As a kid, I wanted to slither outside my skin, to become invisible.

But now, I’ve put my skin onto a book cover.

Baptistland: A Memoir of Abuse, Betrayal, and Transformation. It’s coming May 7 from Lake Drive Books.

It’s an intimate and vulnerable story, revealing and emotionally raw. You might say that I put skin in it.

I peeled back layer after layer to try to tell the truth.

The truth about my family. The truth about me. And of course, the truth about Baptistland.

My story is inextricably intertwined with Baptistland—hence the title—and I’m peeling back some layers there as well.

But why the blue tree? Is that what you’re wondering?

Well, let me just tell you first off that, of the four covers we considered, this was the most risky one. It was the least conventional, the least “safe.”

We went with it… and I’m proud that we did.

Baptistland by Christa Brown

There are layers of meaning in it, and if you read the book, you’ll slowly see some of those layers for yourself. But here’s just a bit of the back story.

So much early trauma left a trail of bodily ruination, and finally, my very cells rebelled.

Two invasive cancers came along, together with several in situ cancers and precancers—all at once.

Intellectually, I know that cancer is a multifactorial process, but emotionally, I experienced it as the cumulative manifestation of all the evil that had been done to me in Baptistland.

Done to my body. Done to my selfhood. Done to my soul.

After two years of living in the cancer kingdom, I got a large, vivid-blue tree-of-life tattoo to celebrate what was, if not the certainty of an end, at least the taming of a beast.

The beast of cancer… but also the beast of bodily desecration from a pastor’s repetitive childhood rapes.

Cancer shares a commonality with sexual violence. It seizes bodily control.

So, this tree was my way of reclaiming my body—of choosing for myself what I would do with my body after enduring so much that had been so utterly unchosen.

I quake to realize that, with this book, I’m unleashing so much deeply personal stuff into the world. But I am.

The book is getting more and more real by the day.

It doesn’t paint a pretty picture. But it paints the truth as I’ve known it—the truth as I’ve lived it in my body, mind, and spirit.

And ultimately, something beautiful grew from the rot of all the awfulness.

For today at least, I’m celebrating that.

Baptistland. The book. It’s coming. May 7, 2024. See more here.

(And wait til you see who’s writing the foreword! I’m holding that card close for just a bit longer… but it’s an ace and you’re gonna love it… and I’m gonna be so happy to have his name on the cover with me. Stay tuned.)

This article is a guest post adapted with permission from “In Solidarity” the Substack account of Christa Brown.

Christa Brown

Named as one of the “top 10 religion newsmakers” of 2022, Christa Brown has persisted for two decades in working to peel back the truth about clergy sex abuse and coverups in the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention. She’s the author of This Little Light: Beyond a Baptist Preacher Predator and His Gang, a retired appellate attorney, a mom, a grandma, and lives with her husband in Colorado.