- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 4, 2009

Every so often one reads a book in which you just know the author totally gets it. Such is Susan Isaacs’ “Angry Conversations With God: A Snarky But Authentic Spiritual Memoir.”

Susan is a Los Angeles-based comedian who once wrote a sketch called “Couples Therapy” in which she represented a kind of Christian Everywoman who is married to Jesus. (Christian theology holds that believers are the “bride” and Christ is the “bridegroom.”)

Her beef was that her divine marriage was not working. God, in the sketch, showed up in a toga and complained that she was not giving him quality time. She complained that he was gone too much.

That play turned into the book I read while in much pain while out on sick leave a few weeks ago. Which is why I needed something truly funny. Forget Neale Donald Walsch’s drecky “Conversations With God.” This book has the dialogue we all wish we could lob at the Almighty.

I’ve only met Susan once, and that back in 2002 during a business trip to New York. At the time, I had no idea all this was taking place in her life. Her book revolves around meetings with a Christian therapist who tries to help her understand why she feels like a neglected wife dealing with God-as-deadbeat-husband. The therapist comes up with the Christian cliches we all hate and Susan cheerfully blows holes in them all.

“Why are God’s people such freaks?” she wonders. “Yeah, I loved Jesus, but I just couldn’t stand his friends.”

She trashes all those odious Christian books - written mostly by married people - that lecture singles on why they don’t need a mate, they just need Jesus. She wonders why Christian men are so wimpy.

“My standards (for a Christian husband) were ‘loves Jesus’ and ‘has a sex drive,’ ” she wrote. “But those seem to be mutually exclusive.”

Christianity Today magazine has likened Susan to “Blue Like Jazz” writer Don Miller who has penned similar feeling-disenchanted-with-mainstream-Christianity lit. He writes about his experiences in Portland, Ore.; she details a parade of weird Southern California churches, unanswered prayers, missed career opportunities, strange boyfriends and a bout with alcoholism.

But she is far more clever than Mr. Miller. Her dialogues with the Almighty are sometimes profane, often give no quarter and have the most perfect ripostes.

I think Susan gets the zeitgeist on how deep the dissatisfaction with God runs these days. The center is not holding and icons are falling. The Bible verses, Jesus jargon and formulaic prayers are not working.

And there are so many books out there expressing a malaise with church. A new one, “A Lover’s Quarrel With the Evangelical Church,” just landed on my desk. My own book, “Quitting Church,” has done well and I suspect former Los Angeles Times reporter Bill Lobdell’s “Losing My Religion” is doing even better.

The good news is that after 20 years of debates with God, Susan made it through her dark night of the soul, “divorced” her old ideas of an abusive Almighty and accepted that - despite much evidence to the contrary - God is good.

Then she met Mr. Right and married him in 2006. Every once in a while, prayer does get answered and God-the-absent-spouse turns into matchmaker extraordinaire.

• Julia Duin’s column “Stairway to Heaven” runs Thursdays and Sundays. Contact her at [email protected]

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