27 October 2012

Book Review (and call to arms): A Year of Biblical Womanhood - Rachel Held Evans


I expected to like this book. I have loved Rachel Held Evans’ blog for years. Her posts during her “Year of Biblical Womanhood” were entertaining as Rachel stumbled through learning to cook and sew. They were thought provoking as she struggled through difficult Bible passages. Her blog posts were inspiring as she campaigned for women of valor throughout the world.

And the book was more than twice as good.

There were several times that Rachel wrote something that echoed my thoughts so exactly it was almost uncanny. “Tearing a chicken into bite-size pieces requires that a girl get rather intimate with her meat, and I hate getting intimate with my meat” (pg 25).

But it wasn’t all amusing antics.

In no way was A Year of Biblical Womanhood making fun of the Bible, or of those who practice Biblical womanhood differently (from Rachel or from cultural norms). She interviews a Quiverfull daughter as well as a female pastor with respect and grace. She visits a Catholic monastery and a Quaker service. Rachel, as strong as her opinions are, went into the project and each of the activities with an open mind.

Of course, some of the projects were rather gimmicky, like sleeping out in a tent during her period or taking care of a Baby-Think-It-Over, but they added comic relief so that we would not be weighed down by the more serious themes.

This book was wonderful. Whether you think you’ll agree or be offended, you should read it. Rachel does not try to be offensive. She treats the Bible and women with the utmost respect. She manages to tell an awesomely entertaining story as well as inspire me to strive to be a woman of valor.

Rachel Held Evans tells the stories of women who overcame much in order to improve the lives of those around them. I want to do that. I don’t want my life’s work to just be getting a PhD and staying in academia forever. I strive to be a woman of valor like the women who fight against sex trafficking, child labor, lack of education, inadequate medical care…those things that make the world a horrible place for so many.

We, as women, can follow what the Bible says, but it will not necessarily look like 1950’s America. Just as there are many different women in the Bible, with many different roles, we, as women, have many different roles to play. We, as women, have responsibilities. We, as women, can improve the world. We, as women, are uniquely prepared to do so. So let us all be women of valor!

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