Introduction to Jesus Feminist (The Writeous Babe Book Club)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

This month I'm kicking off the Writeous Babe Book Club with Sarah Bessey's Jesus Feminist.

I want to discuss this book online and hope to even start a Jesus Feminist small group at my church because I believe in the power of women sharing their stories. As author Rachel Held Evans says in the foreword to Jesus Feminist: "For women who bear the stories of patriarchy, freedom begins with the telling; it begins with those first tender words spoken out loud or written down on paper: 'When I was a little girl,' 'I remember,' 'Once.'"

I appreciate that Bessey opens this book with Idelette McVicker's "Let Us Be Women Who Love." Even in the 21st century feminism is often equated with anger and hate. But in truth feminism, especially Jesus feminism, is all about freedom and love.

She invites us to metaphorically join her on a beautiful beach to talk about "womanhood, church, the labels, and where we go from here."

In my eyes she also invites us to rest, which I appreciate because I'm tired.

I'm tired of being defensive. I'm tired of  trying to "right every wrong and defend every truth, refute every inflammatory blog post, pontificate about every question."

Bessey admits in her introduction that years ago she struggled with these things too, that she "practiced anger and cynicism like a pianist practices scales, over and over."

As women in church and elsewhere we often exclaim that we just want a seat at the table. This can cause us to resent both men and women who've already pulled up a chair.

Bessey offers a new idea:

"And someday -- I really believe this -- we will throw our arms around the people of the Table as they break up the burnished oak. We'll be there to help them heave it out the windows, smashing every glass ceiling" the transparent, mirrored, and stained glass-- all shards of broken lies now." 

I invite you to join me on this journey. During the month of April let's read Jesus Feminist and discuss it here once a week on this blog. For those of you in Birmingham I'd also love to get together to discuss the book as a whole at the end of the month.

I'll be back next Tuesday (April 8) to discuss chapters 1-3.

I hope you'll join me.

In the meantime please leave your thoughts on the foreword and introduction in the comments section.

Happy reading!


  1. Let’s sit here in hard truth and easy beauty, in the tensions of the Now and the Not Yet of the Kingdom of God, and let us discover how we can disagree beautifully.

    1. My favorite quote thus far. What a lovely beginning...

    2. I love that quote too. I love the idea of learning to "disagree beautifully."

  2. I love the Maya Angelou quote "there is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you." I look forward to reading more. I've never considered myself a feminist and have always associated the word with anger and bitterness, I look forward to being enlightened.

    1. You know sometimes I am "an angry feminist." I get angry when I hear about the gender discrimination women face at work and in church. I get angry when I witness it in board meetings. I get angry about rape culture. I get angry when I read about women and girls being sold into sex slavery. But even that anger is coming from a place of love. I feel a kinship to nearly every woman and girl on the planet and so when they are mistreated I get mad.

      But I've learned that rage wears you out. Anger can only take you so far. Anger may spark a movement, but I think only love can sustain it. I'm working on focusing my energy on the people I love instead of the sexist attitudes that I hate. I'm working on loving everyone, even those who intentionally or unintentionally try to oppress others.

      I applaud you for reading this book with me even though you have a negative idea of what a feminist is. The fact that you're willing to read this book in spite of those negative perceptions that you have shows you are open-minded and ready to "disagree beautifully." I really admire that.

      You've mentioned that a character in your next book will be feminist. I hope that you make her complex and beautifully human -- flaws and all -- instead of falling into the stereotypes about feminists that so many other writers perpetuate.

      Thanks for reading along with me.

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