A couple of years ago, Anne Jackson posed the following question on her blog, flowerdust.net: what is one thing you feel you can't say in church? That post, and the overwhelming response thereto, was the genesis of this book, which features essays and art on fear, confession, and grace.
The basic premise behind Jackson's initial question is that there are certain things which, validly or not, many people do not feel comfortable bringing up within their faith communities. Whether it be a matter of personal doubt and questioning, struggles with addiction or depression, or issues revolving around sexuality, the Church has more often that not been a place of judgment and shame rather than acceptance and support. In posing this question and in writing this book, Jackson gets the ball rolling not only by sharing some of her own struggles, but also by giving the reader permission to share their own stories, encouraging them to engage in the practice of confession and begin down the road to healing and transformation.
Permission To Speak Freely is a quick read, and while the scriptural and theological insights found in its pages are not necessarily anything that you might not have read before, the beauty of this book is the juxtaposition of biblical truth and personal reflection. Jackson's honesty is raw and refreshing, illuminating in a real way what God can do in and through us when we find the courage to express the deep secrets that we are so afraid to let go of. I particularly enjoyed the bits about the concept of the church being a refuge, and the gift of going second.
This is an important, albeit short book that hopefully can inspire people to be genuine with others they trust in regards to their struggles, and also to be open to supporting others in their times of need.
*Note: This book was provided free of charge from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze book review bloggers program.
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It always amazes me how difficult it can be for Christians to be honest with each other. I know for myself I am always afraid that if I am honest about where I am in my life, I am going to be judged, or told I am wrong, or even worse, be told that so-and-so no longer wants to associate with me because of choices made or situations in my life.
How awful that this has to occur within fellowship amongst Christians, but it happens more than we realize, and what to freely admit! I am so glad that the Church today is realizing that we are human, we sin and we deal with tough issues like abuse, addictions of all kinds, drug abuse and more. Not only are they realizing these issues do exist amongst Christians, but they are finally taking steps to deal with the very issues that even five or ten years ago you just "did not talk about".
Recently I had the opportunity to read and review a book that touches on this very subject. Permission To Speak Freely by Anne Jackson is a honest, open book that will change the way you look at fear, confession and Grace!
I so appreciated the candor and honesty that Anne Jackson wrote with, and the respect with which she told others' stories! The book is full of sound Bible references, beautiful poetry and honest comments from Anne Jackson's blog readers.
There is so much to digest from the honesty portrayed in this book that I really encourage each of you to read this book for yourself. You will be brought to a place in your life you may have been fighting for a long time, and don't want to visit, but you NEED to. Throughout Permission To Speak Freely, Jackson stresses the importance of confessing to one another as a community of believers in Christ.Read more ›
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I didn't know what to expect from this book when I agreed to review it. I just like the idea behind it and loved the cover. Part of me expected more art in it I guess so when it arrived I was surprised by the text included in the book as well. I grabbed this book one afternoon and it took me about three or four sitting to finish it. I devoured it and enjoyed the writings of Anne Jackson as well as the insights on what people wish they could say in church but don't.
I sense that many in the church these days, don't voice out their troubles or struggles because they are discouraged on the reaction of others in the past or simply fearful of the reaction of the ones around them. True there are people who think they are holier than thou and will make you feel like crap (hey - I'm being TOTALLY honest here... so please don't judge me.) but there is also loving and caring people around you. People who might be going through the same struggles than you and would love to chat and share their views on the subject. So why is it so bad to open up and let the cat out of the bag? I wonder.
In the past, I have experience similar reactions as well as misunderstanding due to my inability to express my thoughts in English properly (you see French is my first language so... sometimes it creates interesting situations or misunderstandings...) . I got misjudge for a comment I said while participating to a 9 months training for leaders, we got hurt by leaders in a church and denomination as well. When we voiced up our concerns it wasn't well received. Conclusion. We were in pain. We had to deal with it ourselves. We had to forgive over time. And God never left us. He was there and still is there. He is ever present.
I find that part of the healing process is to open up.Read more ›
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product
***** This new book by author Anne Jackson should be read by every Christian who is concerned about being real, and who is concerned about the church--even if, especially if you've been wounded by and/or alienated by the church. The subtitle of this book is "Essays and Art on Fear, Confession, and Grace"--the book revolves around the fear that we all have, the blessing that confession (speaking the truth) can be, and the grace that God offers us, especially in relationship with others.
But this is not a typical Christian self-help book, which I think is its strength. It is an amalgamation of art, stories (including many from the author's own life), poetry, and more. Reading it delivers an experience of feeling that can be rare sometimes in the Christian world--the feeling that we can be real, we can be who we are, we can say how we really and truly feel (yes, all of it) and it is okay, even good. It sort of gives you permission to feel. To be. To receive love from God and from others. This is hard to describe in a review. Most of all this book delivers a wonderful experience, like taking a bath in God's love and grace.
The book reminds me in some ways of the PostSecret books by Frank Warren, and the art is similar in that it is confessional and real. But this book is Christian, and it includes lots of text (unlike the PostSecret books) in the form of short chapters, poetry, confessional autobiography, and lessons the author has learned--the latter is my favorite part of the book. I found it slightly disorganized (not a bad thing in this case) and profound. I loved it!
I have recently recommitted my life to Christ and returned to the church and found this to be a healing balm for my soul. In my return, I'd been concerned about losing the authenticity I've gained in my life away from the church, and was not sure how to be a Christian and still be loving instead of legalistic and judgmental (as I'd been in the past when I attended church). This book helped me greatly.
The ideal reader for this book is the Christian who feels broken or tired or muzzled or hyper-conforming or hidden or numb or frustrated or lonely or isolated. If you feel this way, this is the book for you. It is based on Scripture, but not filled with references; it is not a theology book. It is also not for people who want to be told what to do (as in "Six Ways to Feel Better Fast", for example). It does include occasional adult themes and language, but in an appropriate manner with the purpose of the book--I did not find anything in this book offensive.
Highly, highly recommended. *****
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Excellent sophomore release from Anne JacksonAug. 13 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
In 2009 Anne Jackson a popular blogger released her first book, Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic, with the intent of providing a how-to-guide to help church leaders, pastors and volunteers from becoming burnout with church work. Although I loved the book and wrote a rave review I felt as though Anne's desire was not to provide a how-to-guide but rather to tell her story of burnout. Somewhat successful her book sold well but struck a nerve with older church leaders who felt her thirty years of life was not enough experience to speak to the subject of burnout.
What I feel Anne wanted to share but failed to communicate in Mad Church Disease is beautifully portrayed and profoundly written in her sophomore release, Permission to Speak Freely: Essays and Art on Fear, Confession and Grace. The book is built on the premise of one question written on her blog in 2008: "What is the one thing you feel you can't say in the church?" Instead of copying the likes of the Post Secret community, Anne dives deep into her own personal story and exposes the hurt, burnout and pain she suffered through years of love/hate relationship between her, the church and church people.
Motivated by honesty and humility this book is ripe with grace, forgiveness and truth. PTSF is fantastic read for anyone who has been hurt by the church or church people, it is an excellent reminder that confession of sin has the power to transform and the gift of forgiveness empowers us to move on. Each of us has our own story, while reading PTSF one can not help but identify with Anne's story in one way or another.
"And so I began to wonder. Can a book actually change the world? My gut feeling? No. Book's can't. But people can." (pg. 183 PTSF) I believe in her book Mad Church Disease Anne's heart was to help people change, she wrote a book with steps to do that, honestly I don't think it helped as much as she had hoped. A few years and experiences later, Anne has come to place where five steps to avoiding burnout give way to the power of the human story. All of us want to learn how to change and be better, but somewhere along the way we skip steps and forget the principles. However, when someone stands up in the dark corners of the world where our deepest hurts, habits and hang-ups lurk and says "I have been there," those are the people we are drawn too, those are the people that give us permission to say what is hidden deep in our souls. Anne Jackson doesn't need to give you permission to speak freely, but when you finish reading her book, you will definitely find yourself in a place where confession gives way to transformation.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
My Wife Stole My Book, Loved It, and Wrote a Review!Aug. 24 2010
John M. Alexander
- Published on Amazon.com
Anne simply asks the question, "what is the one thing you feel you can't say in the church?" From page one the book enters into her story and her pain and experience with the church. In the midst of a very explicit and relatable story comes poems, pictures, and confessions of the people who answered this very question.
Anne forces and enables the conversation of why the church is a place that people feel they need to hide who they are. Why do we hide our secrets from a place that we feel should be "safe?" Why do we feel MOST JUDGED in a place where we believe judgement is in the hands of the Maker?
This book was VERY INTERESTING and provoked a lot more thought into the very topic of WHO the church is. From page one to the end I could NOT put the book down. My copy can no longer be sold on amazon with the word "new" next to it. It is very much "OLD," "UNDERLINED," "USED!" My hand was cramped more from all the underlining I did than holding the book itself! Anne allowed the biblical teachings of the church to shine through in the midst of the journey she took her readers on through the right of sanctuary the Christian church adopted in the 4th century to the abolishment of it in the 18th century. She brought church and church history forward in a way that was appealing and inspirational.
I HIGHLY recommend this book to future readers who especially feel that the role of the church is based on religion and law. If this is you PLEASE read this book, and challenge yourself to be open-minded with the message!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
What a complete mess! (life, not the book)Aug. 20 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
This book hurts. Because it is messy.
Anne Jackson has a one of a kind boldness to publicly confess her deepest and darkest secrets. To show that she is broken. And to show that she is healing.
This book is a gem. One that I want all of my friends to read.
I read the first half of the book in one sitting. Heartbroken, I closed the book to ponder what I read. I left the book closed for a few days. Re-opened and read one chapter (#14, Sanctuary).
In it, she states, "Churches have been sacrificing the beauty of confession and brokenness for religious trappings and the malady of perfectionism."
Wow. I had to sit the book down again and wonder about this for a day.
This is a short book. I suppose it could be read in one sitting. But for me, I wouldn't be able to digest the massively important ideas she presents in one sitting. It took breaks. It took chewing.
Usually, with a book like this, the author will use a powerful real life example at the end to prove their final point. What did Anne pick to display confession and the power of healing? She chose To Write Love On Her Arms. And believe me. It drove the point home.
Lastly, the art and images she picked to separate the parts of her book are wonderful confessions. They're messy, just like the rest of the book. But expect to be moved by some.
Thank you Anne for being honest.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Read this book! ... Your journey will thank you!Nov. 28 2010
- Published on Amazon.com
There are many words being used in today's culture. From books to blogs to snippets of personal revelation in 140 characters or less, everyone seems to be making an effort in having their voice heard. Weeding through all the noise can be quite overwhelming and distracting. Luckily, the words in Anne Jackson's latest book, Permission to Speak Freely, are just what a loud and desperate generation needs to hear.
As we've grown to love Anne's particular style - short, sharp, and unreserved - in this latest writing she doesn't disappoint. Her book is packed with short chapters, lively personality, and an emotional and personal journey that cuts straight at your core. Permission to Speak Freely originated as a question posted on Anne's blog, FlowerDust.net. She asked, "What is one thing you feel you can't say in church?" and it spawned an enormous response and seemingly unending dialogue. In turn, the response gave Anne the idea of turning this question into a book laced with personal testimony and confession, heartache, praise and fear.
I enjoyed reading Permission to Speak Freely and I'm confident that - regardless of your past or current situation or your personal religious philosophy - you will enjoy it as well. You'll probably walk away feeling encouraged, I'm sure of that, but you'll also want to share your journey, your heartache and hurt with others so that they too might find the same release you will when you read this book.
I give Anne Jackson two thumbs up. Her heart to see people changed is clearly evident from the first chapter to the last. If you have an opportunity to read this book, do yourself a favor, stop listening to all the noise and read it. The rest of your journey will thank you.