Review: Saving Women from the Church

A few moons ago (okay, shamefully, *many* moons ago) I received a package in the mail.  “Delightful!” I thought.  “I LOVE to receive packages in the mail.”  This can be confirmed by my husband’s amazement at collecting all the boxes of free samples I’ve requested online that seemingly arrive all at once when I leave town.  But this package did not contain a trial size of Kashi granola or another Shick Titanium razor, but rather a book.  A BOOK!  That I didn’t even request, but was sent to me to review!  And post about!  On my blog!  I did a little dance, but you never would have known that, because I failed to post a review:  somehow it got lost in books like “Your 4 Year Old:  Wild and Wonderful” and “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”.

But the other day, while giving my free Swiffer dusting kit a whirl, I came across it:  my book!  I read it, and now I am ready to report.

Barclay Press has released a book written by Susan McLeod-Harrison titled Saving Women from the Church:  How Jesus Mends a Divide.  The title threw me for a bit as an image of a Monty Python Jesus crossed my mind, galloping on the ground while someone follows him clopping with coconuts.  Why?  I dunno:  probably a lack of adult interactions, or at least adult interactions that don’t involve the words “playdate”, “timeout”, or “exploding diaper”.

The book begins, “I began writing this book in my mid-twenties, as a single Christian woman trying to identify her place in the church” (1).   From there McLeod-Harrison shares her worship experience of a church hierarchy dominated by men which drove her to studying and reading and exploring and questioning if the church believes or is manifesting the equality of genders that is evidenced in Christ’s interactions.  She then moves on to tackle specific issues in each chapter by sharing a fictional (yet personal) story and a story from the Gospels.  The chapters conclude with questions for further reflection (personally or in a group setting) as well as an image/healing prayer experience.

I’m sad to admit that my first reaction to reading this book was one of apathy, “Ugh.  Another book on how women are oppressed.  Stop moping; let’s just get up off our butts and do something!”  I also felt a bit smug, “I come from a tradition that is above all of this women-oppression stuff.”  But really it was more, “I don’t want to deal with all of this.  Let’s just sweep it under the rug and move on.”  Except when that happens, wounds just “fester, fester, fester; rot, rot, rot” (as only Meg Ryan says in “French Kiss”).  The Spirit gave me a nice check, and I proceded to read with a bit more humilty.

This book would be an excellent read for a study group.  I could see some excellent discussion being had in an all-female or mixed-gender group; it could also prompt some times of confession and repentence or space for healing no matter what tradition was reading.  The questions posed are not threatening or accusing but rather prompting, similar to Quaker queries.  Again, I’m not really a fan of the title:  yes, the church can be oppressive, but Brother Yun talks about how he prayed for his oppressors, knowing that God allowed them to come into his live for a reason.  But I would not let that stop me from recommending the book.

{And no, the humor of me finding this book while I was dusting (i.e. being the “good little housewife” did not escape me, because if you will note when the book was released, well, it’d been a while since I’d engaged in that activity.]

One thought on “Review: Saving Women from the Church

  1. Robin M.

    Thanks – I’d heard of this, and wondered if it would be worth reading or not.

    Secondly, Your Four Year Old: Wild AND Wonderful saved a couple of lives around here. Thanks to my sister in law who mailed me her copy.

    Sometimes we’re not ready to read a book when it first arrives. I got one under similar circumstances last month, looked at it, and shelved it. Not interested. But this weekend, when I actually woke up before my children, for some reason I pulled it off the shelf and read the first part, and thought, this is just what I need. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

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