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As a young girl, Maggie Rowe took the idea of salvation very seriously. Growing up in a moderately religious household, her fear of eternal damnation turned into a childhood terror that drove her to become an outrageously dedicated Born-again Christian —regularly slinging Bible verses in cutthroat scripture memorization competitions and assaulting strangers at shopping mal As a young girl, Maggie Rowe took the idea of salvation very seriously. Growing up in a moderately religious household, her fear of eternal damnation turned into a childhood terror that drove her to become an outrageously dedicated Born-again Christian —regularly slinging Bible verses in cutthroat scripture memorization competitions and assaulting strangers at shopping malls with the “good news” that they were going to hell. Finally, at nineteen, crippled by her fear, she checked herself in to an Evangelical psychiatric facility —or as the less polite might say, a Born-again nuthouse. And that is where her journey really began. Surrounded by a ragtag cast of characters, including a former biker meth-head struggling with anger management issues, a set of identical twins tormented by erotic fantasies, a World War II veteran and artist of denial who insists that he’s only “locked up for a tune-up,” and a warm and upbeat chronic depressive who becomes the author’s closest ally, Maggie launches a campaign to, in the words of Martin Luther, “Sin bravely in order to know the forgiveness of God.” Told in a voice both funny and heartfelt, Sin Bravely is a tour de force, voice-driven debut that examines how one woman finally found the middle ground between Heaven and Hell.


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As a young girl, Maggie Rowe took the idea of salvation very seriously. Growing up in a moderately religious household, her fear of eternal damnation turned into a childhood terror that drove her to become an outrageously dedicated Born-again Christian —regularly slinging Bible verses in cutthroat scripture memorization competitions and assaulting strangers at shopping mal As a young girl, Maggie Rowe took the idea of salvation very seriously. Growing up in a moderately religious household, her fear of eternal damnation turned into a childhood terror that drove her to become an outrageously dedicated Born-again Christian —regularly slinging Bible verses in cutthroat scripture memorization competitions and assaulting strangers at shopping malls with the “good news” that they were going to hell. Finally, at nineteen, crippled by her fear, she checked herself in to an Evangelical psychiatric facility —or as the less polite might say, a Born-again nuthouse. And that is where her journey really began. Surrounded by a ragtag cast of characters, including a former biker meth-head struggling with anger management issues, a set of identical twins tormented by erotic fantasies, a World War II veteran and artist of denial who insists that he’s only “locked up for a tune-up,” and a warm and upbeat chronic depressive who becomes the author’s closest ally, Maggie launches a campaign to, in the words of Martin Luther, “Sin bravely in order to know the forgiveness of God.” Told in a voice both funny and heartfelt, Sin Bravely is a tour de force, voice-driven debut that examines how one woman finally found the middle ground between Heaven and Hell.

30 review for Sin Bravely: My Great Escape from Evangelical Hell

  1. 5 out of 5

    Trey

    A comedic and endearing memoir of a woman's sincere quest to confront difficult questions about her faith and resolve personal struggles. Maggie Rowe with much depth, clarity and cleverness, communicates her anxieties and fears about her spiritual health and future as a Christian. Literalism and symbolism can be a two-edge sword, stabbing deep into a person's soul and in the spirit of Martin Luther's 'pecca fortiter' - sin bravely - Maggie attempts to reconcile an equilibrium she can live with. H A comedic and endearing memoir of a woman's sincere quest to confront difficult questions about her faith and resolve personal struggles. Maggie Rowe with much depth, clarity and cleverness, communicates her anxieties and fears about her spiritual health and future as a Christian. Literalism and symbolism can be a two-edge sword, stabbing deep into a person's soul and in the spirit of Martin Luther's 'pecca fortiter' - sin bravely - Maggie attempts to reconcile an equilibrium she can live with. Her quest started unofficially as a little girl with an over-active conscience living in a moderately christian home. And like "The Simpson's" character "Flanders", becomes the bane of stale christian exposition that, at a minimum, doesn't properly feed a christian's mental and spiritual development. Growing into a young woman, she finds that the mold or "way a young lady should act" placed by disconnected, ill-defined christian ethics, no longer suits her. What results is a ship-wrecked conscience and an almost toxic anxiety disorder. Enter a certain christian counseling center she admits herself to, where the 'fun' begins, as we are introduced to a gallery of other struggling christian's. Maggie and gallery work through their issues in an imperfect institution, that at times seems as helpful as a magic 8-ball, with text-book diagnosis that completely miss the mark. The majority of her memoir takes residence here, which she captures with great insight and comedic touch - leaving behind, on the whole, a thought-provoking critique. "Sin Bravely" is definitely one of the better, honest explorations of the christian faith. As a christian, I appreciated some of the unanswered curiosities of theology presented in this book, that has brake-checked her faith and mine at times. And although the final 'event' of her memoir, is completely counter to christian teaching and probably her self-esteem, she does what she does if only to draw from God the grace of His forgiveness. Note for the sensitive crowd: language and sexual content.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alina Borger

    A scrupulously reverent young girl grows up to become so anxious about hell and the evangelical God that she needs rehab, medication, and a new kind of faith. In rehab, she meets a really, REALLY shitty counselor (but also--thankfully--meets a fabulous doctor), makes some friends, and discovers grace while eating McDonald's chicken nuggets & stripping at an amateur night. On a personal note, I'll say that this book so accurately and painfully presents an inside view of evangelicalism that I broke A scrupulously reverent young girl grows up to become so anxious about hell and the evangelical God that she needs rehab, medication, and a new kind of faith. In rehab, she meets a really, REALLY shitty counselor (but also--thankfully--meets a fabulous doctor), makes some friends, and discovers grace while eating McDonald's chicken nuggets & stripping at an amateur night. On a personal note, I'll say that this book so accurately and painfully presents an inside view of evangelicalism that I broke out in hives.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jan Cole

    This was an uncomfortable read for me--especially the first third because it made me think hard about the message Evangelical Christians routinely offer and how it can be received and perceived by some. Maggie was brought up in a church going family. She was bright, sensitive, precocious and very aware of the message she got from church. However, that part of her brain that could filter between the spirit of the law and the letter of the law didn't work so she was caught in an unending loop of c This was an uncomfortable read for me--especially the first third because it made me think hard about the message Evangelical Christians routinely offer and how it can be received and perceived by some. Maggie was brought up in a church going family. She was bright, sensitive, precocious and very aware of the message she got from church. However, that part of her brain that could filter between the spirit of the law and the letter of the law didn't work so she was caught in an unending loop of constant doubt of her salvation and her desire to please God. To their credit, her parents handled her kindly, but I got the feeling that they didn't understand the depth of her obsession. She could quote scripture, chapter and verse and argue with herself in a never ending loop. Maggie went to a liberal arts college--I know--right? There she experimented and lived on the wild side until one night she broke, and begged her mother to take her to a residential treatment center. Her condition was it had to be Christian. There she found the path to health and redemption through a lame counselor who had yet learn to listen, residents in various stages of recovering, a psychologist, and finally a psychiatrist who taught her to be like Martin Luther and "Sin Bravely." This would be an interesting book to discuss, but as I stated earlier, it will make some people very uncomfortable.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Truman32

    Sin Bravely: My Great Escape from Evangelical Hell is not nearly as funny nor as brave as it thinks it is. Maggie Rowe suffers from a type of mental sickness that makes her fear eternal damnation. Since she was a little girl she has felt that her actions/thoughts/misbehaviors would bring her divine punishment. Most of this is due to the inconsistencies, contradictions, and paradoxes Maggie struggles to rationalize in her Church teachings. She grapples with her anxiety and mental disorder by beco Sin Bravely: My Great Escape from Evangelical Hell is not nearly as funny nor as brave as it thinks it is. Maggie Rowe suffers from a type of mental sickness that makes her fear eternal damnation. Since she was a little girl she has felt that her actions/thoughts/misbehaviors would bring her divine punishment. Most of this is due to the inconsistencies, contradictions, and paradoxes Maggie struggles to rationalize in her Church teachings. She grapples with her anxiety and mental disorder by becoming more and more religious yet this only makes her feel as if she is falling deeper into those burning waters. Finally she checks herself into an Evangelical Psychiatric Facility. Needless to say the folks there are completely unable to assist Maggie, the aid they give is faith-based as well as cruel and uninformed. Sin Bravely then turns into a sort of hatchet job on the Church but it seems like an easy target. We all know the Church is conservative and not very forward thinking. They will want you to find answers in prayer and God. Right? That’s what the Church does. It’s kind of their thing. God. Jesus. To beat them up about it seems petty and stale. I mean, if you were invited to party with super rock band Van Halen and you ended up in a room full of sweater-wearing dudes doing jigsaw puzzles and tasting herbal teas with David Lee Roth’s mom and dad, then I could imagine outrage. That is not what Van Halen parties are about (for the record, Van Halen parties are about parents being out of town, booming music, throwing pieces of furniture from second story windows into swimming pools, public nudity, and unlimited pretzels). But going to the Church for help and getting Church-type help (no matter how misguided) is not shocking. Not in the least. The characters she finds herself in therapy with are surprisingly bland and one-dimensional. Overall, this book marketed as a funny religious One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is kind of a mess.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Keener

    I just finished this book and I miss it already. Much of Maggie's experience parallels mine, as a literal-minded, truth-seeking child with perfectionist tendencies making my way through an Evangelical upbringing. As her story unfolded, I recognized scripture verses I thought I'd forgotten and thoughts I was never brave enough to admit; bless her for sharing them so I don't have to. Heartbreakingly honest and startlingly funny, but never self-indulgent or unkind, she gives herself a harder time t I just finished this book and I miss it already. Much of Maggie's experience parallels mine, as a literal-minded, truth-seeking child with perfectionist tendencies making my way through an Evangelical upbringing. As her story unfolded, I recognized scripture verses I thought I'd forgotten and thoughts I was never brave enough to admit; bless her for sharing them so I don't have to. Heartbreakingly honest and startlingly funny, but never self-indulgent or unkind, she gives herself a harder time than any of the finely-drawn characters who populate her story. I found the book joyful and ultimately faith-affirming. As Maggie's therapist tells her, "maybe true connection with God can be defined as whatever inspires kindness, whatever makes your heart big." Works for me. Bonus: this edition has those cool covers you can fold over and use as bookmarks. Perfection.

  6. 5 out of 5

    John (JP)

    .Pecca Fortiter or Sin Bravely is both the title of book and the solution to doubt that a Christian psychiatrist offers to Maggie Rowe. The precise saying comes from a saying of Martin Luther church reformer :"God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly. For he is victorious over sin, death, and the world"or in the book's vernacular: "Sin bravely in order that you might know the forgiveness of God" This .Pecca Fortiter or Sin Bravely is both the title of book and the solution to doubt that a Christian psychiatrist offers to Maggie Rowe. The precise saying comes from a saying of Martin Luther church reformer :"God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly. For he is victorious over sin, death, and the world"or in the book's vernacular: "Sin bravely in order that you might know the forgiveness of God" This concept of grace is the bed rock of Christianity. This is chronicle of Maggie Rowe transformation from a rule obsessed Evangelical doubter to being someone who does not have all the answers to someone but who is at peace in her faith in Christ's ability forgive and love her no matter what her sins are. This biography is also an unblinking look at Evangelical culture. The book opens with Maggie in the lobby of Grace Point an Evangelical psychiatric hospital run by Evangelicals for Christians with mental illness. Maggie is obsessed with the question of her belief in Christ( i.e.her salvation). Is it good enough to get her into heaven? No matter how many times she prays or matter the degree of fever she doubts if it is effective enough to please God. In the journey to resolution Rowe explores most if not all of the contemporary and past issues of and reasons for doubt. She also voices her reaction to the sometimes silly and cringe worthy answers she gets to her questions. The book is also tale of what good counselors armed with appropriate medications can do.This is not a traditional triumphalist Christian biography. It only covers a portion of Maggie Rowe's life. Some readers may not appreciate its indirect criticism of the Evangelical culture that developed around Christianity. Nor will some appreciate its representation of Christian counseling techniques and practices. I thinks its critiques while painful have the ring of truth. The doubts and questions Maggie Rowe expresses are real, valid, and in certain circles suppressed.I and others have had them and experienced the suppression and at times embracing of these doubts.Finally the solution Rowe is given will be controversial in Evangelical circles Doubt is being in uncertain of an idea. Literally being in 2 minds about a subject. Unbelief is a settled certainty . Doubt is different than unbelief says Os Guinnes in his book In two minds: The dilemma of doubt & how to resolve it: and it needs to handled differently.The New Testament book of Jude verse 22 reads And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment[a] stained by the flesh. Doubt is treated like an incurable disease and to be avoided like the plague in some Christian circles. Those who voice it are treated like lepers. Sin Bravely by Rowe and In two minds by Guinnes are good arguments against this view.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laura Nowlin

    3.5 The subtitle of this book is misleading. It's not a memoir of spiritual disobedience, but of spiritual anxiety. The title and blurb lead me to believe that before too long, Maggie would come across the idea of sinning bravely, and we would hear of her spiritual transformation through purposeful transgression. This book is very well written and often hilarious, but I spent the whole book waiting for her to start the transgressing so I could learn about how it helped her, which never happened. 3.5 The subtitle of this book is misleading. It's not a memoir of spiritual disobedience, but of spiritual anxiety. The title and blurb lead me to believe that before too long, Maggie would come across the idea of sinning bravely, and we would hear of her spiritual transformation through purposeful transgression. This book is very well written and often hilarious, but I spent the whole book waiting for her to start the transgressing so I could learn about how it helped her, which never happened. Instead, we spend most of the book learning about all of the unhelpful ways she was told to deal with her fear of damnation. It's funny and infuriating, and I probably would have enjoyed it more if it had been what I expected. At the very end of the book, Maggie finally receives the advise to sin bravely, and we get to see her commit one act of transgression. Then, the book ends, leaving all sorts of questions. Did sinning bravely help Maggie? Did she keep for faith, or did she have to lose it to keep her sanity? If I hadn't been led to expect something different, I probably would have rated this book a whole star more.

  8. 5 out of 5

    jbgbookgirl

    Popsugar 2018 #16 - mental health. Personally I think this book would have made a great long form article. It took 80% of the book to finally read about the paradigm shift in her thinking. I was starting to get very frustrated with her inner dialogue, but maybe that was the point. We, the reader, needed to get frustrated with her to understand just how debilitating her way of interpreting Christianity had become for her. And it was debilitating. I have suffered,to a degree, with spiritual perfec Popsugar 2018 #16 - mental health. Personally I think this book would have made a great long form article. It took 80% of the book to finally read about the paradigm shift in her thinking. I was starting to get very frustrated with her inner dialogue, but maybe that was the point. We, the reader, needed to get frustrated with her to understand just how debilitating her way of interpreting Christianity had become for her. And it was debilitating. I have suffered,to a degree, with spiritual perfectionism and so I could relate to her struggles. I use to be so afraid that I wasn't doing all I could in order to receive God's grace. I could always be doing more, right? Brene Brown and her work became my Dr. Benton. Her work gave me the courage to sin bravely (boldly), trusting in the power of Love.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Allisonlcarter

    This book gives the best description I've read yet of what anxiety feels like, particularly the physical aspects. Most people don't talk about that part, but the sensation of prickling in your brain, your whole head on fire, bird claws on your scalp, can be visceral. It also gives a fantastic, thought-provoking explanation for the Lazarus and the Rich Man in hell parable -- God and Lazarus don't deny the man mercy when they don't give him a drink. They can't give him the immediate relief he want This book gives the best description I've read yet of what anxiety feels like, particularly the physical aspects. Most people don't talk about that part, but the sensation of prickling in your brain, your whole head on fire, bird claws on your scalp, can be visceral. It also gives a fantastic, thought-provoking explanation for the Lazarus and the Rich Man in hell parable -- God and Lazarus don't deny the man mercy when they don't give him a drink. They can't give him the immediate relief he wants because what he needs is to get out of the fire, solve the problem entirely, rather than fix the symptom of being parched. Really great take. The writing is also generally vivid and funny. However, some parts of the memoir feel extremely convenient. If that's what happened, hey, that's what happened. But the last 15 percent of the book or so didn't feel authentic, and Dr. Benton seemed too good to be true. But overall, still a really thought-provoking book, and a great read for anyone who lives with anxiety or wants to understand anxiety better.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Manic, entertaining, and compulsively sincere, Sin Bravely is a cathartic experience pressed between paperback covers. I was disappointed when I ran out of pages to read. Maggie's wry, earnest voice and skillful storytelling kept me engaged in what's sometimes been for me a difficult topic with which to re-engage. That said, it's really hard to avoid being entertained by spiritual reflection packed with zingers and oblivious therapists. I would highly recommend this to anyone seeking a comedic bu Manic, entertaining, and compulsively sincere, Sin Bravely is a cathartic experience pressed between paperback covers. I was disappointed when I ran out of pages to read. Maggie's wry, earnest voice and skillful storytelling kept me engaged in what's sometimes been for me a difficult topic with which to re-engage. That said, it's really hard to avoid being entertained by spiritual reflection packed with zingers and oblivious therapists. I would highly recommend this to anyone seeking a comedic but persistent prodding of their doubts. Well done.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Peacegal

    SIN BRAVELY is the humorous memoir of a woman who obsessively worries about the fate of her soul, leading to some very unusual and awkward situations. I especially enjoyed how she characterized people --we've all met people like Bethanie, with her relentless blend of optimism and passive aggression. The campus religious group, with their almost-maniacal dedication to having !!!SOBER!!! fun, also had me giggling. SIN BRAVELY is the humorous memoir of a woman who obsessively worries about the fate of her soul, leading to some very unusual and awkward situations. I especially enjoyed how she characterized people --we've all met people like Bethanie, with her relentless blend of optimism and passive aggression. The campus religious group, with their almost-maniacal dedication to having !!!SOBER!!! fun, also had me giggling.

  12. 5 out of 5

    ERIC

    Extremely personal, very funny, bravely written and thoroughly enjoyable. Maggie Rowe takes us on a journey through heaven and hell from her childhood imagination, through her impressionable tween years to a young woman with perspective and courage. A great read for everyone and a must read for anyone raising their children through faith.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Waibel

    I almost put this down thinking it was just going to turn religion into a giant joke. But it really didn't! The author struggles (still) with a lot of the same contradictory thoughts I have about Christianity and its role in my past and present life. This book was a great example of following the spirit of the law vs. the letter of the law, which is an easy thread to lose in my daily life. I almost put this down thinking it was just going to turn religion into a giant joke. But it really didn't! The author struggles (still) with a lot of the same contradictory thoughts I have about Christianity and its role in my past and present life. This book was a great example of following the spirit of the law vs. the letter of the law, which is an easy thread to lose in my daily life.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Okay, so when I picked this book up at the library, I thought it would be another of the many my-church-abused-my-innocent-trust-in-God books that I have read over the past year, and which our library's Christian reading section seems to have committed itself. While Maggie Rowe, the author, does demonstrate the ignorance and insensitivity of many of her Christian characters, she does not turn in the denomination (Southern Baptist?) as the perpetrator of her obsessive fear of accidentally sinning Okay, so when I picked this book up at the library, I thought it would be another of the many my-church-abused-my-innocent-trust-in-God books that I have read over the past year, and which our library's Christian reading section seems to have committed itself. While Maggie Rowe, the author, does demonstrate the ignorance and insensitivity of many of her Christian characters, she does not turn in the denomination (Southern Baptist?) as the perpetrator of her obsessive fear of accidentally sinning, or of not really knowing whether she has committed "the unpardonable sin", and of forfeiting her ticket to Eternity. Instead, she looks at the Bible as the culprit in confusing her with its many complex and contradictory principles for living life and achieving entry to Heaven, or more terrifying for her, condemnation to Hell. There were points in reading this book that I was a little uncertain about whether I should actually be reading it-- as though the reading of something whose outcome was bound to be a stalemate with the God of my understanding was sinful in itself. I identified with her confusion and her scrupulosity, and I found myself disapproving of her rationalization for sinning that reinforced the anxiety that drove her life as a young adult. It wasn't until I applied some of the suggestions of the only "wise" (read: authentic and empathic) shrink-- the psychiatrist at the Christian mental institution where she spent three months-- who was actually the guy in charge of drug management for patients, something that she was dead against, initially. You will have to read the book to find out what suggestions he made that would help someone with anxiety living close to the letter of the Law. Maggie Rowe writes with that rare capacity to call up the holy, and stay there, while describing with much detail the hilarity of the un-holy path to self-acceptance, really, in my humble opinion, the cornerstone of our relationship to God.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Trevor Klundert

    I discovered something when I was about a quarter into this book. The subtitle listed here on Goodreads is, “My Great Escape From Evangelical Hell” yet the subtitle on the copy I took out from the library reads, “A Memoir of Spiritual Disobedience.” This variation really makes a big difference. The first subtitle leads you to believe this memoir is going to read like a jaw dropping escape from a cult (think Leah Remini and Scientology). It's not. It is definitely more the latter subtitle — a mem I discovered something when I was about a quarter into this book. The subtitle listed here on Goodreads is, “My Great Escape From Evangelical Hell” yet the subtitle on the copy I took out from the library reads, “A Memoir of Spiritual Disobedience.” This variation really makes a big difference. The first subtitle leads you to believe this memoir is going to read like a jaw dropping escape from a cult (think Leah Remini and Scientology). It's not. It is definitely more the latter subtitle — a memoir that chronicles a woman's OCD thinking which just happens to be faith-based with an extreme fear of going to hell. I picked up the book based on the first subtitle and I was a little disappointed to realize it was more the latter. With saying that, I still was pulled into the story — it is made up of three parts — part one is her childhood and development of her OCD thinking, part two is the two months she spent at an evangelical psychiatric facility, and part three is the road to recovery. Because her OCD thinking is “am I going to hell?!?” on a loop, part one felt a bit repetitious. It was part two that really pulled me in as she starts to seek treatment and we are introduced to everyone who is part of her group therapy. The ragtag cast of characters reminded me a bit of “Girl Interrupted.” And like that memoir-turned-film, let me end this review with a plea to Hollywood — if you ever consider making a movie of Sin Bravely, I beg of you to cast Anna Konkle from Pen15 as the lead and Leslie Jordan as the hilarious, devout Christian Mickey who is part of the group in therapy. Lastly, one thing I do not want to forget from this book is advice Maggie Rowe's doctor gave her during therapy: “Trust the path that gives you peace.”

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    3.75 I had mixed feelings about this memoir. First of all, it was quite compelling, never a dull moment. It also rang very true to a certain culture that I, too, was raised in, and which I spent many a tortured midnight worrying about. I especially resonated with 'saying the prayer' a kazillion times; in my case, I answered every altar call I could. Maggie Rowe raises many pertinent questions about this culture; not all of them may be answerable, but it's important that they be asked. One of the t 3.75 I had mixed feelings about this memoir. First of all, it was quite compelling, never a dull moment. It also rang very true to a certain culture that I, too, was raised in, and which I spent many a tortured midnight worrying about. I especially resonated with 'saying the prayer' a kazillion times; in my case, I answered every altar call I could. Maggie Rowe raises many pertinent questions about this culture; not all of them may be answerable, but it's important that they be asked. One of the things that bothered me a little bit was how detailed Rowe's memory is. Perhaps I'm just deficient in that area and can't believe (oh me of little faith!) that someone else could accurately portray people and events in such intense detail. One of the reviews I read stated that the reader thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It does read like one - or maybe like a memoir/novel combination. Not sure if there is such an animal... The other thing that bothered me a bit was the cliched characters. Although at the age of 19, I probably saw people in a two-dimensional way as well. On the other hand, Rowe does a fine job of bringing to light some of the more negative aspects of evangelical Christianity; it just seems that sometimes she's using a character who's symbolic of that aspect rather than presenting a real person. But I could be wrong. All in all, this is a book I can recommend purely on the pleasure of reading it and the way it makes one think about things that may have been accepted purely because that's what we've always thought. I'm especially impressed with Rowe's bravery in the face of her 'scrupulosity' to face down her fears and grow beyond them. I'm looking forward to another book...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    My copy has a different subtitle. Sin Bravely: A Memoir of Spiritual Disobedience. I like that better. But whatever the title, it's a charming book. A memoir about struggling with anxiety over salvation perhaps shouldn't be this entertaining, but Sin Bravely is a compelling, heart-felt book that manages, at times, to actually be funny. It includes some of the most accurate physical descriptions of anxiety I've ever come across, as well as how frustratingly unhelpful it is to hear, over and over, My copy has a different subtitle. Sin Bravely: A Memoir of Spiritual Disobedience. I like that better. But whatever the title, it's a charming book. A memoir about struggling with anxiety over salvation perhaps shouldn't be this entertaining, but Sin Bravely is a compelling, heart-felt book that manages, at times, to actually be funny. It includes some of the most accurate physical descriptions of anxiety I've ever come across, as well as how frustratingly unhelpful it is to hear, over and over, no matter how well-intended, that there's really no reason to worry. Maggie Rowe's voice is endearing, and the story is populated with some interesting characters. Some of whom I'd like to throttle, but that was obviously the point (and there are people like that). Although the end feels a bit rushed, good therapy (and therapists) do kind of hit you over the head (in that good way). Also, obviously, this type of story doesn't neatly end; it just keeps on going. As a literal person who worried entirely too much about the various contradictions and assorted cruelties in the Bible before moving on to worrying about other things, I am extra grateful to have been raised in a "That's an interesting thought; we should form a committee and explore it" Presbyterian ideology, with the occasional family Catholic Mass and rosary thrown in for flavor. I would absolutely have been an Evangelical hot-mess. Small mercies, indeed.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey Landua

    I really enjoyed this book. While not religious myself, I still found Maggie's plight to be relatable on the grand scheme of things, as everyone experiences these kinds of grand ponderings and anxious behavior, though admittedly, not on the same scale. She has a great way of putting you right in the scene, using very descriptive prose and deliberate characterization. I always appreciate when an author is able to weave together levity into a very serious topic, and eternal damnation is not exactl I really enjoyed this book. While not religious myself, I still found Maggie's plight to be relatable on the grand scheme of things, as everyone experiences these kinds of grand ponderings and anxious behavior, though admittedly, not on the same scale. She has a great way of putting you right in the scene, using very descriptive prose and deliberate characterization. I always appreciate when an author is able to weave together levity into a very serious topic, and eternal damnation is not exactly something I thought I would laugh at. I wish that there would have been more of a denouement but again, this may just be because I was so invested in her story that I wanted to know more of it. I even read the acknowledgments at the end to try to extract some information about where she might be now. It was a quick read, and one that I will definitely be recommending, but maybe not to my extremely devout Grandmother.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kate Sortino

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I relate a lot to Maggie Rowe - her experiences in a lot of ways mirrored my own. I was disappointed at the lack of... conclusion? Point? The title says she "escaped", but really she just kinda gently came to terms with her guilt and started taking meds? I think this book should be required reading for anybody in a position of "spiritual authority". The Bethanie character is someone I've met a million times in a number of different iterations; someone who means well but is ultimately more interes I relate a lot to Maggie Rowe - her experiences in a lot of ways mirrored my own. I was disappointed at the lack of... conclusion? Point? The title says she "escaped", but really she just kinda gently came to terms with her guilt and started taking meds? I think this book should be required reading for anybody in a position of "spiritual authority". The Bethanie character is someone I've met a million times in a number of different iterations; someone who means well but is ultimately more interested in being right or righteous than understanding or actually helping people. I wanted to kick Bethanie in the face.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Deidra

    I needed this book right now. A lot of what Maggie Rowe talks about in the first two parts of the book sounds so much like a telling of my own story and relationship with religion. It was mostly fear-driven and filled with doubt. I've actually never heard anyone express it so well. I kept saying, "Me too! Me too!" But the book is also funny. I chuckled out loud in quite a few places. In the third part of the book, Maggie (and the rest of us who know this fear-doubt head argument well) finally me I needed this book right now. A lot of what Maggie Rowe talks about in the first two parts of the book sounds so much like a telling of my own story and relationship with religion. It was mostly fear-driven and filled with doubt. I've actually never heard anyone express it so well. I kept saying, "Me too! Me too!" But the book is also funny. I chuckled out loud in quite a few places. In the third part of the book, Maggie (and the rest of us who know this fear-doubt head argument well) finally meets someone who takes her seriously (though not TOO seriously) and shows her (and us) a whole new way to look at things...especially God.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andee

    Maggie Rowe was going to hell. At least that’s what she told herself. From a young age, Maggie couldn’t tell if she loved God enough to save her soul. Publisher’s Weekly endorsed, “Rowe’s fantastic book is a born-again version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” You need no more explanation from me. Listen to Maggie comically share about her time in a Christian rehab center; a place where some of the therapists were determined to change the person you were born to be. Then pick up her book and rea Maggie Rowe was going to hell. At least that’s what she told herself. From a young age, Maggie couldn’t tell if she loved God enough to save her soul. Publisher’s Weekly endorsed, “Rowe’s fantastic book is a born-again version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” You need no more explanation from me. Listen to Maggie comically share about her time in a Christian rehab center; a place where some of the therapists were determined to change the person you were born to be. Then pick up her book and read in detail what caused Maggie to Sin Bravely.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Eva Gross

    God bless Maggie Rowe! I read this book as if I was chugging down water after a long run (and I don't even run, so just think how much more I'd need the water). Growing up in and then leaving formal Christianity, I've always wanted a book like this. Like Maggie describes in the book, I've always wanted to feel like I'm not alone. I can't thank Maggie enough for being so open and honest about a thing that is often shrouded in shame and judgement, or at least don't-discuss-this-ness. I hope one da God bless Maggie Rowe! I read this book as if I was chugging down water after a long run (and I don't even run, so just think how much more I'd need the water). Growing up in and then leaving formal Christianity, I've always wanted a book like this. Like Maggie describes in the book, I've always wanted to feel like I'm not alone. I can't thank Maggie enough for being so open and honest about a thing that is often shrouded in shame and judgement, or at least don't-discuss-this-ness. I hope one day I can contribute to this conversation in a similarly open, humorous and loving way.

  23. 5 out of 5

    robert giles jr

    A memoir of spiritual scrupulosity I'm a former Baptist Christian who was tormented by the hell concept, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing someone overcome their fear of damnation even though they had said what I like to call the "magic prayer" thousands of times. I loved this book, and I wish the author all the luck in the world. A memoir of spiritual scrupulosity I'm a former Baptist Christian who was tormented by the hell concept, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing someone overcome their fear of damnation even though they had said what I like to call the "magic prayer" thousands of times. I loved this book, and I wish the author all the luck in the world.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Janice M.

    Excellent If you have ever had compulsive worries, especially about your own qualifications for Heaven, please read this book! This novel is on point.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Larry

    Best line in the book, "Like maybe we can only be true to what we already know is right." Best line in the book, "Like maybe we can only be true to what we already know is right."

  26. 4 out of 5

    Signe

    A very smart and witty woman goes into some type of Christian rehab for her "scrupulosity" -- which is OCD connected with religious or moral themes. It was hard to listen to at points, because it's hard to listen to folx with OCD get upset over the same things again and again. But, it is a great display of counsellors not knowing what they're doing when they're the ones charged with helping you. Maggie is afraid she won't be saved because she's unsure if her commitment to Jesus is lukewarm, yet A very smart and witty woman goes into some type of Christian rehab for her "scrupulosity" -- which is OCD connected with religious or moral themes. It was hard to listen to at points, because it's hard to listen to folx with OCD get upset over the same things again and again. But, it is a great display of counsellors not knowing what they're doing when they're the ones charged with helping you. Maggie is afraid she won't be saved because she's unsure if her commitment to Jesus is lukewarm, yet her counsellor keeps making up problems she doesn't even have -- like bulimia, body image, lesbianism (not that the last is a problem, but in her eyes it is). Clueless and obtuse is how many people experience institutionalized care, and this is a good example of that. It's also funny in parts which makes it easier to get through. Maggie is a TV writer (Arrested development, Flaked), so she is good at that and it reflects in the book. It just gets a bit manic at points, which can be stressful for sensitive readers.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elise Burger

    “Maybe justice is just a servant of love. Not an equal. Maybe love wins in the end. Maybe the Rich Man is invited into the kingdom when he’s ready, and maybe even Satan eventually. I know that’s a pretty radical idea. But Jesus is a pretty radical guy, ready to go past justice and proceed to love.” I was skeptical of this book, but oh my goodness. The wisdom. I wish there were more at the end about the rest of her life and the rest of her faith, but I know it’s unresolved and not that pretty of a “Maybe justice is just a servant of love. Not an equal. Maybe love wins in the end. Maybe the Rich Man is invited into the kingdom when he’s ready, and maybe even Satan eventually. I know that’s a pretty radical idea. But Jesus is a pretty radical guy, ready to go past justice and proceed to love.” I was skeptical of this book, but oh my goodness. The wisdom. I wish there were more at the end about the rest of her life and the rest of her faith, but I know it’s unresolved and not that pretty of a picture. I’ve never heard that quote by Martin Luther — “sin bravely so you will know the forgiveness of God”. I love it. It comes at just the right time in Maggie’s life and I feel it being right in mine too. For anyone who has ever felt crippled by questions that the most qualified can only half answered or felt the weight of the world on your shoulders as you make tiny day to day decisions: this book is for you! (Tell me when you love it hehehe)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Reader Views

    Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (1/18) “Sin Bravely: A Memoir of Spiritual Disobedience” by Maggie Rowe is the hilarious yet heartfelt story of the author’s struggles with salvation and the fear of damnation. Her literal interpretation of the Bible sets her on a whirlwind journey full of disillusion and anxiety. By the age of 19, Rowe is convinced she will be condemned to eternal punishment in hell, and checks herself into a Christian psychiatric facility, hoping to finally find the answ Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (1/18) “Sin Bravely: A Memoir of Spiritual Disobedience” by Maggie Rowe is the hilarious yet heartfelt story of the author’s struggles with salvation and the fear of damnation. Her literal interpretation of the Bible sets her on a whirlwind journey full of disillusion and anxiety. By the age of 19, Rowe is convinced she will be condemned to eternal punishment in hell, and checks herself into a Christian psychiatric facility, hoping to finally find the answers she needs in order to save her soul. The opening text produces the intensity with which Rowe struggles with her fears. While viewing a painting of Jesus she declares, “Jesus’s eyes seem kind, but I will not let myself be fooled,” (pg. 3). Going on to state that she knows Jesus could “turn” on her at any moment – it is Rowe’s inner thoughts that hold her hostage as indeed, she is her own worst demon. Unwilling or unable to accept her soul is saved, she repeats the Sinner’s Prayer, (which guarantees salvation) over and over throughout the course of her life, almost as a kind of insurance – just in case it didn’t “take” the first few thousand times. Little lyrical moments like this take the story to a level quite above anything I have read in a long time. The writing is absolutely brilliant, and I found myself hanging on every sentence – no, every word, eager to consume the wit and creativity that flows through Rowe seemingly effortlessly. Her ability to precisely describe her inner turmoil with the irreconcilable contradictions she obsesses over, really hits home and drives the story, and I was more than a little sad when I got to the final page. And the characters – they are oh-my-God hysterical! Maggie’s comrades at the psych unit will leave you breathless from their side-splitting antics and somewhat disturbing personalities. A sampling of her gang includes a former biker and meth-head, a set of twins that can’t stop their obsessive sexual compulsions for their mother, and a manic depressive woman who becomes Maggie’s best friend. All of the characters are genuine and relatable, even in their quirkiest and most frightening moments. Rowe really pulls you directly inside their minds as they navigate the road of spiritual enlightenment. Bethanie, one of the therapists, is so incredulous you just want to wring her neck as she unwittingly incites total frustration and hopelessness into her patients. “Sin Bravely: A Memoir of Spiritual Disobedience” by Maggie Rowe is an exceptional read full of wit, drama, insight and inspiration. This genuine, shining memoir will have you laughing out loud, all the while contemplating the condition of your own eternal soul, whether you believe or not. It is truly a five-star-must-read experience.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lynne

    This book had me laughing out loud at three in the morning.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Grace

    More about an anxiety disorder than about evangelicalism, which isn't a criticism, just a surprise in branding choices, especially since the author....doesn't actually leave the church. More about an anxiety disorder than about evangelicalism, which isn't a criticism, just a surprise in branding choices, especially since the author....doesn't actually leave the church.

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