I recently read Jesus Freak by Sandy Holly (2017). It is a memoir of her time living in a heavily-Mormon neighborhood in Utah and how she came to take her Christian faith more seriously. She doesn’t explicitly say it, but reading between the lines I gather that the combination of being surrounded by lost souls desperately trying to live up to an unattainable standard and being manipulated by the priesthood, being judged for her freedom in Christ in the way she lived, being surrounded by people who didn’t like crosses, being reminded of her childlessness by a culture that highly valued large families, and her discovery of new forms of worship music at the Methodist church 20 miles away all conspired to drive her deeper into the arms of Jesus.
The second half of the book really shows her bubbly personality as she gets excited about everything. You can almost feel the love in the pages. You can tell that God has done much for her. It starts on page one hundred when she meets the Mormon missionaries and explains that we must wait on the Holy Spirit’s leading and not do things merely because we are expected to. Some doors are not safe to knock on. Some strangers are not receptive to the Gospel. She also goes on to explain that we don’t need to perform because we have already been rescued by Jesus and that cleaning out our old emotional baggage isn’t just relieving; it also makes more room for more Jesus! Everything is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, but what else would one expect from a Jesus freak?
The first half of the book is less interesting. I also wondered at times whether she was imagining persecution where there was none. She always thought she was being judged for her bare shoulders, her cross jewelry, and her coffee pots, but I never saw a clear example. However, just because she can’t remember one good example doesn’t mean there aren’t ten more half-remembered examples that can’t all be pure imagination. I’ve got the same problem with some of my writings. I also thought she was taking it completely the wrong way when she heard a religious joke I thought was pretty funny.
I learned much I did not know before. I always thought Mormons were basically Christian, in that they believed Jesus was God made flesh who rescued them from sins, but added a lot of stuff most Christians would think weird, such as prohibition of coffee, post-death baptism, people becoming Gods, and magic underwear. I was extremely surprised to find that they were offended by Easter and the cross, and had their own version of the Bible in addition to the Book of Mormon, with many books rewritten. This makes them sound distinctly non-Christian. I don’t know what to think now.
I was also intrigued by her déjà vu theory. She proposes that when we see a familiar person or place that we should not remember, that this is actually us recognizing Jesus in them. I wonder if this is what Bush saw when he looked in Putin’s eyes. I’m not convinced.
It’s a quick, light read if you like uplifting memoirs of spiritual growth.
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.