Oh friends, today’s book is a GEM. I am such a fan of Christiana Peterson, in general as the rad person she is, but also as a fierce woman writer who uses her words for good. Because when ancient tradition (of the mystics) meets a bunch of regular old misfits (maybe like herself), true beauty happens. Check out today’s interview with her – that just-so-happened to drop on her book release date – and leave a comment for Christiana at the end to win a copy of Mystics and Misfits!
Tell us a bit about yourself, will you? My name is Christiana Peterson. I’m an author, a mother of four, a YA novel fanatic, and a wannabe mystic. I’m drawn to the fantastical, the melancholy, the mystical, and the magical. Surprisingly, I find all of these things not only in my favorite YA books but also in the stories of the Christian mystics who point me toward interior castles (Teresa of Avila), the beauties of creation (St. Francis of Assisi), the cloister of the world (Clare of Assisi), and the suffering Christ (all mystics). I’ve written for Christianity Today, Art House America, Christian Century, SheLoves, and Good Letters about the local church, death, the quirkiness of community, the spiritual disciplines of motherhood, and the Christian mystics.
I grew up in Texas, went to grad school in Scotland, moved to Washington DC for a spell and then spent eight years in Illinois in a Mennonite intentional community on a farm. Now, I live with my husband and our kids in Ohio. My husband is the pastor of a Mennonite church and I lead music, wrangle children, use scant naptime hours to write, and stay up way too late reading at night.
Let’s talk about your book: what, in a nutshell, is your book about anyway? My book is a spiritual memoir of our time in intentional community, a place we moved to on a whim and stayed for nearly a decade. In community, I encountered great challenges, joys, and deep grief. And I encountered God. In letters to the mystics and biographical sketches of their lives, my book also imagines how St. Francis of Assisi, Clare of Assisi, Dorothy Day, and Simone Weil might counsel me as I try to understand true simplicity, hospitality, contemplation, and community.
Do tell, what was the inspiration behind it? In a time of emotional upheaval and personal loss, I began to be drawn to the Christian mystics. In their encounters with God and their place at the edges of the church, I found both discomfort and solace. The community where we lived gathered misfits of all sorts but the one thing they had in common was an attempt to live like Jesus in radical ways. To see people wholeheartedly living out their faith was life-changing for me, and I had to write about it.
How do you hope readers will be changed by your words? I hope those who love the saints and mystics will find something new in my book. I hope Protestants who have been nervous about these pillars of faith won’t be so scared and will be eager to know more. I hope those who feel like misfits in the church will find a home among the mystics. I hope readers who are in the midst of their own pain or emotional turmoil, will be drawn closer to the comfort of a God who suffered and still suffers with us.
Lest we forget to ask, how have YOU been changed by writing the book? I’m still learning and watching to see how life will unfold, how my husband and I will hold onto some of the things we learned in such a unique community. This book was therapeutic for me and it was a way for me to understand and articulate not only how I felt about this time in my life but also to see where God was waiting for me. But I also had a deep realization that God is a suffering God who is with us in our deepest pain. That was a revelatory.
How and where can we find you on the internet? You can subscribe to my blog christiananpeterson.com or follow me on Twitter or Facebook. My book Mystics and Misfits: Meeting God Through St. Francis and Other Unlikely Saints is now available for purchase.
I know. She’s lovely, isn’t she? Leave a comment for Christiana if you’d like to win a copy of the book – then I’ll pop it in the mail to you, and the two of us can have book club together! Also, check out my Instagram account on Thursday for additional ways to win. Contest ends Friday, April 20th. Good luck!
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