The Virgin Monologues

Interesting blog title huh? Well, it’s an even more interesting title for a book – and that’s precisely what it is. Towards the end of last week I had the pleasure of attending the launch for this new book, written by journalist and writing coach Carrie Lloyd. Sassy, beautiful and brilliant, Carrie has long been writing about her relationship experiences on her blog Her Glass Slipper.

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Carrie’s book sees her, as a 21st century Christian girl, honestly sharing her dating trials and considering such questions as: is purity relevant? Why does Mr Potential never reach his potential? Is the fear of singledom making you settle for second-rate? And why are so many Christians so Christ-less in their approach to dating?

Carrie also talks about how she used to have ‘the recipe’ – a list of everything she needed in ‘her man’, but how finding freedom for herself has enabled her to ditch it.

I loved editing the book, and, even though I’m an old ‘married’, I gleaned plenty of wisdom from it – Carrie certainly pulls no punches in her writing. She has the guts to write personally about what she’s learned as well directly challenge the reader. I highly recommend this title (its tactile cover is another good reason to buy it 😉 ).

Here is an eclectic selection of pithy quotes from Carrie, taken from the launch night:

“So you’re writing about purity & sexual discipline…” “Yeah. It’s a niche market.”

“If you know who you are, you don’t need a list.”

“Vulnerability is your greatest protector.”

“We have lots of books on joy but they don’t make me feel joyful. I wanted my book to be fun.”

“We need to think more carefully about what freedom really is.”

“I’ve been an atheist and I know how off-putting Christian language can be.”

The Virgin Monologues is out now on kindle and publishes in book form on 23 Jan – for a taste of what to expect see Carrie’s book teaser.

Francine Rivers on writing, faith and her new book

Bridge to haven coverFrancine Rivers has written over 20 bestselling Christian-themed novels (winning numerous awards), and regular readers eagerly anticipate each new publication. Her latest, Bridge to Haven certainly will not disappoint.

Based in 1950s Hollywood, it is the story of Abra and her journey to find true love and acceptance. Abandoned at birth and never truly finding her place in her home town of Haven, the naïve young woman is vulnerable to the charms of the fast-talking rich boy who lures her away to Hollywood.

Once there, Abra soon learns what is expected of a girl with ambitions of fame. The price she pays is huge, but Abra has burned every bridge to get exactly what she thought she wanted and feels trapped as a consequence. If she were honest with herself she’d realise all she wants is a way back home…

I had the great opportunity of being able to ask Francine about the inspiration behind her new novel – and what she hopes her readers will glean from it:

You have written about such varied subjects – a retelling of Hosea; the persecution of Christians in Roman gladiator times; the tradition of the sin-eater in 1850s Appalachia. Each one of them is written so expertly it seems that you must have immersed yourself in the subject. How do you go about researching each new topic?

“Almost every story begins with a question or issue with which I’m struggling, and each story seems to dictate the time in which it needs to be told. For example, when I was struggling with the question of how to share my faith with unsaved family and friends who didn’t want to hear anything about Jesus, I thought of the early martyrs who died in Roman arenas. The result was A Voice in the Wind.

“The Scarlet Thread came from a study of sovereignty and a cross-country trip several friends and I took, following the Oregon Trail. Local museums showed story after story of people setting off to find a better life. Hardship and tragedy followed them across the prairie – along with the question: who is in control of our lives?

“What is the difference between guilt and conviction was a question that fit the Appalachian highlands custom of sin eating, a practice brought over in the early days from Scotland and Wales. The result was The Last Sin Eater. And The Shofar Blew came out of questions on how to build a church in modern times amidst massive building projects that often destroy congregations.

“In each case, once the time and place are set, it’s a matter of immersing myself in the time period, finding good books, finding pictures, making binders with dividers between subject matter – what people wore, what their homes and daily lives were like, the political atmosphere, music, customs, etc. I even listen to music that fits the time period while I’m working. The writing process is a quest for answers and a journey with characters that become real people to me. Writing a story is my way of worshipping and praising the Lord.”

To read the rest of my interview with Francine, please click here and for a review of the book please click herepic_full_Rivers_Francine

 

Taking stock on International Women’s Day

I am currently editing a fantastic book that seeks to empower women by freeing them from the chains of needing to seek affirmation constantly and looking for the answer to the question Am I Beautiful? It reminds us that as women made in the image of Beauty itself, we are all indeed beautiful, so we need to learn to rise above all the pressures – self- and society- and culture-applied – to accept that. And it also urges us to remember that there are far too many bigger issues, far too many pressing needs, for us to simply be preoccupied with ourselves. We need to be able to move on and make a difference, to be the world changers that women significantly seem to be. The brilliant author, Chine Mbubaegbu, cites some UN statistics:

‘There are 900 million women and girls facing extreme poverty. Women own just one per cent of the world’s wealth, we earn just 10 per cent of the world’s income and half a billion of us can’t read or write.’ And yet, it is being recognised around the world by governments and development agencies that women certainly make a huge difference when given the chance. That, while we earn less than men generally, when we do work we reinvest 90 per cent of it into the health, nutrition and educational needs of our families – as opposed to the 30–40 per cent of men that do so.

Chine’s citation of such facts and figures whetted my appetite so I went in search of more on the UN website. And found some other interesting ones:

  • Over the years women have begun to enter various traditionally male-dominated occupations, but are still rarely employed in jobs with status, power and authority or in traditionally male blue-collar occupations.
  • Women are still under-represented among legislators, senior officials and managers, craft and related trade workers and plant and machine operators and assemblers.
  • Specifically, women are still under-represented in national parliaments, where on average only 17 per cent of seats are occupied by women.
  • There is a persistent gender pay gap everywhere – while it has begun to close slowly in some countries it is still unchanged in others.
  • Despite all these changes, women still continue to bear most of the responsibilities around the home: caring for children and other dependents, preparing meals and doing other housework. Around the world, women spend twice as much time – at least – as men on unpaid domestic work.

While all of these facts start to get me riled, it is the information about violence against women that angers me the most. This is a UNIVERSAL phenomenon – not just occurring in so-called under-developed nations but right under our noses here in the West too. Our ‘developed’ nations can hide some horrific secrets under the surface. Charities such as A21 have done a great job in raising our awareness of such issues as human trafficking but there is so much more that can – and should – be done.

I was horrified to read the following in the UN stats report The World’s Women 2010: ‘In many regions of the world, longstanding customs put considerable pressure on women to accept being beaten by their husbands, even for trivial reasons. Whether for burning the food, venturing outside without their husband, neglecting children or arguing with their husband, in quite a few countries a very high percentage of women consider such behaviour sufficient grounds for being physically hit.’

Wake up women – and men – around the world! We are worth so much more. No one – absolutely no one – deserves to be treated with less respect than another. I hope on today, of all days, we can celebrate all that is good about womanhood and determine afresh to fight against the injustices that so many of our sisters in countries all around the world are facing right now.

A pioneering woman, pt 5: women leaders

Wendy Virgo on women as leaders:

Within evangelical circles Newfrontiers is often labelled as being the movement who won’t let women be leaders. How would you respond to that label?

We have always been very diligent to discern what is a biblical way of conducting life in our churches. It has not always been comfortable, and this particular issue has often been completely misunderstood. The reality is that we probably have more women active in our churches, and also involved in leadership, than in most others. Other churches can have a very limited idea of leadership. They may have one pastor or a small team of deacons or leaders who do everything. From very early on, we discovered that the church is the Body of Christ with every member finding their gift and playing their part. So we encouraged everyone, men and women, to pray, prophesy, lead in singing, read scripture, share a testimony or vision and heal the sick when we came together on a Sunday or midweek.

Women in Newfrontiers churches lead worship, baptise new Christians, hand round communion, pray publicly, prophesy, teach, train counsellors, preach, run Alpha, steward, heal the sick, cast out demons, witness in the streets, administrate conferences…in fact everything men can do, so do they! But because we see in the Bible that overall responsibility both in the church and in the home has been designated by God to men, we do not have women elders.

The Bible shows that men and women are made in the image of God. That means that masculinity and femininity came out from God. Both express something of God, and have equal value. There is also order in the Godhead; the Son eternally submits to the Father, but is of equal worth. So also wives are of equal worth to their husbands, but honour them by godly submission. In turn, husbands are to lay down their lives for their wives, as Christ did for the church.