Thursday, October 30, 2008

Review of Radical Womanhood

Below is a review post that I wrote for the CBMW blog. If you get a chance you should go buy the book! It will be worth your time and money!

We talk a lot here at CBMW about the effects of feminism in our lives and the lives of those around us. For many of us (myself included), life prior to the launch of Ms. Magazine is only a faint memory recounted by our mothers. For others the lasting legacy of Gloria Steinem is evident and saddening as you watch your daughters and granddaughters navigate through the muddy waters of our culture. Author and friend of CBMW, Carolyn McCulley, like all of us, was lost in those waters prior to conversion to Jesus Christ. Her recent book, Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World, is an answer to the questions she had when she was first introduced to biblical womanhood. As a product of the feminist influence in women's studies programs she wrestled through God's design for men and women. It is clear in this book that God has distinctly equipped and shaped her to evaluate our culture and point us to the Gospel.

It is in the preface where we first see Carolyn's heart and passion for writing this book. She describes an event where she was speaking to college-age Christian young women about the feminist movement. Though the names of women involved in the movement carried no weight with them, the legacy of their strivings did. After seeing the sea of raised hands when asked who was a child of divorced parents she says:

"At that point, I realized I was talking to a generation living with the fallout of seismic cultural change, but they didn't know what happened! (They also didn't know what was in the Bible-an alarming thought for a Christian event, though not entirely unexpected for so many new believers.) Seeing their need, I set aside my speaking notes and began to address them with passion. I explained to them what previous generations had done to change the definition of being a woman. I talked to them about all that they had inherited-both benefits and the detriments. I talked to them about what the Bible had to say on these matters. And then I challenged them to be different, to live as biblically savvy women in the modern world. When it was all over, many of them came forward to say this information was all brand-new to them. ‘Why hasn't anyone ever told us this before?' they asked."

And that is what this book seeks to do—to explain what has happened and to encourage us to know how to live with the fall-out. Each chapter takes the aspects of the feminist movement and shows how it applies to various spheres in our lives. She initially recounts the history of the feminist movement, introducing us to the names and faces of the various waves of feminism. This sets the stage for the rest of the book, which follows these women's ideology all the way to our homes and churches. It is impossible to escape their influence. And perhaps the most profound pieces of this book are the personal testimonies at the end of every chapter. We have heard for some time about the assault on motherhood—abortion and delayed pregnancies—at the hands of feminists, but the stories that follow "The Mommy Wars" chapter are a sobering reminder that the Prince of Darkness will stop at nothing to destroy God's design in creating us to be "mothers of the living" (Genesis 3:20).

There is no other way to talk about feminism without saying first and foremost that Jesus saves—from everything. Amidst all of the darkness and sorrow brought on by years of struggle and rebellion against God and his design, there is hope in every story. McCulley does not simply leave us to wallow in the cultural effects of feminism. Rather she points to the One who redeems us not only from feminism's lust for control, but all of our sins. I pray that many women will find this book to be an oasis of hope and answers in a confused culture, but more importantly find King Jesus who is revealed in every page. It is only by his reign in our lives that we are given the grace to renounce our sin and be radical women.

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