Book Reviews

We Need to Talk: God Speaks to a Modern Girl

Thursday 18 October 2012

By Jennifer Nowell
Central Catholic Bookshop

We Need to Talk: God Speaks to a Modern Girl
By Susan Brinkman, Liguori, $16.95, PB.

A good conversion story has something to interest everyone: converts are curious about other converts’ journeys into the Church; and cradle Catholics are reminded of how lucky they are to have the faith with all its riches. Even atheists or agnostics may be nudged into considering the claims of the Church, if they can be persuaded to read the book!

We Need to Talk is a short, quirky, and fun look at Susan Brinkman’s journey back to the faith she was born into but never really took seriously when she was young. The author is currently a member of the Third Order of Discalced Carmelites (secular), but at the start of the book she is a divorced pro-abortion feminist who believes the Church is anti-women and unrealistic in its moral prescriptions.
Brinkman and a friend dabbled in New Age practices, which they thought ‘exciting’ compared with Catholicism, which was rejected as ‘been there, done that’, in their search for something to give meaning to their lives.

When Brinkman read a New Age book that claimed to be based on the sayings of Jesus, she decided to pick up a Bible and see what it actually said. This was a real turning point for her, as she started turning to the Bible regularly, and was amazed to read things that related to her own life.

It is in her Bible reading that God spoke to her, and provided her with the miracles that were needed to convince her of the truth of God’s promises, such as a publisher’s acceptance of her novel after many years of rejections. Those converts who started their investigations into the Catholic Church from a more intellectual perspective may be a bit squeamish about some of Brinkman’s quasi-mystical Biblical experiences, but her conversion involves a lot more than these.

One of the things holding her back from the Church, despite her developing relationship with God in prayer, was her reservation about various moral teachings she thought ridiculously extreme and misogynist. After hearing the passage in Ephesians about wives being subject to their husbands, she decided to read Mulieris Dignitatem by Pope John Paul II, and was astounded by the argument for men and women’s equal dignity and the Pope’s understanding of women. She had a similar epiphany after reading Humanae Vitae, realising how contraception makes men see women as objects for their own gratification.

Brinkman tells her story in brief, dramatic chapters, focusing on the most significant moments in her conversion. She is an entertaining storyteller, and very honest in recounting certain experiences that she would probably rather forget (such as some hilarious dating experiences). She makes the combination of her prayer and her exploration of Church teachings into a unique tale, which is enjoyable and thoughtful at the same time.