In this post-PhD world I now have time do to things like ‘read books I’d never normally choose.’ The lovely @pamjweb decided that I should read ‘A Year of Biblical Womanhood‘ reckoning I might like it more than I thought. I agreed to the challenge but stipulated I would replace the copy she lent me with a new one should it be flung unceremoniously out of the window. I was expecting it to be full of the virtues of womanhood and motherhood in the context of marvellous Christian marriage, and only half trusted Pam’s assertion this was not the case.
Well. The book came very, very, very close to defenestration. It came very close on the first page of the introduction when we’re shown two near-identical pictures of RHE and invited to empathise with her about how dreadful her hair looks. Er, no.
Maybe it’s just me, and American popular writers. Perhaps it’s because the books in my God basket have been about different things recently, by British authors, and so I notice the difference more. It took 200+ pages before I thought anything remotely purposeful or helpful was said. The usefulness of these few pages can be summed up as ‘don’t use the Bible as a way to justify your absolute position on women, society or how the church should be.’
The pen-portraits of the women in the Bible are helpful – but were a bit too close to the dreadful ‘Lost Women of the Bible‘ that I used as a basis for the women’s breakfast I ran at St Margaret’s for a year. The notable low point of that book was a whole chapter on Mrs Noah. I kid you not. So I am prepared to admit that my own previous experience would colour my appreciation of these scholarly parts.
But for the most part, it’s an American consumer telling us how she consumes slightly differently to fit with a few commands (Need modest clothing? trip to the store. Need to create something from scratch? trip to the store. Need to cook from a recipe? trip to the store). Even the challenging of ‘traditional’ gender roles was annoying – and yes, I am entirely prepared to admit that this is because I am bitter, twisted and unwillingly single so being repeatedly told what a wonderful marriage RHE has was bound to grate. Also, there’s a lot of crying about things rather than just getting on with it (can’t sew a button on? good grief). And, crime of crimes, RHE quotes Anne of Green Gables and gets it wrong…
Maybe there is more to this book than just a good story. Maybe my prejudices and dislike have clouded my judgement. Maybe it has been helpful to women in challenging the roles they have been told should be theirs. If it works for you, then that’s fantastic and I hope, I really and truly do, that you are inspired to go all out and be a strong Christian woman. If it didn’t work for you, I’ll be in the bar. Sorry, I mean, library. Come say hello. We’ll find a book that works.