Reviews!

I am so grateful to the authors who took the time to read my manuscript in its painfully pre-edited state and still said nice things! Links to their books are included below-they are all great reads!

REVIEWS for The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid:

From Valerie Tarico:

Caught between the archaic religious dictates of her Pentecostal family and the complexities of the world outside, Ronna Russell fights for survival and more in The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid. Loneliness, raw sexuality, unexpected kindness and cruelty, and through it all an understated endurance with solid granite at the core, Russell’s memoir is alternately hard, hungry, raw, and tender–like sex and love and parenthood and simply being. I sat down to read the first chapter on a busy day and instead read straight through.  -Dr. Valerie Tarico, author of Trusting Doubt

From Steph Auteri:

For those who fear sex. For those who feel shame around it. For those who feel guilt around their own desire. The chapters in The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid are puzzle pieces that, when put together, reveal a picture of how the way we are brought up and the life we live can leave an indelible mark on the way we see ourselves, and the way we end up moving through the world. If you’re looking for insight into your own grappling around sex — and a sort of absolution — Ronna’s story is for you. — Steph Auteri, author of A Dirty Word: How a Sex Writer Reclaimed Her Sexuality

From Lara Lillibridge:

A frank, intimate account of one woman’s search for herself as a woman, mother and sexual being. Ronna Russell’s narrative weaves together memories from childhood, young adulthood, and the more recent past as she recounts her upbringing as a preacher’s kid in the United Pentecostal Church—where she wasn’t allowed to cut her hair, wear slacks, or fraternize with non-church members—and details her journey to find authenticity. Written with the level of confession normally reserved for close friends whispering secrets over a glass of wine, Russell’s memoir is a no holds barred revelation of self-discovery and acceptance. —Lara Lillibridge, author of Girlish: Growing Up in a Lesbian Home

From Lisa F. Smith

Ronna Russell takes us on a no-holds-barred ride through her unconventional childhood and how she emerged as her own person on every level. She is fighter, a survivor, and shines a light on the things we often choose to keep in the dark. And she does it with remarkable, unapologetic honesty.-Lisa F. Smith author of Girl Walks Out Of a Bar

From Claire Robson:

The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid is one of those stories that you couldn’t make up as they say – a cascading series of dramas that take the reader through Ronna Russell’s rigid fundamentalist childhood, the disgrace of her preacher father, her sexual explorations, and the slow decline and dissolution of her marriage. Russell’s sparing, matter-of-fact prose is the perfect vehicle for this autobiography, offering a counterpoint to the often painful and shocking events described. Her seamless chronological shifts from childhood to adulthood and back remind the reader of the ways in which the past informs the present and abuse of any kind is sticky and enduring. Though Russell’s confessions ultimately celebrate the capacity of women to survive and thrive, they are never preachy, or self-indulgent. Indeed, the book opens with the most sizzling sex scenes I’ve ever read. This is a book to devour at one or two sittings, then pass on to your bestie! – Dr. Claire Robson, Author of Love in Good Time and Writing for Change

From Cami Ostman:

The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid is a brave, unflinching look at what happens when secrets go untold and questions go unasked. Ms. Russell’s no-nonsense voice carries the reader into the dark crevices of TWO nuclear families living in hypocrisy and shame. And when she finally finds her own way into the light, she gets there in the most unconventional way. Uncomfortable Confessions is a must-read for all of us who have ignored what was right under our noses. Cami Ostman, Editor of Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religion and author of Second Wind: One Woman’s Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathons on Seven Continent

From Amber Garza:

Ronna writes with an honesty that is refreshing and authentic. Her conversational writing style draws you in and keeps you reading. Her story is at times painful, but her wittiness and raw humor shine through. Amber Garza author of For the Win

 

 

 

 

The Savage Price Of Piety

One of the great things about having adult children is when they share the music they listen to or the books they read or the things that make ’em happy. They grow up good if you don’t kill ’em. Which brings me to the song of the day: Poor Isaac by The Airborne Toxic Event.

See, it all started with Spotify and a shared playlist. Poor Isaac was on it and my son wasn’t sure if I would like it because it’s kinda rock and roll and I am not so much. But its a freaking amazing song and got me thinking about the story of Abraham and Isaac, the highlights of which I remember from Sunday school.

God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, as a test of faith or loyalty or whatevs. Sacrifice as in stab to death. Murder. And here’s the kicker-Abraham agreed to do it. Can you even imagine? I found this so shocking as a young child that I asked one of my parents if they would kill me if God said to, hoping they would say of course not. Instead, they explained that since Jesus died on the cross, sacrifices were no longer required. Not sheep or goats or children. God would never ask them to sacrifice me, so no worries. I could be thankful to Jesus for that lucky escape. Obviously, the penalties for murdering your child because a voice in your head tells you to are more severe now than they were back in ol’ Abraham’s day, but I didn’t know that.

Just when I think I’ve turned over all the stones… anyway, it’s a great song and I hope you will give it a listen. Also, if your kids have made it to adulthood like mine have, track them down and hug them tight, one more time.
rock band - copy

Once more:

Poor Isaac

Exposure On Ex-Christian.net

ExChristian.net was the very first place I ever published. The encouragement I got from the readers (some of whom became friends) is why I wrote this book. So grateful.

The ExChristian website is a safe place to tell your story and to encourage others.  I had no idea how many people could relate to my experiences until I found them there. It was life-changing.

http://new.exchristian.net/2019/01/the-uncomfortable-confessions-of.html

 

YAY! A Review!

Reviews of The Uncomfortable Confessions Of A Preacher’s Kid are rolling in! I am excited to share what Valerie Tarico (author of Trusting Doubt) has to say:

“Caught between the archaic religious dictates of her Pentecostal family and the complexities of the world outside, Ronna Russell fights for survival and more in The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher’s Kid. Loneliness, raw sexuality, unexpected kindness and cruelty, and through it all an understated endurance with solid granite at the core, Russell’s memoir is alternately hard, hungry, raw, and tender–like sex and love and parenthood and simply being. I sat down to read the first chapter on a busy day and instead read straight through.” 

I am beyond grateful to the busy authors who have taken the time to read and review my memoir and will share their reviews over the next few weeks.

The Uncomfortable Confessions Of a Preacher’s Kid, release date April 4, 2019, is AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER at a 15% discount directly from the publisher.

The Uncomfortable Confessions of a Preacher's Kid full cover

 

 

Finding God

The following is a story shared with me by reader, Steve Slocum. His story is similar to many of us: ostracism, family trauma, the reinvention of belief. And a long, hard path to healing. I am grateful for his willingness to share his story here.

Please allow me to allow Steve to introduce himself:

Steve Slocum is the author of “Why Do They Hate Us? Making Peace with the Muslim World” (To be released March, 2019, www.whydotheyhateus.org). He is the founder and executive director of Salaam a nonprofit with the mission of creating friendship and mutual understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims. Steve is a frequent speaker at churches, conferences, and civic groups.

 

Steve’s story:

I started my freefall into the mystical universe of religion when I was seventeen years old. On campus at the University of Arizona for my freshman year as a mechanical engineering student, I was captivated by the street preachers and began attending daily Bible studies in the grassy area outside of the student union. Like a dry sponge, I soaked up the uncompromising teachings of Jesus about forsaking all to follow him and loving God with all my heart, soul, strength, and mind. I found in this radical church group both a satisfaction for the spiritual hunger which had been growing inside of me, and the approval that I had missed out on growing up. It was a bad combination. I fell deep.

I checked out from my family of origin and disappeared for two years into a small Bible school in the Midwest. In 1992, with a wife and three kids, I took my whole family to the city of Almaty, Kazakhstan to be missionaries to the Muslim world. The more extreme I became, the more approval I received from the church – and I craved the toxicity like a drug. At home, my marriage was terrible. We hated each other. But as a missionary, I got my first hit of Christian heroin. I was leading an exploding church movement of Muslim background believers. The Christian world took notice. I spoke at conferences, gave interviews, and was featured in a mission’s film. I was a rock star, mainlining on Christian fame.  I loved my life. There was just that nagging thing about my failing marriage.

Even though I was a true believer, I began imperceptibly taking my first steps away from the church. With Kazakhs coming to faith by the hundreds, I became concerned about imparting to them an Americanized faith – a faith tainted from its original purity. I began a fresh reading of the New Testament and performed a thorough sweep of my theology and practices. I wanted to eliminate anything skewed by my American culture.  As my quest continued, I wasn’t fully able to intellectually process my growing awareness of just how much of my understanding was based on the overlay of an American cultural grid on the New Testament passages. I just felt a growing uneasiness and a desire to set the Kazakh believers free to create their own practice.

My passion for allowing the Kazakhs to create their own expression within the context of their own culture led to disagreements with the missionary team leader, who was also the senior pastor of the church there. I ultimately decided that the disagreements were too major, and that I should leave the church and the ministry team. Within a week after telling the senior pastor about my decision, he openly shared specific details about my marital difficulties with the entire church – things that we had privately confided in him – and announced our excommunication. All members and coworkers were forbidden from visiting us. And none did.

At this time, my son was a high school student in the international school there. His teacher, also a member of the ministry team, was instructed by the senior pastor to bear down on my son in order to get him kicked out of the school. This did irreparable damage to his psyche. My son sank into a depression and never recovered. A few years after returning to the United States, he committed suicide.

My faith was coming apart like a rotating planet with the gravity turned off.  I started to realize that the concept of being “born again” was bogus. People who claim to exclusively possess the indwelling Holy Spirit act just the same as the people who don’t.  Myself, included. If we have God living in us, and others don’t, one would expect that we might be a little different, a LOT different.

I tried to hold onto my faith, but the final straw came when I chose to end my marriage. I found it strange that, though none of my Christian leaders and friends had lived a day in my shoes nor would stand before God to answer for me, they all knew that it was categorically sinful for me to end my failed marriage. I realized that they, and I, had been looking at the New Testament as a new Old Testament. Just a bunch of laws and rules. Nothing about the spirit of it.

Back home, I continued to go to church for the sake of my two daughters, but the fabric of the church had changed since we had left more than five years earlier. Now all the sermons seemed to be about the evils of homosexuality and abortion, the need to protect our families from our evil culture, and the need to vote Republican. And this was in 1999.

I left and never looked back.

With a still-forming understanding of God and the meaning of my life, a few things have become a little clearer. I believe now in maximizing my experience in this life, and finding God in her/his creation all around me. Some of the things that help me do that are nurturing the bonds of love in my family connections, deep friendships, and vulnerable communication. Realizing deep and lasting change in my own life and continual growth, absorbing natural beauty, and the arts with all my senses, and surfing.

 

slocum picslocum book pic.png

 

What’s Inappropriate, Again?

Fellow ex-Christian blogger Clay of Life After 40 shared an intriguing post today.  While his story is very different from my own, we have come to many of the same conclusions and followed somewhat similar paths.  (I previously shared his post called My Crazy Vasectomy Story).

I would like to pass on his current post:  Sex – Not an Appropriate Topic to give you the opportunity to follow along.

In case you’re wondering why anyone cares to write or read about sex, particularly from an ex-Christian perspective, I would sincerely say that I do not believe anyone escapes fundamentalism without sexual damage.  From childhood, normal sexual development is stunted and shamed.  Guilt, silence and fear are what sex is about, instead of pleasure and connection.  I think that is inappropriate.

While there are many bloggers and other writers who address the enormous difficulties LGBTQ people have coming out to Christian families, few speak directly to middle-aged vanilla-ish types who never learned to honor their own desires.

I am happy to be in good company.