Available from Cathedral Hill Press
Debbie Blue is a one-woman revolt against the heart-smothering junta that is contemporary, neo-puritanical pulpit-craft. In these bracingly imaginative resurrections of the life and times of Jesus the body exists and has senses meant to function, the head plays second-fiddle to the heart, the love is palpable, the riffs on spiritual tepidity and cross-purpose are hilarious, and the last do indeed place first. May Deb never achieve much in the way of fame, lest she lose touch with the ragged faith community that fuels the fire of this sweet book.
—David James Duncan, The River Why, The Brothers K
The short talks are delivered in a deliberately edgy style that’s peppered with humor, pop culture references, and sexual innuendo, because the book is geared toward those who, like Blue, constantly wrestle with scripture in an effort to make it relevant. Those people will likely find inspiration in Sensual Orthodoxy and an able teacher in Blue, who sees the Bible as downright physical, and thinks that ‘wrestling seems like a good way to handle it.
If you’ve already worked out a nice, safe, comfortable interpretation of Jesus, then these sermons aren’t for you. For Debbie Blue confronts us with the dizzying disorientation that characterizes Jesus’ teachings. In short, we’re continually reminded how much living by mercy and grace throws our plans to the wind and requires that we continually rethink what it means to follow Jesus.
—Bruce Ellis Benson, Graven Ideologies, Pious Nietzsche
Ezra Pound called for modern poetry to “make it new.” Martin Buber warned against accepting the Bible “as a Ready-made,” demanding that the task of the teacher was to make the Bible “uncanny” again. For only if it remains “strange” will it remain alive. Debbie Blue manages to scoop up the grittiness of daily reality and turn it into poetry made new because she understands so deeply that God’s revelation is always “strange” to our complacency.
We read the Bible as a trove of familiar metaphors and morality tales, pale and unsurprising. But Debbie Blue reminds us that the Three Wise Men are utterly incongruous, “like having Shirley MacLaine at our manger scene”; that Jesus’ sayings are “a little bomb thrown into the human competition extravaganza”; that resurrection is “threatening”; and being born again is “weird,” “messy,” full of “groaning and blood and pain.” Why does this little essay collection make nearly every popular religious book seem anemic-from evangelical bestsellers, with their thin mandates, to the newly trendy Gnosticism that negates physical reality and social existence aggressively as any warped Christianity? Religion of all kinds, writes Blue, “often has an anti-sensual, abstracting sort of tendency,” but “the story of Christ goes in the opposite direction. God becomes incarnate, physical, in the world. God is made truly human in the womb of Mary and is born into the world through the birth canal.” The book takes its unique power from this movement of de-abstraction, meditating on familiar Biblical passages and metaphors until they give up some of their secrets.