Botox. Plastic surgery. Make-up. Women sometimes go to desperate lengths to distort, mold, and fashion their bodies into that of the "ideal" woman. They live with the reality of the body, from its reproductive implications to the pressures from the media to look a certain way. They are intimately connected to their bodies, but often find it difficult to link their experience of the female body with their desire for Christian spirituality.
Lillian Barger presents Eve's Revenge to help women see how their understanding of their bodies impacts spirituality. Not a self-help book, it describes the tension women experience between their bodies and their desire for a spiritual life. Barger suggests the possibility of viewing women as unified, not split, between body and soul. This model, offered through the life and work of Jesus Christ, provides insight into how Christian women ought to live in the world and in their own skin.
Christian women struggling with a body/soul tension and those interested in the social and spiritual meaning of the female body will find this engaging book enlightening and helpful.
This book is sure to shatter a few stereotypes. Barger, a former corporate executive, directs The Damaris Project, a Dallas-based forum on spirituality and women's studies. She has an impressive command of the literature (and, less happily, the jargon) of feminism and its discontents, from Naomi Wolf to Camille Paglia. Her early chapters cover standard topics in women's studies, focusing especially on the female body and its meaning. Barger leavens her exacting analysis with personal vignettes lunch with an old friend who has had plastic surgery, memories of growing up as a girl in Argentina surrounded by female relatives, a season of excruciating chronic pain earlier in her life. She builds an eloquent case that the body cannot be ignored in accounting for the desires and frustrations of contemporary women. But Barger takes this insight in an unusual direction by suggesting that the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth are uniquely relevant to the questions women (and some men) are asking about the body and its significance. Her fusion of academic feminism and committed Christianity will surprise some readers, since she engages neither the vast popular literature for evangelical women, nor the critiques of Christian patriarchy offered by academic writers like Elisabeth Sch ssler Fiorenza. But she offers a fresh reading of Jesus for our body-haunted culture, suggesting that only flesh-and-blood, suffering and resurrected divinity can do justice to the wounds and wonder of our humanity.