I don't often review books, mainly because I think people should read books and decide whether they are relevant to them rather than taking the word of someone else. However, I am making an exception with Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religions, an anthology of stories by women from a wide and diverse range of religious communities.
I learned of this book through Women on Writing, who are sponsoring the Beyond Belief Blog Tour.
The first thing that hit me was the use of the word extreme. What, I thought, was an "extreme" religion? As an interfaith minister, I had some ideas, but like most judgements, they were my own personal feelings. So, I delved into the introduction to the book written by the editors, Susan Tive and Cami Ostman.
Susan and Cami tell the readers in their introduction about how "women living life inside extreme religions have much in common despite their differences of practice and belief." They go on discuss how the most common question their contributors asked was, "What's your working definition of extreme?" Their response was, to me, wonderful. "It's true that the word extreme is an extreme word! For some of our atheist friends, any religion that espouses a belief in any kind of supreme being is extreme. Yet for those who live inside orthodoxy or fundamentalism, what they live is not extreme to them at all: it is quite normal and sensible."
Therefore, they agreed to allow the writers who connected with the word extreme to define it themselves. This allowed contributions from women of all faiths and spiritual practices.
The stories in this book are all written as first person narratives. The writers pull you into the drama, the emotion, the hopelessness and hope-full-ness of their lives as they explain events that drastically changed their image of themselves and their connection to Spirit.
I thank Cami and Susan for giving me the opportunity to review Beyond Belief. I echo their sentiment that, with an open heart and open mind, we can all find connections within the stories of these courageous women.
About the Editors -
Cami Ostman is an author, editor, life coach and a licensed marriage and family therapist with publications in her field. She blogs at 7marathons7continents.com and on the psychologytoday.com blogger team. She has appeared in several publications, including O, The Oprah Magazine, Fitness Magazine, Adventures Northwest, the Mudgee Guardian in Australia, and La Prensa in Chile. Cami is a runner and a dog lover who lives in Bellingham, Washington.
As a writer, editor and researcher Susan Tive has worked on a variety of academic articles exploring psychology, feminism and religion. Susan’s interest in these subjects led her to become an editor for several non-fiction titles including Faith and Feminism and Rachel’s Bag. Her new anthology Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religions will be published in April 2013 by Seal Press.
Find out more about these ladies by visiting them online:
Book Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Beyond-Belief-The-Secret-Lives-of-Women-in-Extreme-Religions/341371765891595
Cami's Twitter: https://twitter.com/camiostman