Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Two-Cent Review: "A Year of Biblical Womanhood" by Rachel Held Evans

For the first while I was thrown off by some of the negative reviews; as much as the book might leave one asking for more in the way of hermeneutics, these reviews seem to kind of miss the point. After a while I settled in and read it as an autobiographical exploration of cultural/biblical stereotypes/archetypes in light of tensions felt in life and in the Bible. As such it is a good read.

Some of the chapters are more whimsically evocative, others are downright profound. The biblical vignettes are all fantastic. My favourite part. 

What was rather refreshing was that she genuinely aims to glean something from each exercise, and this makes it illuminating even when the archetype under investigation isn't necessarily taken up wholesale. It was cool when the church ladies showed up to save her from her sewing. It would have been interesting if more of the explorations involved people from her own local church. My guess is that right under our noses we've all got fruitful cross-cultural, inter-generational investigations we could undergo. The book is a good prompt in that direction, and it takes us to some places many will be less likely (or able) to go, such as a Benedictine monastery, a Quaker church, Bolivia, and an Amish community.

I'm not sure everyday mothers will resonate with as much of the book as others (the robot-baby chapter is pretty light-weight, and the quiver-full mothers are of another kind altogether), but there is still plenty here for men and women alike to think about. (And showing us a womanhood that is not all about motherhood was part of the point). 

Mostly this book opens doors and windows. Some will find that frustrating, others refreshing, some maybe both--but it is enjoyable and enlightening.

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