Kate Braestrup has been married and widowed, betrayed and betrothed, her personal spirituality constantly evolving along the way. How do God and love figure in our everyday lives and bonds with others? In Marriage and Other Acts of Charity she tackles these big questions with stories from her own relationships--romantic and familial, platonic and professional--much as Anne Lamott weaves her spirituality through her tales of parenthood.
With the same compassion and warmth that made Here If You Need Me a New York Times best seller, Braestrup engages readers fully, regardless of their path in life. She tells us about teaching sex education for her daughter's eighth-grade class, and the welcome embrace extended toward her adopted nephew from Africa. She introduces the essential concept that charity--the key to all relationships--is a whole-hearted selfless emotion, which is but a hint of God's immense devotion. Kate Braestrup's very human outlook gives anyone seeking to understand human relationships a fresh perspective on what it is to love and be loved.
©2010 Kate Braestrup; (P)2010 Hachette
The author is a Unitarian Universalist and there are many references to her outsider status, some explicit, some subtle.
Aware that her audience is diverse, though, the theology she expounds is modest and avoids controversy. As an argumentative theology major myself, I have grumbled while listening to at least some passages of every theological audiobook I own (around a dozen). Insight after insight is cleverly delivered without the overstatement that it so hard to avoid.
There is one three sentence passage that explains UU theology in a manner that sounds mildly missionary ("God is love. That's it.... Really.) and gay marriage is briefly addressed in a non-polemic manner, but the book would make an excellent text for people looking to return to orthodoxy, or gift from someone hoping the recipient might enjoy an appealing and gentle advertisement for the life of faith that would avoid teaching heresy. Catholics and high church Protestants may find it particularly surprisingly good, but no denomination will find it offensive on issues that the denomination is in the mainstream on, with the exception of the above caveats and the author's position as a female chaplain, a position Catholics will be comfortable with (no mention is made of communion or other sacraments Catholic female chaplains, rather than priests, could not, in extremis, officiate at), and most, albeit not all, Protestants should have even less issue. The question is only implicit, albeit obvious; again Braestrup avoids *advocating* anything that could be felt to be heretical.
I am moved by Kate's transparency in this book. I am inspired to love like she does, despite the foibles of our own humanity.
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