Woman Of Strength: Learning From The Proverbs 31 Woman, by the editors of Servant Books
There are a few things that a cautious reader should know going into this book. For one, although this book is organized around the theme of learning from the Proverbs 31 woman, it is actually a hodgepodge of short writings taken from a wide variety of works published by Servant Books that are more or less shoehorned into this particular theme to make more money for the publisher and (hopefully) the authors whose writings are included herein. Second, Servant Books, unbeknownst to me, is a Catholic press and it so happens that I am very familiar with the writings of the husband of the most popular contributor here . To say that I was quite surprised and not necessarily pleased by these facts is to put it mildly. That said, even though there was much about this book that I did not particularly enjoy given its origin as a feast of scraps and its Catholic worldview, it is to the credit of the compilers and authors of the material here that I found much to appreciate in spite of these elements if not because of them.
This particular book is made up of a variety of short devotional-style chapters that together take up about 100 pages and are divided into seven sections with the following titles: More Precious Than Jewels, Called To Love, Family, Work, Faith, Wisdom From Above, and Spiritual Motherhood. Most of the contributors are women and there are a lot of references to Catholic terminology, including a type of apostleship that women are supposed to have as a result of their role within the house according to one of the authors. There are prayers to Mary and a lot of comments here about various saints and quite a few stories that the authors share about their own lives and their own experiences and what reflections helped them to become in their own eyes better people in the mundane chores of somewhat commonplace existence. A few gentlemen add their own thoughts that show a certain degree of respect for various women in their own lives as well, but the majority of the contributors here are women writing about women’s matters of looking at the example of women of bygone times, including biblical times, as well as what is considered to be the women’s work of cooking and cleaning and raising children and driving children to games and so on.
A few elements make this work particularly enjoyable even for a reader who is not overly enamored with the Catholic perspective. For one, this book’s materials generally focus either on interesting stories or on the Bible, and the scriptural discussions are generally sound and only rarely move into uninspired apocryphal territory, even if the authors do consider the Catholic catechism to be on a par with the Bible and make reference to numerous unbiblical terms that are part of Catholic inspeak. Additionally, this book earns a fair amount of goodwill even from this particularly biased reviewer because the authors consistently view Proverbs 31 not as a club to beat over the head of harried and overworked (and often underappreciated) wives and mothers but rather as an encouragement to accept holiness from God and to be the best example possible. All too often women can be the worst enemies of other women when it comes to being overly demanding and critical, and these authors manage to keep a positive approach throughout that avoids tearing down the women who may find themselves reading this book. I can’t imagine many men will find themselves reading it, for what it’s worth.
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