"Facing the Music" is a rather lack-luster title for this finely crafted true story, but don't let the cliche title stop you.
I knew nothing about Jennifer Knapp until Howard Publishing sent me a review copy of her memoir.
For me, this book was two things. First, it was her account of her journey on the path called Life.
Second, it was a reminder that whenever Christianity becomes a culture (with certain norms, mores, and a herd mentality) instead of individuals before God, we've probably got to reconsider.
Jennifer takes us right back to her beginnings, to the birth of herself and her sister. They were twins, and so much a part of each other that people called them "the girls" as if they were one body, one entity.
This shared identity lasted them through a turbulent youth, as the sisters had to live in the tension of divorced parents.
She describes her best memories- working with horses and building things with scrap wood alongside her Dad, and peaceful visits and camping trips with her Mom.
Somewhere along the way, Jennifer and Music met. It was love at first note. A plastic recorder- the dreaded instrument of elementary school- was a precious treasure to her. I laughed when I read the passage about her playing "Erie Canal" over and over again, until she could visual the flowing water and the mule named Sal.
With her father and her stepmother beginning a new family of their own, and her sister beginning to grow up and become her own person, music was the light at the end of the tunnel for Jennifer.
And it was certainly a tiny light at first.... the music class was taught in the school gym, with the music written on the floor.
The more advanced class required staying after school and possessing an instrument, and her parents couldn't and/or wouldn't grant either request.
Not for a very long time.
It was playing and singing and writing- and then eventually writing music- that carried her through her teenage years.
She shares her cherished hopes and then reveals her broken dreams, and you will find yourself reading this memoir as if it were a novel- engrossed.
I also think once a reader finishes this book, they may want to check out "Thrashing about with God" by Mandy Stewart, and "When We Were on Fire" by Addie Zierman. Both of these books are written by women attempting to recover from 1990's evangelical church culture and live out Truth, Beauty and Goodness.
So many of the attitudes that seemed right have produced sad fruit today...
Scared-straight evangelism and two minute "decisions" led to people being afraid to talk about their faith lest they seem to be a "Gospel mugger."
The promoters of purity often failed to show purity as the presence of Love and Reverence, instead of just the absence of sex.
The attempt to steer us towards safe, "Christian" books (and music and films) led to a neglect of real art, and a widening of the sacred/secular gap.
The desire to be Biblically faithful led to conversations that were confrontations, and now we as the Body of Christ are paying the price, having alienated so many voices who could have brought valuable words to the table.
That's what I think Jennifer does here. I think she asks us to sit down and listen, to her as a human being, and to chew on what she has to say.
Then, if we were face-to-face, she invites us to talk.
I think that it's time we tried it.