Book Review – ‘Girls With Swords’ by Lisa Bevere


I finished reading this book this week, and I must confess I read it a bit too quickly. I intend to read it again more slowly and thoroughly in the future and I’m sure I will get a lot more from it.

I’m just starting my research for my Masters dissertation, for which I have picked the topic of Feminist Theology. As I have had a bit of a break from studying over the summer, I picked up this book to try to give myself a gentler reintroduction to academic reading, which may be why I rushed it as I was feeling guilty that I wasn’t reading something meatier…

I loved the imagery of the sword used throughout, especially the word play of God Sword/God’s Word. Most of the time it was helpful, although occasionally I lost the thread of the point Bevere was trying to make in between all of the fencing terms. I also struggled to find the practical take-aways in what she was saying, but both of these things may have been where I was rushing a bit to read it.

It did make me reflect on my reasons for writing about feminist theology. My starting point for research is that some of the traditional teaching of the church has been a factor in the oppression, or at the very least, the marginalisation of women both within the church and in wider society. We have been told that only certain types of women are pleasing to God, i.e. the silent submissive kind. This has left women open to attack in all sorts of ways, and ill-prepared to defend themselves. But there are so many examples in the Bible and in church history of women taking the lead, making a stand, teaching, preaching and bringing people closer to God. (One small criticism of the book is that Bevere mainly uses male biblical characters as examples to make her points. Though I understand why given the points she is making, and I’m happy to have male role models, I can’t help feeling that the awesome women of God in the Bible should be getting more airtime, especially from female writers).

Girls With Swords is a call to women to equip themselves with the Word of God and to speak out, in love, mercy, forgiveness and against injustice. It is a reminder that we are daughters of the King, and he has entrusted each of us with a mission. I know my rushed reading didn’t do it justice, and I intend to reread it, and also to recommend it to women everywhere who need to recognise that they are people of power too.

My favourite chapter was about the flame-bladed sword, or the sword of song. Last week a friend a church prayed that I would find a new song, and this chapter was about how when we sing praise to God it strengthens us and brings His kingdom that bit closer. One of my favourite verses in the Bible is Zephaniah 3:17, which tells us that God delights in us and sings with joy over us. The day after I read the chapter about the singing sword, I was half listening to a song on the radio when I felt suddenly sure that I needed to note the name of the band and look the song up when I got home. I don’t know if the songwriters have a faith or what the song means to them, but for me it is the song God is singing over me, and, honestly, it just makes me feel epic. It’s called Warrior Daughter and the band is Wildwood Kin, please use the link below to see the video (I’m typing this on the iPad so I’m not sure how to embed the video, sorry! I promise it is worth the click!)

https://youtu.be/SPjWuQBaUNo

Rule of Life and Book Review of ‘God in my Everything’ by Ken Shigematsu

godineverything_shigematsu

It’s been over a month since I finished this book, so it won’t be a thorough review, more a suggestion that it is a really good book to read if you are a very busy person struggling to fit God into your day to day life.

We were reading this in our home groups at church between May and July this year. We read a chapter or two per week and discussed it together – what we were learning, how we were trying to put it into practice. The book centres around spiritual disciplines, and how to build in rhythms of moments with God into your everyday experience. I found it really encouraging. As someone who doesn’t have a lot of free time, it was a good reminder to REST (which may have been my word for the year and is still something I’m not very good at).

I finished the book whilst I was in Moldova, meaning I missed the last couple of weeks of discussing it with my homegroup, but also that it became part of the general wake-up call I received from God at that time. I’d been drifting slightly for a couple of months in my relationship with God – one of the dangers of theological study is that God becomes just the subject you are studying and there is a tendency to forget that it is meant to be a relationship. I was clinging on because it was a stressful time, but I wasn’t really listening to what He was saying to me. This book, and then my Moldova trip, was God saying, ‘Hang on, are you listening to me? Yoohoo! Over here when you’re ready…!’

I was reading the chapter about outreach on our last day of the girls camp in Moldova. The need we saw in Moldova was a little overwhelming, and at times it was difficult to believe that our efforts would actually make any difference. Then I read this:

‘When we serve we experience joy and find ourselves drawn closer to God, but there will also be times when our efforts feel like a drop in an ocean of human need. Remember, Scripture tells us that our work will not be in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). Nothing done with and for Christ in this present time will be wasted in God’s future. It will find its way into the new world.’ (p 195)

It was so powerful in that moment that it brought tears to my eyes. I read it out to some of my teammates and we were all encouraged to be reminded that nothing we had done was wasted in God’s economy.

I’ve drafted a rule of life for myself now, simple goals to keep me on track with God, with my health and with my work/life/study balance. I thought about sharing it on here, and maybe I will at some point, but for now I think it’s just for me to keep reflecting on alone. But I encourage you to read the book for yourself and to work on ways to build in rhythms of spiritual discipline into your own life.