Feb 2, 2013

A Year of Biblical Womanhood...

So, way back in October I found my way to Rachel Held Evans's blog.  This was around the time she was listed in Christianity Today as one of today's 50 Christan women to watch. Or most influential. Or something like that.  Anyway, on a whim I applied to be part of the launch team for her new book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, and to my surprise I was selected!  I then fulfilled the minimum requirements for being on the team (reading the e-copy that was provided to me free of charge, and writing a review on Amazon) and promptly dropped the ball as to doing anything further, such as posting about the book on my blog or Facebook account.  Sorry, Rachel Held Evans.  Also, I feel I need to confess that I signed up for Twitter only because it wouldn't let me submit my Launch Team application without a Twitter name.

And that's how, at the age of 35, I came to have "Write a book report" on my to-do list. And a Twitter account.

There's been a lot of buzz in several circles about this book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood.  There have been some brou-ha-has surrounding many factors, some of them because Evans calls herself an Evangelical, but has voted for liberals/democrats sometimes (heavens!!), and has the audacity to say she is egalitarian when it comes to women's roles in church, family, and life.  Also, some people got offended at the whole premise of her book because they thought she was poking fun or making light of the Bible.  And a part of me wanted to rush in and defend/vindicate Rachel Held Evans, because judging from her writings, she and I would get along great, and I really do appreciate the things she says and the discussions she fosters over on her page.  But then the other part of me got really tired really quickly, and I thought, Rachel Held Evans is strong and has a lot of supporters, and I should probably just stick to standing up for myself when needed, rather than trying to mount entire online crusades, and who knows if RHE would even agree with my defenses of her and her positions--

--and then I went cross-eyed, and had to step away for a moment and gather myself, and say "Book report, Skerrib. Focus."

And the truth is, I'm finding this one really hard to buckle down and describe, at least in a traditional book report sense (which may have more to do with my season in life and, consequently, lack of access to solitude and/or coherent thought, but I can't be sure).  For me, A Year of Bibical Womanhood came across not about debating women's roles (though it certainly raises questions and discussion), or sparking controversy (intended or not), or any of that.  It is the journal of a year in Evans's life, where she started with a "What if...?" and allowed herself to be in the process, submitting to the growth and maturation and refinement that take place in such journeys.

But for the sake of knowing what you're getting into, here are some bullet points--

--Evans tried, for a year, to follow all of the Bible's rules and commands regarding women.

--She did not try to follow them all at once for an entire year.  Some she followed for a year (like no haircuts), but most of them she split into categories, and focused on one category per month.

--She sought input and reinforcements.  Her references include an orthodox Jewish woman, an Amish woman, a woman raised in the Quiverfull movement, and many others (see the variety in "Biblical" approaches to womanhood?!?).

--When the time came to sew her own clothes she enlisted help from friends and family, as it was not exactly an area of strength for her.

--She rented a baby to practice motherhood.  It was a computer baby, and it sounded way worse than any of my real babies; even the needy one (who is now almost 4, and a delightful human being).

--She read and studied and read and studied, and included with each chapter a blurb about a woman from the Bible.  I was really impressed by this actually.  I could tell that she didn't just go in, extract a list of rules, and flippantly write about following them.  She really studied when it came to specific women in the Bible, as well as the overall topic of "women in the Bible."

I think this book appeals to a wide audience.  Those of us raised in the Evangelical subculture will likely relate to many aspects of her personal story.  Those who are really into women's roles will appreciate the exploration of different religions, denominations, and cultures with respect to, well, women's roles.  Nonbelievers I think might find it interesting, and will particularly appreciate Evans's gracious and humorous style.  Like many Christians, she is not afraid to laugh at some of our "religious" quirks. 

Haters won't like it.  Evans can be up-front and direct, but she is kind.

In conclusion, I thought it was a beautiful story, and I would encourage most everyone--except for the haters--to read A Year of Biblical Womanhood and see what you think.  You can buy it here. And then, if it floats your boat, go read Rachel Held Evans's blog here

Someday, when my children give me more than 30 minutes at a time to focus, I hope to write better book reports and even tell about things like "how this book affected me," but, um, somehow I have the feeling that a half-eaten bag of Reese's Puffs has made its way into my bedroom and will be strewn about if I don't confiscate it right now.  Seriously.

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