Girl Meets God was recommended by reader Bronwyn, who often makes thought-provoking comments about faith and Christianity, so I was looking forward to reading it. The book is by a woman who converted to Orthodox Judaism, and later to Christianity, talking about the steps along the way and discussing the nature of faith and Christianity.
One of the things that I really liked about this book was that the author is incredibly well educated. Her discussions of both Judaism and Christianity are informed by extensive knowledge, and she’s spent her life reading, writing, thinking, and studying about faith. I like that she’s the kind of person who pulls out a book to explore a question, because that’s something I do a lot myself. I like that she throws Latin, Greek, and Hebrew around in her discussions, because I think it adds a deeper level to her book, and it really forced me to take her seriously, as a reader.
I’ve always been interested by books discussing faith, especially books by authors who embrace a new faith and talk about their journey. The nature of faith is fascinating to me, perhaps as someone who identifies as agnostic at best and, on a bad day, entirely atheist. I’ve explored my fair share of religions, attending shul and various churches (I am in fact baptized into the Eastern Orthodox Church), but I haven’t yet been gripped by faith, filled with a conviction and the simple knowledge that something is true.
In a way, I am a bit jealous of people who have firm religious convictions and beliefs. I often think that at the end of the day, at least they have their faith to sustain them, and I rarely think about crises of faith and the fact that faith is rarely simple. It’s one thing I liked about this book; Winner pulls no punches, talking about moments when she is really frustrated with God, challenging Him to prove things to her, and struggling with her beliefs. I found the chapter on sin especially interesting, as she discussed her frustration with repeating the same sins over and over again.
I also love that this book serves as a form of witness, which it seems is something that Winner struggled with. In the early stages of her conversion to Christianity, she talked about her awkwardness, her desire to hide her identity as a Christian, until one Ash Wednesday when she wore her ashes proudly on the Columbia campus, and people approached her to ask questions, and she found herself witnessing and talking about Christianity. I think that one of the most important things about religious faith is the ability and the obligation to witness, to speak about your faith with people who are curious, and I have immense respect for people who do clearly identify themselves, who don’t just live as silent Christians, for example, but act as Christians who are informed and enriched by their faith. I think that witnessing enhances the depth of your own faith, that by affirming your religious beliefs to others, you confirm them within yourself.
Having read this book, I am tempted to read the Bible again, because I think there’s a lot of interesting stuff in there. Winner quoted a lot of verses that I don’t even remember, and reminded me of the depth of the Bible, and of the fact that people really do dedicate their lives to academic study of it. Rather than trying to digest the whole Bible as a chunk, I think I’ll be studying it in smaller sections, so that I can savor it more thoroughly. I’d like to think that Winner would be pleased.
Girl Meets God, by Lauren Winner. Published 2002, 303 pages. Biography.