#BookReview: Tongue Tied by Sara Wenger Shenk

Interesting Counter And Companion To Learning To Speak God From Scratch By Jonathan Merritt. Having now completed ARC readings of both of these books about Christians speaking about their religion, I can definitely see why Merritt’s work is quoted so often in the first part of this work. Whereas Merritt spends much of the back part of his book looking at individual words heard nearly every time Christians speak, Shenk spends more of her time looking at *how* Christians speak. Their tones, their mannerisms, the very way we speak religion as a social construct. Which is a very interesting dichotomy when Merritt’s work is also something you’ve considered. But be forewarned: Shenk *does* come from a “progressive”/ leftist background, so there is quite a bit of “white man evil!!!!” and other standard leftist tropes here, and even a degree of radicalism not even any vegan I’ve ever encountered professes as it relates to her eating habits (discussed in a late chapter). However, whereas Merritt’s work could strike some as being a tad too conservative – he comes from a background where his dad was the President of the Southern Baptist Convention during his later teens/ the early George W Bush years, including 9/11 – the dichotomy continues here with Shenk’s leftist background. Which is yet another reason the two books are so intertwined to me, and why they balance each other so well in my mind. Beyond the leftist drivel (and hypocrisies), Shenk makes a lot of genuinely great points and has a truly solid discussion about the need for Christians to reconsider exactly how we speak religion both within our communities and to the larger world, and indeed *that* we need to be more proactive in doing so. Ultimately, the reduced star here isn’t over Shenk’s beyond-the-scope-of-this-narrative commentary, but because she, as so many others in this genre, prooftexts. In one case late in the text, *literally the next paragraph after decrying the practice*. Still, on the beyond-the-narrative-scope stuff here, the book is very much YMMV level – the more partisan you are either direction, the more you’ll love or hate that part of the book. On the actual thesis of the book, the book is enlightening in areas and thought provoking, at minimum, in many others. And thus, very much recommended.

This review of Tongue Tied by Sara Wenger Shenk was originally written on December 23, 2020.

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