Week #5: The Willed Optimism of a Born Pessimist


“After decades of living on the edge, Heather King settled into sobriety, marriage, and a financially lucrative but unfulfilling career as an upwardly mobile lawyer.” Amazon calls her book, Redeemed, “An unforgettable, fervent, darkly funny tale of an ongoing, stumbling conversion.” Join us as we read, discuss, and share our thoughts about it in our Fall, 2016 Wisdom Seekers Book Club!

By Sister Mary Core, OSB

CHAPTER 13  (Barbara, the Dancer)

Living in Los Angeles, King’s “willed optimism of a born pessimist” slowly begins to let her see some good and positive things about the city.  Where does she find the good?

“Going to Mass did not make me ‘better’; my first thought, still, was usually the fearful one, the cynical one, the critical one, but I went anyway.  I went because…there was still something in me that wanted to… give thanks.”

“I went because I was beginning to believe that heaven is not some other world, but shot all through the broken world where we already live.”

What are your reactions to King’s thinking?

At Mass, King meets “Barbara,” a dancer, who invites her to coffee and conversation.

Barbara tells King, “I don’t dance for success or money or to be noticed: I do it as  form of prayer. I think of it as offering up my time and body and pain to someone who needs it more than I do.  I say the rosary, one Hail Mary for each plié.”

How does King respond?  How would you have responded?   What do you think of Barbara?

What was King trying to say with regard to the mannequin in the white satin gown on the sidewalk outside Doti’s Bridal?

CHAPTER 14  (The Battle with Writing and the Communion of Saints)

As King struggles with her desire to write and finding anything worth writing about, she shares:

“When I was drinking, I stayed stuck for two decades. Not because I wanted to, but because I didn’t know how to change, I was afraid to change, I was in the grip of a compulsion that was stronger than my will to change – so much stronger, in fact, that it almost killed me….

“Still,…The point was the experience of a will deeply divided against itself; the discovery that, no matter how low we sink, we’re never beyond the reach of God’s mercy.”

What does this tell you of King’s addiction?  Her desire to write?  Her trust in God?

What did you discover/learn about the Communion of Saints from King’s writing?

The last paragraph of chapter 14 begins:

“Books saved my life…and now I know it was because so many people were willing to burn out their lives in front of a page trying to get it right.”

What are your thought about this last paragraph?  She is speaking of writers and authors, but could you substitute people with other careers, ministries, everyday work?

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