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


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