I imagine some people will be disappointed with my new book, Jesus Feminist.
After all, if all these smarter-than-me theologians, theorists, academics, scholars, thinkers, and leaders on both sides of the issue haven’t been able to put the debate to rest, what chance does a slim yellow book by a happy-clappy Canadian mama-writer have? (Answer: None, really.)
I’m under no illusions. I know I’m not an academic or a theorist or a theologian in the classic sense. Some people think I’m writing about a topic above my pay grade and they’re probably right. (That’s okay with me, by the way. I think that the body of Christ also needs to hear from the Everyday Disciples, too, those of us who didn’t go to seminary and don’t make a living from ministry. I like reading and hearing from the rest of us as well as The Experts.)
It’s probably obvious by now that I didn’t write Jesus Feminist to defend feminism or offer a Christian slant on feminist theory. I don’t care if anyone calls themselves a Jesus Feminist or not – labels don’t matter much to me. The book isn’t exhaustive. It won’t answer every question for a secular feminist or for a Christian complementarian. I didn’t write the book to point-by-point go through Scripture’s every mention of womanhood in an effort to prove something. (Other people did that already, and I appreciate their work too much to imitate it.) I didn’t even write the book to win an argument.
No, Jesus Feminist grew out of my life. I call the made-up thing I do “narrative theology” because in almost all of my writing, I’m exploring the ways that I encounter God theologically in my life as it stands. The best way I know how to do that is through storytelling. So, as Jesus Feminist began to rise up in my heart as a book, I knew that my purpose wasn’t to convince or argue or debate. Instead, the theology had to have a narrative for me. I wanted to tell of the ways that my family and community have formed my theology, I wanted to write a love letter to my complex feelings about church and community, marriage and mothering, womanhood and sisterhood – and I wanted to tell our story.
One of my favourite quotes from theologian Frederick Buechner shows up in the book: “If we only had eyes to see and ears to hear and wits to understand, we would know that the Kingdom of God in the sense of holiness, goodness, beauty is as close as breathing and is crying out to born both within ourselves and within the world; we would know that the Kingdom of God is what we all of us hunger for above all other things even when we don’t know its name or realize that it’s what we’re starving to death for. The Kingdom of God is where our best dreams come from and our truest prayers. We glimpse it at those moments when we find ourselves being better than we are and wiser than we know. We catch sight of it when at some moment of crisis a strength seems to come to us that is greater than our own strength. The Kingdom of God is where we belong. It is home, and whether we realize it or not, I think we are all of us homesick for it.”
I wrote Jesus Feminist because I wanted to give a glimpse of the Kingdom of God – the life I believe is waiting for us on the other side of those tired gender debates.
After all, once you answer the questions about identity, purpose, place, calling, roles, well – then what?
So I wanted to make some room in the book for asking and answering the questions, absolutely, they are legitimate, and I honour them. Our wrestling with Scripture matters. But I didn’t want to just write a book that could have doubled as a Q & A or proof-text cheat sheet for my arguments.
It’s the “then what?” narrative in the Kingdom of God that fascinates me. How do we live into the answers as disciples of our Jesus? Once we have affirmed God’s radical notion that women are people, too, well, then what? What does that mean for you? for your family? for your relationships? for your church? your community? and perhaps even for the world?
I’ve been captivated by Jesus. I know it’s not that cool to say in some circles, but my discipleship of Jesus Christ is at the heart of me, so it is at the heart of the book. I wanted to write through how I have encountered the living God in my own life and how that has shaped my womanhood, my work, my vocation, my calling, my mothering, my marriage, all of it. It’s a deeply personal look at theology, I know.
Jesus Feminist is really a story – a story about how I am learning to set up a little outpost for the Kingdom of God in my real right-now life, as a sign and a foretaste of what it means to be human in God’s kingdom.
Above all, I want people to read Jesus Feminist and hear just a few things:
You are loved and you are free.
You are called to move with God’s redemptive purposes to rescue, restore, and redeem humanity.
And may we, as the Church, prophecy the Kingdom of God with our very lives.
And now, a giveaway!
Leave a comment on this post answering this question: Which woman has most shaped your own spirituality? It can be someone you know or someone you wish you knew, someone who inspires many or someone who works in obscurity. Along with your answer, make sure we have an email or Twitter handle to use to contact you if you win.
We’ll randomly choose 5 winners from the comments after 12 November 2013.
Or if you simply can’t wait, the book is available starting today wherever books are sold.