
-Bart D. Ehrman, author of Misquoting Jesus
“[Sentilles] tells her story in a way that is never preachy or pushy. She is not angry or bitter and seems to have no intention of converting readers to her viewpoint. She simply shares her journey with a tenderness and authenticity that is both heartbreaking and hopeful.”
“There is so much to love about this book...Her language is always straightforward, and her voice is strong and consistent, but straightforward isn’t just simple. At times the language is exalted, breathtaking, captivating and just stupid f-ing brilliant.”