Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Glennon Doyle Melton: "Carry On, Warrior": Does she write a best-seller from the heart?


Author: Glennon Doyle Melton

Title: “Carry on Warrior! The Power of Embracing your Messy, Beautiful Life

Publication: New York: Scribner, 2014. ISBN 978-1-4516-9822-0 (paper, also in hardcover and ebook) 300 pages, 7 parts, 50 short unnumbered chapters, with a Reading Group Guide and Author QA.

Amazon link is here

The author runs the site “Momastery.com”  which may look self-explanatory enough to the visitor. How would she compare to Heather Armstrong, who founded the "grandmother" of mommy blogs, "Dooce" back in 2002, after being fired for blogging about her employer (even from home). 
  
Let me be honest about my motive for ordering the book.  I’ve just self-published my own third book in my “Do Ask, Do Tell” series (see the blog entry here Feb. 27), and I was asked about purchasing a publicity package with Publishers’ Weekly for bookstore placement.  Now, seriously, I think most of my exposure will be online, and this seems old-fashioned.  About the same time, I heard about “Momastery” somewhere (I think on morning television) and that this book (which appeared this month) would become a super best seller.  Why?  What makes something like this so popular that it deserves 5 and 6 figure marketing campaigns?  I did look it up in Publisher’s Weekly here  with the added caption, “Thoughts on Life Unarmed”. 
  
Melton, I can conclude, shares my concern that people are becoming isolated, judgmental and asocial, to the point that society can become unsustainable; but she has no political agenda and has no intention of solving a moral problem with some sort of intellectual, deductive process (which I do).  She writes from the heart. 

  
She lives her life, has babies, gets married, gets Lyme Disease, gets in trouble with alcohol, drugs and bulimia. She recovers through family life and connections to other people.  But she is willing to take a lot of chances to live her life.  She can do that because she has developed earthy connections with other people. 
One of the most touching chapters is her letter to her gay son, Chase, the chapter titled “A mountain I’m willing to die on”.  Later, she goes on a multi-day AIDS ride from Florida (where she lives) to Washington DC.   I recall going to the kickoff party in St. Paul for such a ride through Wisconsin in 2002.


She talks about telepathy at one point. That’s very real to me, rather like an organic Internet connection as in the movie “Avatar”.  With a very few friends I experience that.  I have dreamed one friend’s music as he was composing it, and later found the dream was pretty close.  Some of my own music comes in dreams. 
She also talks about the challenges of keeping a (traditional) marriage intimate and alive, and there is no hint that the distractions from the visibilities of those who are different can really affect her marriage.  (Hint: apply this to same-sex marriage.)


She talks about paying off an upside-down mortgage without a short sale, and starting over.  This was OK.  It wouldn’t be for me.  Later, she talks about the struggle to adopt a child from Guatemala, and later Rwanda.  She gives sacrificially, much of her savings, to an overseas relief organization for children.
In a late chapter she talks about hospitality, which is almost like a moral responsibility.  A local church here in Arlington Virginia (Trinity Presbyterian) has coined the term “radical hospitality” which she describes to a tee.

She talks about Elie Wiesel’s book “Night”, which was read in ninth-grade English classes when I worked as a substitute teacher a few years ago (although with an abridged version).

She has an interesting comment about kindness and bravery on p. 125.
  
It’s interesting how she talks about writing, on p. 25.  She characterizes it as a form of sharing (as well as “living out loud”).  Can I say that about my books, blogs, and tweets?   It isn’t the same as sharing up close and personal with people.  And that in turn invokes a bit of irony.  We live in a culture of “mind your own business”, privacy, and not making too many mistakes.   In fact, since I grew up as not being very sociable, I had to learn not to “screw up”.  I wound up being very productive and dependable, but vulnerable, not willing to admit that I can need others on terms other than my own.  I can certainly project that on to a Christian perspective, as Melton often does.  Nobody gets out of needing others, and nobody gets out of needing God (or a supreme being of some kind).  There is no way to be perfect because, like it or not, we have to share the purposes of others.


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