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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It made my mind reel and my spirit soar
The title made me think that the authors intended to spend most of their pages complaining about the treatment of women in evangelical Christianity, a "Festivus: Airing of Grievances" for evangelical and post-evangelical women. Here, I thought, I would find tales of heartache over bad teachings on submission, being silent in church, and hyper-modesty. Here attention would...
Published on December 29, 2009 by Bridget Jack Jeffries

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Read
I read Jesus Girls with my pastor and a few friends, and gathered with them to talk about what it means to grow up evangelical and a woman. For me, this book brought about a great deal of nostalgic memories from bouncing around the different streams of evangelicalism as a child. The stories rang true to my experiences and the ones of my peers. One of the things that...
Published on November 24, 2009 by Kristen Stewart


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It made my mind reel and my spirit soar, December 29, 2009
This review is from: Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical (Experiences in Evangelicalism) (Paperback)
The title made me think that the authors intended to spend most of their pages complaining about the treatment of women in evangelical Christianity, a "Festivus: Airing of Grievances" for evangelical and post-evangelical women. Here, I thought, I would find tales of heartache over bad teachings on submission, being silent in church, and hyper-modesty. Here attention would be given to how overwhelmingly androcentric evangelical thought, worship and life can be and how that can make women feel marginalized and undervalued.

The good news is, I was wrong. Delightfully, happily wrong.

In the book's introduction, editor Hannah Faith Notess lays out the concept of the "un-testimony." Evangelical Christians are widely expected to develop a testimony narrative for which the basic formula is, "I was a sinner doing all kinds of awful things, I found Jesus, now life is better." According to Notess, "The basic narrative of evangelical experience has survived virtually unchanged in this form for several centuries, longer if you count the famous conversion stories of Saints Paul and Augustine. When I was growing up, the best testimonies came from ex-angry young men, ex-drug addicts, ex-fornicators, et cetera. The more spectacularly wicked you had been, the better Jesus looked for having saved you." (xi)

However, not everyone who comes into the fold of evangelicalism has such an experience, and often those who lack one feel out-of-place and forlorn. It is in that regard that *Jesus Girls* is a volume of un-testimonies: stories of life as an evangelical Christian that do not follow the traditional formula.

The book is divided into five topics with four or five essays devoted to each: Community, Worship, Education, Gender & Sex, and Story & Identity, with a different author behind each essay. All sorts of backgrounds are covered, from Southern Baptist to African Methodist Episcopal to Mennonite, and there's even an essay on Catholics which provides a beautiful example of Krister Stendahl's "holy envy." Not all of the essays come from those who are active evangelicals today. Some of them end with the author finding her way out of evangelicalism or out of Christianity altogether.

And what of those "women's issues" I listed in my first paragraph? Well, they are covered. Some of the essays cover them more directly than others, such as "Feminist-in-Waiting" by Kimberly B. George or "The Journey toward Ordination" by Heather Baker Utley. More often the authors touch on them briefly in passing, though most of the essays make no mention of them at all.

However, for the most part, *Jesus Girls* is not about women in evangelical Christianity. It's about evangelical Christianity as seen through the eyes of women. These women are clever, they're sassy, they're innovative, and they know what good writing is. Their words made my mind reel and my spirit soar.

There's no getting around the fact that this book highlights a number of evangelical Christianity's failings, especially concerning its treatment of women. These failings are real and they are painful to ponder. However, I firmly believe that talking about these problems is the first step towards remedying them, and so *Jesus Girls* is commendable in that regard. Beyond its focus on problems and doubt, *Jesus Girls* still manages to provide a breathtaking glimpse of evangelical Christianity's beauty. It is that beauty that continues to captivate me and keep me in the fold despite my own feelings of disappointment and doubt.

Whatever your interest in evangelical Christianity, if you fail to read *Jesus Girls*, you are missing a treat.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finding "my people", January 9, 2012
This review is from: Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical (Experiences in Evangelicalism) (Paperback)
I grew up in the evangelical church, and was homeschooled at that -- I wasn't taught Jesus rode dinosaurs, but I was taught creationism in general, and listened to DC Talk and read Brio magazine...all these things that, now being in grad school, feel so foreign and far away from me now, since I'm no longer church-going. However, no longer going to church doesn't mean one has not been "churched". This book gets to the heart of so many little aspects of growing up that feel like things that only I experienced. Logically I know this isn't the case, but when you leave the church, that shared offbeat history becomes an oddity -- I can laugh and be "the girl who was homeschooled" in my groups of friends, but the flipside to the coin is that there's no one I can laugh with about Brio and DC Talk.

This book felt like having a heart-to-heart chat with people who share my strange history with being churched. DC Talk, Brio magazine, the way church splits affect the young people in the church -- these very specific aspects of evangelical girlhood are things I don't share with anybody day-to-day. But here, there is a communal sharing that really, really resonates with me. I found myself underlining bit after bit after bit because it felt like these women were writing down the exact same experiences I had, slightly altered here and there, but all so very familiar. It seems incredibly nice to read a book that references the Christy Miller series without having to explain what it was/is.

I had wondered if this book would be a largely bitter telling of stories about how the church hurt us (young women). But it really isn't. That is not to say that the church did not hurt us. But the essays are removed and thoughtful.

Recommended for: anyone who grew up in the church, went to youth group on Wednesday nights (wasn't it so very often Wednesdays?), and lived to tell the tale.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Solid Read, November 24, 2009
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This review is from: Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical (Experiences in Evangelicalism) (Paperback)
I read Jesus Girls with my pastor and a few friends, and gathered with them to talk about what it means to grow up evangelical and a woman. For me, this book brought about a great deal of nostalgic memories from bouncing around the different streams of evangelicalism as a child. The stories rang true to my experiences and the ones of my peers. One of the things that struck me was how many of the authors found refuge in more liturgical churches as adults. Also, how messed up messages of sexuality are promoted to women in evangelicalism.

There were a few truly weak essays that could have been cut or reworked. Difficulty reading them decreased my overall enjoyment of the book, but it's still a worthy read for those who want to process through their childhoods in the evangelical church or understand women who grew up evangelical.

It gave me a lot of food for thought as a parent about raising my daughters in the church, and what message we send them about their place in it as women. I'll be pondering that for a long time.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reflecting on my experiences, October 31, 2009
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This review is from: Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical (Experiences in Evangelicalism) (Paperback)
I saw a review for this book on [...] and bought it as a gift for my mom. When she finished reading it, she loaned it to me and I have enjoyed these essays so much. As a woman who grew up evangelical in the 80's and 90's, the experiences of the authors and their honest reflections spoke to my heart (essay topics explore their faith, their questions and doubts, and the unique oddities of evangelical subculture (Brio Magazine! Awana! True Love Waits! Youth Group Stunts!).

The essays are unvarnished and authentic glimpses into the faith journeys of these women through their youth and adulthood. I would love to read this book in a book club at church, talking about it with the other girls (now women) that I grew up with in church and youth group.

This book represents a voice that needs to be heard - people telling it like it was, without sugar coating, with hilarious and blunt honesty.
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Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical (Experiences in Evangelicalism)
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