Chasing Sophia by Lilian Calles Barger
The other day I listed a group of books that were recommendations for an ordinary small group at a fairly typical church; a friend had a women's group that she works with, and wondered about some suggestions. I named a handful---not all for or about women---that were basic and not difficult. Nearly any somewhat educated reader could enjoy them, and I maintained that they were a cut above some of the simplistic stuff that passes for Christian discipleship in many Christian bookstores. Still, they were, mostly, pretty easy to read and altogether enjoyable on basic Christian growth. I hope you looked through that long list and made some notes...most of them are really, really fabulous.
I wanted to cite one more book, but thought it deserved a posting of it's very own. It is not an academic work or a scholarly text, exactly, but it is a bit deeper and richer than even the good ones I described yesterday.
Here, then, is another great book for an open-minded and thoughtful group, women or men. I think it is pretty important, and hope you can help us at Hearts & Minds get the word out about books that are both culturally relevant, well-written, and theologically sound. Thanks again for being a part of our story.
Barger works with the vital Christian outreach to (mostly) feminists gone sour on traditional Christian faith through the Damaris Project, a ministry which engages folk in meaningful dialogues. They set up honest conversations in what they call salons and search out ways to find common ground amongst diverse participants; their website explains more, and is worth a visit. What a gentle, honest and good approach---that in itself is commendable these days of shouting, eh? We, here, are in happy agreement with their efforts and the bridge-building, thoughtful conversational approach to their project.
Chasing Sophia thoughtfully invites us to consider ways in which Jesus was a Hebrew wisdom-teacher and how the Scriptural insights about sophia could be used to build bridges with those involved in a post-Christian spirituality. It draws well on research about women's ways of knowing and is fluent in feminist literature. It explores the ways in which goddess worship has grown in recent decades. Happily, she brings historic Christian orthodoxy to bear on these thorny questions; you may know that some theologians who reject traditional Christian theology and radically mistrust the Scriptures have used this phrase, often in unhelpful ways... I am not sure if Lilian intends to knowingly re-appropriate the legitimate Biblical truth of this, and just frames it in more appropriate ways. That isn't exactly her battle, here. She is a helpful guide into the large discussion of wisdom, and she is a faithful witness to Jesus. I suspect it will touch the lives of many, women and men alike.
It would make a wonderful small- group book study or the basis for a serious adult Sunday school class or could serve the basis for a retreat. Even better, it would be splendid for a group of those who are not Christians to read with some that are. Know any religious skeptics, gnostics, neo-pagan feminists, those who are new agey, or seekers? This would be a great discussion-starter, I'm sure. She draws on sources as diverse as Elizabeth Johnson to Dorothy Day, from Elaine Pagels to Dorothy Sayers and writes with authority and grace. Please let us know if you'd like to order one and see if we are correct. Maybe you'll even need more...
Chasing Sophia: Reclaiming the Lost Wisdom of Jesus Lilian Calles Barger (Jossey-Bass) $18.95
Chasing Sophia AND Eve's Revenge
or call 717.246.3333