Spirituality & Health Magazine

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Book Review: Healing Spiritual Wounds

2017 March-April
Reviewer:
Kathryn Drury Wagner

Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God after Experiencing a Hurtful Church

By Carol Howard Merritt

HarperOne

Many of us turn away from organized religion—even God—so hurt are we by encounters we’ve had with a faith’s sexism, homophobia, abuse, oppression, emotional manipulation, egomaniacal leadership. … I’m probably leaving something off the list here. In her new book, the Rev. Carol Howard Merritt sees this painful schism and acknowledges it, yet shares a healing path back to spirituality. It’s a path she knows well herself: she survived a conservative Baptist upbringing, abusive father, and wrathful fundamentalist Bible college before deciding, hey, there’s a better way, and a loving God. She’s now a Presbyterian minister known for her work among the poor and disenfranchised, and the award-winning author of Tribal Church: Ministering to the Missing Generation and Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation. She is also a cohost of the podcast “God Complex Radio.”

So why bother? Why pick up the shards and reconnect with a spiritual practice? Because many people, Merritt notes, “have a spiritual or theological orientation, and to eschew that would make us incomplete. … We’ve found that we need to make amends with our past rather than severing it.” In her book, she provides exercises for doing just that, for reclaiming God, and hope, maybe even being “born again,” again. She provides scriptural context, prayers, stories, and ways to build community—all provide salve for old, toxic messages and tender places, leading the reader into a sense of liberation and wholeness. This book is joyful, but it’s also sobering, for it’s a reminder of how deeply religious practices can wound the spirit, and just how many people are still out there, right now, being pierced by cruelty in the name of God. 

Listen to a podcast on Spiritual Healing with Carol Howard Merritt and host Rabbi Rami here.

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