Cry, Baby: Why Our Tears Matter
What happens when we cry--and when we don't?
One of our most private acts, weeping can forge connection. Tears may obscure our vision, but they can also bring great clarity. And in both literature and life, weeping often opens a door to transformation or even resurrection. But many of us have been taught to suppress our emotions and hide our tears. When writer Benjamin Perry realized he hadn't cried in more than ten years, he undertook an experiment: to cry every day. But he didn't anticipate how tears would bring him into deeper relationship with a world that's breaking.
Cry, Baby explores humans' rich legacy of weeping--and why some of us stopped. With the keen gaze of a journalist and the vulnerability of a good friend, Perry explores the great paradoxes of our tears. Why do we cry? In societies marked by racism, sexism, and homophobia, who is allowed to cry--and who isn't? And if weeping tells us something fundamental about who we are, what do our tears say? Exploring the vast history, literature, physiology, psychology, and spirituality of crying, we can recognize our deepest hopes and longings, how we connect to others, and the social forces bent on keeping us from mourning. When faced with the private and sometimes unspeakable sorrows of daily life, not to mention existential threats like climate change and systemic racism, we cry for the world in which we long to live. As we reclaim our crying as a central part of being human, we not only care for ourselves and relearn how to express our vulnerable emotions; we also prophetically reimagine the future. Ultimately, weeping can bring us closer to each other and to the world we desire and deserve.
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About the Author
Benjamin Perry is a minister at Middle Church and an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in outlets like The Washington Post, Slate, Sojourners, and Bustle. With a degree in psychology from SUNY Geneseo and an MDiv from Union Theological Seminary, Perry has worked as an organizer with the New York chapter of the Poor People's Campaign and as an editor at Time, Inc. Perry has appeared on MSNBC, Al Jazeera, and NY1, and is the editor of the Queer Faith photojournalism series. He and his spouse, Erin Mayer, live with his best friend and brother in Maine, nurturing a small apple orchard.
"Fascinating debut." --Publishers Weekly
"Cry, Baby is an honest, powerful, and critically important book about what we transform with our tears--and how making space for our tears can transform us and the society in which we live. This book forges new cultural pathways by way of the bold, brave, naked open heart." --Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, author of On Repentance and Repair
"Alternatively tender, sharp, and funny, Cry, Baby speaks beautifully to the power our tears carry, how they can transform both people and culture. The attention to crying's social dimensions--how our ability to weep is shaped by racism, patriarchy, homophobia, and other forces--make it particularly timely. A gift to all who cry, and all who long to." --Simran Jeet Singh, bestselling author of The Light We Give
"With the precision of an anthropologist, Benjamin Perry delicately and beautifully explores the significance of a good cry. I'm so grateful to Benjamin for asking these questions. I'm so grateful to Cry, Baby for answering them. Or at least inviting us to ask the same questions for ourselves." --Dylan Marron, author of Conversations with People Who Hate Me
"I've often laughed until I've wept, and I have sometimes wept myself into giggles, but Cry, Baby made me so very aware physiologically, psychologically, and spiritually of the what, how, and why of the beauty and urgency of tears. With the precision of a journalist, the passion of a prophet, and a proven history of delicious prose, Benjamin Perry takes us on a healing journey that includes his own. Together we taste and see the power of embracing our tears, of watering the seeds of our dreams for a healed and whole world with our crying so they sprout justice, peace, and love." --Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, author of Fierce Love
"I am profoundly struck by Benjamin Perry's Cry, Baby. It explores the heart of what it is to be human in the form of our tears. I found it incredibly moving and helpful for understanding and metabolizing my own grief. Required reading for a more empathetic society." --Lindsey Boylan, political activist
"This book drew me in right away because it's about our sacred human journey. What does it mean to cry? What does it mean to come home to ourselves in a culture that teaches us to disconnect from our very souls? Cry, Baby is a guide to embodiment, full of rich stories and important questions about how we exist in this world and what it takes, not just to notice and name our grief, but to move through it and allow it to change us. This is a book about reclaiming our sacred humanity through our sacred tears, and healing ourselves, one another, and Mother Earth along the way. What a gift Benjamin Perry has given us; I hope you'll accept it." --Kaitlin Curtice, award-winning author of Native and Living Resistance