Review of Anne Jackson’s Permission to Speak Freely

In the Protestant tradition of which I am a part, confession seems to have evolved more and more into a private affair with no one there, other than God, to hear my confession. But in the last twenty years friends steeped in the 12 Step Tradition have shown me the personal value of Steps 4 and 5 as they have worked their various programs of recovery. Those steps are steps of confession.

Anne Jackson has honestly, openly, and profoundly challenged this privatized assumption about confession in her new book Permission to Speak Freely: Essays and Art on Fear, Confession, and Grace.

Published by Thomas Nelson,  Permission to Speak Freely, is a very public, personal, and grace filled confession by someone who has experienced fear, shame, confession, and grace and has chosen (and, I think, lived) to tell about it.

But in telling her story along this marked path, Anne has brought along “our” voices.  If we are honest, we will hear the “confessions” that we are reading in our personal story and hearing our confession about the silent pain and angst that is in the pews of my church, your church, our churches.

Anne has done a wonderful job of blending the images of the confessions she has received into the narrative of her story. They are powerful and more than once caused me to pause and ponder… and pray.

This book will disturb many. They will stop reading it. They will find fault with Anne’s story. They will mock the confession as being evidence of lack of faith or whatever.

But they will miss the message… “grace is greater than all my sin.”

(Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Blogger Review program called Book Sneeze (  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)


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