Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?What this is
'Tis not so; all is right.
Why should we think to earn a great reward
If we now shun the fight?
Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
Our God will never us forsake;
And soon we'll have this tale to tell--
All is well! All is well!
This is my book review of Fresh Courage Take, edited by Jamie Zvirzdin.
I'm going to buy 10-15 copies to give away as Christmas presents (depending on the price points for bulk purchases) and one for myself as my review copy suffered from airplane movement as I underlined and marked sections.
Twelve authors write about their lives, the false gods they have worshiped and what the Gospel does or can mean to them as women from a wide spectrum of positions, life experiences, and places in the Church. Much of it is finding reasons for hope and courage for those who do not feel like they fit the mold or do not belong or that parts of the Church do not belong to them.
There is wide variety and the editor does not fear to let contributors take vastly different positions from her own.
Which is only fair, since the book is about freedom to stop mimicking who women feel constrained to be and is an exploration of who they want to be, to find God's purpose for each individual.
Vaguely feminist (feminist in the sense that it promotes egalitarianism and the value of each individual) it is about taking courage to define yourself as God sees you, with love and compassion and a realization that you are valuable and that God gave you gifts to use and to delight in, not to hide under a bushel while you try to worship a false god(dess) of cultural norms rooted in the 1950s.
I'm going to discuss an example from the book, since it approaches an LDS practice from dramatically different perspectives and shows how the editor and the authors (in this case, the keynote author) felt free to radically disagree with each other -- and it illustrates issues that our modern culture fails to deal with.
Both authors discuss (as a minor point) plural marriage. One checklists every defect and harm that the practice had in the Utah territory and sees it only as a plague and a failure of grace. The other points out that it broke cultural boundaries and resulted in married women owning property (where they were under coverature or unable to own property in their own names any where else in the United States), voting (well before suffrage, and how the federal government took that right away), running for office (and, I should note, the first woman noted beat her husband in the general election for the position of state senator -- so not only running, but running against her husband -- and beating him), forming educational cooperatives, and being praised as attorneys (where they were not allowed to practice law in the states), doctors, artists and shopkeepers.
This example struck me because in today's church, I do not see an acknowledgement of the down side (or why it was definitely necessary for polygamy to be ended) or the up side (because I don't think many in the modern church would encourage their daughters to become attorneys, doctors, business women or store owners -- and do not value female education to the point that they would consider educating their daughters more important than educating their sons as Brigham Young did). Those who want a return of plural marriage want it for the factors that consist of its down side, and fail to realize that the benefits (which many outside the church now take for granted) can be easily accessed in today's culture.
Nothing stops modern members of the LDS Church from encouraging their daughters to become lawyers (other than the job market), doctors, accountants, business owners and business women. While we somehow have embraced women in the crafts, we really have not embraced them in the arts.
This book offers encouragement, perspectives and an invitation to take fresh courage, embrace what God has told us, to find the truth and realize that "Our God will never us forsake."
I was very pleased to have had the chance to read the book and to review it.
I will try to think of something to write for a critical review. I just came up empty the first time around.