A Review of
Stumbling Back to Faith When Good Religion Goes Bad
Paperback: Convergent Books, 2016
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Reviewed by Kristin Williams
I didn’t want to be moved by Elizabeth Esther’s new book, Spiritual Sobriety. I started reading it with a little notebook beside me, thinking I could keep track of all the ways I disagreed with what Esther was saying. I don’t have a story of what Esther calls “good religion gone bad” and I didn’t even think I believed a person could be addicted to religion. It sounded a little hokey to me so I was prepared to find a lot to dismiss and nothing I could relate to in this new book.
Then I read the first chapter and kept seeing myself. Elizabeth Esther spends the first chapter defining spiritual sobriety and, in large part, the definition revolves around what it is not. She describes her first religious high, the first time she asked Jesus to live in her heart and how she wanted to keep experiencing that high and so she asked Him into her heart again the next day. She kept seeking that high in many of the same ways I looked for spiritual highs: knowing all the answers, winning “sword drills” in youth group and surging forward at the decision time of conferences and concerts. She, and I, used God for how He made us feel and also, perhaps, for the blessings we were sure He would pour out on us because of the displays of devotion that we offered God.