Friday, September 21, 2007

Getting caught up on books... again

I had hoped to be faithful with my booklist, but somehow I keep falling behind!

Oh well... while the kids are still sleeping, let me see if I can put up some quick reviews:

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter (Sue Monk Kidd)
Some of you may remember how I wrote about her book The Secret Life of Bees awhile back. I was upset that a writer I cared about, and had learned so much from, had strayed so far from Orthodox Christianity. Wandering through the library a few weeks ago, I came across this book. I wasn't sure if I really WANTED to read her "conversion/unconversion" story, but curiosity won out and I picked it up.

This story is just heartbreaking for me -- truly heartbreaking -- on so many levels.

I am upset that such a wonderful, talented woman was so crushed by those in the Christian community that she felt the need to turn from all that she had believed in.

I am upset that there was no one able to minister to her in a way that would enable her to heal those places in her that needed healing, while still remaining faithful to Orthodox Christianity.

I am upset that someone who was instrumental in MY life could be led down a path such as this, and find herself outside the fold, so to speak.

This is the story of how she came to discover the hurt and anger brought upon her by the "patriarchal system" found in society, and in Christianity specifically. Her anger brought her to a place where she needed to connect with "the Divine Feminine," and seek ways to "rename her spirituality" in purely feminine terms. Her journey led her through so many twists and turns, and resulted in the sort of nebulous spirituality that is reflected in her book The Secret Life of Bees. Gone seems to be any need for Jesus (or a Savior at all), any connection with God as we see Him through Scripture and Tradition, and any connection with Orthodox Christianity... instead, it is replaced by feminine empowerment, statues of Minoan goddesses and other representations of things that help her connect to the "Divine Feminine," goddess tours through Crete, Greek myths, and an over-emphasis on nature.

Iran Awakening (Shirin Ebadi)
A memoir written by Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi. This is her story of her life in Iran under the Shah (as a well-respected judge) and how it all changed in the revolution and in the years to come under the Ayatollah.

She explains the anti-American sentiment that built up in the minds of the people (starting in the 1950s) and how it could fester until the country was ready for Khomeini to step into power. She said that no one was truly prepared for how drastically life changed, however. Women were quick to discover that "equality" was thrown out the window as Sharia law was brought in, and the judicial system became a huge mess as the law was now interpreted solely on this strict Islamic basis.

Surprisingly, even as she found herself demoted to the secretarial pool and forced to wear hejab, she had no desire to leave her country. She decided to stay and try to change the system from within, one case at a time. As life became increasingly cheap and dangerous (with assassinations and imprisonments happening seemingly at random) she continued her fight for the rights of women and children.

While she sees Iran as slowly "awakening," I saw nothing of the sort in what she wrote. It was simply one heartbreaking case after another of justice being denied and oppression bearing down on the lives of normal everyday citizens. It was encouraging, however, to see that not everyone in that country is like the fanatic militants we see plastered in our newspapers and TV broadcasts. The average Iranian is much more open to America than their government would like to admit. They would like more freedom and less government intrusion in their lives -- just like anyone else.

I always find books like these fascinating, because I know that, cultural differences aside, people are people, with the same hopes and dreams everywhere. How do women survive in societies like these, where their basic rights are denied? How can they continue to function, raise families, and have hope when living in such an oppressive society? This is what I do not understand, and I can only pray that (1) America remains free and (2) God grants them special graces to survive and somehow find Him in spite of the difficulties.

No comments: