Category Archives: Reading

Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault

By Justin Holcomb and Lindsey Holcomb

For most survivors of sexual assault, the struggle to come to terms with such a horrific violation of one’s personal and physical boundaries can present a challenge that seem insurmountable. For some survivors, this struggle is further complicated by questions of sin and how to reconcile Biblical teachings with the traumatic violation that occurred. This book aims to address concerns specific to Christian religious teachings about sin, morality, transgressions against others and God, and the possibility healing and recovery after having experienced sexual assault. The authors discuss the emotional impact of sexual assault and different responses victims may experience, and then offer religious interpretations and teachings that show the ways by which faith in God and Jesus Christ offer solace, healing, and redemption. Throughout the book and in each chapter, the authors return to the notion of grace and disgrace, emphasizing the unconditionality of each. Early on, the authors define disgrace as “one-way violence” committed against a person, and that person bears no responsibility for the pain caused to them. They also reiterate the healing power of grace, “one-way love,” offered unconditionally by God to provide redemption, healing, and hope of a better future.

“Rid of My Disgrace” by Justin Holcomb and Lindsey Holcomb offers thoroughly researched and clearly presented arguments about the possibility of redemption following the sin and disgrace of sexual assault. Both authors have experience supporting survivors of sexual assault, and their definitions and explanations align with the commonly cited examples of varied emotional responses to sexual assault. They also personalize the story, offering narratives from individual survivors at the start of each chapter in the section dealing with responses to sexual assault. This humanizes the information and helps make it more accessible to survivors by showing examples of how others have dealt with similar situations. The authors then follow up each response with clear connections to scripture and religious teachings that show how sexual violence is never the fault of the victim, offer examples of recovery, and express the importance of accepting unconditional love and grace from God as part of the recovery process. The chapters in the middle of the book follow a predictable pattern (personal story, emotional response, scriptural teaching), and the book itself flows nicely by starting with an introduction to the issue of sexual violence and closing with an emphasis on hope and healing.

As someone who currently has a fair amount of distance from Christianity, I still found this book to be relevant and applicable. The descriptions, definitions, and examples of sexual violence and the possible impact it may have on survivors matched everything I have encountered as an advocate doing this work, and their suggestions for supporting others or seeking support are spot on. Although I may not necessarily agree with everything presented in this book, I do feel able to endorse it as a source of understanding and help on the issue of sexual violence as it intersects with Christianity. If you have need of this book, it is would be a good resource.

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The Magician’s Land

By Lev Grossman

Having been thrown out of Fillory, Quentin again finds himself back on Earth and facing the eternal question of what to make of his life. Without really having a plan, he returns to Brakebills, the secret college of magic where he learned his skills, where he handily fills a gap among faculty. As some questions resolve themselves (he discovers his specialty is mending), other areas of his life are haunted by unresolved issues from the past. His father passes away, leaving him almost entirely disconnected from his distant mother. He stumbles upon his first girlfriend, Alice, in her niffin form, who threatens the school and its students in her pursuit of Quentin. Mysterious ties to Fillory appear in his life when he accepts temporary employment as a criminal after leaving Brakebills. Meanwhile, Elliot and the other rulers of Fillory face an even greater threat: the end of Fillory itself. As Quentin and his magician friends face new and untested limits of magic, pushing boundaries and trusting that they are able to do so, they also find themselves returning to things they have faced before, and come to realize that the future depends on the past.

“The Magician’s Land” by Lev Grossman is the third and final installment in the Magicians book series. As with the two books before it, this novel seamlessly continues the series in Grossman’s eloquent and engaging writing style, and again offers an entirely new and unpredictable storyline. Quentin’s character serves as an anchor throughout the series, growing and developing through each book and through the series as a whole. Grossman also expands on the backstory of some of the minor characters in this book that have previously had less attention, and brings in new characters to the novel as well, resulting in fresh perspectives on a consistent storyline. Not only does Grossman give attention to multiple characters throughout the novel, he also shows immense care and detail by doing so with minor and distinct changes in writing style. The tone of his writing reads as if someone is speaking, yet lacks the annoying vocal pauses and idiosyncrasies of conversation. The flow of characters and among characters adds to the overall thread of the story, maintaining individuality within a cohesive whole. Grossman expertly crafts the world of Brakebills, Fillory, and those connected to magic with a passion to draws in and grips the reader through to the last page.

To be honest, I was quite amazed by this book. It is thought-out to every last detail, beautifully written, and wonderfully imaginative. Not only is the writing engaging and compelling, but the growth within the characters and broader questions about the implications of magic just beg for introspection and deep conversation. I blew through the series this time around and look forward to re-reading and fully digesting each book at a slower pace sometime in the future. Well worth the read, especially this one. But you’ll have to read the whole series to understand the final novel!

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