Review of Breedlove and Ennis’ The Shame Exchange: Trading Shame for God’s Mercy and Freedom

The Shame Exchange, written by two couples, both of whom have spent many years in ministry, is a book that is at once profoundly personal and leaves you gasping for words as you journey with them through the stories of people who have dealt with, and/or are dealing with, two kinds of shame.

There is ‘heaped-on shame’ that is ‘heaped on’ you which, as they say later in the book, “needs to be named for what it is and rejected.” (Page 176) Then there is what they call “identity-level shame.” This is shame they say that is “rightfully ours because of our choices and our heritage as children of Adam…” (Page 63)

The reader will perhaps want to argue theologically with the authors (I did) on the nature and scope of sin and Christ’s atonement. But, they recognize that ‘we need a more profound healing that simply learning to think correctly… We need to be touched beyond the scope of our intellect.”

A strength of this book is that deals with the issue of shame from a cross-cultural perspective as they include stories from across ethnic lines and how ethnicity that has fueled a level of shame that does not go easily away. It also affirms the work of Christ on the cross and the value of the church as the community of faith and healing.

Their conclusion, is one that, frankly, we may not want to admit to, “…in the end the way to deepest happiness is through honest shame.” (Page 155)

(Disclosure: This review is done for  the Nav Press bloggers review program)

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