Interview with writer Leona Stucky about her memoir

Writer Leona Stucky joins me today to
chat about her memoir, The Fog of Faith: Surviving My Impotent
The religious narratives of Leona’s faith
could not reconcile the violence that intruded upon her Mennonite farm story.
She yielded to answers more in sync with the harsh realities she faced. That
was the beginning of a search that lasted throughout her studies and
professional career.
Dr. Stucky first
received a degree in psychology and philosophy from Boston College, graduating
summa cum laude, before plunging into seminary, first at Andover Newton
Theological School and then at Eden Theological Seminary. She earned a
doctorate from Southern Methodist University with honors, and a Diplomate
certificate from the American Association of Pastoral Counselors—their highest
credential—for teaching, supervising, and conducting therapy services. She
currently has standing as a Unitarian Universalist community minister.
These professional
explorations might have quieted her mind, but the areas where integration
seemed impossible became mental sand kernels that disrupted many intellectual
resting places. Being fiercely honest in confronting contradictions, she honed
her wisdom, gained unusual insights, and enjoyed a professional and personal
journey that could only be shared by telling the whole story. After numerous
failed attempts, Dr. Stucky finally completed her memoir, The Fog of Faith: Surviving My Impotent God.
The provocative
title aptly indicates the unflinching moral dilemmas she reveals. The gripping
story reads like a real-life thriller that readers can’t put down. Still, each
step grounds itself in nuanced networks of passion, relational complexities,
cultural and religious dilemmas, circumscribed choices bound by woman’s
poverty, persistent violence, and an untamable resilient desire to redeem
herself with or without God.
Dr. Stucky’s memoir
has gained recognition as a well written, riveting story and also as an
important work of art. MS Magazine named it on their best summer reads
recommendation. Readers typically say they could not put it down. They report
being deeply stirred by the content.
An expert and
author on domestic violence intervention, Michael Paymar says, “
The voice of this woman’s spirit and
courage rings clearly as she faces the personal challenges of her faith—when the adversity in life tests the veracity
of her beliefs against the reality of terror. This is an important, insightful
book that I highly recommend.”
 “Your book has been the most impactful book I’ve ever read.
It has kept me in it for days during and after I read it.” Barbara, a Mennonite
from Kansas
While authoring
this book represents the pinnacle of Dr. Stucky’s career, she still maintains a
limited psychotherapy practice, often teaches and speaks, and writes an
interactive blog. She can be reached at or her website
Welcome, Leona. Please tell us about your
current release.
This is a
coming of age story but with unusual wisdom that offers depth and universality.
It has been well received and highly praised by reviewers and recommended by
Ms. Magazine. I feel most fortunate to have had a successful launch that put me
in first place with one Amazon category. Here is a description of the current
After the trauma of
a savage attack, a farm girl recovers physically, but her identity, faith, and
relationships are shattered.
This is the true
story of Leona Stucky’s childhood on a Kansas farm, surrounded by a loving
family and the simple tenets of her Mennonite community. Violence enters her
world in the guise of a young man who seems normal to everyone else but whom
Leona knows to be deranged in his obsession of her.
His unrelenting
abuses take root, and Leona must deal with them utterly alone. Her pacifist
father cannot avenge or protect her, nor can a callous justice system. Even God
is impotent.
Leona is cast into a bewildering life of disgrace
and poverty—with a baby, a violent husband, and battered faith. T
hrough a series of page-turning
she hacks through the bones of her naïveté
to confront harsh realities and to probe the veracity of religious claims.
The Fog of Faith
is a suspenseful and morally unflinching drama of shame and survival, as well
as useable and unusual wisdom.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve been
inspired to write this book since I was about 30 years old – a little over 30
years ago. I tried numerous ways and failed each time. I then avoided trying
for a number of years but finally couldn’t get the task to move from my number
one bucket list position. So, 12 years ago I took another shot at it and
finally I have actually written it. My friends heard about it for so long that
they used to roll their eyes and laugh with me, but they knew I’d stick with it
and I did.
Excerpt from The Fog of Faith: Surviving My Impotent God:
“I should have asked them what
they thought about their dads. They went to World War II, didn’t they? They
killed people, not cows, pigs, or chickens. None of these students approved of
the Vietnam War. They had no desire to kill or be killed in Southeast Asia.
Still, they didn’t put their wartime dads on the same level as brutish farmers.
I didn’t ask why, because I didn’t think of it until several hours later. But
given time to ponder, anyone who ruminates would know we all have blood on our
“I uttered variations
frequently—in the red barn while sorting calves, on the swather while cutting
hay, or lying in bed before sleep. I wanted to feel blessed and cared for
When I
was not begging, I was furious with God. While my life depended on Him, I
apprehended the ways that God was not dependable. What could be so great about
faith if you had to ignore the evidence that God wasn’t doing His job? Why
couldn’t God solve problems for people rather than put them in terrible binds?
He knew already whether they were good.
forgiveness that hard for God? Couldn’t He just understand that the people He
created were screwed up? He should help us more or forgive us more—one or the
“I wanted to believe these women,
but I was worried that the theory could be ripped apart. In spite of my stunts
to prove I was equal to my male cousins, I’d known from childhood that I was
not as important. Ubiquitous men around the world appeared on TV, making key
decisions for our or other nations, reporting the news, playing the leads in
sitcoms. The Boston Metropolitan Art Museum was full of their beautiful works.
I didn’t see more than one or two works by women. The faculties at college were
mostly men. The books I read for my classes were written by men. All the
businesses I knew were run by men. The history books I read were all about men.
And, of course, our imaginary God was masculine, and at least 95 percent of the
stories in the Bible were about men. All the ministers, elders, and deacons
were men. The teachers of adult Sunday school were men. Even the choir leader
was a man, if a man was available to do it.”
What exciting story are you working on
I’m creating an
interactive blog next to answer questions that people have about The Fog of
Faith, and after that?… We’ll see.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Maybe about 5
years ago when I finally realized with complete certainty that I would not give
up on writing my memoir. I was a lifetime into trying to tell that story and
had been actively writing for seven years at that point. However, I still think
of myself as a psychotherapist more than as a writer – it’s still new to me.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s
your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find
time to write?
I’m a
psychotherapist in my day job, though I slowed my private practice as I
finished my memoir. I now spend more time learning my new role as a promoter
and I’m teaching, speaking and leading workshops for therapists.
I don’t know
how I found time to write, because I didn’t have it. Basically I had to keep my
nose to the grindstone. Friends had to be patient because I often turned down
their offers.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
I’m an
introvert and as such I have to dredge things up from deep inside before I can
put them on the page. They come up loaded with emotion so I often cry or laugh
when I write, or feel an interminable morass when groups of stories congeal
As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?
Age 4, I
wanted to be a missionary. By 10 or so I wanted to be a circus trapeze artist.
By 17 I wanted to be anything other than what I was.
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
This memoir
is a page-turner – almost like a thriller you can’t put down – except it is
true. It is deeply honest and revealing and it took all the courage I could
muster to write it. While it is tempting to race right through it, you’ll find
more contentment if you slow down and let the layers of meaning soak into you.
Thank you for being here today, Leona.

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