Books like these, by former evangelicals who have lost their faith, seem to be proliferating. The Her.meneutics blog gives a good review of this one, entitled Not that Kind of Girl.
. . . after graduating and moving to New York City . . . she bounces from church to church, gradually letting go of her moral convictions in order to “experience life” in the way she’d desired at age 8, in whispered prayers. After a brief stint with the Catholic Church (selected primarily because, as the “church of Flannery O’Connor and Graham Greene and Walker Percy, it embraces literature, isn’t afraid of moderate intake of alcohol, and encourages social activism”), Bauer’s faith crumbles under the weight of her doubts and questions. Living through 9/11 as a resident of NYC presents an image of suffering she is unable to reconcile with God. “I’ve exhausted it all,” she says. “I’ve got nothing left to give him.” She desires certainty, but a philosophical ideal of truth — “Thinking you know anything makes it impossible to say that God is light” — leads her away from the church and its confident professions of faith.
What is ultimately missing from Bauer’s account is any sense of real community to support her amid her fleeting convictions. Roommates, friends, and love interests, Christian and non-Christian, come and go, and none is particularly memorable. Though Iris Murdoch’s observation that “love is the extremely uncomfortable realization that something other than oneself is real” first led Bauer to the Catholic Church, we never see her live out the “uncomfortable” reality. “If I had to love someone the way I had to love God, I would have to leave,” she says, after she has already left God.
Bauer’s is a truly thoughtful de-conversion story, and that makes it particularly heartbreaking. She seems like the kind of person you could talk to over coffee for hours. Unfortunately, hers is an all-too-common story: disaffected with the church, capital C, she gives up on God. But while I expected to mourn a lost opportunity for that gold-medal move, this book provided a reminder that we can never expect or ask anyone to singularly represent our faith. That’s something we must do every day, as persons who aspire to show not just what kind of girls we are, but also what kind of God we serve.