Fearless Daughters of the Bible by J. Lee Grady; published 2012 by Chosen Books
I can’t believe it’s December 29th—we’re so close to 2013! And I have a few book reviews to catch up on.
First up is Fearless Daughters of the Bible. I was really excited to read this. It ended up not being what I had expected, and there are a few choice theological bones I have to pick with Grady, but overall I really enjoyed it. The book certainly succeeds in what I think was its main goal: to encourage women and empower them to heed with boldness what they sense the Lord calling them to—whether it is great leadership or great sacrifice or anything else.
The book is set up as a good Bible study tool. Each chapter covers a heroine of the Bible—some of whom I had never heard of, I had forgotten, or I had never realized the great faith that their deeds required. In addition, Grady integrates stories about modern-day heroines, women we have probably never heard of, but who are out in the world accomplishing wonderful things for Christ right now. This was perhaps my favorite aspect of the book. For example, do you remember the bravery of the five daughters of Zelophehad, Jehosheba, Priscilla, and the four daughters of Philip the Evangelist? Have you heard of Amy Carmichael, Indri Gautama, or Natalia Schedrivaya? If not, go back and read Judges and the New Testament. Look them up. And then read this book.
At the end of each chapter is a prayer and a set of questions to guide women in applying the chapter to their lives. After a few chapters I stopped reading the prayers because I often feel prayers in books like this are affected. I’d rather tell God how I actually feel, thank you very much. The prayers, and sometimes even the tone of the book, felt condescending. The book often dips into the genre of self-help therapy rather than Bible study, which annoyed me. Grady had several phrases to the effect of “If you’ve been abused…” which seemed to imply that the book was only meant for women with a chip on their shoulder. I’ve been mistreated by men before, too, but I don’t dislike men or have it out for them. As a result, I felt alienated by these comments.
And a couple comments outright angered me. Like this one: “Many women who suffer from physical maladies such as cancer or chronic pain are actually sick because they have internalized their anger toward another person. Bitterness can make you ill. When you hate a person, or fantasize about bad things happening to them, you are not hurting them—you are only hurting yourself. Bitterness is like a poison that eventually eats us alive.” (63)
Just typing all of that makes me angry all over again. Are you actually going to tell a woman with cancer that she needs to make sure she’s not secretly harboring some grudge against someone, otherwise she could be healed? “Be careful: if you hold a grudge, you’ll get cancer”? Or, “If you let go of your anger, you’ll be healed”? The ignorance of this view is astounding. Not only that, but apparently it also only applies to women. So men are safe to hold grudges, but not women. GRRRRRRRRRR. I was extremely disappointed to see this in a book intended to encourage women. I seriously considered stopping reading the book at this point, but I’m glad I didn’t, because it did get better again.
Apart from that and from the occasionally condescending tone, this book is worth reading. I did often feel inspired and uplifted by many of the stories. Grady is good at convincing women that Jesus and the Scriptures always show love and support to women. Christ never tried to stop women from serving Him, from loving Him. Christ is absolutely for women. And who can be against us? It’s a good lesson to remember.