Men Are from Israel, Women Are from Moab: Insights about the Sexes from the Book of Ruth

Norman Wakefield, Author, Jody Brolsma, Joint Author, Norm Wakefield, Author
Norman Wakefield, Author, Jody Brolsma, Joint Author, Norm Wakefield, Author InterVarsity Press $12 (180p) ISBN 978-0-8308-2258-4
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
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This heartrending and inspirational guidebook effectively challenges readers to ""be there"" for family, friends and even the world at large. Trent--author, speaker and chaplain to the Christian Booksellers Association--believes we can and must do more than superficially touch the lives of others. He skillfully tells stories of men and women who should be bitter, angry and resentful because of their unhappy circumstances. Citing his own mother as an example, Trent explains how she overcame neglect by her father, abandonment by two spouses, the trials of being a single parent to three active boys and the crippling debility of rheumatoid arthritis, which forced her to leave a successful career as a corporate vice-president. His mother should have been bitter, writes Trent, but she wasn't. Her secret? She chose to ""be there"" as a connective presence in the lives of others by gaining strength and energy from the source of strength, God. Through meaningful, engaging storytelling, Trent underscores the blessing of being there for others, discusses how to experience God's presence, offers practical ways to effectively love spouses, kids and friends, and outlines the risks such vulnerability entails, including possible broken hearts and acts of betrayal. Trent's work will inspire readers to ""be there"" in heart, soul and mind. (Aug.) MEN ARE FROM ISRAEL, WOMEN ARE FROM MOAB: Insights About the Sexes from the Book of Ruth Norman Wakefield and Jody Brolsma. InterVarsity, $10.99 paper (180p) ISBN 0-8308-2258-5 (Christianity/Relationships) ~ This book thoughtfully considers the virtues Ruth and Boaz display in the Book of Ruth, but it only occasionally focuses on gender and has none of the John Gray-like content its regrettable title might suggest. The father and daughter coauthors write in the progressive evangelical tradition of InterVarsity Press, using Ruth and Boaz's love story to support their notion of healthy, egalitarian relationships between men and women. They challenge the primary assumption of books such as Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, that ""men and women are radically different,"" by giving examples of Boaz exhibiting stereotypically feminine qualities such as gentleness while Ruth displays the sort of wisdom many attribute exclusively to men. Wakefield and Brolsma use these examples to support their larger thesis that godly people of both genders should all embody grace, wisdom, submissiveness, steadfastness and humility. While the authors claim to offer this anti-essentialist reading of gender as an antidote to secular thinking, it also challenges standard assumptions of conservative evangelical gender complementarianism. Unfortunately, Wakefield and Brolsma choose not to actively engage those who posit fundamental differences between the sexes. They offer a lovely meditation on relationships that, sadly, contributes little to the debate among Christians about gender. This book is a fine read, but a missed opportunity. (Aug.)
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