Joining Forces: Balancing Masculine and Feminine by Jeanie Miley (Smyth & Helwys)
Jeanie Miley’s topic—reconciling the gender war—addresses a history of gender prejudice both in the church and the secular world. With characteristic spiritual empathy, Miley insists now is the time to put preconceptions to rest and celebrate strengths unique to each individual.
Within each person, a complementary balance of masculine and feminine strengths exists, she asserts. Indepen-dence, power and logic are masculine strengths, as intuition, empathy and compassion are feminine, but they are not limited to either sex. Instead, these gendered strengths support one another and when used in cooperation, allow a wider scope of relationships and creativity.
Miley resists militant feminism; she broaches a volatile subject with sensitivity but without apology. She applies her conclusions to the individual—the relational and the communal—asserting that for social reconciliation to occur, joining forces must begin within.
Issues of oppression, fear and misguidance surface as Miley uncovers the roots of shame, and she mourns the still-active perpetuation of gender prejudice in the church. But for her, “spirituality is about waking up, becoming aware and fully alive.” Joining Forces makes a convincing case for civil dialogue within the church to understand one another, following Jesus’ call to bind and to heal.
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Reluctant Smuggler by Jill Elizabeth Nelson (Multnomah)
Not having read the first two books in the series, I felt at a disadvantage beginning Jill Elizabeth Nelson’s Reluctant Smuggler. But by the end of Chapter 1, I moved at break-neck speed with attractive security consultant Desiree “Desi” Jacobs and her athletic FBI-agent fiancé Tony Lucano. In the Christian action-romance, Desi travels to Mexico to assist the government in protecting ancient artifacts against the notorious El Jaguar, head of the Fraternidad de la Garra cartel.
But things are not as they appear, and people are not who they seem. Danger, deceit and desperation weave from Mexico City and the Yucatan to New York, Boston and back again. Will Desi discover the truth too late? Will Tony recover from serious injury only to die at the hand of El Jaguar?
Both men and women will enjoy this thrilling adventure with a light touch of romance. And Christians of both genders will identify with Desi and Tony as they seek to live as Christ followers in a secular world.
Kathy Robinson Hillman
Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas
Home with God: In a Life that Never Ends by Neale Donald Walsch (Atria Books)
This is not a Christian book. But it could be an insightful look into New Age spirituality for Christians who are sharpening their conversation for interfaith dialogue.
The book’s message: “The destination is the same for all of us. We are all on a journey Home, and we shall not fail to arrive there. God will not allow it.”
Walsch targets self-imposed distance from God. It is impossible to live and die without God, but it is possible not to experience God. God invites people to end isolation and enter holy conversation.
Walsch’s supporters accept these “insights” as divine, but how he gains them goes unexplained. Ignored are biblical teachings. Human spirits know eternal truth, but often individuals remain willfully unaware. Why this “new spirituality” was not revealed earlier for all humans to share is unresolved.
Walsch promotes peace, love and joy. He discourages judgment and suffering, and refashions death as birth. The reader’s free choice to end struggle in ignorance and look within will result in reassuringly good feelings about death and dying, he claims.
This popular New Age book fits the “itching ear phenomena” referenced in 2 Timothy 3:3-4. For the serious spiritual inquirer, turn to The Book, revealing the timeless Truth for life (John 14:6).
Mark Dunn, pastor
Rosemont Baptist Church