NICE CHURCHY PATRIARCHY

RECLAIMING WOMEN’S HUMANITY FROM EVANGELICALISM

A sympathetic but clear-eyed look at the polite patriarchies that rule modern Christianity.

Jenkins examines the sexism of evangelical communities.

The author, a writer and preacher, concentrates on patriarchy, which she defines as “the ways men hold more power than women and are valued more highly.” This inequity has governed her dealings with her church: “Everything about my relationship with evangelicalism was influenced by my gender as a woman,” she writes, “especially as a woman in ministry.” She stresses early on that she’s not talking about the most extreme evangelical communities, which adhere doctrinally to the stark misogyny found in the Bible—as she puts it, she’s talking about nice people who are nonetheless operating in an unfair system. Jenkins chronicles her interactions with these nice people and nice congregations, starting in earnest with her undergraduate years at Stanford attending a nondenominational evangelical institution she calls Faith Bible Church, where people were kind and genuine. Jenkins had grown up in a church that endeavored to make its female members and pastors feel seen and respected; the change to the polite but lock-step patriarchy of other communities was jarring. These pages recount her growing awareness of church attitudes and her pointed reading of the Bible in search of counterbalancing teachings. “Because the Bible is not just full of patriarchal assumptions and mixed messages for women,” she writes. “It’s also full of liberation—if we’re looking for it.” Her analysis of familiar biblical characters, including Miriam, Pharaoh’s daughter, and the women in the parables of Jesus, is sharp and compelling, though it sometimes shows evangelical overreach, as when she writes, “Whatever she might have come to mean to us over two thousand years, though, Mary was a real historical human” (there is no historical verification for the Virgin Mary). But the energy and optimism in this text will be a pure gift to her fellow Christians yearning for a more enlightened church.

A sympathetic but clear-eyed look at the polite patriarchies that rule modern Christianity.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2023

ISBN: 9781958061404

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Apocryphile Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2023

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A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

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The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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CALYPSO

Sedaris at his darkest—and his best.

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In which the veteran humorist enters middle age with fine snark but some trepidation as well.

Mortality is weighing on Sedaris (Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002, 2017, etc.), much of it his own, professional narcissist that he is. Watching an elderly man have a bowel accident on a plane, he dreaded the day when he would be the target of teenagers’ jokes “as they raise their phones to take my picture from behind.” A skin tumor troubled him, but so did the doctor who told him he couldn’t keep it once it was removed. “But it’s my tumor,” he insisted. “I made it.” (Eventually, he found a semitrained doctor to remove and give him the lipoma, which he proceeded to feed to a turtle.) The deaths of others are much on the author’s mind as well: He contemplates the suicide of his sister Tiffany, his alcoholic mother’s death, and his cantankerous father’s erratic behavior. His contemplation of his mother’s drinking—and his family’s denial of it—makes for some of the most poignant writing in the book: The sound of her putting ice in a rocks glass increasingly sounded “like a trigger being cocked.” Despite the gloom, however, frivolity still abides in the Sedaris clan. His summer home on the Carolina coast, which he dubbed the Sea Section, overspills with irreverent bantering between him and his siblings as his long-suffering partner, Hugh, looks on. Sedaris hasn’t lost his capacity for bemused observations of the people he encounters. For example, cashiers who say “have a blessed day” make him feel “like you’ve been sprayed against your will with God cologne.” But bad news has sharpened the author’s humor, and this book is defined by a persistent, engaging bafflement over how seriously or unseriously to take life when it’s increasingly filled with Trump and funerals.

Sedaris at his darkest—and his best.

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-39238-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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