The Culture Beat

August 23, 2009

Book Review: Angry Conversations with God

Filed under: Books — Alex @ 2:17 am

Angry Conversations
Susan Issacs is funny. That’s the first thing you need to know about the author of a recent memoir built around the actress/comedian’s “taking God to couples’ counseling” sessions. After a painful breakup with her boyfriend and seeing her acting career crash and burn, Issacs, raised Lutheran and recommitted as a young adult to relationship with Jesus, finally has had enough of crushing disappointments. There, under the guidance of a Christian counselor, she works out her case against God in a series of chapters that chart her upbringing, discovery of her acting and comedy skills and how that conflicted with her evangelical faith. Along the way, she pinballs from one strange church to the next and from one relationship to another experiencing frustration in both areas

As the chapters proceed the voice in her head that she imagines is God, or Jesus is included, in script form, in her counseling sessions and we learn that Susan’s early experiences with an angry and aloof father and a pious mother who urged her not to get angry lest people not like her contributed, along with her own choices, to make her a walking train wreck struggling with anorexia, smoking, drinking and other issues. This could be quite dark except–Susan Issacs is funny. We’ve heard that comedians transmute their pain into humor; Issacs has that ability and maintains that “sarcasm is a viable form of communication.” As her account proceeds we see the bind that Christian actors often find themselves in–they won’t take certain roles that would violate their witness and often other Christians don’t understand their struggles to succeed in a “worldly” profession–as if medicine and law, for example, didn’t have ethical pitfalls.

The “angry conversations” Susan has in counseling are quite refreshing as she spills her guts, protesting her misfortunes as the hands of church members and, as she perceived it, God Himself. It reminds me of some of David’s often despairing psalms, not all of which ended with a “praise the Lord!” Issacs is unsparing about her own behavior and I admire her transparency. There is a real resolution that allows God to show up and speak for Himself, outside of Susan’s imagination. For a taste of the book and Issacs’ performances and writing, check out her sizable site and watch her media interviews on the book and other samples of her work.

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2 Comments »

  1. Sounds great! Definitely an “add to my reading list” book. I’m ankle deep in Pilgrim’s Regress right now. But I’ll check this one out, too!

    Comment by Ashley — August 26, 2009 @ 10:55 pm | Reply

  2. Well, they are both spiritual autobiographies, I guess, except one isn’t allegorical, but it’s still creative in how it presents the theme of the book.

    Comment by Alex — August 27, 2009 @ 11:51 am | Reply


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