Hello journal. I have been reading a lot lately – mostly because I have nothing else to do at work, but also because I like reading and I need to stimulate my brain. Lately, I’ve been reading The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf and . Let Me Be A Woman by Elisabeth Elliot. This has really helped to keep my thoughts balanced because TBM (The Beauty Myth) really focuses on how the media and our secular culture teaches us from a young age that we are only valued by our beauty but that we can never be truly beautiful because we are too fat, ugly, imperfect and that’s how it keeps us controlled, and supressed. This puts us women against each other as we compete for the “beauty” status.

Here is an excerpt:

“On one hand, women are trained to be competitors against all others for “beauty”; on the other, when one woman- a bride, a shopper in a boutique- needs to be adorned for a big occasion, other women swoop and bustle around her in generous concentration in a team formation as effortlessly choreographed as a football play. These sweet and satisfying rituals of being all on the same side, these all-too-infrequent celebrations of shared femaleness, are some of the few shared female rituals left; hence their loveliness and pwer. But, sadly, these delightful bonds too often dissolve when the women reenter public space and resume their isolated, unequal, mutually threatening, jealously guarded “beauty” status.”

She also goes on to critizise Judeo-Christian religion saying that was what had us supressed at first but now has given way for a new religion, “The Rites of Beauty.” She says that western women absorb from the story of creation that women’s bodies are second-rate, we come from an expendable rib. She says that “women’s craving for ‘perfection’ is fired by the widespread belief that [our] bodies are inferior to men’s – second-rate matter that ages faster. Second-rate, woman-born, the female body is always in need of completion, of man-made ways to perfect it. The Rites of Beauty offer to fire the female body in the kiln of beauty to purge its dross, to give it its ‘finish.’ The promise that Christianity makes about death, the Rites make about pain: that the believer will awaken on the other shore, in a body of light cleansed of mortal–female–stain. Women’s flesh is evidence of a God-given wrongness; whereas fat men are fat gods. The Rites of Beauty redefine original sin as being born not mortal, but female. Society really doesn’t care about women’s appearance per se. What genuinely matters is that women remain willing to let others tell them what they can and cannot have.”

THIS I was NOT agreeing with. I think she is distorting what the Bible says about creation in order to make her point stronger. That’s why I’m so glad I picked up Let me be a Woman, a book that my sister gave me for my birthday. It’s helping to keep me well balanced.

Elisabeth Elliot explains, “God might have given Adam another man to be his friend, to walk and talk and argue with if that was his pleasure. But Adam needed more than the companionship of the animals or the friendship of a man. He needed a helper, specially designed and prepared to fill that role. It was a woman God gave him, a woman, ‘meet’, fit, suitable, entirely appropriate for him, made of his very bones and flesh. You can’t make proper use of a thing unless you know what it was made for, whether it is a safety pin or a sailboat. To me it is a wonderful thing to be a woman under God– to know, first of all, that we were made (“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”) and then that we were made for something(“The rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”) This was the original idea. This is what woman was for.

All creatures, with two exceptions that we know of, have willingly taken the places appointed to them. The Bible speaks of angels who rebelled and therefore were cast down out of heaven, and the fall of man. Adam and Eve were not satisfied with the place assigned. They refused the single limitation set them in the Garden of Even and thus brought sin and death to the whole world. It was, in fact, the woman, Eve, who saw the opportunity to be something other than she was meant to be– the Serpent convinced her that she could easily be ‘like God’ — and she took the initiative.

A few women whose vision is grotesquely distorted are trying to redefine for us a woman’s ‘success’ and to tell us that our happiness lies not in the idea of God in the making of us but in obliterating that idea together. The creation of male and female as complementary opposites has no place in their thinking, and any definition of masculinity and femininity is toally meaningless except with reference to cultural and social expectation.

But there are those to whom being a woman is nothing more than an inconvenience, to be suffered because it is unavoidable and to be ignored if at all possible. Their lives are spent pining to be something else. The special gift and ability of each creature defines its special limitations. And as the bird easily comes to terms with the necessity of bearing wings when it finds that it is, in fact, the wings that bear the bird…so the woman who accepts the limitations of womanhood finds in those very limitations her gifts, her special calling–wings, in fact, which bear her up into perfect freedom, into the will of God.”

I’m only on chapter 13 in LMBAW but I love this book so far. It’s so uplifting. It keeps me in balance while reading TBM. I do agree with some things in TBM but it’s refreshing to get the ‘Christian perspective’ from LMBAW. See, I knew I’d learn a thing or two.

Has anyone been hearing the national democratic convention? Oh man, it was so great yesterday. I loved hearing Al Gore’s speech. Yeah! Get ’em! I hope Bush was listening.  Right now I’m listening to today’s speeches through NPR. I love NPR. I wish I knew more people who listened to it.