The Red Couch: Original Blessing Introduction


red couch - original blessing - introduction

It had been nine months since I had become a mother. After a long, grueling labor and birth, my son was born with trouble sucking. So with bleary eyes, I began pumping around the clock while still trying to nurse. I kept it up for months. In the rush and chaos of nourishing and caring for an infant, my former life vanished—including quiet moments with God and church attendance.

At first, I tried to pray the Divine Hours. The prayers gave me words I was too spent to form myself. But that eventually fell by the wayside. I can’t say when it happened, but in the exhaustion, isolation, and struggle I began to feel God-forsaken. For the first time in my life, there was complete spiritual darkness—an empty void where a loving presence had always been. Only a painful silence remained. It echoed quietly around me several months.

Then one day I caught sight of Original Blessing: Putting Sin in Its Rightful Place on a must-read list. The author, Danielle Shroyer had been one of my favorite presenters at a writer’s workshop a couple of years before and had talked about the process of writing this very book. Unexpectedly, there it was—that familiar, still voice: This. Read This.

When I started reading, it felt like that soft whisper had been a distant stream that suddenly came into sight, and the sound tumbled joyfully in my ears. It was God saying, “Here I am, this is the real me!”

I wept nearly every time I read it. And I read slowly (when I could have devoured it) to soak my weary soul in the love I found so tenderly woven into every paragraph and chapter.

I also needed time to contemplate the implications of removing original sin from my foundational Christian beliefs. It was a task that required deconstruction, reframing, and rebuilding.

Shroyer carefully revisits core Western Christian teachings on Eden, sin, the cross, sex, babies, and baptism. (You probably didn’t know how far-reaching original sin is!) She sweeps away long-entrenched misperceptions to reveal the beliefs of the church before original sin was introduced. Rooted in Jewish thought, she presents the nuanced complexity of how to read the biblical text and several options for interpretation.

My paradigm is still shifting, and I still have questions. But this book has been a game changer for me. It wasn’t just God returning to the scene of my life; it was God returning with clarity and beauty—wiping away deep shame and pain that I didn’t even know original sin had introduced into my faith.

Shroyer writes with the heart of a pastor, the wisdom of a seasoned theologian and the engaging style of a blogger. This is a feel-good book with traction—theological context and texture that give it feet to walk on.

If there were one book I could press into the hands of every person on earth (especially those with hearts mangled and bruised at the hands of Christianity), it would be this book. Everyone needs to know that before they are anything else, they are loved.

Original Blessing is the story of love—of God starting and ending every human story in blessing. It is the story of a God who is with us and for us, no matter what. It is a story of acceptance, belonging and belovedness. This is a story you don’t want to miss.

Let’s start 2018 out wading into the stream of God’s blessing. Will you join me?

Come back Wednesday, January 31 for our discussion post and join our Facebook group to discuss the book throughout the month.

the nightstand -sheloves book club

The Nightstand: A short list of books to enhance and deepen your reading experience.

Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality Presented in Four Paths, Twenty-Six Themes, and Two Questions by Matthew Fox

Made for Goodness: And Why This Makes All the Difference by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu

Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality by J. Phillip Newell

Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God: The Scandalous Truth of the Very Good News by Brian Zahnd


Disclosure: Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site.

Liana Norheim
Liana lives in Los Angeles with her son and Norwegian husband. When she isn't swimming or singing with her little guy, she pursues Stillness and quiet. She occasionally writes about living between two continents at
Liana Norheim

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Liana Norheim
  • Wow, Liana. Thank you so much for inviting us into your experience with this book. I was looking forward to reading it, but now I am thrilled we are starting the year with this one.

    • Thank you Idelette. It has meant so much to me. It is a definitely a great way to start the year – steeped in Love.

  • “A story of acceptance, belonging and belovedness.” This is the story we need to live. I apprecite your personal connection to this review and book. Thank you Liana.

    • Thank you Debby. I’m on the journey of living that story (and will be for some time – it isn’t an easy paradigm shift to make), but Original Blessing is an amazing guide!

  • I feel conflicted in reading this post in that yes, I believe that God started the world in goodness and blessing and continued to be faithful to his people despite their brokenness. But so many questions too. If no original sin what then is the purpose of the cross? I know God says “I will that none should perish but all come to life” but every human story does not end in blessing. There are parables where God doesn’t accept everyone. You speak to an anguish and a battle in my heart and also a sense of caution. God is love and he is also holy.
    Thanks for speaking to this and stirring me. Blessings. My heart is not to debate or contradict. Just sharing my heart.

    • Oh, I would encourage you to read Original Blessing! Shroyer frames a lot of the book around your question of why we need Jesus, if not for the atonement of our sins. She does such an incredible job of walking the reader through the ancient Biblical and Jewish framework surrounding sin and sacrifice.

      • If not for atonement? Would you consider the book a part of the “progressive Christian” movement?

        • Danielle Shroyer was one of the founders of the Emergent Village movement, so her theological point of view is more progressive. (I have trouble deciding what is actually progressive or not, as so many define it differently!)

          • Thanks for the info. Yes, it is hard to define. Learning discernment 😊

    • Thank you for your honest, heartfelt reflection Mel! I think you raise a concern that almost any (Western) Christian would. Shroyer has two artfully nuanced chapters about the cross. I have to say that the cross is more beautiful to me than ever before. It is something we will likely study for eternity, but in my opinion Shroyer’s discussion is a good place to start. I hope you read along with us Mel, and weigh in on Facebook and the discussion post. I’d love to hear how Original Blessing challenges and blesses you and what you take and leave from it while you are on your journey in trust. <3

      • Thanks for the invitation and for your encouragement. I will think about it.
        I find it interesting that you put (Western) in front of Christian. I don’t know that my concern is only in our part of the world. My friends that I met in China for instance would share my concern.
        Anyway it has been a very thought provoking day! Blessings!

        • Ah, yes I see how that was confusing. I meant Western vs. Eastern Christianity. The Eastern branch of the Christian church actually doesn’t believe in original sin. Shroyer explains that background nicely.

          • I couldn’t find the book at the library and I can’t buy anymore right now but thank you for inspiring me to dig into this topic. I am finding some interesting online articles and saw that my husband has a copy of John Piper’s Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came To Die. As you said, the topic is so huge we will study it for eternity. Let us all “boldly come before his throne of grace in our time of need” and receive his wisdom.

          • Hi Mel, We were just on a call with Shroyer this morning (video to be posted
            later this month) and the book that she used as her biggest resource for
            writing about the cross is “The Crucified God” by Jürgen Moltmann. There are also other books in the Nightstand list at the end of the post that may illuminate the topic. Hopefully you can find one or two at your library. Blessings on our journey of seeking wisdom!

  • I’m really curious about this book. Honestly, I haven’t visited church a lot this last year because of some questions and doubts I have. I know that reading books about Christianity definitely helps me addressing these questions and to experience God. So I’ve put this one on my Kindle and I’ll start next week with reading this book. Curious what it will bring me.

    • Oh, I think this book will be good for you. Shroyer is so gentle in reframing faith. Reframing actually seems like a strong word for what she’s doing… Recalibrating? Redirecting us back to our roots? I’m looking forward to hearing your journey as you read!

      • Hi Annie. Yes, I’m loving this book. 🙂 I’m at the part about the Garden of Eden. So great how she just looks at the text as it is…

        • Hi Sanne, I’m so glad you are joining us in reading! I too loved how she read the text as it is in its context. There is so much richness and complexity of Hebrew thought that we miss using our Western eyes.