Starry-Eyed: Seeing Grace In The Unfolding Constellation Of Life And Motherhood, by Mandy Arioto
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Zondervan. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
There are a lot of books being released right now and that have been published recently dealing with wives and mothers attempting to justify their messiness and imperfection . This greatly puzzles me for a variety of reasons. For one, it is not only women but men that have to deal with the messiness of life, but it appears that far more women are writing about it in order to justify themselves, as if dealing with messiness and flaws and imperfection, and having too much to do and not enough time, and feeling unable to meet the heavy demands of others around us or the unfriendly scrutiny of other brethren were simply something that women had to deal with, which is not true. Yet even though the problems discussed in this book book are in many ways problems dealt with by men and women alike, by young and old alike, these books are nearly invariably written by women, about women, and for women, with the misguided assumption that only women will read these books. And, given the fact that this is an author who revels in talking about her inability to find fitting bras and her unpredictable periods, it is likely few men would find her book to be of interest, even if the subject she is dealing with in the attempt to provide dignity for others and deal with being under too much stress is something that many people would be interested in or have a great deal of experience in.
The book begins and ends in the same place, reflecting upon the starry sky and the fact that although the darkness is a place where much evil occurs, it is necessary to us as people and it is also something that God created and said was very good. The rest of the book consists of polished and fairly short chapters that deal with the life of the author as a wife and mother, discussing how she met her husband, her struggles to be honest and to encourage honesty and kindness within her children, her attempts to clothe the passages of life with a sense of dignity, her own identification with her own mother, her mourning the death of relatives, her friendships, mostly with other women but at least one friendship with a gentle and eligible bachelor who is very good with kids, her willingness to raise kids without a lot of the harsh boundaries and demands that are commonly made, and so on. The author, like many authors of her kind, shows her authenticity by talking about a lot of unpleasant aspects of her own life, including the time in college she dated four guys at the same time until that fell apart, and including her love of shows like Dancing With The Stars as well as her rapturous enjoyment of a Train concert at Red Rocks, which is something many people would find uncool but which I can totally understand would be a spiritual experience.
There is much to enjoy about this book, if one is willing to understand that it is written by a women who has no idea or inclination that this book will be read by readers outside of the messy mommy set. Obviously, as is the case with any kind of memoir like this one, the more one shares in common with the author the better one will be able to relate to this book, but unlike many other books which are a lot less polished this one is well written and not too rambling. The author shows her familiarity with other works and with other authors of similar books, which is not particularly surprising either, and has dedicated this book and its proceeds to helping give dignity to other moms around the world as part of a not-for-profit organization called MOPS. There are, though, definitely some matters to be concerned about here, including the author’s seeming friendliness and comfort with various “Mother God” sort of heresies, a desire for matriarchy, and a fondness for heathen Celtic religious practices. These are obviously some red flags, as they present the author as having gone too far in seeking to dignify women. That is a shame, but is something that must be noted anyway. It is a difficult matter to live in such a way that we honor God according to what He says in scripture, and not to depart from his path either to the right or to the left, and it is little wonder that many of us should err so often in this task.
 See, for example: