New and popular titles at Juniata County Library

BOOK REPORT

With so many good books being released all the time, it can be hard to determine what to check out next. Every week, I offer a run-down of significant releases available here at the library.

Visit our online card catalog at juniata.sparkpa.org to search today or call (717) 436-6378 to have a helpful library staff member assist you.

“Shameless: A Sexual Reformation,” by Nadia Bolz-Weber

We recently have been watching Grey’s Anatomy, a fictional TV series that focuses on the lives of surgical interns, residents and attending physicians as they develop into seasoned doctors while trying to maintain personal lives and relationships. Dr. April Kepner, a recurring character on the show, is a devout Christian whose storyline focused heavily on her dating and relationships, which often challenge her resolve to remain a virgin until marriage. She eventually loses her virginity before marriage and is very much distraught over this lapse in purity and devotion to God.

I found that almost every time the show focused on Kepner’s storyline, it somehow always had to do with sex and purity. She focused nearly all of her energy on beating herself seemingly left no energy to focus on passing her boards and assuming her full potential as a doctor. While many of the characters around her were older, married and had children, Kepner often felt out of place and alone. This isolation compounded her self-criticism.

Having grown up a Catholic, later a Presbyterian, and throughout those years belonged to youth groups, there surely was an emphasis on youth staying sexually pure. First Timothy 4:12 (NIV) states: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” This focus remains, as Valentine’s Day this year is celebrated by some as the Day of Purity. But this great focus on not caving to sexual desires is extremely burdensome and weighty on the unmarried.

Nadia Bolz-Weber’s new book, “Shameless,” encapsulates this dilemma. Bolz-Weber, a Lutheran minister, sees this pain in her congregants who have been hurt by Christian teachings about sex: couples who marry as virgins only to find they can’t “flip a switch” to suddenly approach “sex as joyful and natural and God-given;” or middle-aged women who can’t bring themselves to wear a V-neck because they are haunted by teachings about modesty they learned as teens. The author, who is now divorced, insists that the church should not be more faithful to abstract principles than to people. “If the teachings of the church are harming the bodies and spirits of people,” she writes, “we should rethink those teachings.” Indeed, a healthy attitude toward sex might be more faithful to the Bible’s teachings anyway. In the Creation story, notes Bolz-Weber, Adam and Eve were told to be fruitful and multiply–“the very first blessing was sex.” Bolz-Weber debates many other red meat issues of the day that have become extremely emotional for many of us. Consistent with the title, Bolz-Weber wants readers to feel unashamed about their bodies even as she invites them to grieve the moments in their sexual histories where they have been hurt or caused hurt. She also writes straightforwardly about desire: “I know that when I see my lover, something within me uncoils … a wildness, part velvet, part forest fire.” Throughout, the author’s voice is inviting, as is the narrative layout: Homiletical reflections on scriptural themes are set in clearly separated boxes, and illustrations, which make the book an easy, enjoyable read. Not exactly the usual stuff of Christian sex books — and that’s a good thing. You can find this book in our New Adult Nonfiction section.

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2019 Winter Reading at the Library — runs through March 20. Spend your winter months reading things you love!

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Vince Giordano has been the director of the Juniata County Library since 2015.

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