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Book and Film Reviews

Tim Krueger
Marriage is one of the most-written about topics among Christians. Rarely is it written about well. Katherine Willis Pershey is one of the few writers up to the task. Her new book, Very Married: Field Notes on Love and Fidelity, stands out among Christian marriage books for its depth, style, and vulnerability. She wrestles with the difficulties of marriage with honesty and humor, and her love of marriage itself shines through. Cracking open Very Married, I was a bit surprised. It was not a “Christian marriage book” as I expected. It didn’t go through the different aspects and challenges of marriage with lessons, tips, and exercises, neatly tying each to a biblical principle or Bible verse. Rather, it is a memoir. Its twenty chapters do touch on many of the classically... Read more
In Part 1 of this series, the author examines the implications of Queen Vashti's story on the historical objectification of women. In Part 2, we will examine the ongoing pressure on women today to conform to normative beauty standards.  In our culture, a woman’s body is regarded as her most valuable attribute. Carrie Fisher’s recent experience reprising her iconic role of Princess Leia Organa demonstrates how pervasive this expectation really is, and how women today are fighting that expectation. Fisher recently reprised her role as Princess Leia, now general, in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. She has received a lot of criticism about the way her body looks in this new movie compared to how she looked in her late teens and twenties in the original trilogy.... Read more
When “John the Collector” finds Lilly, barely alive, inside the walls of a shipping container that has been washed ashore on his island-between-worlds, he doesn’t realize how long her recovery will take. Or that discovering her and taking her home with him will make him a “Finder.” Or that she will attract attention from beyond his world. Or that she will have insight into the beginning. Or that she will be chosen and connected to every known human race. Wm. Paul Young, author of The Shack, builds another rich and imaginative space in Eve that questions our conceptions of God, of ourselves, and of the beginning. The novel parallels the rebirth and healing of Lilly from past traumas, with Mother Eve as her guide, and the first birth of creation in Genesi... Read more
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a college kid in possession of five dollars will go see the midnight premiere of any major movie that comes out while she is supposed to be writing a paper. If this college kid goes to Bethel University, she will likely go to the same movie theater as more than half of the student body, subsequently freaking out any other community member who wanders in and wonders how eighty percent of the audience knows each other. As the lights dim, the chatter and selfie-taking will die down. The college students will lean back in their seats, waiting for that one Coke ad that plays before every single movie. Finally, the beginning credits will roll, and names of stars will appear on the screen accompanied by the essential dramatic music. One month ago,... Read more
I picked up Amy Davis Abdallah’s The Book of Womanhood with some trepidation. Despite being female, I’ve never really identified with the term “womanhood.” I have a distinct lack of what are generally considered feminine attributes. I grew up viewing womanhood as something far removed from my inner self. It was more of a cage that my body confined me to than a gift. So while I was interested in hearing what the book had to say, I was pretty certain I was not going to enjoy it. I loved it. It’s clear from page one: womanhood is not about being passive, it’s not just about being a wife and mother, and it’s also not a box to squash ourselves into. As she says in the introduction: “I suggest that the true identity of a woman (or a man) is r... Read more
What would we see if we looked back across the landscape of our lives from the vantage point of age and experience? We would observe the undulating hills and valleys of life’s darkest hours and life’s most spectacular, breath-taking highs. We would see where we went wrong, what we learned from our experiences, and how we coped with each and every trial and victory. Such was the case with Moses. Judaism holds that Moses wrote the entire Torah through God’s divine revelation and destiny. Moses saw the Garden of Eden. He beheld the patriarchs and matriarchs, and he witnessed his nation’s high points and their embarrassing lows of idolatry, doubt, and disorder. The first five books of the Bible are known as the Torah, and besides holding God’s sacred instructio... Read more
Ursula King’s reader, Feminist Theology from the Third World brings together the diverse perspectives of women engaging in feminist theology, giving recognition and honor to the often absent or underrepresented voices of women of the Third World and women of color in the Unites States. The title highlights the book’s two controversial and misunderstood topics—the Third World and feminist theology. King dives right in with her introduction, setting the tone and context for a collection of writings that revolves around both concepts. She defines the “Third World” as referencing not only geographic location, but also marginalized communities, encompassing women of color in wealthy nations as well as the commonly identified geographic locations of Latin America, A... Read more
Mary DeMuth’s Not Marked is an excellent resource for Christians who want to break free from the bonds of sexual abuse and assault. The author clearly summarizes the impact of sexual trauma on the individual’s psyche and future relationships, from coping with intrusive thoughts and memories, to re-establishing one’s ability to trust others, and navigating physical intimacy during recovery. DeMuth speaks with an honest voice, and wisdom that has been hard won through personal struggles. Rather than providing pat answers for men and women who strive to be fully emotionally and physically present for their partners (despite their sexual wounds), DeMuth gives specific descriptions of common perceptions and problems experienced by trauma survivors in relationship to themselves... Read more
Hearts of Fire by The Voice of the Martyrs, a non-profit interdenominational organization, opens up readers’ souls in new and profound ways. The stories of eight incredible women and their desire to spread the gospel against extreme adversity will overwhelm the heart with passion, love, and forgiveness. Each experience personifies Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me.” The unmovable faith of each one these female heroes became their north star, guiding them through challenge and danger in pursuit of God. We, the readers, are invited to journey along with them in Hearts of Fire. “Adel then heard the screams of her mother, her mother-in-law, and her precious Anto, and she knew they were being massacred by the vicious thugs who h... Read more
With Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg telling women to “lean in,” American female presidential candidates advertising their “granny cred,” and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai advocating for compulsory elementary education worldwide, the image of women as global leaders is complex and diverse in nature. Leadership can be an abstract concept with few clear definitions. Attempting to outline what defines a woman as an effective global leader can be a daunting challenge. In Women as Global Leaders, editors Faith Wambura Ngunjiri and Susan R. Madsen bring together a diverse group of female scholars to examine the characteristics, motivations, support systems, and influence of female global leaders. The book takes an academic look at the field of leadership studi... Read more