FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 12, 2021—A new memoir, Sealed: An Unexpected Journey into the Heart of Grace by Utah native and Lutheran ordinand Katie Langston, is being released from Thornbush Press on April 6, 2021. The memoir recounts Langston’s upbringing in a conservative Mormon home, her experience of mental illness and religious anxiety, and her conversion to mainstream Christianity—specifically, Lutheranism—as an adult.
“Sealed is a story of faith and family, and a meditation on what it means to truly belong,” said Langston, who currently serves as an intern pastor at a Lutheran congregation in Vadnais Heights, Minnesota. “But it isn’t a straightforward conversion story, as if the narrative can be boiled down to ‘Mormonism: bad; Lutheranism: good.’ My journey was full of nuance, ambiguity, and struggle, and I tried to convey that in the book.”
The memoir deals candidly with Mormon rituals, especially the temple ceremonies and “worthiness interviews,” a practice in which members meet regularly with a lay leader to affirm they are complying with the church’s standards. Often, these interviews include detailed interrogations of sexual behavior, even with minors. Langston has been an outspoken public critic of worthiness interviews, and she details the impact of the practice in Sealed.
“I couldn’t tell my story without directly addressing the worthiness system and the temple rituals,” Langston said. “While I know I’m violating a cultural taboo in doing so, I’ve tried to be straightforward and non-sensational in my portrayal of these matters. Still, I think it’s crucial to understanding not just my experience but the Mormon experience more generally.”
Langston’s transformation began almost two decades ago when, as a young mother, she heard a Christian scholar from Wheaton College, Jerry Root, speak about grace on the campus of Utah State University in Logan, Utah. “It opened me up and healed me in ways I wasn’t anticipating,” she said. “But I had no idea then what a disruption this experience of grace would prove to be, both in terms of my sense of identity and my vocation. In the book, you see me working through the implications of this experience in ways that are surprising and difficult.”
Ultimately, Langston hopes that her memoir will be a bridge-builder. “I would love for Mormons who read it to understand mainstream Christianity better, and for Christians who read it to understand Mormonism better,” Langston said. “In the end, I hope that anyone who reads it—Mormon, Christian, or neither—will catch a glimpse of the life-changing grace of God.”
Sealed: An Unexpected Journey into the Heart of Grace will be available April 6, 2021 in hardback, paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats from all major retailers, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org, and Indie Bound.
Katie Langston is a doubter by nature and a believer by grace. She is the director of digital strategy for Luther Seminary’s innovation team, where she oversees digital projects aimed at cultivating vibrant Christian spirituality in a postmodern, post-Christian cultural context. A pastoral intern preparing for ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Katie lives in the greater Twin Cities area with her husband and two daughters. Sealed is her first book.