Permission to Speak Freely

What is it that you feel you don’t have the freedom to say in church? Too many times we act like everybody is perfect and nobody has any problems. One of the most feared words in church is “fine”  As in, everything is fine. We pretend and act like we don’t have fears or struggles, and unintentionally we create a culture where people don’t feel accepted because they aren’t perfect.

Anne Jackson, otherwise known as Flowerdust if you read Christian blogs, has written a new book called Permission to Speak Freely: Essays and Art on Fear, Confession, and Grace.  This is not a deep theological book on overcoming fear, but it is a honest look at real life. I’m glad I read this book. It made me think about the people in our church. What are they dealing with in silence that they are afraid to share. The book touches on topics like abuse, addiction, pornography, and even depression. As the church, we need to remember that the real world is much different from the Christian sub-culture that many of us live in. Even within the church, we hide our problems. This book tackles how confession, grace, and community intersect.

I don’t want to ruin the ending of the book for you, but let me just say that if want to read a book that has all the answers neatly wrapped up at the end, then this is one book you might want to skip. I think some of the best discussion comes from unresolved tension.

On a different note, I love the layout of this book. The typeset and graphic design is incredible. The poetry and letters that were included really added to the overall transparency and authenticity of the book. Here’s what the publisher has to say about it.

“What is the one thing you feel you can’t say in church?”

In May 2008, Anne Jackson asked a question on her blog, “What is one thing you feel you can’t say in church?” Hundreds responded. Everyone had a story.

Permission to Speak Freely is the artistic collaboration and movement of author Anne Jackson, who is through with keeping brokenness in the dark. Bringing to light the original intent of God’s sanctuary as a place of help and healing, Anne reveals that through confession, both to God and to others, we can live lives that are whole and healed.

Told with disarming transparency, Anne shares what led to her own addictions and the ensuing lifestyle that left her wounded and withdrawn. She includes dramatic stories of others that also learned to lose their fear, pride, and masks; to identify their hurts; and to find the courage to speak freely. Readers will share in the opportunity to find their own redemption and freedom.

Disclaimer: I did receive a free copy of Permission to Speak Freely for review through the Booksneeze review program, but was not asked to give a positive review. The links to in this post are affiliate links. I would earn a small commission if you purchased the book through a link. Click here to see my full disclosure policy.


I am a former design engineer who now pastors Cornerstone Community Church in Galax, Virginia. I'm passionate about following Jesus and I love technology. I've been married to Jennifer for 28 years, and we have three adult children.

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