The need for Jericho Books has pretty much grown out of my own struggle.
In many ways, possibly more than I care to admit, I am my own target market. I grew up in a very loving, conservative home and I have nothing bad to say about that. We went to church every time the doors were open and that is where I started to struggle. I remember being nine years old and pretending to be asleep on the sofa late one Sunday afternoon so my parents would let me skip church that night.
I wanted to stay home that night for the most innocent of reasons and quite a worthy cause to my Southern Baptist parents had I needed or even thought to try and argue the point, I wanted to watch the Ten Commandments. (This was years before the age of video tapes.)
I know that sounds silly but it is the only time I remember ever missing church on a Sunday or Wednesday night in life – though I am sure there were others – right up to the age of eighteen when I went off to college and was a ‘grown up’ myself. The first few Sundays that I skipped church as a ‘grown up’ felt very naughty and naughty was much more fun than being good all the time. And that really is the crux of the matter. I was a good girl. Going to college and being wild for me meant having a coupla beers. Even as I type this I think about how much trouble I would get in if my mother reads this (and I am in my 40s).
But I digress. The stretches between Sundays grew and going to church reversed roles and seemed to become more of an occasion than normal. I really didn’t mind that.
I moved to a different country that was most definitely post Christian and God seemed very much part of a past life I was only too keen to leave behind in America. We stayed away from each other for many years. Well, I would go to church on ‘occasions’ just to make sure he was still there but that was about it. And in those lovely ancient churches that were mostly empty on Sundays, I often struggled to find him which made not going even easier.
I tried wearing the ‘spiritual but not religious’ mantle for a while. I read The Celestine Prophesy and a couple of new age books but I couldn’t really engage and probably didn’t want to.
God and I have argued a lot through the years but I was making my point by staying away from him. To even say that God and I argued in my childhood church would have been disrespectful. Now I see it as real. I think I always did and that was part of the problem. I fear God but I am not afraid by him. That was a key moment in life for me. To realize that as his child I could rant and beat on his chest and scream and know that he could take it and that he would love me anyway. That was the beginning of healing.
I came back to my faith in 2003 while living in London. London will always be my spiritual home. My church, though I now find it more conservative than I am, will always be HTB. I can walk through the doors, see a familiar face and immediately feel my shoulders relax – a little. It is a safe place. It is my happy place. God met me at the door the first time I went in.
Now I have a new church, in a new town, in an old country, in new skin. As I continue in my faith, question it, wrestle it, push it away and draw it back in, it has developed outside of the norm for much of the recognized Christian community. I do not sit easily on a pew on Sunday mornings. My squirming remains.
And it is from that place that Jericho Books has come.
It is from those nagging questions and ill-fitting formulas I spent time trying to contort myself into, that has brought about the need for Jericho Books. Some might call it a reaction. Is that a bad thing? Some might see me as heretical. If that is the case, then they misunderstand my motives. To anyone out there who feels excluded, this is a place for you. We are ‘radically inclusive’ here.
Thanks for sharing that part of your story, Wendy! I'm a fellow "squirmer," as well. Thanks for creating this space that is "radically inclusive." We need more spaces like that!
Most of the greatest theological revolutions began as abject heresy. Heresy is not a bad thing, especially if you're not intent on safeguarding the status quo. I see so much of my own story/journey in just this snapshot of your own. It is such a common story; one that needs to be told, retold, shared and lived to whatever mysterious, inspiring culmination God and we can bring to it together.
Wow! For a minute, I thought you were living my life with me. You wrote it much better than me, but the story is quite familiar. Love it! Blog on, girl!
Rock on, Wendy. This is the beginning of something wonderful. May you see God's light on the path ahead.
Your story resonates with me as well. I sat in those same Southern Baptist pews (literally) as a kid. I felt God and love. The people were good people--no doubt. But, something didn't quite fit. Some of it is pretty easy to explain and some of it I'm still working out. My details are different but, the storyline is similar. I appreciate your story.
Excellent first blog... Couldn't have put it better myself. Teaching as a fakeatholic gives me more and more questions everyday!
Wendy, you are such a breath of fresh air. Thanks for sharing some of your story here! We share so much in common... I completely remember reading The Celestine Prophecy back in the '90s. Funny, huh? So glad you're blogging! And the new Jericho line looks amazing... thank you for all you're doing!
Ill-fitting formulas indeed. The need for something like Jericho has existed for a long time. The problem has been the reluctance of moving beyond the barrier of tradition that has too long been marketed as Christianity.
beautiful post and story wendy. I think the language has changed for many of us, but it is still the same ragged, radical gospel that changes lives. bless y'all.
A fellow "squirmer" responds: Honest! Engaging! My story told well with your words! A very good blog.