Are Glennon Doyle Melton and Elizabeth Gilbert Hurting the Memoir Genre?

About a year ago, a friend of mine that I deeply trust recommended I read Glennon Doyle Melton’s memoir, Carry On, Warrior. As I read, it became clear that Melton has a good voice on the page, a refreshing sense of humor, and a tender eye for story. I was especially drawn to the passage that seemingly led to the book’s title. These are my words, not hers, but Melton seemed to be suggesting that in this life we are compelled to live as warriors while at the same time needing to let go of our various forms of artificial armor. I think Melton’s right: life is fuller at that paradox. It was no surprise to me that her work had caught on with a significant audience.

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3 Reasons a Modern-Day Lincoln Wouldn’t get Elected to the U.S. Presidency

In the most recent Presidential debate, the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, invoked the 2012 Steven Spielberg film, Lincoln. I remember watching and enjoying the film, quite literally, in a packed theater in Northern Ireland and was glad for the opportunity to think back to what the movie taught me. It wasn’t surprising that Spielberg told part of Lincoln’s story well, exposing the man’s flaws or struggles and including Lincoln’s tenuous family relationships during the height of political tension. Dialogue played a central role in the film, which is probably as it should be with such a brilliant rhetorician as Lincoln. One of the surprises of the film was, of course, that it was Republicans who led the charge to free the slaves. It was the sort of film that gave me goosebumps, that even made me proud (and also saddened) to be an American. Good stories, if we let them, will break our hearts while giving us enough hope to carry on. Though I haven’t followed through, I left the theater that day wanting to read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Bible-of-a-book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.

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It’s Not About the Damn Perfume

I in a house with two guys who are slightly younger than me. My block is in a part of the city that has an ify reputation, but my neighbors look out for each other. Many of those neighbors are involved in a church a couple blocks away that is known for a variety of creative projects: a community garden, a daycare, a book review, and a Community Development Corporation that takes on a variety of housing initiatives throughout the neighborhood. While it is not a church I personally attend, I have a lot of respect for what they do, and I hang out with congregants from there regularly.

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Magnolia and Regrets

I was in my parents’ living room the first time I tried to watch Magnolia. For as long as I can remember, my family has done this thing when we watch movies together. Right at the most emotional or romantic moment in the film, someone will pat the left part of his or her chest and say, as dramatically as possible, “Gets ya right here.” Then someone else would repeat it and pretty soon no one would be watching the movie anymore. We would even do this when guests were around.

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A Plug for “Space at the Table”

A huge thanks to a friend of mine who recently pointed me to Space at the Table: Conversations Between an Evangelical Theologian and his Gay Son. And to Zeal Books, too, for taking the risk of publishing this brief, dual memoir. It’s a beautiful book, one that tells the best kind of story. I can only hope that droves of both Christians and members of the LBGTQ community will read and learn it, as it’s the best attempt I’ve seen of taking both of these “sides” seriously, of seeing the kind of nuance and complexity that the issues the book brings up deserve. Along with the publisher, I also suspect that the book will make both communities uncomfortable, and that the discomfort could be productive if handled well. I won’t be able to fully replicate the book’s beauty and usefulness here, but I’ll try my best to give you a glimpse of what I read and heard.

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