Resurrecting Grace is a wildly entertaining collection of memoir about the often painful and humorous experience of growing up in the one true faith. This small confessional of personal pieces from women and men about the Church, the saints, the nuns, hidden desires, and overt transgressions—and of course the guilt, the guilt, the guilt—is one for proud Catholics, former and recovering Catholics, and Catholics by association. Editor Marilyn Sewell, a Unitarian minister who was raised in the Catholic faith, approaches her subject with a kind of reverent humor. The book is arranged thematically, around topics like "The Sins of the Flesh," "Sister, May I?," and "Suffering and Sacrifice," and includes pieces by Rosemary Bray, Roberto Rodriguez, Mary Gordon, Esmeralda Santiago, Tobias Wolff, and many others.
Rich in the images and experiences that can only be the result of a Catholic upbringing, these stories prove the promise of a community founded on faith and sustained with hope.
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Louise DeSalvo, author of Vertigo: A Memoir and Virginia Woolf: Sexual Abuse in Her Life and Work, is professor of English at Hunter College.From Publishers Weekly:
When Sewell, a Unitarian minister and an ex-Catholic, put out a call for essays from writers who also had grown up Catholic, she expected to receive texts inundated with sarcastic humor and acrimony. She got some, to be sure, but when she found them wanting, she continued to search for works with greater texture. Her willingness to go deeper makes this collection more than another mundane Catholic lampoon. Instead, Sewell has thoughtfully included such treasures as excerpts from Patricia Hampl's Virgin Time and Thomas Merton's The Seven Storey Mountain, both of which reflect the depth and richness of the ancient faith. Other contributors, such as Richard Meibers, convey a certain respect for Catholicism's beauty, even if they no longer consider themselves part of the church. Meibers, for example, writes engagingly in "Chanting Faint Hymns" of the inexplicable attraction he feels for a nun in his graduate hermeneutics seminar and ties it effectively to his memories of the nuns who cared for him in an orphan home. As with any recollections, the ones that Sewell has gathered are refracted through the lens of each writer's present set of beliefs. Thus, readers searching for accurate representations of Catholic life in the past would do well to look elsewhere. Sewell's own remembrance, for instance, contains an inexact teaching about the Catholic Eucharist. But it is her memory, and all she claims to have done in this book is to give voice to individual recollections.
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