“[I]f you thought all Evangelical women were sitting quietly in church or baking casseroles for the next pot-luck, all the while dreaming of the next election in which they can vote right-wing . . . here’s a jolt and a pleasant surprise for you.” — Brian McLaren
Jesus Girls “Un-testify” about Growing Up Female and Evangelical in New Book by Cascade Books: A collection of personal essays by up-and-coming female writers, Jesus Girls offers a window into a world of flannel board Jesuses, Christian “rap” music, faith healing, and Bible memorization competitions. Eschewing pat formulas, these women provide insights on topics of community, worship, education, sexuality, and identity.
Evangelicals are taught to tell their life stories as “testimonies,” inspirational tales of dramatic conversion. But this formula leaves out a lot of stories–and a lot of voices, especially female voices, according to editor, Hannah Faith Notess.
In Jesus Girls “un-testimonies” from women with varying experiences in evangelicalism are given voice. “I think it would be hard to overestimate how my faith and church experience influence my writing,” says Sara Zarr, a National Book Award-nominated young adult novelist who contributes an essay to Jesus Girls. Notess adds, “You have to figure out how to make your beliefs your own.”
While working for an evangelical Christian publisher, Notess first conceived the idea for Jesus Girls. Looking for spiritual autobiographies by people who didn’t quite have the sinner-to-saint transformation, she discovered many of the same old conversion narratives, but a dearth of the “story that refuses to conform to a simple before-and-after pattern.”
“As the Christian books came across my desk,” Notess says, “I saw lots of books about how to raise your kids Christian, but the books would never describe what happened when the kids started to think for themselves.” Jesus Girls contains reflections by some of those kids–those girls!–who are now thinking for themselves.
According to Publishers Weekly, “the authors tell of a more realistic, meandering faith, enduring even while rife with doubt. Readers will be inspired to re-examine their own beliefs and perhaps even create their own un-testimonies.”
Hannah Faith Notess is the creative writing editor of The Other Journal. She earned a BA in English at Westmont College, and an MFA in creative writing at Indiana University, where she was the poetry editor at Indiana Review. She was the 2008-2009 Milton Center Fellow at Seattle Pacific University. Her writing has appeared in Slate, The Christian Century, Mid-American Review, and Crab Orchard Review, with work forthcoming in Poet Lore, Los Angeles Review, and Christianity and Literature.
True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical
Experience in Evangelicalism, Vol. 1
ISBN 13: 978-1-60608-541-7/ $26 Retail / 236 pp. / Paper
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