Anatomy of a Schism is unlike any other book about a church split. Most narratives of a split revolve around a theological or moral interpretation that becomes so difficult to walk together in that the only logical conclusion is to walk apart. What’s often lost in these narratives is the individual stories of people who experienced and dialoged about the schism as it was happening. In many instances, we can watch a news segment about a church split which may give an overview of what happened and inform the viewer that the once unified congregation will now be meeting in part at the park district and in part at the library. Rarely, do you hear the news anchor inform their audience about how the schism affected nine year-old Susan or ten year-old Jack.
Stan Goff’s Borderline: Reflections on War, Sex, and the Church offers a fresh, if controversial perspective on the relationship between the church, war, and patriarchy. Goff’s central argument is that war loving and women hating are ultimately two sides of the same coin, driven by the same fears that allow for the rationalization of conquest and colonization.
Does God Make the Man? is a fascinating look at how evangelical and ecumenical men process the messages they hear about masculinity from religion and media. The authors organized focus groups and recorded hundreds of hours of conversations to see if religion is vital to developing masculine identity. They conclude that, although evangelical men may claim to learn gender roles from the Bible, the actual sources of this knowledge are media and culture.
Evangelical Identity and Gendered Family Life, by Oregon State University sociology professor Sally K. Gallagher, is a detailed study of evangelical attitudes toward gender and the family. Although many CBE members will be familiar with the basic issues summarized in part I of the book, there remains much to be learned from part II, where Gallagher reviews and interprets results from a major survey of American evangelicals. While her conclusions, presented in part III, are more problematic and must be reviewed cautiously, they still offer provocative and potentially useful ideas.
Biblical feminists will be interested in a chapter co-authored by Helen V. Stehlin which appears in James Davison Hunter's new book (1987) Evangelicalism: The Coming Generation (University of Chicago Press). The chapter is entitled "Family: Toward Androgyny." Hunter's sociological study of evangelical college and seminary students surveys current attitudes regarding world, morality, self, theology, politics, and the family.
God's Daughters is an ethnographic analysis of Women's Aglow Fellowship, a 30-year-old women's organization that originally developed out of the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International. Women's Aglow is the largest interdenominational women's mission organization in the world. Dr. Griffith's book, based on her 1995 Harvard Ph.D. thesis, is built on her observer-participant findings.
In this carefully done ethnographic study, religion professor Christel Manning offers an intriguing assessment of the lives and beliefs of women in conservative religious traditions today. Manning surveys and assesses responses to feminist social values and the secular feminist movement by women in an Orthodox Jewish synagogue, a charismatic evangelical church, and a Catholic parish with a fairly large conservative constituency.
Nicola Creegan and Christine Pohl—a theologian and theological ethicist respectively, and both professors at evangelical institutions—belong to roughly the same cohort of academic women: they pursued seminary then doctoral training in the 1980s, encouraged by the success of the third wave of feminism and its (albeit fainter) reverberations in the evangelical subculture. Living on the Boundaries is their attempt to track what happened to almost one hundred scholars like themselves: women with advanced theological training who have self-identified as evangelicals and feminists, though not always simultaneously.
I have read nothing quite like Elaine Storkey’s book, Scars Across Humanity. It tells the story of violence against women in today’s world. The book is very well researched and accessible; moreover, it is spine-chilling.