Lauren Winner first drew widespread literary attention in 2004 with the spritely spiritual memoir Girl Meets God: A Memoir, which told the story of her conversion first to Orthodox Judaism and then to a Christianity of a Jesus-loving-Anglican-intellectual-evangelical kind. That book, with its fun and its chatty tone, snuck up on me like a charming guest at a cocktail party.
It’s not easy for churches to address what sociologist Barbara Dafoe Whitehead has termed the “divorce culture.” For one thing, the changes in laws and attitudes that have made divorce easier to obtain in the past half century represent an advance for women.
The parable of the Prodigal Son is often used to illustrate the gracious and steadfast nature of God’s love. Most of us can recognize and even identify with the characters—the younger son who strikes out on his own and makes costly mistakes, the responsible elder son who always does what is expected of him, and the long-suffering father, who shows love and constancy.
Pope Benedict XVI has called for greater consistency in the granting of annulments, suggesting that Catholic church authorities in some countries have been too lax in declaring marriages void. The pope apparently did not cite U.S. dioceses, though they handle more than half of all annulments worldwide.
Elizabeth Marquardt’s book sat on my shelf for many weeks. I really wanted to read it. I had heard about her research and had been intrigued. Yet I kept avoiding actually opening the book. It does not take a shrink to tell me I was avoiding it because I didn’t want to take a look into this particular mirror.
In a marriage, two people with different backgrounds and often different values come together and work to merge their two worlds into some kind of unity. When they divorce, however, the job of making sense of their two worlds and the conflicts that arise between them gets handed from the adults to the child. Now the child is on his own to negotiate the different beliefs and values and ways of living that he finds in each parent's world.