God Speaks to Us, Too: Southern Baptist Women on Church, Home and Society.

Author:Marshall, Molly T.
Position:Book review
 
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God Speaks to Us, Too: Southern Baptist Women on Church, Home & Society. By Susan M. Shaw. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky, 2008. 322pp. $40.00.

Susan M. Shaw, associate professor and director of the Women Studies Program and director of the Difference, Power, and Discrimination Program at Oregon State University, has lovingly wrought an expansive study of Southern Baptist women. Possessing both insider's perspective and critical distance, Shaw adroitly navigates issues from the social construction of ender to the finer points of Baptist history, theology, and practice. She is a graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, prior to its theological and textual recension as a fundamentalist bastion of patriarchy. In my judgment, she represents the best of what Southern offered-an opportunity to think critically in the midst of deep faith, indeed, a faith that seeks understanding, in the words of St. Anselm. Reared in a Southern Baptist church, she received the palpable formation in discipleship, biblical literacy, and sacramental practice that makes meaning in faith. She is a faithful daughter of the tradition.

Drawing from interviews and writings of a remarkably expansive sample of remaining and former Southern Baptist women-lay and ordained, single and married, older and younger, egalitarian and complementarian, feminist and anti-feminist, conservative and progressive-the author offers an analytic phenomenology of the spectrum of views she discovered. I was most impressed with the respectful methodology she employed, allowing differing voices to be heard fully, without adding her own diminishing commentary. Thus, it is a tender book, born of pain, yet free of rancor. I admire the mature, generous perspective greatly. She is not afraid to hear the stories of those women with whom she has fundamental disagreement; yet, she receives their perspectives appreciatively. And to the credit of those interviewed...

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