My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’m a big fan of Kate Braestrup’s. We both live in Maine, but we’ve never met, despite some near misses and one email exchange. I’m looking forward to hearing her speak at a panel on marriage offered by Bangor Theological Seminary this fall. She’ll present alongside Marvin Ellison, professor of Christian Ethics and author of “Same-Sex Marriage,” which is on my “to read” list.
Not surprisingly, I approached a book on marriage cautiously. I’ve just been burned, and I must admit to feeling like a pretty massive failure after being divorced for the second time. I used to say I could grant anyone *one* mistake…but here I am after two, reading the book of a woman who loved and adored her late first husband and who has an apparently happy second marriage. And I recognize how hard I worked to tell the story of my second marriage as a happy one. Blog readers saw me doing it and if you caught the underlying angst, you were more honest about my life than I was with myself.
Braestrup’s book, like “Here If You Need Me,” weaves her personal story with her work as Chaplain for the Maine Warden Service along with stories from the Bible. I remember reading “Here” with delight in the summer of 2008, loving the way these pieces came together. Despite my initial qualms about the topic, I had similar feelings of delight reading this book.
I will say, it’s pretty heteronormative. You have to wait to page 186 to get any mention of the relationships between same-sex couples. I guess that surprises me, because while she’s living in the law enforcement world, she’s also a Unitarian Universalist, and I would have expected her experiences to be a little broader. Perhaps because it’s outside her experience, she doesn’t feel she has the expertise? To be clear, she does speak in favor of gay marriage, although that explicit endorsement comes not in the body of the book but in a few questions she answers after even the Postlude.
Despite that caveat, which is really about my interest in what will happen around marriage equality here in Maine in the coming year (there’s a hope to get it back on the ballot or in the legislature in 2012), I’m an enthusiast about Braestrup and highly recommend this funny, touching, readable book.