Saturday, January 26, 2013

ReView of CAPTIVATING by John & Stasi Eldredge

NonFiction / Christian - 243 pgs
Nelson books (first published in 2005)

This book was recommended to me by a friend.  I would have never picked it up otherwise.  I would have never really come across it if it weren't for it being recommended to me since I don't venture into Christian nonfiction too much.  With that being said, aside from a few reservations, this book was actually really pleasant and beautiful in many of its parts.

I think you have to be a practicing Christian to really appreciate this book, more than I did anyway.  I am a Christian, but I haven't considered myself a 'practicing Christian' in a long while now, even though I am a very spiritual person and I have my own personal relationship with God.  In this sense, some of the scripture passages went over my head.  Even so I was still able to realize what the authors were getting to in some parts of the book.

One of the reservations I had when I started reading the book had to do with rhetoric.  I was fond of some of the words being used, and some of the notions being talked about.  Things like how women were Unseen, Unsought, Uncertain and they had to be Romanced and Rescued.  Once you strip away some of the rhetoric in this book, you realize there are some meaningful and substantive fundamental concepts about us, women, and our femininity worth reading about.

My next reservation was with the roughness of the concepts.  I felt the book was stochatic in many ways. It didn't really flow easily from one part to another.  It sort of jumped like a rabbit from one pasture to another... grazing on the surface of each one but not really getting to the nutritious depth of it all.  I think even so I was still able to gain some insight into what the authors were trying to explain.

So what did John and Stasi Eldredge accomplish with this book?  What is the authors gain from reading this book?  Well first and foremost, I believe they realized an image of a woman's feminity.  How does our culture, society, and the rhythm of our daily lives tame and even at times destroy a woman's femininity, a woman's captivating soul? And how does a woman regain her sense of beauty, captivating soul, and a calm secure sense of self back?

First, through a woman's beauty and mystery, both of which lie at the center of her captivating soul.  This is what the authors say about these two.  See for yourself.  While on the surface, these statements might appear a bit mocking and sarcastic even, there's something of use in them, something deep down true about them.

'A woman knows, down in her soul, that she longs to bring beauty to the world.  She might be mistaken on how (something every woman struggles with) but she longs for a beauty to unveil.  This is not just culture, or the need to 'get a man.'  This is in her heart, part of her design.'

'One of the deepest ways a woman bears the image of God is in her mystery.  By 'mystery' we don't mean 'forever beyond your knowing,' but something to be explored.

Not something to be solved but known with every-deepening pleasure and awe.  Something to be enjoyed.  Just like God, a woman is not a problem to be solved, but a vast wonder to be enjoyed... She years to be known and that takes time and intimacy.  It requires an unveiling.  As she is sought after, she reveals more of her beauty.  As she unveils her beauty, she draws us to know her more deeply.

Whatever else it means to be feminine, it is depth and mystery and complexity, with beauty at its very essence."

Secondly, I believe the authors touched on very real dynamics of a woman's soul (as well as a man's).  Towards the end of the book they talk about what curses women and prevents them from acheiving their true captivating soul.  That plague is 'loneliness'  for women, and for men is futility.

The book, though, is much more broad than what I have just mentioned here.   If you are a woman with a curious mind on how Christianity sees women and if you want to see a fresh perspective placed against that, this is a good book to read.  I am a woman and I have a curious mind, and I am glad I read this book. 

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