A Book Review: “When We Were On Fire”

So yeah, my last post (last month, where did the time go?) was titled “When We Were Zealots.” And that was BEFORE I got this book in the mail to review. (There’s the disclaimer, I got a copy of this book for free, in exchange for a review.)  

Here’s the synopsis:

In the strange, us-versus-them world of the 90’s Christian subculture, your faith was measured by how many WWJD bracelets you wore and whether or not you’d “kissed dating goodbye.”
Evangelical poster-child, Addie Zierman wore three WWJD bracelets, led two Bible studies and listened exclusively to Christian rock. She was “on fire for God,” unaware that the flame of her faith was dwindling until it burned entirely out.
With candor and transparency, Addie chronicles her journey through church culture, first love, and her entrance—unprepared and angry—into marriage. When she washes out of church and nearly her marriage on a sea of tequila and Depression, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever go back.
When We Were on Fire is a funny, heartbreaking story of untangling oneself from cliché in search of a faith worth embracing. It’s a story for anyone who has ever felt alone in a crowded church. For the cynic. The doubter. The former Jesus Freak struggling with the complexity of life.
It’s a story about the slow work of returning to love, Jesus, and (perhaps toughest of all) his imperfect followers. And, in the end, it’s about what lasts when nothing else seems worth keeping.

Reading this book was like reading my own journals. Oh certainly, Addie’s experiences aren’t identical to mine, but the parallels were hard to ignore. I came into the church in the early ’90s, and clearly recall being “wowed” by the alternate universe I’d stepped into. I then proceeded to bring up my children in that culture, just like Addie, and now I’m watching them try to navigate their way through finding a faith that works for them, separate from the fancy Bible covers, the Christian T-shirts, and the pithy catchphrases. I’m trying to do the same thing myself, and it’s painful.

There are people all around us who are dying on the vine, buried under a sea of trite Christian cliches, exhausted by the constant battle to “be the best Christian you can be.” Many of them are our young people, faith wearied by the demands placed on them. Rescuing them isn’t a matter of keeping them in (or converting them to) your particular brand of Christianity, it’s a matter of helping them keep their faith, their hope, and their joy for the long term, however it ends up being expressed.

Thank you, Addie Zierman, for your honesty and candor, for putting into words things I’ve thought and felt but couldn’t figure out how to say out loud, and for leaving your readers with a message of genuine hope.

2 thoughts on “A Book Review: “When We Were On Fire”

  1. Suzie Johnson says:

    Oh, wow. This sounds like a pretty important book. I can think of a few people who might want to read this. Thank you, Niki.

  2. Niki Turner says:

    Me too, Suzie. I've already got friends asking to borrow it. Especially powerful for our young people who have shied away from church. I've heard some of the same things Addie Zierman writes about come out of my own children's mouths in the last two years.

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