October 8, 2008

Captivating: some thoughts (Chap 1)

I have a bad habit of either only reading the first chapter in books of this kind or reading them so fast that I quickly lose their sense. So....I'm going to try and post notes on each chapter just as a sort of personal exercise. However, I would love to hear your feedback on the book and what I say about it.

I picked up Captivating (by John and Stasi Eldredge) just to see what it was about, and since then I've read the first chapter. Overall, I think their introduction to the subject is good. Women do desire beauty, a hero, and their part in the adventure. I admit that I'm not sure I see the point of heading downstream in the Tetons at dusk with your two small boys in tow. Just yourselves.... maybe. I still say that's something more like reckless. With small children in tow, just for the heck of it, that almost sounds like negligence. However, that's not the main point, and it's gotten enough chat for now.

I appreciated the point they made about women who serve. I think it's true that in the church you see a lot of tired women who feel guilty that they aren't giving more. On the other hand I think it is part of a woman's nature to serve. I think that by and large we really do enjoy planning events, cooking meals, and caring for children. We enjoy the relational aspects of service, and I think we enjoy the implication that we are needed. I think the problem comes when we feel that as women our worth comes from how many meals we've taken to the sick or how many noses we've wiped in the nursery. Just consider how that sort of assumption must hit the woman who is sick and is visited with meals because she can't cook for her family, or all the women raising young children or working long days who end up giving minutes of service to another woman's hours? It can be a bit devastating. So I appreciate her point, but I'm not sure it's the service that's the issue as much as the attitudes and assumptions surrounding it.

This brings up a related point. We all seem to have issues with the Prov 31 woman, and I don't think Stasi is any exception. No matter how much women have been beat over the head with that chapter we have to remember that all Scripture is God-breathed, and that we can't just dismiss the Proverbs paragon because various people have made her to smile superciliously at our messy kitchen. Stasi says of that passage:

We're all living in the shadow of that infamous icon, "The Proverbs 31 Woman," whose life is so busy I wonder, when does she have time for friendships, for taking walks, or reading good books? Her light never goes out at night? When does she have sex? Somehow she has sanctified all the shame most women live under, biblical proof that yet again we don't measure up. Is that supposed to be godly -the sense that you are a failure as a woman?

And yet I say that we must come to terms with our bad experiences with Scripture badly applied and seek to learn from this woman. I would even go so far as to say the Prov. 31 woman is the anti-gen to the tired, discouraged church worker. Consider where it says "She laughs at the days to come." If you're tired and discouraged your only laugh is hopeless because tomorrow stretches in front of you as weary and full of unfinished tasks as today. When you can truly laugh at tomorrow because it holds no dread that is a beautiful and courageous thing. Once I really started thinking about that verse I lost my fear of Prov 31 because I knew that if I ever managed to get there I'd be joyful and fearless. If I thought I was there and was discouraged and scared that meant I'd better try again, because I was missing something.

Throughout the rest of the chapter I mostly nodded my head. It is important for women to be able to feel and create beauty. Women do need a sheltering masculine heart to flourish as women (either as daughters or wives). We do (or did) have a crush on Aragorn -the man with a vision and the courage to see it through.

Verdict: looking forward to chapt 2

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good luck, but if you are anything like me, by the time you get to the end of the book you will be REAL sick of the word, "Captivating."