First things first: Let's call a moratorium on jabs against people who publish two memoirs before age 36. Yes, our self-absorbed society is glutted with the genre; yes, many 30-somethings lack the wisdom and experience to say much worth sharing. But the spiritual autobiography—a narrative account of God's gracious movement in the believer's life—is central to the church canon. If Christians throughout the centuries have charged Augustine with "narcissistic navel-gazing" for his Confessions—all 13 books—I can't recall it.
Anyone committed to truly examining the shape of personal faith, unfolding over the years in a broken world, should sense a fruitful opportunity, if not a solemn obligation, to expound at length. And Lauren Winner, while not in Augustine's league as a memoirist, probes these depths as deftly and eloquently as anyone writing today. Her latest offering, Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis (HarperOne), is a sparse, elegant account of slipping away from the Jesus she so eagerly embraced in young adulthood, by way of Shabbat prayer, Jan Karon's Mitford series, and a dream about being kidnapped by "a dark Daniel-Day-Lewis-type man" who, by the way, was the Messiah. Girl Meets God: On the Path to a Spiritual Life, Winner's breakout 2002 memoir, was about dating Christ and Christianity, about realizing that "I was falling in love with this carpenter who had died for my sins." It established Winner—now a professor of Christian spirituality at Duke Divinity School and an ordained minister—as one of those hip, young evangelicals who could write for both Focus on the Family's singles channel and The New York Times Book ...1