"In the world of snake oils, you have to see the world a little differently. Where others see poverty, you see riches; where others see weeds, you see flowers; where others see sickness, you see openness."
Becca Stevens calls herself a "snake oil seller": She takes natural oils, mixes them with a good story, sells them in an open market and believes they help to heal the world. Becca is the founder of Thistle Farms, one of the most successful examples in the US of a social enterprise whose mission is the work force. She is also the founder of its residential program, Magdalene. The women of Magdalene/Thistle Farms have survived prostitution, trafficking and addiction, and the natural body care products they manufacture-balms, soaps, and lotions-aid in their own healing as well as that of the people who buy them. The book weaves together the beginnings of the enterprise with individual stories from Becca's own journey as well as 20 women in the community.
In Snake Oil, Becca tells how the women she began helping fifteen years ago have been the biggest source of her own healing from sexual abuse and her father's death as a child. Wise and reflective, Snake Oil offers an empowering narrative as well as a selection of recipes for healing remedies that readers can make themselves.
Reverend Becca Stevens is an Episcopal priest serving as Chaplain at St. Augustine's at Vanderbilt University, and founder of Magdalene and Thistle Farms, a community and social enterprise that stands with women recovering from violence, prostitution, addiction and life on the streets. Magdalene, the residential model, serves women for two years at no cost to residents. Thistle Farms employs residents and graduates who manufacture, market and sell all natural bath and beauty products in over 200 retail stores across the globe.
Stevens was awarded an honorary doctorate in divinity and inducted into the Tennessee Women's Hall of Fame in 2013. In 2011 she was named one of 15 "Champions of Change" by the White House. To date, she has raised more than $14 million for the organizations she supports. Stevens lives in Nashville with her husband, Grammy-winning songwriter Marcus Hummon, and their three sons.
"SNAKE OIL is one of the best reads I have had in a very long time. Stevens is a consummate storyteller...poignant, persuasive, witty, wise and, ultimately, a passionate lover of God."
Phyllis Tickle, lecturer on religion in America and author of Emergence Christianity: What it Is, Where it is Going, and Why it Matters
"A simple, comforting reflection on one woman's crusade to make a difference in the world."Kirkus Reviews
"Rich and insightful."Booklist
"SNAKE OIL, Becca Stevens' profound and sensual autobiography, carries a weight of joy in every syllable. Stevens' greatest gift--as a writer and as an Episcopal priest--is an ability to make falling in love with God an inevitable, sacred, and necessary reality."
Alice Randall, author of The Wind Done Gone and Ada's Rules
"In her new book, Becca Stevens does more than reclaim the term Snake Oil, she tells a personal story of reclaiming life, hope, and grace. A truly inspiring read of painful hardships, enduring faith and seizing hope."Senator Bill Frist, M.D.
"With her signature poetic simplicity, Becca Stevens leads us bravely through her healing journey and along the path she has forged for so many wounded women-so that we can find our own way as both healed and healer. Reading this book is like being anointed with the very oils she writes about."Nancy Rue, Christy Award-winning author of The Reluctant Prophet trilogy, inspired by Magdalene and Thistle Farms
"I always think of Becca Stevens as a sort of extraordinary, down-to-earth angel--conscience, guide, inspiration and girlfriend all rolled into one. I will treasure this book."Lee Smith, author of Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger
"Only Becca Stevens can write a book extolling the virtues of being a snake oil salesman, and have us believe it. After reading this, I'm ready to be anointed!"Marshall Chapman, author of They Came to Nashville and Goodbye, Little Rock and Roller
"This book is a fascinating life story of a woman who took the evil done to her and used it for the motivation to do good for abused women around the world. She has been God's instrument for healing and hope for countless numbers of broken women across America."Tony Campolo, PhD, Eastern University
"Some old-timey snake-oil salesmen offered the Gospel and then sold their products. Becca Stevens does it the other way around. This book helps explain why her way works better."Don Schlitz, Grammy Award-winning songwriter