Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Book Review: Spiritual Sobriety by Elizabeth Esther

Spiritual Sobriety : Stumbling Back to Faith When Good Religion Goes Bad is for recovering religious addicts (and for people that are religious addicts but don't know it yet). Religious addicts are people that get high on congregation or spiritual experiences. They got hooked on the preaching, music, events, the fellowship of the religious experience, and maybe even on God. These people have often embraced counterfeit religion and are replacing it with a unreal and/or damaged relationship with God. It is also for people that are recovering from being in cults or experiencing letdowns after attending religious crusades and/or revivals. It shows how to recognize if you might be a religious addict, the recovery process, encouragement for relapsing, and what sobriety often feels like. At the end of the chapters (except the last chapter) there is a "Practice Your Spiritual Sobriety" section, which includes a prayer, a promise from Scripture, and journaling/group questions.

I understood a lot of what the author was speaking about in regards to religious addicts in this book. There was a point in my life that I became high off the religious experience. I thought attending events, being a part of the choir, spending a lot of time with my congregation friends, and showing up for most services made me a good religious person, when in reality I probably had a better relationship with my congregants than I did with God. I now understand that just sitting there in a congregation when I do not really want to talk to any or many people after such an experience was probably considered a sobering up time for me.

I liked the part of the book that encourages direct contact with people, which I need to get better at. It explained that we are a few steps removed when we are texting, emailing, or instant messaging people. I also liked when it explained that people on the outside of the circle are better at discerning if something isn't going right in a religious experience. I have been outside of the circle in many instances and it has been no fun watching people participate in classes, events, trips, and even eating meals inside of a congregation that I could not afford. This book came at a great time in my life because I recently told a congregation leader I wasn't able to come back because of some of those reasons. My recovery will probably not be as bad as if I had gotten inside the circle, although I still feel like I am recovering over something. I also feel like I have gotten free of something and I yearn for a healthy congregation experience.

There is what I think is a small amount of bad language in the book. Some might consider it light bad language. It seemed to happen more in a sense of the author saying someone had said those words about herself.

I love the part of the book that speaks about what a healthy congregation is. When we notice congregations allowing the poor, marginalized, and people that some think are really "bad" sinners inside and including them then that is a spiritually healthier place to be.

I think many, many people are involved in congregations that are high on the spiritual experience but cannot seem to get much closer to God while they are going through them. Many (and maybe all) of those people will benefit from reading this book to be able to discern if they are religious addicts or not and whether they need to become spiritually sober or not.

My review = 4.5 out of 5 stars

I received this book free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

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