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Unladylike: Resisting the Injustice of Inequality in the Church Paperback – January 18, 2012
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About the Author
Pam Hogeweide is a writer and blogger from Portland, Oregon. She writes extensively on issues of faith, culture and Christian spirituality with a focus on gender inequity in the modern world of church. A former contributing author for Off the Map, Pam’s writing style has been categorized by many as engaging and inspiring. Growing up in the neon-drenched city of Las Vegas, Pam became a follower of Jesus when she was barely out of high school. Instead of going to college, Pam joined Youth with a Mission and served in Hong Kong for seven years. Pam says her mission in life is “to be the most effective communicator I can be for the sake of others,” and she is currently pursuing a communication degree at Marylhurst University. When she’s not busy with her husband and two teenagers, Pam can be found hanging out with her faith community in north Portland, The Bridge, “one of the rowdiest churches I’ve ever been a part of,” she says. You can find Pam at her blog or on Facebook and Twitter. She’s not hard to spot: she’s the loud one with the pretty tattoos.
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This book is very healing to read. You find out that being a woman is God's creation---not a mistake----not inferior---not easily deceived---but created by God---and God called His creation "good." We really appreciated how Pam challenged the status quo with really powerful points that make you wonder how the system of oppression has lasted so long in the church.
If you have looked at the title of this book and already decided it can't be about Biblical truth, I would challenge you to read it. It will cause you to look very closely at what you think is "biblical" truth and force you to evaluate your own beliefs. As I read this book, many of my "truths" were sifted. In the end many of the man-made ones fell away and the timeless Truths of God - Justice, Grace, Love, - shined more brightly.
My daughters will both read this book, and I pray come away stronger and more sure of their value in God's eyes. May they be "women who are determined to live in the fullness of who God has made them to be rather than diminished by what patriarchal religion tells them they cannot be."
I would describe myself as an evangelical Christian. I attended a Baptist university, have been a member of various churches in several denominations--Methodist, Baptist, Non-Denominational "Bible"--and they all, to varying degrees, send the message to women that our voices and our contributions should be limited and confined to particular places within the church. Our God-given talents and gifts must be boxed, limited, and applied only to doing things that are specifically named in a handful of Bible verses, plucked mostly from a couple of Paul's letters without considering the context, time period or situation being addressed.
Pam does an excellent job of navigating the reader through the choppy waters of this theological issue. She begins by agitating with specific examples of the frustration she and other women have felt when they've attempted to step outside of the boxes established by the patriarchy of the Christian church. She speaks of how she felt her own marriage didn't honor God because she and her husband couldn't force themselves into the traditional roles they were told God designed them to fit. Pam then takes each "key" verse (the ones that justify confining women to certain roles) and confronts them one by one, explaining their meaning within the context of the time and the translation of the original Greek words. She does an excellent job of supporting and defining the sacred texts without simply dismissing them as antiquated. Ultimately, she brings the reader back to the author and defender of the faith, Jesus Himself. Pam is a lover of Jesus. She is a Christian in every sense of the word. She is not a heretic or a radical or even a "universalist" as one review stated. She is as fundamental in her beliefs as anyone I've encountered in any church. However, what she will not tolerate is the injustice perpetrated on women in the name of Christ. She lovingly and beautifully illustrates how Jesus Himself, who WAS considered a radical and heretic by the fundamentalists of His day, not only ministered to women but brought them into the fold as fully functioning heirs to the Kingdom of God. He spoke to them, He touched them, He approached them and they in turn bore witness to His life, His miracles and His resurrection. Pam displays only adoration for her Savior when she describes how He displayed His view of women as equals in the Kingdom. Finally, she gives women a "to-do" list--a list of ways to resist the injustices towards women in the church.
I loved Pam's imagery of how she sees the true Kingdom of God--men and women working side by side, collaborating, learning from one another. What a crazy idea.
What Hogeweide has done is honor those people for she is one of them. She has looked at the scriptures and brought in the scholarship others have to offer. She has treated the scriptures with respect and care. She looked at Jesus and the remarkable, equal way he treated, loved, honored, and respected women in a strong Patriarchy culture. She pulls back the fog and helps us get some clarity. Paul meant it when he said, "there is neither male or female", just like he meant it when he said "there is neither slave or free"... "for we are all one in Christ." (Gal. 3:28). There is no contradiction in his writings once you look deeper at the culture, language, and translation issues.
For instance, one of the apostles Paul names in a letter was a woman. This was known for many decades until a transcription error (?) changed that name to a non-existent male name. There is even a written account of how early Christian men and women radically related to each other. Tertullian, was a Roman lawyer (c. ad. 160-230), a leading defender of the Christian faith. Even though Tertullian viewed women through a strong Greek lens that highly shamed and devalued women, he saw something amazing when he watched Christian men and women together, they "perform their fasts, mutually teaching, mutually exhorting, mutually sustaining. Equally are they both found in the church of God; equally in straits, in persecutions, in refreshments. Neither hides from the other; neither shuns the other; neither is troublesome to the other." (1988, J. Bristow, p. 112) Not long after Jesus died this how Christians were actually living. That speaks volumes of what early Christians understood Jesus and Paul were teaching, this was utterly radical (unfortunately still too radical today).
Patriarchy's lens is strong and warps our view, but once freed a bit from it we can see men and women are also free... free to serve, live and relate as Jesus modeled, not as either gender dominating the other. And that freedom benefits everyone. Hogeweide has done us all, men and women, a great service.
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