Just when you think there are ten people reading your blog, including family, you find out differently. Last week I mentioned in a post how disappointed I was in the last chapter of Carolyn Custis James’ Lost Women of the Bible. Today I received an email from Carolyn:
I deeply appreciate your comments about my book, Lost Women of the Bible. I take feedback seriously and am always interested in finding ways to improve and communicate more effectively. I must confess, however, to feeling saddened by your disappointment in the final chapter on Paul and the Women of Philippi, particularly because your disappointment was tied to something my book (and that chapter in particular) never intended to address.
In the chapter in question, I am addressing an aspect of the problem women face in the church that impacts every Christian woman, and not simply the women who feel called to pastoral ministry. My goal is to establish the fact that men (even men who are senior pastors) need women in the battle with themâ€”ministering at their side and also ministering to them personally. That is why Iâ€™m talking about male pastors. So the logic goes, if these men need us, then surely every man needs the spiritual ministries of women. I doubt female pastors would have any difficulty in valuing the ministry of other women with and to themselves, so I wasnâ€™t addressing them.
My books address a general audience. I purposely do not address specifics about what women can or canâ€™t do in the church. I intentionally do not take a public position on the ordination question. I leave that discussion to others. I know this frustrates many readers. My purpose is to get both sides to look at the deeper issue of why the spiritual gifts and contributions of women are not just permissible, but essential to the whole body of Christ. I hope my books cause church leadership to wrestle with how that looks in their particular setting. It wonâ€™t look the same in every church, but every church needs to think this through and hopefully, begin to make progress in how men and women serve God together.
I think it is very cool that Carolyn, not only keeps track about what is being said about her books, but takes the time to email to correct reader mispercecptions. This was my response:
Thank you for writing me about Lost Women in the Bible. Thank you for clarifying what your purpose was for the book. I will re-read the last chapter with what you’ve said in mind. I really did like the book, and the scholarship you did was excellent (I’m a geek and a sucker for really good scholarship). You are also a great storyteller. I’m studying both Lost Women and When Life and Beliefs Collide because I am still trying to figure out how to keep a conversational tone throughout my writing instead of vacillating between conversational and academic.
I do think you are filling a huge gap for women with this book. When it comes to books about women in ministry it seems women are caught between women’s and children’s ministries or going for ordination. It’s good to see a book for women that does holistically address women’s spiritual gifts and both women and men working side by side to build God’s kingdom. I am glad that how I read the last chapter was not what you intended. More than likely I was reading through my own experience and what I thought should be there instead of staying with what you stated in the introduction was your intention with the book.
Thank you so much for taking the time to email me. It means a lot that you keep an eye out on what is being said about your books and taking the time to respond.
I am going to re-read the last chapter, and I have a feeling that my response is going to be different. I also have a feeling that the book review is going to be different as well.