Blessed Are the Nones
Can the Christian life be lived alone?
When her husband left Christianity several years into their marriage, Stina Kielsmeier-Cook was left "spiritually single"—struggling to live the Christian life on her own, taking her kids to church by herself, and wrestling with her own questions and doubts.
In this memoir, Kielsmeier-Cook tells the story of her mixed-faith marriage and how she found community in an unexpected place: an order of Catholic nuns in her neighborhood. As she spent time with them and learned about female Catholic saints, she began to see that she was not "spiritually single" after all—and that no one really is.
"This is a necessary book, poignant and true."
"Blessed Are the Nones turns 'unequally yoked' on its head. There is no sense of winners and losers, lost and found, broken and born-again. Rather, Blessed is an invitation: How do we dive deeply when confronted with inevitable changes in relationships and faith? Kielsmeier-Cook is an eager cartographer; she maps the path of two faith-full people facing crises—and how they travel together, not apart. With visceral vulnerability, her powerful narratives stir and inform. She is our steady companion in the uncharted territory of those of us who loved—and lived—the evangelical movement of the late twentieth century. Utilizing nuns and nones, mystics and saints as her fulcrum, Kielsmeier-Cook provides equally eager guides for our own journeys of questions, change, wrestling, and doubt, equipping us with resources for our ultimate calling: love."
"In our world in which change happens at breakneck speeds, Stina Kielsmeier-Cook's memoir, Blessed Are the Nones, tells a timely story of learning to grieve and to make our peace with the people and institutions around us as they inevitably change. Her story reminds us that the blessed community that God is crafting on earth is a diverse one, and she paints for us a compelling picture of belonging to one another without uniformity of thought or belief."
"In a time when the idea of a 'mixed marriage' increasingly means marriage between people of faith and the seekers, doubters, and religious wayfarers they find themselves partnered with, Stina Kielsmeier-Cook cracks open her own marriage in order to show us that these can be spiritual unions of great depth. And she also allows us a glimpse into the new kinds of religious communities that are forming all around us in a time when postinstitutional religion becomes a reality for many. Sensitive, observant, and wise, this is a book that brims over with compassion and care for the spiritually adrift."
"For the many who find themselves evolving in their spirituality in a different way than those they love, it can be a scary, disorienting, isolating experience. Stina's book is a lyrical, honest, moving portrayal of marriage in the time of divergent deconversion and deconstruction. Hopeful without being simplistic, loving without being sentimental, theologically rich without being an answer book, Blessed Are the Nones will be a gift to those reorienting their lives and marriages."
"I've been waiting years for this book and will be pressing it into the hands of so many people who are trying to figure out what faithfulness to God and each other looks like as their beliefs and relationships shift. Stina is a wise guide and trustworthy companion in the dark woods of the midfaith crisis, and this book is an absolute gift to the church."
"Some people have the impression that both faith and marriage are supposed to be static and changeless. In reality, marriage is a constant negotiation of what it looks like to be married. And to have faith is to daily waiver between some amount of doubt and some amount of belief and to decide which aspects of your faith you have to let go of and which aspects you need to keep. In Blessed Are the Nones, Stina Kielsmeier-Cook beautifully shares her own experience of negotiation and wavering in the most vulnerable and honest terms."
"A book about doubt is really a book about faith—faith in a God who is present and watching, who is able to withstand our questions and concerns. In this incredibly important and timely book, Stina Kielsmeier-Cook makes space for those on the journey of loving people who are losing their faith—a blend of bracing honesty about our reality and the gorgeous flashes of hope that true religion sows."
"This memoir you hold in your hand is true, not only because it explores Stina Kielsmeier-Cook's wrestling with her loving husband's deconversion and her own doubts—an important part of her life—but because she doesn't cover up or sugarcoat. That is high praise! With Stina I got to know the nuns, the saints, the nones, and new church communities. She sucked me right in. I felt as if I were standing right beside her in her thoughts, encounters, and jaunts in her neighborhood. That is craft. Among the things I loved most is that she doesn't caricature people. Her story reminds me that people are not one-dimensional. I also love how she models being with God and others in the reality of our lives, especially when the reality of things is most definitely not what we wanted or expected. But it is in reality, in the present, where we meet God and find community. Reality is the only place we can live. This is a book for the now."
"Stina Kielsmeier-Cook's memoir of navigating a newly mixed-faith marriage after her husband's deconversion from Christianity is a story of unexpected hopefulness. Kielsmeier-Cook writes about 'spiritual singleness' with an uncommon generosity of spirit toward everyone involved—her agnostic husband, his worried parents, and herself—as she wrestles with letting go of the image of the tidy Christian family she always expected she would have, and finds peace and wisdom in unexpected new places. This is not just a story of faith lost but of faith expanded and deepened."
"In this illuminating debut memoir, Kielsmeier-Cook explores the concept of spiritual singleness. . . . Kielsmeier-Cook's questioning yet committed dedication to her faith will appeal and relate to any Christian within a mixed-faith home."
A Letter to the Reader
1. The Fall Out
3. October 31: All Saints' Day Eve
4. Spiritual Singleness
5. November 29: Dorothy Day
6. New Monasticism
7. Waiting in the Dark
8. December 24: Christmas Eve
9. Moscow Spirituality
10. Good Intentions
12. My Mystical Sisters, the Saints
13. January 23: Saint Jane
14. Discerning the Way You Should Go
15. The Little Virtues
16. Fellow Pilgrims
18. March 26: Palm Sunday
19. Holy Week
20. Spiritual Weather Report
21. May 3, Elisabeth Leseur
22. On Vows
23. May 31: Feast of the Visitation
24. Life Together
25. June 8: Saint Margaret Mary
26. Common Grace
27. "I Think I Love God"
28. Nuns and Nones
29. Nuns' Picnic
30. August 27: Saint Monica
31. Interfaith Supper Club
32. November 2: All Souls' Day
33. Becoming a Companion
34. February 8: Morning Prayer
Afterword: Nuns and Nones