Tuesday, 23 October 2012

A year of Biblical womanhood - A Review

I was privileged to be able to read an advance copy of Rachel Held Evans book ‘A year of Biblical womanhood’ and asked to bring a review. I have to say that I have loved the book and my only sadness was when I finished it.
I am thankful for this work on so many levels as a Pastor of a church I feel Rachel has given me enough to teach on for a year or more.
This is an important book. Well researched, with a wealth of information. I would recommend that it is a valuable resource of information and challenge for both men and women, young and old.
Rachel’s writing is refreshingly honest she lets us have a glimpse of her life and insecurities and how she meets these head on when faced with tasks that are not part of her make-up.

I found myself smiling and laughing and moved whilst reading in November when Rachel’s task was Domesticity,

‘The elevation of homemaking as woman’s highest calling is such a critical centrepiece to the modern biblical womanhood movement, I figured no one less than the domestic diva herself would do’.

Armed with a home making book by Martha Stewart the domestic diva who it seems spent 5 months in prison only to return to her empire built on said domesticity (who knew all things home-making could be so lucrative) Rachel sets to cooking and cleaning their home with increasing hilarity.
Rachel found a love for cooking but cleaning was another matter my laugh out loud moment was when she realised that Martha Stewarts cleaning jobs on the monthly ‘to do’ list, she did only once a year, and the every season, possibly never, I so resonated with her at that moment! Her story of mum cleaning whilst singing out loud to Carole King about ‘the sky tumbling down a tumbling down’ telling her daughters ‘it has to get messy before it gets clean’ summing up most things in life from home-making to friendships to faith, how true.

I was moved when Rachel speaks about her husband Dan on one fraught occasion when the preparations for a meal were not going to plan
“He let bury me bury my head in his chest and cry, leaving 2 distinct mascara marks on his white T shirt, sometimes after a tough week when doing the laundry I find I the same marks and I am reminded why I married this man”

I found myself provoked 
'She must neither begin, nor complete anything without man: she must be, and bend before him as before a master, whom she shall fear and to whom she shall be subject and obedient.' 

'Wives or prostitutes that's what women are.'
Quotes Martin Luther P- 178-179

Rachel tell the story of Jackie Roese who when she delivered her first sermon at Irving Bible college church Dallas in 2008 to the whole congregation (she had taught in ladies bible lessons) she had to have a bodyguard for protection.
Before she gave her first sermon she told her daughter 'sweetie, I'm doing this for Jesus, but I'm also doing it for you'.

‘Because I am a woman I must make peculiar effort to succeed. If I fail no one will say, she doesn’t have what it takes, they will say, women don’t have what it takes.’ 
Clare Boothe Luce

More girls have been killed in last 50 years because they were girls, than men were killed in all the wars of the 20th century ' Half the sky 

‘Right now 30,000 children die every day from preventable diseases
Right now a woman dies in childbirth every minute
Right now women ages 15-44 are more likely to be maimed or to die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined.’ P280

I found myself Inspired
Rachel introduces us to a wonderful lady Ahava a Jewish lady who helps her understand the traditional part of the project she had to undertake. Proverbs 31 ‘the valorous woman’. Eshet-chayil pronounced- E-shet-hi-yil, means, ‘woman of valour.
At its core this is a blessing, one that was never meant to be earned, but to be given unconditionally. A ‘you go girl’ of our present day. I too am now challenged to look for all the women in my world to greet with these words, my dear friends who each deal with so much, my colleague a nurse who works full time and looks after her elderly mother. Also to my daughter a new mum who is doing a wonderful job being a great mummy to her little baby.
My heart responded with shouts of joy over the women of valour that Rachel met on her trip to Bolivia with World Vision. All these women are, ‘Eshet-chayil’.
I also found myself inspired by this beautiful prayer

Let nothing upset you
Let nothing startle you
All things pass
God does not change
Patience will win all it seeks
Whoever has God lacks nothing
God alone is enough
Theresa of Avila 

I found myself Challenged
I learned that Judaism has no word for charity instead they speak of tzedakah justice or righteousness.
A charitable act can be a single response of giving but justice speaks to ‘right living’ of ‘aligning oneself with the world in a way that sustains rather than exploits the rest of creation’.
It's a commitment to the Jewish concept of 'tikkun olam'  ‘repairing the world'. 
Once we accept the challenge that we are connected to the rest of humanity we should not look back and we need to realise we have a part to play in tzedakah,for all.

Post by Beverley Molineaux

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