Praise for “Coming Alive”
Coming Alive is a memoir that embraces Anne Ierardi’s spiritual and psychological evolution as she searches for meaning and revised purpose in her life’s faith-based journey.
More so than most memoirs that offer similar-sounding accounts, Coming Alive is an artistic portrait in discovery and self-realization that charts the author’s fifty-year course to a “theory of relatedness, the I and Thou,” narrating the move from Catholic roots to wider-ranging series of religious revelations.
Her move from her childhood faith of Catholicism moves through the social issues and reforms that redirected her course and faith into new arenas, following her effort to form a more authentic life.
The memoir opens with her church job falling apart, reflecting on the impact of a male-dominated religious sector that never has acknowledged her achievements and education. Ierardi is quite candid about the other facets of her life that have butted heads with her chosen vocation: “Yes, I was there physically, and yes, I did my best to care for them pastorally. Yet I didn’t feel safe there. I didn’t really know who my allies were. How could I be me? I could not come out without losing my position. I was different in so many ways: educated, urban, feminist, Catholic turned Baptist, and gay.”
From Catholic dilemmas during early days in seminary to the evolution of a special brand of faith and education that embraces the other components of who she is, Ierardi follows the course of her spiritual calling and the evolution of conundrums surrounding it with an analytical eye to contrasting the disparate influences in her life: “While I thought my life in seminary was moving in a Good Orderly Direction—Julia Cameron’s metaphor for call—I was unprepared for what lay ahead.”
LGBTQ libraries, in particular, will find many of her reflections of the process of coming alive socially, spiritually, and emotionally to be thought-provoking mirrors of gay Christian leaders who struggle with their calling and their identity within and outside the church.
As she becomes a pastoral therapist and focuses her energy and work in new directions, Ierardi provides a road map of self-discovery and religious growth that will prove especially compelling to other Christian leaders who struggle with many of the same dilemmas in their vocations, beliefs, and lives.
Through its story of discovery and new paths, Coming Alive charts the special process of aligning faith with social interactions, capturing a sense of self that embraces, accepts, and fosters growth.
“Abide in me, and I in you” is the Bible edict mirrored in this engrossing memoir, which is highly recommended for Christian collections that strive to embrace diversity, cultural differences, and the path that lies between being a good Christian and embracing one’s authentic self.
Ierardi maintains that “Life is a bigger mystery than we can grasp. We can either spend our days running away from life or running toward life. I have crossed many bridges in my life and I have tried to make bridges.”
Coming Alive is one of those bridges, and deserves a place not just in memoir and spiritual libraries, but on the reading lists of LGBTQ readers and Christians who would better integrate faith with diversity and acceptance.
with credit to D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
I consumed the book in a day and a night. Thanks for the privilege of sitting beside you as you shared your adventures. Your deep thoughtfulness was evident everywhere, but so was your desire to find some joy in life. You really have been a bridge between cultures and people, and I love that you’ve found so many ways to express yourself.
Anne Ierardi has been working on her wonderful new book Coming Alive for over a decade. I have been stunned by her twin devotions to expressing her unique self and submerging that self in service to others. What was originally a contradiction has become a beautiful ongoing tension. Indeed, her wholeness is not a solution but rather an ongoing way of being. Coming Alive is a work of sublime reverence and delightful irreverence. May she continue developing herself in this distinctive way and let us hear from her again.
Robert Fox (Institute for Existential-Psychoanalytic Therapy, New England Center for Existential Therapy)