They were wives, mothers, daughters, and friends. They were faithful and faithless. They were benevolent and they were brutal. But always, they were re...moreThey were wives, mothers, daughters, and friends. They were faithful and faithless. They were benevolent and they were brutal. But always, they were real.
This text from the back cover is intriguing to me. Because I think that's what is lost about the women in the Bible. I grew up in the church, and when I wasn't there or at Sunday School I was playing church, baptizing my dolls, wearing my grandmother's fur collars over my play clothes, having fake conversations with the ladies while our imaginary children ran around sneaking cookies. I know the stories. Eve brought sin into the world. Rahab sneaked the spies out of town over the wall. Esther saved her people. Bathsheba was an unwitting victim of King David's lust while Potipher's wife, Delilah, and Jezebel made victims of their own. And then the new testament. Mary is the sweet, innocent mother of Jesus. The other Mary followed him around, learning from him and believing in him, even when his other friends didn't. As I grew up and heard the stories I began to understand they were a bit more complicated than I originally thought--Adam is just as guilty, right? Rahab was a what?! Couldn't (shouldn't?) Bathsheba turned down the king's advances? And how did Mary actually love Jesus (hey, I adore "Jesus Christ Superstar" and can sing nearly every word)?
But how real have these women ever really been to me?
Obviously Sunday School needs to quiet things down and make its subjects rather one-dimensional. I mean, five year olds can barely sit still and listen, let alone understand who Rahab was when she wasn't aiding and abetting spies. And then, when you get a little older, and you start sitting through sermons and your own readings of the text, the writers of both testaments give too little time or space to these women to make them any more than two-dimensional characters.
Tucker takes those two-dimensional women who lived and died so long ago and breathes life into them. Yes, it's conjecture. It has to be. There is no one living today who sat with Bathsheba and talked with her about the pros and cons of getting involved with the king while her husband was away at war (but wouldn't that be an interesting conversation?!). So Tucker looks at what the Bible does give us about fifty Biblical women--both the commonly known and the obscure--and asks the "what if" questions. In the introduction, she wisely notes that this book isn't about the hows or the whys of the decisions they made and the lives they lived. There are no real answers here. Like 17th-century philosopher Spinoza writes (and Tucker quotes in her introduction), "the purpose of the Bible 'is not to convince the reason, but to attract and lay hold of the imagination.'" So there are a lot of questions about what makes these women real--and how that relates to us as women today.
Dynamic Women isn't perfect. I found the sidebars confusing and disruptive to my reading. Tucker includes those and questions--fluffy and more intentional--that can guide a small discussion group. There were several chapters I found myself wishing I could talk about with my friends, if only to ask the "what if" questions with them. But many of the chapters have stuck with me, and I look forward to rereading these women's stories in the Bible with new eyes that long to see beyond the few verses they are given and imagine what depth those women have.
As Tucker writes, "The Bible is a big book, but brevity is too often the rule . . . [these women] are far more . . . than what the Bible tells us." And, Tucker would have us believe that by considering what more they are, by allowing the wonderings to lay hold of our imaginations, we can learn more about their stories, about ourselves, and about God. I think she's right.
Addiction is heart-breaking. While the book didn't have that much literary value (aside from serving as a text on the need for editing--so many typos!...moreAddiction is heart-breaking. While the book didn't have that much literary value (aside from serving as a text on the need for editing--so many typos!), it was one more cautionary tale about the power of addiction and its destructive power. I'm learning that there are alcoholics who have to drink a couple of drinks every day and those who can go without for many days but for whom one sip turns into the whole bottle...or two. Sweetin fully admits to being the latter. The power in recovery there is admitting it, finding the reasons behind the need for alochol, and then never taking that sip. In a year or two where we have lost too many actors and non-famous people, too, to addiction this is a lesson worth remembering and embracing. (less)
Everyone who is a member of a church needs to read this book. Chances are good that you either are or know a pastor abuser. If you're a pastor you nee...moreEveryone who is a member of a church needs to read this book. Chances are good that you either are or know a pastor abuser. If you're a pastor you need to be aware. If you're a parishioner you need to stand in the way of the abuse of God's servants. (less)
I heard William Kent Krueger speak at Calvin College's Festival of Faith & Writing, and between hearing him speak, meeting and talking with him at...moreI heard William Kent Krueger speak at Calvin College's Festival of Faith & Writing, and between hearing him speak, meeting and talking with him at another session, and falling in love with the simple cover images of Ordinary Grace, I had to buy the book. And I loved it. I'm so glad I bought it. The truth of it is that I have been reading it since May . . . not because it is a slow read but because I have savored each and every word and turn of phrase.
Ordinary Grace is haunting and beautiful, especially for anyone who has ever struggled with a God who allows bad things to happen. Krueger said he had hoped to name the book Awful Grace--as in a grace that fills one with awe, a grace beyond our understanding. The publishers balked at that idea. After all, who wants to read a book with "awful" in the title? So "Ordinary Grace" was settled upon. There are a couple of moments in the book where the title plays into it, as when Ruth (the mother) talks about an ordinary prayer, one that isn't full of platitudes or admonitions. Often prayers are. But it's more than that, too. Perhaps the awful grace--the grace beyond our understanding--really is the ordinary grace after all.
This is, quite simply, one of the very best books I have ever read. From the themes of grace and forgiveness and grief and love to the prose and beautiful descriptions and magical phrases, Krueger has deserved each and every accolade he has received for Ordinary Grace.(less)
This book was wonderful! My only problem with it is that I don't have time to sit down and let my mystery novel pour out of me, the story in my head m...moreThis book was wonderful! My only problem with it is that I don't have time to sit down and let my mystery novel pour out of me, the story in my head made better with the knowledge I have gained from Gillian Roberts.
I've read many inspiring writing books. I've read some terrible writing books. I've read books that made me want to sit down and write. This is one of the best "technique" books I've ever read. It inspired, it challenged, it clarified. It is everything one should hope for in a text specifically meant to explain the art of mystery writing. Be warned: if you don't have a good story or good characters, it isn't magically going to make your writing inspired. At the same time, it will give you the tools you need to take a good story with strong characters and make them that much more real. In addition, her macro and microediting chapters are helpful to writers of any genre.
I loved this book. I'll reread it. After I get started on my mystery series.(less)
Ugh. I have no idea how I feel about this book, even though I finished it more than a week ago. There were several times I nearly stopped reading, but...moreUgh. I have no idea how I feel about this book, even though I finished it more than a week ago. There were several times I nearly stopped reading, but I kept hoping it would get better. I think it did, but then I'm just...not sure.
Ultimately this is a story of family and how living under one roof automatically makes you part of each other's lives, even when you would prefer to keep your distance. It is also a story of grief--of many kinds--and how it completely transforms every part of whom you are. I liked those themes, but I didn't enjoy watching how messy it got. Which, in the end, is what life and grief and being a family can be sometimes. (less)