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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

For All Who Hunger | Book Review

This book has been a long time coming. It was sometime last year that I pre-ordered 'For All Who Hunger: Searching for Communion In a Shattered world.' Written by Rev. Emily M.D. Scott, it's her telling of the story of the birth of St. Lydia's, a 'Dinner Church,' and both its growth and hers along with it. 
"I have told you this story. A story is different from the truth. The truth has rough edges and loose threads. The truth has days that are messy or boring, where nothing works and everything's wrong." pg 211
'For All Who Hunger' hangs together beautifully, demonstrating the care Emily put into this book, along with her incredible skill in painting a picture with words. Her descriptions of places have a quality that makes them seem 'realer than real,' like a passing mention she made of a desk phone with tangled cord and blinking voicemail light. I actually paused to enjoy the stage she set with that scene, and how she put it together. The entire book is like this, with people's depth and humanity appreciated, and locations that are at once vivid and glowing with warm reflection. 

Rev Scott manages to carry forward multiple story threads and shift around in time without confusion. This is something I've seen many writers attempt, with varying degrees of success, but none so seamlessly as what I found here. She talks about the struggles of dating as a pastor in New York City, the history of her family, the conception and evolution of St. Lydia's, and the struggles and victories of her parishioners. The story moves from present to past and back again without a hiccup, filling in gaps with information from whenever things that happened at whatever points they become relevant.  

Finally, the humility and vulnerability Rev Emily Scott demonstrates in this book doesn't feel at all like a confessional, something I've had the displeasure of encountering elsewhere. Instead, she grounds the story in her own humanity. It's the honest accounting of her loneliness, frustration, joy, sorrow, and general awkwardness at times that forms the foundation of everything she has to say. I came away from this book feeling as though I'd gained a level of understanding of another person that usually doesn't come easily. Although I don't share her specific faith, her story is so relatable despite its difference from my life that it doesn't matter what either of us believe. We share a common human experience, and that is good.