“She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain.” – Louisa May Alcott
Yes, please! I want my brain to keep turning – to keep learning – to keep replacing less mature thought with higher ideals. I am an avid reader, never satisfied that I have anything all figured out. I read to expand on what I know and to see viewpoints I could never understand otherwise. Recently, I have had the privilege of being a part of Speakeasy. I couldn’t be more thrilled.
So, here is all the legaleze that is required -Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.
Finding God in the Margins by Carolyn Custis James takes a non-patriarcal look at the story of Ruth with the historical cultural context that is sometimes not considered in mainline teaching and preaching.
“The mistake we so often make is to assume patriarchy – at least some softer version of it – is the Bible’s message for us. But patriarchy is not the Bible’s message. Rather, it is the cultural backdrop against which the Gospel message of Jesus stands in sharpest relief.”
Seeing Naomi and Ruth as heros of the story alongside Boaz gives clarity to the choices made by each. The story of the plight of an immigrant who come with nothing and braves a foreign land could not be more relevant. If a Moabite had not crossed the border, if Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz had followed the rules and only what the law required, if they had not each risked their reputations and their livelihoods – there would be no Jesus. As James states, “Bethlehem’s greatness can be traced to the healthy kind of rule breaking that results when God’s people use their imaginations to pursue the spirit of the law.”
This look at the story of Ruth has lessons for all of us – on vulnerability and bravery, on confronting the status quo, and on not congratulation ourselves for following “the letter of the law”. The heart of this book, and the reason I loved it so much, is summed up in this:
“One of the biggest obstacles to a deepening walk with God is resistance to rethinking. Listening to others, learning, and changing. All through the Bible, God is repeatedly asking some of the people who walked with him the longest to be willing to be wrong and to learn and grow. Sometimes walking with God means learning truth that requires rethinking your entire life.”
This has been my experience over the last several years. It has been hard as people I love want to stay safe in their beliefs and what they have always been taught. However, it has been so life giving and has added so much more peace and joy to my life that I wouldn’t go back to a “following the rules” faith for anything.
Final note: This book is set up with reflection questions after each chapter and would be a great personal or group study. While it shares complex ideas and thoughts, it does so in language that is accessible to anyone.