Monday, April 4, 2022

Book Review - This Here Flesh by Cole Arthur Riley

The local library is one of my happy places. As I walked through the library, absorbing its calm and quietness, I saw This Here Flesh on a pedestal as a featured book. I sighed audibly as I grabbed it. I follow the author on IG on her Black Liturgies page. Her writing often encourages me that I add her posts to my stories. So when I heard she wrote a book, it was only a matter of time before I got my hands on a copy.

Where do I begin? We are sacred human beings, flawed and all. From this space of holy humanity, with stories from her elders, particularly her gramma and father, we are serenaded with words that heal. Hers is not an easy story to tell, yet the Divine is woven through her story. There is deep trauma in her family in the form of racism, poverty, abandonment, and abuse. She also wrestles with unexplained health challenges. These moments bring out a depth of thought, reckoning with our circumstances, and still having joy in endeavoring to live life the best we can. 
This book invites us to descend into our own mythologies; examine our capacity to rest, wonder, rejoice, rage and repair; and find that our humanity is not an enemy to faith but evidence of it (Excerpt from the inside flap).

There's an abundance of riches in this book. Here are a few of my favorites:

How can anyone who is made to bear the likeness to the maker of the cosmos be anything less than glory? This is inherent dignity.

Do you know the promised land? Tasted the milk and honey on a sagging tongue? I know a place.

Children are made of awe. We have much to learn from them but we seldom do.

"Taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalms 34:8)." The Bible talks about knowing God as though its closer to dinner and a movie than any three-point sermon. What does it mean that our knowledge of the spiritual is deeply entwined with the sensory? That it is bodily?

I'm not convinced I will ever hear from God in the way others have. Some callings come to you in memory. Some come only from the mouth of someone you trust. Some don't need to be heard in order to be lived. And not all calls come from outside of you.

At the intersection of belonging and choice, you'll often find friendship. Durable friendship is a bond that is able to endure both truth-telling and conflict. Bonds without these things become brittle.

I am suspicious of anyone who can observe colonization, genocide and decay in the world and not be stirred to lament in some way. True lament is not born from that trite sentiment that the world is bad but rather from a deep conviction that it is worthy of goodness.



I've highlighted pictures of paragraphs from the book which resonated with me. I'll have to purchase my own copy for referring to these thoughts whenever I need them. So much goodness here. I can't wait for you to read this book.


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  1. Wow! I love it when a book so speaks to you that you cover its pages in highlighter and can't wait to share morsels of it with others. Thanks for sharing this with us. And the library is a happy place for me too!

  2. Love this one, "Do you know the promised land? Tasted the milk and honey on a sagging tongue? I know a place."

  3. Oh, my--what a gifted lyricist. I'm adding this author and book to my "do read" list.


  4. I find it so hard to review a book that I have especially loved. Thanks for making the effort and sharing your thoughts and your heart.

  5. Sounds interesting.
    Thank you for this review.

  6. This >> "Children are made of awe. We have much to learn from them but we seldom do." I always tell people that toddlers are truly my favorite people!


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