&: The Restorative Power of Love in an Either Or World
A Book Review
In her new book, &: The Restorative Power of Love in an Either Or World Felicia Murrell has written a beautifully theopoetic invitation to the divine. I have been following the recommendation to read and rest in the words slowly and it has made this a book which crossed from the old year into the new. The bridge between years and what feels like seasons creates a space that is thin where earth and heaven live alongside one another. The beauty of this book is its honesty, vulnerability, and invitation to abide in love. It has the potential to be transformative if we are open to the words within. The release date is February 13, 2024 and I recommend you preorder as soon as possible. I envision this being for those who live in faith as a lenten resource.
Faithfulness is deeper than systems, doctrines, and practices. Faithfulness is being willing to live in the questions of life such that we are open to beauty and vulnerable to pain. Invitation to sit with the Spirit in the experiences of life is a way that faithfulness can be lived out in our world. Felicia Murrell is faithful in telling her story and welcoming us into an invitation to hear her story. There is pain, joy, and the full range of human emotion clear in the pages of &. The invitation to inclusive love is unmistakably one of invitation with the divine. The invitation of this book is also a confrontation; one in which we are privy to race, body, the Church, and imaginative wonder. This is a beautifully authentic book that incites us into the messiness of humanity as it shines a light on the pain of prejudice and the joy of finding love.
While I often hear music when I read works of the heart, I am not sure that a single book has stirred such a variety of musical voices in my mind and heart. As I read I hear Etta James, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, AC/DC, Eminem, NWA, Wu Tang Clan, The Beastie Boys, U2, Sting, The Clash, The Ramones, and so many other sounds. Sometimes I hear the music that goes with words alluding to songs, but mostly the emotion and reality of life lived evokes those sounds in my heart. The wisdom within this book is such that it invites us to experience wisdom through the uniting and restorative power of love. It is an invitation to transformation. I might dare say, an invitation to holiness found in the human experience when open to love.
One quote is sitting with me as I write this review. “Acceptance is not the same thing as being okay with something. Just because I have accepted something…does not mean I am okay with it.” This quote speaks volumes once you understand the context of the author’s own experiences. As a woman who grew up in the southern U.S. where skin color determined access to commerce, education, and safety, the book gives a glimpse into the lives of human beings who were and are often thought of in subhuman ways. But there is hope within that story because we are invited to learn and listen so that we can enter relational love as we are stitched together through love with one another. Hope is something we all need.
I cannot think of a book I have read recently which could remind me of my childhood in which the contrast between my family and that of the other families in our rural neighborhood is illuminated. That early experience in which those differences melted away as I our family showed an openness to invitation to be stitched into a neighborhood and the lives of those in the neighborhood where I would learn a different history than what the schools were teaching. & has the potential to invite us into a conversation where we experience beauty and pain that points to love’s ability to bring us together. I pray that those who read this book will be open to that truth.
For more information on & you may follow this link: &
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I received an advanced reader copy of & for review. No one has given input into the review and the review has not been shared in advance of my normal publishing routine. The review is my opinion.