Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Half the Church Review and Give Away

Carolyn Custis James wrote Half the Church because she was so deeply disturbed by the book, "Half the Sky" Half the Sky outlines  the atrocities and abuse that women throughout the world are undergoing as a result of their gender. Abortion, infanticide, ritual mutilation, servitude and murder are not uncommon fates for thousands of girls and women each and every year.

Because James was so deeply disturbed by the material found in Half the Sky she developed an apologetic about the importance of women in the church. James states that it is the culmination of previous books she has written about building a Biblical foundation for understanding woman. This book, she claims, is more than just an understanding of womanhood. It is a battle cry for ezers everywhere to take the Truth and change what we do and how we live as a result of it.

James asserts that the 21rst century poses a three fold challenge to the church.

1) What message does the church offer women in the 21rst century?
2)What will the church do to address the rampant suffering of women throughout our world?
3)What message are we sending to the world by how we value and mobilize our daughters?
Interesting questions, especially, if James is true in her claim that,"the strongest voice speaking into women's lives in the 21rst century are Islam and feminism."

James spends quite a bit of time developing the Biblical model of womanhood based on Prov. 31 and Ephesians Six, ten through twelve. (Sorry for the number issues, our keyboard problems are not fully resolved).  "Both brides represent an unmistakable call to action. They give us powerful feminine images of strong, open throttled, living for God's kingdom...Both brides are summoned and honored for giving 100 percent of themselves to the purposes of God."

She goes on to describe, "The Blessed Alliance" between men and woman and the synergy that is created by men and women in the Kingdom of God working together. She addresses the egalitarian/complimentarian debate.

Finally, Custis gives three areas that allow women to proceed with their calling to change the world for Christ, "We've passed the point where the world of prosperity and privilege so many of us enjoy can shield us from the world of privation and aatrocities, and there is no turning back."

She ends the book with what she believes are turning points in the church:
1) Ezer convergences. Privilege and prosperity are responsibilities and women drawing together can affect powerful change.
2) A fragmented Gospel Reunites "the verbal proclamation of the gospel and a gospel ministry of justice..."
3) The Blessed Alliance prevails, though, "still a work in progress."


I agree with James that the atrocities against women are abhorrent and consume invaluable resources. I agree with James that women of privilege (basically anyone not living in an oppressive state) should be doing something proactive about it. I agree with James that it is high time that women start playing a proactive role in the church.

So, basically, I agree with James and the ideas that she puts forth in this book. And while I don't disagree with any of her points in particular, I do think that her 3 point thesis for the 21rst century church is limited. Honestly, I don't see the church in the west (which is basically the dividing line for James) as having so much a problem with woman participating in meaningful ways, as much as I see the church in the west having a problem with people of any gender participating in meaningful ways. The church has becoming a passive giant, timid, tame and culturally relevant. When the church is culturally relevant, the Gospel and it's message, counter cultural revolutionary living and believing, is lost. 

I also disagree with James' assertion that Islam and feminism are the strongest voices speaking in to women's lives. I see and read an awful lot about passivity, apathy and post modernism and believe that those are just as strong, or even stronger voices, speaking in to women's lives. As for Islam, women are born into Islam, for the most part, not converted. The real issue with Islam and our inability to reach them is that Islamism is a tribal culture, and most of us in the west hold modern or post modern world views. But I digress...

I  also wanted James' to give a more specific and stronger mandate at the end of the book. Her three points were more summaries of what she covered, without a specific course of action.

However, this is a good read for those just defining their own theology of womanhood, or for those as disturbed by the atrocities committed against women as both James and I are.


I have a brand spanking new hard cover of this book to give away. To sign up, leave a comment. If you'd like a second chance to win this book, follow my blog (and be sure and let me know!). If you already follow, just lmk, and I'll enter your name a second time!
I'll draw a winner on Sunday night!

Giveaway Day


Deanna said...

Once again you have reviewed a book and piqued my interest.

Tina said...

count me in!

Jess said...

Me too, please!

nickandkatherine said...

Count me in please

nickandkatherine said...

Following your blog on fb

Annette said...

Hi Lisa, this was a superb post! Loved reading your insights on James' new book. Haven't read it yet, but read her first one and have heard her speak at a CCEF conference a few years ago. YOUR insights though, are thought provoking and challenging. Loved it!

LaughingLioness said...

Thanks, Annette!