Last Friday I experienced something I hadn’t in a long time: I considered calling in sick so I could finish reading my book.
I typically drive in to work a bit early to take advantage of lighter traffic. I spend that extra time either writing blog posts (like this one) or reading. Friday I was almost to the half way point in The Book of Mormon Girl, when I felt the overwhelming need to stay within its pages.
I would have been done by lunch time. Ultimately I did the responsible thing and went to work, finishing my emergence into Joanna Brooks’ world on Saturday.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in reading about different faiths. It gives me a view into a world that is very unlike my own. Among my religious-based titles have been Left Behind, Orange is not the Only Fruit, and The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance.
I love that The Book of Mormon Girl gave me more than a spectacular glimpse into growing up in a highly religious Mormon family: It also was able to realistically depict the moment in which a universal understanding clicked. It is hard for me to remember what it was like before I learned any given skill, but Joanna Brooks captures that lightbulb moment perfectly.
The book also helped put into perspective an issue I’ve been struggling with ever since I converted to Judaism. In The Book of Mormon Girl, there is an insider’s view of the rise of feminism in the Mormon faith and the harsh reaction of the church to it. I have known all along my spiritual path that if I were a man, I would be an Orthodox Jew. The choice then would be obvious – why take some of the faith when all is available? As a woman, I feel that to be a full participant I have to be a Reform Jew. On the surface, I love the idea within the faith that each sex has its separate but equal role. My problem was that it didn’t feel very equal as I was studying it, admittedly from the Reform perspective. I know that not having lived in the Orthodox world, there is no way I can understand the complexities of the woman’s role. The fact that I was asking the question at all quite possibly means I wouldn’t have been able to see the answer even living in the community.
I’ve never expressed that sentiment before. Reading this book made me want to share it.
Has anyone else ever experienced discomfort at the intersection of feminism and religion? or Does anyone have any suggestions for books (either fiction or non) that have a religious backdrop?