A Review: Out of Sorts

Out of Sorts: A state of being in one’s heart or mind or body. Often used to describe one’s sense of self at a time when one feels like everything one once knew “for sure” has to be figured out all over again.

When I was 19, the faith I had been holding onto my entire life crumbled like sand, and slipped right through my fingers. Everything had to go. The baby and the bathwater. Everything was suspect, and I just couldn’t decipher the good from the bad, the right from the wrong, so I had to let it all fall. It wasn’t just uncomfortable, it was painful. This is a story for another time, but as I read Out of Sorts, I wish that I would have had a copy to keep me company in those days. 

I have admired Bessey’s writing for a long time and especially loved Jesus Feminist. While Christianity often paints a pretty clear dichotomy, Bessey manages to find a place in the middle. She works to erase labels, tear down categories and camp out in a space free of the rigid lines that have separated us all for so long. She describes herself as an Anglican-influenced charismatic, post evangelical who has a strong pull towards Anabaptist theology. I love her boldness to defy boundaries and bounce between boxes.

Every chapter is filled with stories about her out of sorts experiences. She worked to speak theologically in a very accessible way, making her able to reach a broad audience. I especially appreciated her chapter about Getting into the Word. Paul tends to be the Christian guide to interpreting Scripture, but it is incredibly important to read Scripture through Jesus. Bessey writes that when she was a kid she, “wondered if God got born again between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Maybe that was the reason God seemed to “change” from the ancient stories to the Jesus I knew and loved…” She goes on to say, “It’s that God became incarnate among us and revealed the truth: God is Love.”

The incarnation changes everything.

I remember being afraid to ask questions. Big questions. Faith altering questions. I was afraid there would be consequences, I’m not sure what I thought those consequences would be, but in that season I needed  reassurance. I desperately needed someone to tell me it was okay to ask those questions. I hope in reading this book, you are able to let the questions loose and experience faith on the other side. It is through the questions, the doubt, the sifting and sorting and building and tearing down that we are able to grow. The questions don’t always bring answers, in fact, most of the time they only bring more questions, but God meets in an intimate way when we dare to let go.