I think it could be said that I seem like one who would be an advocate for feminism. I’m an educated, opinionated, leading kind of woman. I grew up playing basketball on boys’ teams, and today still love to get a good run on the court wherever I can, which has most often been with random men (and high school boys) at the local LA Fitness. I love lifting weights and politics and a good verbal spar. I love justice, and I hate to see people mistreated or used or treated as “less than”. I believe the world needs women, and for more than just child bearing. I believe we add something beautiful, strong, and unique to the world. Yet I depart from so much of the modern feminist movement that seems to find the only way to advance women is to demean men… The movement to grow the appreciation and equality for women in the world, particularly the western world, had a noble start and has had many beaming triumphs. Somewhere along the way however, that line of what is today called “feminism” departed from the original design.
“Seven Women”, by Eric Metaxas is a non-feminist feminist book. It doesn’t offer up histories of how women have been put down, or theories of how women can overcome. It is so much more than that. In this offering of seven biographies, Metaxes sets before us real lives that exhibit what those early feminists wanted the world to see- what women are capable of, how needed they are, how valuable they are- particularly when they are led by God. Written by a man, this book is pro woman in every way. It holds our gender up in the greatest light and reveals how some of the greatest of our sex have not only impacted our world, but were necessary for our world. Furthermore, the introduction lays out the beautiful truths of how men and women complement one another, depend on one another, and magnify one another. As Metaxas so perfectly writes, ‘the fortunes of one are so linked to the fortunes of the other that there is no way to lift one without lifting the other and no way to degrade one without degrading the other.” He also makes the profound and needed point that the specific things these women did for the world could not have been done by men. I could suggest this book based on his introduction alone.
After laying down the process by which he narrowed down his book to only seven choices, Metaxas proceeds in the following chapters to introduce us to seven women, some well known, some nearly unheard of, who are, to use a biblical phrase, “[women] of whom the world was not worthy”. They are women who hold up not only an image of what I as a woman might aspire to, but an example for anyone at all, regardless of gender or race or any other distinguishing mark. Furthermore, they show how those sorts of distinguishing features we all have are neither facts that should limit us (I should not be hindered for being a woman), nor facts that should be ignored (I should not say that gender doesn’t matter), but truths to be cherished and what enable us to make a mark on the time and place we are a part of. At the bottom of it all is a marvelous God who has made us different and unique and who is wanting to do wondrous things through us if we embrace Him and embrace who He made us to be.
As someone who loves to learn and to be challenged, I love to read theology books and spiritual living books. But outside of the Bible, the books that have had the most profound affect on my spiritual life (and thus my life in total) are not theology books at all- they are biographies. Elisabeth Elliot says in the preface to her biography on Amy Carmichael (hopefully an upcoming review)
“The Christian life comes down to two simple things: trust and obedience. What does that mean, exactly? We could hold a seminar and talk about it. Visual aids are better. Look at a life…”
Metaxas allows us to look at seven lives that teach us these very things. “Teach” almost sounds too academic, too boring even…these lives shine these things, they emanate them…they make trust and obedience appear to be the precious gems that they are, rather than the rigid disciplines we so often make them out to be in our minds.
I challenge you to read this book, and to learn and glean from the wonderful (in the truest sense of the word) lives of Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Saint Maria of Paris, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa.
(This books is available on amazon, but won’t you go to smile.amazon.com so that a small portion of your purchase will go to the charity of your choice?)