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Not Counting Women and Children: Neglected Stories from the Bible Paperback – January 17, 1994
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Listening to the scripture readings in today's society, can be hard - for we can easily miss what God is trying to tell us.
Author Megan McKenna has used the tradition of "midrash" (story-telling with commentary) to open our hearts to those for are unheard, forgotten, or pushed aside.
For some, the message will be clear. For others, not. Those who hear the message of faith, hope and love will be able to answer the call that Jesus has called us to do.
In this collection of stories McKenna takes a number of women from the Hebrew and New Testaments and focuses on why they were so important for our ordinary and religious history, though not always thought to be so.
I would suggest reading her Afterward first. It describes her assumptions about Scripture, storytelling, interpretation of the bible and how practically to make Scripture influence our lives. This short chapter would be worth the price of the book alone.
I highly recommend the book.
The book is not for the casual reader or faint-of-heart. McKenna selected Hebrew and Christian scripture stories to get the reader thinking like one of the poor, the not-counted, the forgotten-- and to take action,which may mean confronting the dominant culture rather than following it.
The first story recounts the parable of the five loaves and two fishes from Matthew's Gospel, in which a crowd of 5000 are fed, "not counting women and children." Sociologists say that in such a crowd, the ratio of women and children to men is as high as five or six to one--an enormous number to go uncounted.
Who are these uncounted? Probably, in addition to women and children, the sick, elderly, prostitutes, lepers, tax collectors, strangers, Gentiles, outcasts and other unacceptables--those most in need of being cured and fed, of attention, dignity, understanding, hope.
The disciples had already asked Jesus to dismiss the crowds. Having just heard of John the Baptist's beheading, they wanted to be alone, to grieve, to talk about their anger and fears, to rest. But Jesus would not disperse the crowd. "You give them something to eat," he said.
Not a suggestion, but a command. Feeding the crowd will forever change the disciples' perception of what they can and cannot do, as the book is meant to change the reader's perception.
Other chapters present the women of Exodus, Abigail, the widow of Naim, Sarah, Hagar, the Canaanite woman, and women in the geneology of Jesus. Each chapter is substantive and rich, requiring thought and reflection.
McKenna has included comments and related stories from her classes, missions and retreats. Taken a chapter at a time, the book would well serve a prayer circle or reading group. In the Afterword, the author suggests questions to use after reading each portion.
Megan McKenna received her doctorate from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, CA. Her latest book is "Blessings and Woes," Orbis, 1999