Barnes & Noble
Published by: Howard Books
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Filled with humor, insight, and faith, this true story tells how one young woman overcame challenges, stereotypes, and personal struggles at Harvard Divinity School and emerged an ordained minister.
As a bright young girl from Ohio, Andrea Raynor always wanted to be a doctor. Instead, she landed— almost by accident—at Harvard Divinity School, which, she quickly discovered, was no typical semi¬nary. When she attended, in the 1980s, HDS was a place overflowing with creative expression and freedom of thought. There was a lively gay and lesbian caucus, marches on Washington, civil disobedience, and more sexual intrigue than could be found in a stereotypical college fraternity house.
Providing a bird’s-eye view of life within the hallowed halls (and beneath the crimson robes), Incognito is a humorous and poignant glimpse inside one of the nation’s most revered institutions. It begins with the long drive from Ohio to Cambridge and ends at the bedside of a dying young woman. But the real story is about the challenges, surprises, and ultimately life-changing experiences Andrea faced on the road to understanding God’s call for her life. From navigating relation¬ships to exploring whether a young woman can truly wear a collar, Incognito tackles our assumptions about spirituality, the church, morality, and identity, and affirms that God often works in ways—and in people—we least expect.
"Dead set against ordination when she first enrolled at Harvard Divinity School (HDS), Raynor here recounts her change of heart in becoming a Methodist minister. Disarmingly candid, Raynor’s story reveals her own character as the independent-minded daughter of conservative midwestern parents, attracted as a girl to poetry and intrigued by medicine, but strangely drawn to religion. Not that her attraction to religion makes Raynor dourly orthodox. Anything but. Her romantic life resembles a kinetic carousel, while her piquant friendships land her in jail as an anti-Reagan protester and win her fame as cosponsor of HDS’ wildest Mardi Gras bash. Doctrinal strictures, in fact, seldom surface in the HDS world in which Raynor first experiences her calling to serve as a pastor. Surrounded by classmates immersed in Hindu philosophy, curious about Gnosticism, passionate about feminist and homosexual causes, and open to sex-change operations, Raynor emerges as a preacher with a decidedly nontraditional outlook. Even readers resistant to Raynor’s liberal Protestantism will find this an engaging, often amusing memoir."
“Disarmingly candid…an engaging, often amusing memoir.”
"In her wonderful memoir, Incognito, there is nothing disguised about the heartfelt way Andrea Raynor shares her life, faith, doubts and unlikely path to ministry. Get ready to be inspired, entertained, disturbed and maybe just a little changed by this refreshingly honest take on a world few get to glimpse with such clarity."
-Edward L. Beck, Faith and Religion Contributor for CNN and author of God Underneath
“A finely wrought narrative about stepping into the realm of faith. She shows us how following a hunch can lead to a life of beauty, purpose, and yes, adventure. This is an inspiring read.”
– Barbara Hall, creator and executive producer of Joan of Arcadia
"Incognito is a refreshingly candid glimpse into the sometimes mysterious and always miraculous making of a minister… Sprinkled with humor and insight, it is a divinely warm and inspiring story that opens a window onto life behind the collar, and will leave you wishing for more."
–Roberta Gately, author of Lipstick in Afghanistan
"With humor and hope, Andrea Raynor takes us from the hallowed halls of Harvard to the mean streets of Boston in her journey to discover whether a leather-and-lace loving 1980s girl can heed the call to ordination. A wonderfully engrossing read."
–Sophfronia Scott, author of All I Need to Get By
"Andrea Raynor's engrossing memoir switchbacks the reader through the realities, passions, pettiness, lessons, disappointments and triumphs on the way to ordination... Whatever your perceptions are of the men and women who wear the collar, they will be challenged in this honest and soul searching romp."
–Lee Woodruff, author, blogger, and television personality