It’s official. The anthology I’ve been working on with Enuma Okoro for over a year now – Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank about Faith – is available for pre-sale today. (See our brand spanking new video here.) But I’m not going to ask you buy a book. I’m going to ask you to take a risk.
Okay, fine that risk might be financial, but we’re getting there.
I was in divinity school when I really noticed the problem. There was a lack of honesty and humility in Christian communities around certain topics. For instance, I could talk freely about the sexual line my husband and I had drawn before marriage but I was rarely encouraged (or even asked by friends) to get specific about our sex life after marriage, how many times a week we did it, what kind of lubricant we preferred, if we were working through any hangups. It seemed there were plenty of issues to be debated but little space for the details of lived experiences.
I don’t know about you, but I think God – not the devil – is in the details.
Like when Talking Taboo contributor Carol Howard Merritt shares the perils of negotiating a salary as a female pastor or Patience Perry writes about using menstrual blood as fertilizer. I love when aja monet starts her essay off with a poem about the theology of daughters, and I laugh when Meghan Florian writes about learning “the man’s part” as a single woman at swing class. Yes, I say to myself, tell me more about how you live and what you love and when you feel at home. Because that is how I will feel at home, too – hearing your story, honest and humble.
Brene Brown puts it this way: Empathy is the anecdote for shame.
A few weeks ago, the Barna Group published its latest research findings on Christian leadership, and I was appalled. The most desired quality in a leader was integrity – sure, that’s nice, who’s going to argue? But one of the least desired? Humility. Because why would anyone who had integrity – defined by the researchers as doing the right thing – need to admit their frailty?
There is a problem when integrity is defined as living rightly rather than living wholly. What if integrity meant being honesty about the fragments of light and shadow that make up the whole of who we are? What if honesty meant telling the truth about our very humanness that grows in the dirt of humility? What if we risked showing up in the world as our unashamed, unfinished selves, in all the details?
Talking Taboo is that risk. And I hope when you read Talking Taboo, you’ll want to risk telling your own unspeakable stories to a partner, a community, a pastor, or even at our new website www.webetalkingtaboo.com. I hope you won’t rely on the comfort of the abstract or the safety of an argument. Instead, I hope you’ll speak for yourself, as the forty women in this anthology have committed to do.
We know books aren’t just books, after all. They are conversation partners, dialogue starters, movement makers.
That’s why we are trying to raise money through a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo. In the next forty days, we want to sell the equivalent of 1,000 pre-sale copies of the book to show book buyers that there’s a need and a desire for new Christian voices who are willing to break out of the same-old-story mold. There are all sorts of incentives for your generosity from a What the Frank? badge for your blog or website to an in-person conversation with me and Enuma. You can even choose to have books donated to a local women’s nonprofit of your choice. Since White Cloud Press is a small publisher, the money raised also supports our efforts to promote the book more widely, market events related to the book in churches, on campuses, and through community centers, and support our contributors in raising their voices and being heard.
Even if you don’t identify as a Christian, I hope you’ll agree with the authors of Half the Sky who argue that the most effective change will come from “bringing together feminist organizations and evangelical churches and everyone in between.”
I was heartened by one statistic in particular from the Barna Group survey. Christians under forty rated humility as a key leadership trait at four times the rate of the overall group. Transformation is afoot. Will you join me in this movement of truth-tellers and risk-takers?