Book Review: Confessions Of A Latter-Day Virgin: Part 2

Having a night to sleep on what I just posted yesterday I have some more thoughts regarding the themes involved in the discussion. But, to not get to off subject, I want to say more about the three I mentioned in the last post because those are very necessary to this book.
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First, I will give my overview. Nicole Hardy spans across at least 4 decades of her life from birth to early forties, but primarily she focuses on the bumpy, difficult years of 20 to 30. As well as her thirties. Nicole displays, what one reviewer called ‘Cognitive Dissonance.’ The reviewer wrote: “Cognitive Dissonance is described as: “The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs. When there is a discrepancy between beliefs and behaviors, something must change in order to eliminate or reduce the dissonance.”
She struggles through her twenties with the idea of finding her sole value and purpose in two things: marriage and having children. Rather, she wants to stay true to her dreams and desires. She wants to be a writer and spend her time being creative. I relate heavily to wanting to write and be creative. The first 200 pages are full of Nicole sticking to her convictions and having trouble in all her relationships. She struggles with liking the non-Mormon or LDS(Latter-Day Saints) guys because they want sex after a few dates. And she struggles with the seemingly impaired LDS guys who seem to think that women are a means to an end. That we should be in love, but really I need you to bear me some children.

Nicole has a real crisis of faith at 35, nearing almost 36. She decides to stop caving into the pressure and the boundaries of marriage before sex. She succeeds at writing, at diving in the Caymen’s, and being herself. This is where that cognitive dissonance thing comes into play. How hard is it to stay pure outside of marriage? It is hard and I am not trying to champion what parts of this book I wouldn’t do myself. I said in the first part, that as hard as it is God’s boundaries are there for a reason. And we need to press through the lies of culture and value God’s word above people’s comfort. Doesn’t it say-in the end of the age-men would be lover’s of pleasure, rather than God? She comes to grip with these many tensions. And I greatly appreciate someone opening up about how hard purity can be, but also how confusing the “religious dating scene” can be. I put up quotes cause I don’t know what else you would call it. Dating, just by itself, is not easy. Its not the movies everyone. In the movie the guy is at the party with his bros and he figures out who the best looking girl is in the place and goes for it. Next scene: girl and guy wake up the next morning. And people would say: well, I guess the guy got the girl. No. The dating scene is more like this.”Hey, you don’t look your ChristianMingle picture at all?” Awkward…

She does give in and she does lose the label of “virgin” and then it just ends with her getting published in the New York Times.

Continue reading “Book Review: Confessions Of A Latter-Day Virgin: Part 2”

Book Review: Confessions Of A Latter-Day Virgin By Nicole Hardy(2013) Part 1

This will inevitably be a long post. Because I want to give due respect to breaking down the main points of this book I also have a lot of thoughts to add to what this book provokes in people when they think of Sex and Religion/Faith. I have read nearly 43(nearly) books in the year 2013 and this marks book 44 and the first to be finished in 2014. I desire to respond to this quote: “Good art tells the truth, and bad art doesn’t.” I have seen a multitude of films this past year( as you read about some on this blog) but I have also read a lot that hasn’t been spoken of yet on this blog. I want to start that conversation and be a student of faith, God, people, culture, and anyone who ‘tells the truth.’

This book was released August 20, 2013 and I heard of it from some very girly magazine that smelt not like my American Eagle cologne. I think anytime someone wants to express conflict(internally) with faith and sexuality; that makes for a point of interest. Its very clear to me, and as I get older, that I have grown up in an overly sexualized(maybe not a word) culture. I have, at 28, been exposed to hordes of perversion that have evaded my eyes, my friends eyes, my parents eyes( more so now, then what they grew up with), and most pertinent; the generation beneath me. Teenagers that I have ministered to summer after summer in Kansas City. There is a clear need for understanding what God has to say about sex. Now, this book is not so much about sexuality in a generation but sexuality to a person who has the pressures and ambivalence of “doctrine” and “church.” Needing to merge the understanding of what God says is a ruckus worth paying close attention to.

Synopsis(from goodreads.com)
Now in her funny, intimate, and thoughtful memoir, Nicole Hardy explores how she came, at the age of thirty-five, to a crossroads regarding her faith and her identity. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Nicole had held absolute conviction in her Mormon faith during her childhood and throughout her twenties. But as she aged out of the Church’s “singles ward” and entered her thirties, she struggled to merge the life she envisioned for herself with the one the Church prescribed, wherein all women are called to be mothers and the role of homemaker is the emphatic ideal.

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This might have to be two blog posts. I don’t want to make anyone read a five page post. But to get it started here is what this memoir is about 3 main discussions:

1. The role of the Women in church. Not just the Mormon church, but what does the church say about Women. I do not feel qualified at all to try to discuss Feminism, or women in ministry, or even just the women altogether. But what I do know is that God cares deeply about(yes men too) but about the women. The enemy rages against the power that a women has been given to have children. Mothering is the greatest ministry on the planet. The Ruckus of mothering. Means, mothering is more important than any other “calling” out there. Yes, other areas are important to but there is no greater thing then mothering. Nicole’s struggle with this in the book is very real. It is not that she doesn’t want to be a mother, its that everyone in her church culture had made that the pinnacle of success. She found it hard to side with the part of her that actually didn’t want that. She felt shame, less than, even condemnation for not wanting kids and, even marriage.

2. The conflict of Sex and culture.
Also, not qualified to talk of this. But writer’s should be confident in what they are saying. This will have to be carefully talked about and will most likely take all of tomorrow, or the next day, to talk of this a little, but the dynamics of crossing over from raging hormonal teenager( in America) to having to be taken seriously as an adult at 18, to the final stage of maturity–marriage and children. Well, it doesn’t seem as simple as it used to be. First, because we have this growing sense of prolonged adolescence. Every third movie made is about “adults” not wanting to change, or grow up. Hollywood understands that the culture has shifted. 30 is the new 18. And 18 would then be the new 12? There is no real formula for maturity, other then to simplify it and say: its a freakin’ choice! Women are always complaining of men being boys and that is because a lot of men are boys(read Gary Cross’s Men To Boys book). Don’t want to get sidetracked but all to say, it is hard and confusing at times to get older, with the way the body grows and changes, and live “single”. Single doesn’t mean negative, single seems to just bring seemingly more “ambivalence” to the innate desires in you. Nicole Hardy presents, with honesty and clarity, that it is hard to go through your twenties and thirties without having a pure sexual relationship in your life. This just is the beginning of the discussion because faith and religion adds difficult dynamics as well. I don’t disagree with that. As much as she parts ways with it in the end I firmly do believe Sex to only be for marriage, and that to be the best way to experience it. I just appreciate someone stating that it can be very difficult to stay true to those boundaries. Its not just a Mormon belief, its Christian, its the bible, its God, its Jesus, and all of American culture doesn’t want to adhere to that.

3. Lastly, this book is human.
This book presents the struggle people can have with staying faithful and true to God in the midst of culture and what everyone else does. It can be hard to have convictions and stick to them. What does God, what does the bible, and what does Christ himself have to say about marriage, sex, love and the individual purposes of why he created such distinct differences in male and female. We need to grow in love. We need to take from these difficulties the fact love is the cure for the many confusions that immorality( pornography and its violent assault on the human image) has brought to us, here and now in 2014. Men need women. Women need men. And both need love. And all need God.

Part 2 coming soon..(the actual breakdown of the book and more discussion on these 3 issues)