It’s easy to get high on God in America. But is this good religion? In a compelling follow-up to her memoir, Girl at the End of the World, Elizabeth Esther explores how religious fervor can become religious addiction.
The evidence is everywhere. In families who inexplicably choose to harm their children in order to abide by cultic church doctrine. But in ordinary believers too who use God the same way addicts use drugs or alcohol—to numb pain, alter their mood, or simply to escape the realities of this messy, unpredictable thing called life.
If you’ve ever wondered how a religion that preaches freedom and love can produce judgmental and unkind followers; if you’ve ever felt captive to the demanding God of your own childhood; if you’ve struggled to find contentment without needing another emotional hit from a “life-changing” conference or “mountain-top” experience, then Spiritual Sobriety is for you. The author, who grew up in a hyper-controlling church cult, will help you find hope and rebirth in the ruins of disillusioned faith.
Filled with stories and warm, practical advice, Spiritual Sobriety offers a gentle path out of the desperate cycles of craving-euphoria-hangover and into a freer, clean-and-sober faith practice.
About the Author
Elizabeth Esther is the author of Girl at The End of the World: my escape from fundamentalism in search of faith with a future. She lives in Southern California with her husband and their five children.
"With the skill of a seasoned teacher and the care of a dear friend, Elizabeth Esther lights the path forward for those escaping unhealthy religious environments and habits. Rarely is a single book this personal and practical, compelling and profound. With Spiritual Sobriety, Esther establishes herself as one of our culture's most important healers. Her words of hope and healing will undoubtedly impact generations." —Rachel Held Evans, bestselling author of Searching for Sunday and A Year of Biblical Womanhood
“Spiritual Sobriety offers a provocative and insightful counterbalance to the indulgent emotionalism that characterizes much of modern day religious experience. Drawing from experts and everyday people as well as her own story of religious addiction, Elizabeth Esther points helpfully toward the line between holding religious beliefs and using them. Spiritual Sobriety isn’t just for religion addicts. It’s for everyone.” —Karen Swallow Prior, Ph.D., author of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me and Fierce Convictions--The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More: Poet, Reformer Abolitionist
"No matter your religious addictions, theological positions, or how you plan to vote in the next election, the compassionate kindness of God cannot be moved. With an unexpected blend of tender vulnerability and cutting honesty, Elizabeth Esther emerges from a spiritually abusive past as a woman who takes that truth to heart, learning to be kind to herself in the process. Her willingness to stay small in the presence of God is perhaps what I admire most about her." —Emily P. Freeman, author of Simply Tuesday
"If, like Matthew's Gospel said, you're worn out and burned out on religion, this practical and tender book will help you come away with Jesus and recover your real life. Elizabeth Esther is an honest, kind, frank, and real companion for your journey to spiritual sobriety." —Sarah Bessey, author of Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith and Jesus Feminist
“With her usual humor, candor, and unflinching honesty, Elizabeth Esther shares powerful insights that will resonate with seeks of all backgrounds.” —Jennifer Fulwiler, Radio host and bestselling author or “Something Other Than God”
“We need this book and we needed Elizabeth Esther to write it. As somebody who has spent more than half of my life living in the aftermath of spiritual abuse, I wish I’d had read this book years ago. For the soul who has been victimized by religion, manipulated by dogma, or broken by somebody’s idea of God, Spiritual Sobriety offers hope, light and a path forward.” —Matthew Paul Turner, author of Churched and Our Great Big American God
" Spiritual Sobriety is extraordinarily helpful, generous, and woven with the thread of true freedom. After reading, you'll learn that a lasting faith should be steady and grounded, rather than a frenzy of purely emotional highs and lows. I'm so grateful for this book and highly recommend it to anyone looking for lasting spiritual health." —Nish Weiseth, author of Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World
"Spiritual Sobriety is a must-read for those recovering from Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome. Elizabeth Esther offers hard-won lessons with grace and wit, reminding us all the healing is within reach.” —Reba Riley, author of Post Traumatic Church Syndrome
"In Spiritual Sobriety, Elizabeth Esther asks this insightfully scandalous question—are we mainlining religion, using it as an anesthetizing agent against the pains and questions of life? With the incisive style that has become her hallmark, Esther draws us from the narcotic numbing of so much religion, and invites us to imagine a vibrant faith of loving and sober connection with God.” — Seth Haines, author of Coming Clean
“Spiritual Sobriety is an important book. It’s important because some folks, like myself, have survived harmful spiritual experiences and have been left to untangle the effects of spiritual addiction. And it’s important because other folks, regardless of their experiences, are unaware of what spiritual wholeness—sobriety—even looks like. With her characteristic honestly, intelligence, and wisdom, Elizabeth Esther shines a light on topics that prefer to hide in darkness—and illuminates the way to freedom. Read, and then share, this book.” —Zach J. Hoag, author of After the Apocalypse
“Dismantles all the ways we become co-dependent on unhealthy religious systems while also offering us a fresh hope in the God who transcends those systems. Elizabeth has been through darkness that could have stopped her in her tracks, but she presses on, bringing good news to those of us who need to hear it most. Spiritual Sobriety is not merely a good book—it is a crucial book. A game changer in the conversation about faith, God, and all of reality.” —Rob Carmack, pastor of Collective Church in Roanoke, Texas