Book of the Week: A Call to Action

A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power

A Call to Action book coverWhy I picked up this book:

President Jimmy Carter is the author of this book, and I watched several of his promotional interviews for its release. He is a fellow Naval Academy graduate and has never been shy about his Christian faith. Due to the content his background and current work, I could hardly wait to read it.

Who Should Read A Call to Action:

This book is an important read about challenges women face all across the world, and the great work being done through The Carter Center to fill gaps and offer solutions where the challenges have gone unmet in 80 countries.

What’s in Store for You:

Through his writing, President Carter briefly shares the abuses against women, some of which result from the misreading of sacred texts like the Bible and Quran. His includes personal stories from his own life, and how his faith and convictions have grown and changed over the years. The issues raised include abortion of female fetuses (or the selective murder of girls, also known as female gendercide or femicide), rape on college campuses, wage equality, human trafficking, polygamy, genital cutting, disease and health care, sexual harassment in the military, and child marriage. He also includes sentiments about the disconnection between what people of faith claim to believe and what they actually practice, particularly when it comes to their relations with poor, women, people of color, and those who are handicapped.

President Carter includes quotes from global and religion leaders. He briefly highlights political challenges, history, and legislation and their impact on the lives of women. He has a concern for the prevalence of violence and swift acceptance war in our own country and across the world. “The acceptance of violence as a normal course of action is a special cause of additional abuse of women and girls.” Women and children are also casualties of war.

Women and girls must be educated! Educated citizens also makes for educated voters. Educated and trained women who vote makes for a better society. The Carter Center has “learned about the vital role that liberated women can play in correcting the most serious problems that plague their relatives and neighbors…It is clear that more equal female involvement in community affairs is beneficial to all citizens but is best achieved by letting the local people—both men and women—make their own decisions.”

My personal take-aways?

President Carter is 90 years old, and I suspect the good thing about living that long is you really don’t care what other people think or say about you. This book comes from President Carter’s convictions and passions, and I for one am glad he has written it.

In a recent interview, President Carter told CNN that women’s rights is the fight of his life. I hope and pray that we see more men like him and Nicholas D. Kristof take up the mantle of protecting women which is a human rights issue and biblical justice issue that makes for better communities and a better world.

Education has always been valuable to me. I grew up in a time when the United Negro College Fund frequently circulated commercials which included their slogan, “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste.” My sister and I also watched educational shows like Reading Rainbow which revealed that the pages of a book could take us anywhere and we could do anything. What Carter reveals throughout his book is having the right preventive laws is not enough if those laws are not enforced and if girls are not educated, “given equal opportunities to develop their talents, to earn an income, and to serve their family and community.” Girls must be seen as valuable. They must be educated, and their contributions can indeed change the world.

I only wished this book had more footnotes because I wanted to explore several of the topics further.

Visit the official website of the Carter Center where their major themes are to wage peace, fight disease, and build hope: http://www.cartercenter.org/index.html

Twitter-worthy:

“I maintain that male dominance over women is a form of oppression that often leads to violence.” @CarterCenter

“One of the most widespread and punitive examples of sexual discrimination is in compensation for work.” @CarterCenter

“Good education for women is a positive factor in any society.” @CarterCenter

More In-depth Reflections:

From President Carter: “I have become convinced that the most serious and unaddressed worldwide challenge is the deprivation and abuse of women and girls, largely caused by a false interpretation of carefully selected religious texts and a growing tolerance of violence and warfare.”

From President Carter: “I lived in a community where our Bible lessons were interpreted to accommodate the customs and ethical standards that were most convenient.”

From President Carter: “In my opinion, Jesus Christ was the greatest liberator of women in a society where they had been considered throughout the biblical history to be inferior.”

“We have come to the conclusion that many of the other abuses of women and girls (slavery, genital cutting, child marriage, rape) can be reduced only if women have more access to information about the international, national, and local agencies that are responsible for publicizing and ending these abuses.”

“Many fervent pro-life activist do not extend their concern to the baby after it is born, ignoring the fact that two-thirds of women who interrupt their pregnancy assert that their primary reason is inability to pay the costs of raising the child. It has long been known that there are fewer abortions in nations where women have access to contraceptives, the assurance that they and their babies will have good health care, and at least enough income to meet their basic needs.”

Have you considered the significance of this issues as it relates to your faith? How do these issues impact the way you view women?

© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2015

 

3 thoughts on “Book of the Week: A Call to Action

  1. Great review, Natasha. This is the kind of book I want to read.

    The final quote (about why women abort) struck me with extra impact. I’ve been pro-life my entire life, but I feel a great deal of sympathy for any woman going through an unplanned pregnancy when she can’t afford to raise a child. I was reading a blog post by a now pro-choice blogger about how, until she became a single mom herself, she had never understood why a woman would abort. But as she struggles financially to raise her young son, she understands. Moreover, she points out the hypocrisy of those who only care about the unborn child and don’t want to help (emotionally, financially, etc.) the single mom who can’t afford to give the child what he/she needs and who ends up in the welfare system (which many conservative Christians I know resent, especially if they think she should’ve “just given the child up for adoption”). And I agree with her.

    As I read another quote from Carter, I found myself nodding in agreement. Where I live, the Bible is often interpreted in a manner that defers to the cultural norms (particularly in regard to women’s behavior) rather than the culture being formed by the Biblical truth. It’s frustrating to be so disrespected by Christian men in conservative circles.

    Sorry, long comment. But there was so much here that stirred my thoughts that I had to share.

    1. Thanks so much for reading, reblogging and thoughtfully engaging the content, Laura. I have often said that the minute we begin having a conversation with a women about whether or not she is planning to have an abortion, it is quite possible that the church and her community have failed her several times over. It is important that we, as the body of Christ, are intentional in engaging the hearts and real lives of people and not just say be abstinent and don’t get an abortion (which are both biblical positions of course).

      The “disrespect” response will have to wait for another blog on another day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s