Jane's Reviews > Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman's Soul

Captivating by John Eldredge
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Apr 24, 07

did not like it
Recommended for: No one

As requested, I've decided to review the "book" Captivating, by husband and wife team, John and Staci Elderidge. Just how much of this book actually comes from Staci, and how much she was forced to write by her chauvinist husband is unclear. But she's credited on the book jacket. I guess that's worth something.

Well, where to begin? How about with the book's premise: we women, like Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella, are waiting for a man to rescue us from our sad-sack, self-esteemless lives. How does a man do this? By telling us that we are beautiful.

I am not making this up.

Basing our feelings of self-worth on a man's evaluation of our physical appearance? How new! How revolutionary! John and Staci, I've been searching for the meaning of life for years, and you've finally shown it to me! I just need a man to tell me that I'm beautiful, and suddenly all that stuff about the fallen state of the world, my own inherrent sinfullness, and the ramifications centuries of patriarchy will just pass away?!!? Wow! I feel like the mystery of my female soul has just been unveiled!

I'd much rather have my future husband save me with his salvific love than Jesus, with that whole death-on-the-cross-atoning-for-my-sin thing. What a bummer. And how violent! We women hate blood.

Sigh. I am tired of pop culture being repackaged as Christian truth. If I you want to unveil the mystery of your soul, good luck. St. Augstine tried to do the same thing about a millenia ago. What did he discover? Self-knowledge, like all other forms of knowledge, is corrupted by our sinful nature. Our souls are a mystery to us. "Know thyself" comes from the Greeks. And the Bible? "Trust the Lord your God will all your heart, and lean not upon your own understanding."
73 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Captivating.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

02/23 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-27 of 27) (27 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Sara I read it and I thought that it was great. And yes, through love, painful pasts can be forgotten or healed. We have to focus on the future anyhow-nothing can be done about the past. As for wanting your future husband to save you, he can't help you or save you from everything. Jesus was the one who died on the cross because he was the ultimate sacrifice. He was (is) God's son.His death was violent because those who killed Him were violent. By dying for us, He took anything and everything we have done, will do, and He took all the things we have gone through and will go through upon Him. We can't understand everything about him. We never will. But He is absolutely perfect, and I would much rather rely on Him than my wonderful but human future husband.
Why would you want to be 'saved' more by someone who is bound to make mistakes than someone who never makes mistakes?

Peggy Wow, Jane...I think Hannah missed your (very duly noted and appreciated by me) sarcasm. I completely agree with your review of the book.

Sara Quite the contrary. I noted her sarcasm at once. I can be very sarcastic myself.

Andrew Reid Wow, I find your review ironic and comical. I actually loved the book, and would love to go on an adventure with an adventerous woman like the one Stasi speaks of, and not the male dominated female you speak of in your review. Your review almost seems to argue against the celebration of feminine beauty, which doesn't undercut a woman's capabilities but enhances them. Stasi divulges her own past in an honest and real way, and it didn't feel like her husband was standing over her with a club forcing her to write the material. At least they're attempting to understand what identity God has given them in creating man and woman, and not throwing up their hands saying, "welp I'm never really going to get it, so why try?" Is their attempt perfect, nope, but I appreciate the truths and application they gave me.

Sara Thank you for saying all that and for liking the book. :)

message 6: by Lynn (new)

Lynn One of the things I liked best about this book is it managed to talk about beauty and romance without being chauvinistic. Although, I agree the part about women needing a spiritual "head" did come across that way.

There's still a lot in this book that spoke to me, though. It's not very P.C., but it's real.

Mark Conwell I accidently voted I liked Jane's review of the book, because the vote at the bottom of her review is misleading, but I could not disagree with what she said more. Obviously, I am offering a male perspective on the book, but I found the book to offer insight on how men could better relate to women. A person will only find what he or she is looking for in a book. Truth is absolute and facts cannot be disputed. As for your quote, "I am tired of pop culture being repackaged as Christian truth." The view of the world God describes in the Bible is completely at odds with the "world view" and pop culture. Whenever you read something you should consider the source. If you do not believe in the Judeo-Christian God or the word of God, The Bible, why would you read a book written by an author who writes a book from this perspective.

Anna Scott Jane,

How unfortunate that you seem to have missed the point in this eloquent, affirming and very validating book - in fact; Elderidge is quite specific and very clear about the misinformed notion that we women need to wait 'for a man to rescue us from our sad-sack, self-esteemless lives' (Jane) by stating, amongst many other comments contradictory to your assertions; that, "You cannot take your Question [Am I beautiful etc] to Adam. You cannot look to him for the validation of your soul" (p. 375)

Further, Elderidge makes clear the mistake that most women make by saying "But so many women do" (p375) [take their need for validation to Adam (their partners)]. He also states very clearly that and man cannot do this by telling us that we are beautiful but that the supporting role that he plays in affirming God's spirit and grace in women. Elderidge highlights god's exultation, regard, respect and love for women as well as his continual romancing of their hearts and gently points them toward God for their ultimate validation - Not their male partners as you suggest - I am astomished that the grace message was apparently missed in your review and I truley hope other readers have the decernment to read the other contradictory comments here and read Captivating for themselves.

Elderidge has written a highly accessible and current account of God's message about his love for us and our need for him which exhualts both his awesome creation and our place in His heart as beautiful creatures of God.

We, as men and women, by Elderige's account, are praise and worship to God in our love for Him, while our love and prasie for and of each other, acts to affirm and validate the spirit of God in us: Man in righteousness in strength, protection and provision and woman's righteousness in beauty, passion, seduction 9as elderidge defines it). the coupling of men and women in their respective roles, mirrors those qualities of God, His unity as represented by our polarities an unity in togetherness: Holy matrimony.

I do hope you have another read Jane, the grace message is loud and clear - listen with your heart; the rationalism of the mind is the stronghold of fear that Elderidge is speaking to - the fear that prevents the heart from hearing God's everlasting courtship of us.

Dare to love and be loved.

God Blass,


message 9: by Christa (last edited May 07, 2008 12:50PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Christa The very first thing that struck me about this review is the misunderstanding of what "beauty" is. John and Stasi are pretty clear that the beauty they are speaking of comes from within. It is not about societal norms or men's perception of physical attractiveness - that would undermine the whole point of the book.

I would not want another book that tells me I have to fix the outside (lose weight, get a face lift...more makeup - less makeup, etc) to become beautiful. There is plenty of that around as it is.

Others here have addressed further issues much more eloquently than I ever could.

Muphyn oops. accidently voted for Jane's review. haven't read the book yet but very interested, especially since people seem to disagree so strongly. uh, well, it's on my to-read list..

Tracy And here you've managed to highlight the difference between being asked to review something, and reviewing it by choice.

Everyone brings something to a book when they read it. I think because of your pre-concieved notions, this was not the book for you.

You seemed to have missed the sailient points of the book.

1. Women and men are supposed to work as a team.

2. Women don't want to be the end result of the adventure (be rescued by men), they want to be part of the adventure.

3. Women don't need men to tell them that they are beautiful, they have a creator to tell them that.

4. Women are hated by satan because they are a beautiful creation. Thus their self-esteem is constantly undermined.

If you had come to the book with an open mind, you would probably not have missed this.

message 12: by Ann (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ann I completely agree with Anna on this one!

Sharayah Where does it tell us to wait to be rescued? From what I understand after reading both Captivating and Wild at Heart, men love adventure and so do women. But more than that, women love to be invited to adventure. I'm not waiting to be rescued. I'm living my own adventure, and I am excited for the man who will one day invite me into an entirely different adventure. You did read the whole book, right? What about the part that talks about woman as an ezer kenegdo, a lifesaver in a time of desperate need? As a woman, doesn't that excite you, make you feel like you have an important purpose and a great strength? Not only does that show the immense amount of strength women were created for, but it does imply that there are times when men need rescued too. The reason that there are two genders is that both are needed. We have different strengths and different weaknesses and we are made to work as a team. This in no way diminishes a woman's role or makes her inherently inferior. Just different. I think the world would be a better place if we could realize that differences (and not just gender differences) are good and necessary.

message 14: by Bethany (new)

Bethany I believe the idea is not that we NEED some man to come sweep us off our feet, but that it's something we all, as women, desire. We want to be beautiful, we want to be loved and needed and cherished. Many girls are easily swept off their feet by men who simply call them beautiful.

message 15: by Kristin (new)

Kristin Ingram Last paragraph beautifully put. This book scares me.

Simone Ummmm I think this book is amazing! I was so ashamed of being a woman. I was a feminist in the wrong sense and this book tells me that Jesus will fight for me. He will captivate my heart. I don't hear anywhere, where it tells me a man does the action. Man at times may contend for me via prayer. But it's about me taking spiritual authority in Christ to contend for myself - he has fought and won the battle for me. Now I need to believe it and tackle those demons that tell me otherwise. It's not about making me more attractive to men - it's about me being more attractive to myself. Believing that I am enough in Jesus. Jesus is my hero and my knight in shining armour. He saved me. Did you know Jesus was a feminist? I've spent my life trying to be saved by others and I've ended up slaughtered and this book has got me close enough to Jesus (he is my husband) to believe I am loved. Brilliant. It's taken 41yrs!! And I'm still worth fighting for.

message 17: by Aida (new) - rated it 1 star

Aida I started the book and couldn't relate at all to what the author was saying. I had heard it was a great book but I just couldn't finish it. However, I loved John Eldredge's book, "Waking the Dead."

I guess the bottom line is that it's best not to try to put people in the same box. Some just don't fit.

Joharra there is part in the book when john once thought something about how his wife being the lucky winner as the savior of his empty soul, and he meant it in a sarcastic way. what he meant is that, nobody can fill that empty part of us except God and so the same as to women. i wanted to point this out because the whole point of the book is not just about women being damsels in distress but women who could be beautiful by following what God wants her to do, her calling, or by simply being honest to herself. the book is not about women being saved my men but women saved by God.

message 19: by KC (new)

KC Jacobsen Well, I got a whole different view from this book. Stasi isn't saying that we need a man to save us, she's saying that every little girl and women has a secret desire for this. She's also saying that we don't NEED a man, we complete a man, as a man completes us.

message 20: by Anatoliy (new)

Anatoliy Obraztsov Nice review. Agree with you in some moments. Did you read books about spirituality without religion?

Padeedle I agree with those saying "why would you even read this book if you don't believe in source and inspiration of why it was written." Kind of wrong on your part and makes your review invalid. Obviously you started the first page telling yourself this book is crap. To read and understand a book, you read it neutral, unbiased, and with the hopes of gaining knowledge. You can then begin to hate or like it along the way. The book was a great read to those who needed the reminder. It's not for someone trying to solve the world definition of beauty.

message 22: by Anatoliy (new)

Anatoliy Obraztsov Padeedle wrote: "I agree with those saying "why would you even read this book if you don't believe in source and inspiration of why it was written." Kind of wrong on your part and makes your review invalid. Obvious..."

Hm... interesting opinion... Would like to ask did you read "a crossing or the drop's history" by Anatoliy Obraztsov?

message 23: by Joy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joy Jane it sounds like you're not a Christian from your review. What lead you to read this if you're not?

Vicky Cliff It's clear from the first paragraph of your review that you didn't actually read this book properly, aside from the fact that you generally missed the point, you didn't even spell Stasi's name correctly!

Shereen I can't tell you how many times John and Staci repeated the premise look to God not men in the first three chapters, which is where I am at right now.
I can also tell you that I've started reading this book before. I didn't make it past chapter eight, it was too much for me to deal with emotionally at the time.
I am only three chapters into the book this time around and my first response is to ask, did you even read the book?
What chapter made you so angry that you viewed the entire book without really seeing it? I ask this because this is a pretty angry review.
If you think this is "repackaging" then make sure you are certain by using scripture (taken in context) to dispute it, and sorry the message version doesn't cut it. The message version of the bible is beautiful, but strongly paraphrased. That is repackaging. Sorry to be blunt, but my dad was a pastor and scriptural accuracy has been a big thing in my family since I was a kid.

Diana Gonzalez I didn't like the book either. I though it was boring and repetitive and boring. I am more disturbed by the Christians assuming you didn't like the book because you aren't a Christian. A bad book is simply a bad book. I say to all the Non Christians, read all the Christian books you can get your hands on. Maybe somewhere along the way you will find one that you both enjoy and that speaks to your heart.

message 27: by Jenny (new)

Jenny Young Jane (Jayne?) her name is Stasi not Staci. I had trouble working out if you got it wrong by mistake or for some other reason.

I very much enjoyed this book and John's 'Wild at Heart'.

back to top