This Is My Body: A Memoir of Religious and Romantic Obsession

Available

Description

In this memoir of faith and faltering, musician Cameron Dezen Hammon, a Jew-ish New Yorker, finds herself searching for love, meaning―a sign. She's led to Coney Island, where during a lightning storm, she is baptized in the murky waters of the Atlantic by a group of ragtag converts. After years of trying to make a name for herself as an artist, she follows her boyfriend and new God to Houston, Texas, the heart of American evangelical subculture. Her job at a suburban megachurch there has her performing on stage before crowds, awash in lights and smoke, yet grappling with outdated gender expectations―look pretty but not too pretty, young but not too young―and ultimately her identity as both a believer and feminist.

This Is My Body weaves her zealous conversion with the search for a more progressive and fluid theology, the endurance of marriage with an unexpected obsession that threatens to upend her carefully constructed life. From speaking in tongues to street preaching, from biblically sanctioned discrimination to sexual assault, she invites readers inside her tender and harrowing journey. Part inspiring spiritual memoir, part incisive cultural critique, her story of finding and losing faith is ultimately one of rebuilding a truer, braver self.

Product Details

Price: $17.95  $16.51
Publisher: Lookout Books
Published Date: October 22, 2019
Pages: 224
Dimensions: 5.4 X 0.7 X 8.4 inches | 0.65 pounds
ISBN: 9781940596327
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Author and musician Cameron Dezen Hammon's writing appears in The Kiss anthology from W. W. Norton, Catapult, Ecotone, the Literary Review, the Houston Chronicle, NYLON, and elsewhere; and her essay "Infirmary Music" was named a notable in The Best American Essays 2017. She earned an MFA in creative writing from Seattle Pacific University and is a writer-in-residence for Writers in the Schools in Houston, where she lives with her family. This Is My Body is her debut book.

Reviews

Finalist for the 2019 Foreword INDIE Book of the Year Award in Autobiography and Memoir

One of five great indie press books from 2019, Book Riot

One of the Rumpus's best books of 2019

Recommended by Brené Brown in her 2019 roundup of Fall Book Love

Recommended in the 2019 Holiday Gift Book Guide, Longreads

"With a rare combination of candor and grace, the author exposes some of evangelicalism's frailties without disparaging or dismissing those who are still believers, making her narrative accessible to a wide audience. . . . A generous and unflinchingly brave memoir about faith, feminism, and freedom." --Kirkus

"Hammon's engrossing debut . . . will stun and move both Christian and general readers alike." --Publishers Weekly

"A moving, valuable look at the social structures of evangelical Christianity, the treatment of women artists, and the challenge of remaining present in a marriage. . . . Stories from her career are fascinating and touching, and they expose infuriating sexism." --Foreword

"[The] misogyny--in churches that allow women to 'speak' but not 'preach'--should not come as a surprise to readers, but the particularities of Hammon's experience bring the effect of these slights, big and small, to life. . . . Her strikingly contemporary reflections about her treatment in conservative churches . . . make her story a salient one for this particular moment, in the wake of the #MeToo Movement." --Martha Park, The Millions

"As a veteran songwriter, her prose has the direct punch of a well-written lyric but is often capable of flights of poetry." --Ben Steelman, Wilmington Star News

"A hauntingly reflective, philosophical, and spectacular memoir . . . The world she inhabited, the casual manner in which she was expected to go along with the customs and norm of the church life--including the minimizing of women, the question of equal pay, the automatic reverence for the church leaders--gives us a deep insight into a world not familiar to those outside of it." --Madhushree Ghosh, The Rumpus

"Hammon is devastatingly aware of how we can spiritualize grief, loss, and loneliness as easily as we sexualize them. . . . [Her] story is a hard spiritual coming-of-age lesson in which many will see their own experiences of heartbreak--both religious and romantic--reflected." --Jessica Mesman, Image

"Hammon's book is a beautifully written account of how difficult it is to be an ambitious woman and have a career in the church. It's a powerful story of struggling to keep her faith alive, keep her marriage on solid ground, and stay true to her ideals and to herself." --Rebecca Hussey, Book Riot

"This Is My Body reflects on the painful contradictions of harboring deep Evangelical faith in a female body." --Longreads

"Her work demands that we deeply reflect on our complacency--and more frighteningly, our inadvertent participation--in all matters of injustice." --America Magazine

"This is not a niche issue: A quarter of Americans identify as evangelical Christians, and the church has significant political clout. For evangelical Christians who, like the author, struggle to be both believers and feminists, Dezen Hammon's story offers hope and validation. For those outside the church, the book is an edifying behind-the-scenes tour." --Robyn Ross, Texas Observer

"As Hammon pursues the work she loves in a context that grows ever more confining, she fights to build and sustain a life she isn't sure she wants. Her experience echoes that of many women who attempt to embrace a brand of Christianity that never fully accepts their personhood." --Norah Gibson, Shelf Awareness

"The memoir's sure sentences and careful, critical exploration of becoming an 'exvangelical' never quite obscure the tension that grips its author in the process of telling. That's not to say that the memoir is tense or uncertain, but that Hammon never shirks the seriousness of such truth-telling." --Katharine Coldiron, Ravishly

"In the page-turning memoir, Hammon presents her personal experiences with faith, feminism, and family to challenge the reader and shed light on an antiquated system that has produced what she describes as present-day oppression: being female in the church." --Zachary McKenzie, Houston CityBook

"There is a deep and insatiable longing at the center of Cameron Dezen Hammon's spellbinding debut memoir: to love and be loved with honesty and abandon, to follow a spiritual path toward clarity and truth. While navigating the contradictions of faith and feminism, of doubt and desire, of the sometimes unbridgeable distance between what we believe and what we know, Hammon discovers that sometimes the crises that shake our most deeply held religious convictions are those that lead us toward what we truly believe. This Is My Body signals the arrival of an exceptional new voice." --Lacy M. Johnson, author of The Reckonings: Essays

"Cameron Dezen Hammon has taken on two of the greatest mysteries of life--romantic love and religious conviction--and woven them into a gripping narrative of discovery. She invites us back stage into a world some of us may not know well at all--a creative life in a church community. Her story of conversion and the many days that follow it is especially compelling in its willingness to be so honest--flaws and failures frankly explored. Her text acknowledges a reader as friend from the very beginning." --Naomi Shihab Nye, author Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners

"This fearless examination of Cameron Dezen Hammon's dark night of the soul begins with a startling moment, where death and sex and God and doubt swirl around each other. Then, word by word--slowly, beautifully, thrillingly--she circles that moment, until a hard-won mercy emerges." --Nick Flynn, author of The Reenactments

"Fundamentalism has a way of reducing all of life's complexities into a rigid set of binaries--pure or impure, sinner or saint, saved or damned. In This Is My Body, writer and musician Cameron Dezen Hammon chronicles her initial love affair with the evangelical faith, her gradual discomfort with its patriarchal structures, and her brave pursuit of a more nuanced spirituality. Hammon's prose soars as she boldly dismantles the rigid worldview that once gave her comfort and rebuilds from the ground upwards, newly committed to authenticity and truth. Unflinchingly honest and searingly lyrical, this is a song of a book." --Jessica Wilbanks, author of When I Spoke in Tongues

"To find answers, Hammon must find the questions. And then she must persist in asking them. What we learn from this book is that it is human to love, and it is human to need to be loved." --Angela Morales, author of The Girls in My Town

"With honesty and courage, Cameron Dezen Hammon confronts the personal, the spiritual, and the cultural in this stunning memoir. Written in sharp and lucid prose, Hammon explores passion, doubt, and the risks of faith. This Is My Body carries an urgency and a candor seldom seen in contemporary memoirs. In two words, Hammon's story is beautiful and brave." --Mark Haber, Brazos bookseller and author of Reinhardts Garden

"When one rests in the truth of their own story, it allows all those who hear that truth to find their own rest. I rested deeply in the truth of This Is My Body. And that truth set me free." --Scott Erickson, author/artist of Prayer: Forty Days of Practice