Archives For Addiction


The Only Really Honest Ones?

A Feature Review of

Sober Mercies: How Love Caught Up with a Christian Drunk
Heather Kopp

Hardback: Jericho Books, 2013
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Ellen Painter Dollar.
In a recent interview, popular blogger, author, and recovering alcoholic and bulimic Glennon Melton said this:

I think addicts are the only really honest ones. Life is hard, and everyone thinks so, but we’re the ones who say we will not pretend…Through our recovery, we also tend to end up much more self-aware and grateful than the general population. We believe in miracles, because we are one. We tend to be compassionate to others’ suffering because we’ve suffered. I really like us.

While Heather Kopp, author of Sober Mercies: How Love Caught Up with a Christian Drunk, has a gentler, more nuanced style than the über-intense Melton, I think she would agree with this assessment wholeheartedly. While Kopp was a Christian long before she got sober, the honest self-examination required by recovery gave her faith a gritty depth and necessity it lacked before. We Christians talk a good game about how badly we screw up and need God’s grace, while indulging in surreptitious self-congratulatory back pats. We still believe on some level that we are saved by our wit and our wisdom, our commitment to prayer or stocking the church food pantry, and our Christmas tradition of giving gifts to the poor instead of each other. We can go on like this, awash in self-deception, for years—perhaps our whole lives—if we are lucky enough to live a life with few crises.

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“The Healing Power of Truth, Love and Belief”

A Review of
Imperfect Birds:
A Novel

By Anne Lamott.

Reviewed by Jeni Newswanger-Smith.

Imperfect Birds:
A Novel

Anne Lamott.
Hardback: Riverhead, 2010.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]

Anne Lamott - IMPERFECT BIRDSThere is some kind of joy, familiarity, recognition, when you pick up a new book with characters you’ve already known, and loved.   After reading the first few pages of Anne Lamott’s newest novel Imperfect Birds I found myself sinking comfortably into her familiar writing style, and reconnecting with familiar characters. There isn’t any good way to describe that particular feeling, except to say it feels a bit like coming home after a long absence. However, just like those homecomings can sometimes give way to tensions,  I was not reading too long before  I was angry and frustrated with what these characters were doing to themselves and each other.  By the climax of the book I was ready for an intense intervention, or at least a chance to kick their asses.
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Christ In Y’all: Following Jesus into Community.
Neil Carter.

Paperback: Ekklesia Press, 2009.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]

“From the Fields of Boaz”
CD by Dede

Buy Now: [ Amazon ]

Why Don’t They Just Quit?
Joe Herzanek.

Paperback: Changing Lives Foundation, 2007.
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]
Accompanying DVD –  Buy Now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

I was excited when given the opportunity to review Christ in Y’all: Following Jesus into Community by Neil Carter.  The title, of course, is a reference to the fact that many of New Testament references to the pronoun “you” are actually plural and not singular, a difficulty of the English language, which has been exploited too often by the individualism of American Christianity.  Carter writes about a new way of being Church based on his experiences as part of a church that meets in homes and shares life together on a day-to-day basis.  This vision of Church, and the theology which undergirds it, is appealing to me, and I think it poses a necessary challenge to the religion of most American churches.  However, in the end Carter cannot contain his opposition to traditional churches: “It took me awhile to admit that ‘body life’ cannot survive long within the traditional church setting because these two things are antagonistic to each other” (168).  I understand the place where Carter is coming from, and in a sense I was there at one time, and there are things about churches as institutions that undoubtedly pose challenges, but I believe there is great harm in such an adamant rejection of traditional churches.  Here at Englewood Christian Church, a very traditional church that has been in the same Indianapolis neighborhood for almost 115 years, we have a similar vision of seeking the ‘body life’ of God’s Kingdom together on a daily basis.  Thus, in a way, we are a counter-example to Carter’s statement quoted above.  I won’t say that this way of existing as a deeply-rooted church community within the institution of a traditional church is an easy one, but I do believe that it bears witness to the patience, love and commitment of the ways of Christ that abandoning the institution (and the people deeply invested in that institution) would not.

Along with the above book, I was sent a copy of a cd entitled by “From the Fields of Boaz,” recorded by Dede.  I’m not much of a music critic, so this will be brief.  The songs seemed to have well-written worshipful lyrics – you got to love a writer that digs into the book of Ruth for images of devotion and commitment.  The singing and instrumentation seem to be well-done, though were not exactly my taste, and seemed to be fairly typical of the worship-music genre.

Joe Herzanek’s recent book Why Don’t They Just Quit is a basic, helpful guide for families of those struggling with drug and alcohol addictions.  Herzanek, a former addict himself, has devoted his life to counseling people with addictions and their families.  The book addresses a broad range of questions about the nature of addiction and recovery, and does so in short easy-to-digest chapters written in plain, straight-forward English and interspersed with relevant quotes from all sorts of pop culture icons. And just in case there was a term that you didn’t understand, there is a glossary in the back of the book!  Herzanek has a chapter that addresses the spiritual dimension of recovery, but it goes off as pretty generic and leaves one wishing for a deeper exploration of the place of the faith community in the recovery process.  There also is an accompanying 90 minute DVD (sold separately) which features a “Roundtable Discussion” about issues related to addiction and recovery.