Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Spirituality: A conventional sad tale does not transform into a spiritual memoir just because God is hat tipped

In "God's Words: The (unnecessary) rise of the spiritual memoir," Jessa Crispin offers standards:
I have a few unyielding standards for a memoir: Either your book must be exceptionally written (a trait hard to find in memoirs these days) or you must have done something exceptional. You must have traveled to the underground or the heavens and come back with fire or golden apples or at least a little wisdom. It can’t just be, “Daddy hit me, mommy got cancer” — everyone has a sad story, and it is possible to go through a trauma or experience something significant without gaining any insight. (The Smart Set, September 24, 2008)
Crispin finds that many spiritual memoirs demonstrate her case, adding
I suppose the thought process behind publishing these books is that since it’s in the air of our culture, those who are seeking will want to hear other people’s stories. But the same rules from other memoirs apply — just because you lived through something, that doesn’t mean you have anything interesting to say about it.
To be of lasting interest, spiritual memoirs require great insight, great struggles, and great sanctity.

Recently, I read and reviewed Mother Teresa's Come Be My Light, and spoke about the experiences described in her letters. Now that is a spiritual memoir worth reading!