23 August 2013

SEASONS: 2 books on biblical womanhood in Hebrew scripture

I belong to a book club of sorts. SEASONS is a group of women meeting most months to discuss a book over a continental breakfast. We usually gather at Southwest Central Church of Christ which is the church that many of us attend. We read theology and fiction. Our summer selections have been two books that we grouped together as dealing with Hebrew scripture and rituals in every day:

Rachel Held Evans: A Year of Biblical Womanhood
Thomas Nelson, 2012. Available as a Kindle book.
 SEASONS also read Evans's Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions. Evans is a clever, well-read, witty author. She has a particular interest in confronting injustice and, particularly, the injustices of sexism. She is both firm and funny but she's sometimes a bit "snarky." One minute I want to throw her book across the room but the next I'm highlighting a perfectly turned phrase:  "...be careful of challenging another woman's choices, for you never know when she may be sitting at the feet of God." p. 37 "...for all its glory and grandeur, the Bible contains a darkness... sometimes taking the Bible seriously means confronting the parts we don't like or understand..." p. 62 , 66 "The divine resides in all of us, but it is our choice to magnify it or diminish it, to ignore it, or to surrender to its lead." p. 73 "...most of the Bible's instructions regarding modesty find their context in warnings about materialism, not sexuality..." p. 128 "Women should not have to pry equality from the grip of Christian men. It should be surrendered willingly, with the humility and love of Jesus, or else we miss the once radical teaching that slaves and masters, parents and children, husbands and wives, rich and poor, healthy and sick, should 'submit to one another' Ephesians 5:21" p. 219 "We all go to the text looking for something, and we all have a tendency to find it. So the question we have to ask ourselves is this: Are we reading with the prejudice of love or are we reading with the prejudices of judgment and power, self-interest and greed?" p. 296
Rachel Held Evans is not afraid to ask the most controversial questions and I often read her blog. The most current one is on Responding to Homophobia in the Christian Community.

I missed the SEASONS in both June and July so I'm eager for a time to visit with my friends and to share our gleanings from
Lauren F. Winner's Mudhouse Sabbath: An Invitation to a Life of Spiritual Discipline. I very much enjoyed reading this book. Winner beautifully expresses many things that I think. She has an interesting history as a Jewish woman who converted to Christianity in her late twenties. Two of her books Girl Meets God and Faith Interrupted tell part of her story. Her perspective melds well with my own since I am a lover of Hebrew scripture. I am a seeker of "rhythms and routines" that draw "the sacred down into the everyday."."Practice is to Judaism what belief is to Christianity....Your faith might come and go, but your practice ought no to waver.... the repeating of the practice is the best way to ensure that a doubter's faith returns." Introduction. Chapter 5 p. 53 of her book is titled "tefillah prayer" and is the best short lesson on prayer that I have ever read which is saying a lot since my personal collection devotes three linear feet of shelf space to the subject. "Jewish prayer is essentially book prayer, liturgical prayer. Jews say the same set prayers, at the same fixed hours, over and over, every day. There is, to be sure, room for spontaneous prayer... but those spontaneous prayers are to liturgy what grace notes are to the musical score: They decorate, but never drown out, the central theme."   "words that praise God even on the mornings when I wonder if God exists at all."  Winner's sections on Sabbath, on grief, and on hospitality are instructive and life-giving. "Judaism connects physical acts to spiritual practice without somehow suggesting that the spirit is superior to the body."  p. 69 I plan to get to know this author much better. http://laurenwinner.net/

We're probably going to select our next books and I'll be seconding the nomination for a novel:
John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. 

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