It’s ridiculous that I’ve never done a book review on Thought and Musing until now. I read a lot of books. And I have a lot of opinions.
Since first discovering “Still”, I have read it and re-read it and read it some more, each time discovering new beauty in Winner’s words.
“Still” discusses what Winner terms the “middle” of faith… not quite yet at maturity (when are we ever?) but the glow and certainty of Christianity has faded. When you have more questions than assurance. When God seems quiet.
“Whether you feel a wrenching anguish or simply a kind of distracted listlessness, the middle looks unfamiliar when you get there. The assumptions and habits that sustained you in your faith life in earlier years no longer seem to hold you. A God who was once close seems somehow farther away, maybe in hiding.”
To me, it reads like a modern day version of the many Psalms that cry out to God to reveal himself. While “Still” discusses theological questions that have no clear answers, it is also a memoir of Winner’s dark night – after her divorce and the death of her mother, as she longs to find clarity and meaning. It is a book that somehow manages to be both intensely personal and universally relevant.
“And yet in those same moments of strained belief, of not knowing where or if God is, it has also seemed that the Christian story keeps explaining who and where I am, better than any other story I know. On the days when I think I have a fighting chance at redemption, at change, I understand it to be these words and these rituals and these people who will change me. Some days I am not sure if my faith is riddled with doubt or whether, graciously, my doubt is riddled with faith. And yet I continue to live in a world the way a religious person lives in the world; I keep living in a world that I know to be enchanted, and not left alone. I doubt; I am uncertain; I am restless, prone to wander. And yet glimmers of hope keep interrupting my gaze.”
I always felt like I was alone in my doubt. No matter how much I was encouraged in bible study or heard other people affirm that they too have doubts, I assumed that my doubt was worse. That my doubt ran deeper than their doubt. That it often felt that my doubt and my longing for faith would never be reconciled.
That no one really understood what it was like to turn up to church out of routine and nothing else. No one understood that often the only thing that stood between faith and not faith for me, was the lack of a better choice.
I felt like I was alone in this… until I read Still and realised that Winner has been there too. Just like my faith journey, Winner’s is also riddled with potholes and stop signs and road works and dead ends.