This has been a draining time for me. I hate conflict, whether in my home, my church or my country. I hate election seasons because the months (years!) of mud-slinging campaigning just wears me down. I hate mean-spirited people at church because, well, it’s obvious. Rejoicing in other’s pain just doesn’t feel good to me.

The absolute worst pain for me is when conflict hits my home, especially between me and my spouse. Thank goodness we have been married long enough we have sorted out the big trials of life and now our irritations with each other pass quickly. I cherish peace at home.

I have coped with the past two weeks of intense feelings about Sister Kelley and the Ordain Women conundrum the way I always do when my problems are overwhelming. I turned to books. Books comfort me, distract me and if I am really lucky, they instruct me in my pain.

Heavenly Father has enveloped me in two books that have informed my feelings about the current church situation, (it isn’t over for me until John Devlin’s fate is determined.) I love it when just the right story falls into my lap at just the right moment.

The books that have carried me through and comforted me are “ My Name is Asher Lev” and it’s successor, written many years later, “The Gift of Asher Lev.”

They are fictional books about an Orthodox Jewish man who is burden with the genius of being an artist. The first book, “My Name is Asher Lev” is about his childhood in New York City in a Jewish community and how he cannot deny his artist soul at the same time his father (in particular), his family and his church/community sees his gift as being from the devil. The story ends when Asher is a young man driven out of his community.

The second book, “The Gift of Asher Lev” is a continuation of Asher’s story, as he is a 40ish year-old successful artist who comes back home and finds himself making the biggest sacrifice of his life for his church community.

I loved these books because they explore everything I have been thinking about.

How can a religious community accept someone who doesn’t fit the collective mold?
Does it weaken the community to be accepting or does it strengthen it?
Why does God give us undeniable gifts (or make us different in any way -ie- homosexual) and then expect us to suppress them to fit into a religious model that doesn’t welcome diversity?
How can a person be true to themselves (be mentally, emotionally and spiritually sound) when they live outside their religious norm?
What sacrifice is too much for God to ask from us?
Why does it take generations for attitudes and tolerance to change?

Those are some of the questions I explored in these books and I am a better person for having read them. It comforts me to know the rocky times in our religious faith are really no different than what other faiths face, especially ones who hold a firm line on what is acceptable before God and what is not. I am comforted in knowing I am not alone in my wonderings and pain.

What books, poems (Thanks for sharing yours previously, Sunshine) are instructing/comforting you right now?