"No one is aware that the world is on fire."
- Mother Maria
A quick, inspiring look at seven fascinating women who made a huge impact in their generation. While not comprehensive, it is neither superficial, but rather appetizing, in that it makes you want to go on to discover more about these women.
The book looks at women from the three major Christian traditions (Protestant (mostly), Catholic and Eastern Orthodox) and how their faith in God inspired and empowered them to do great works for the good of others. I had previous (and varying degrees of) knowledge of all these women, except for Mother Maria, aka Elizabeth Pilenko (maiden name), aka Elizabeth Kuz'mina-Karavaeva (from her first marriage), aka Elizabeth Skobtsova (from her second marriage), and aka Maria Skobtsova (from when she became a nun). In 2004 she was canonized by the Orthodox Church, becoming Saint Maria of Paris. Her varied names are only a hint of her complexity; she is easily the most interesting and fascinating of this small group of women.
The book also features:
The author, Eric Metaxas, wrote a previous book (titled, strangely enough, Seven Men ;p) and he was encouraged to write a similar one for women. The next step was deciding which women to highlight. In seeking out suggestions, he noticed that many people suggested women who were the first ones to do something that men had already done. I appreciated what he had to say about that:
"What struck me as wrong about these suggestions was that they presumed women should somehow be compared to men. But it seemed wrong to view great women in that way. The great men in Seven Men were not measured against women, so why should the women in Seven Women be measured against men? I wondered what was behind this way of seeing things, that women should be defined against men? Or that men and women should even be compared to each other?
Two interrelated attitudes seemed at play. First, men and women are in some ways interchangeable, that what one does the other should do. Second, women are in some kind of competition with men, and for women to progress they need to compete with men. This thinking pretends to put men and women on equal footing, but it actually only pits them against each other in a kind of zero-sum competition in which they usually tear each other down."
- from 'Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness' by Eric Metaxas
It was a pleasure meeting and becoming inspired by these women, to see in each life the awareness that not only is the world on fire, but each in their own way did something about it, because this is what love does - it acts (John 3:16). And, most of all, to be challenged: what am I doing about my own small burning part of the world?
(In expressing my appreciation of this book, I feel I must also give this small disclaimer, that I'm not endorsing everything these women believed (as revealed in the book, of course), because I find the theology of a few of them somewhat questionable, and the author gives no caveats but rather seems to embrace all as good. I would encourage Christians to read this one with discernment, as we should always be doing, anyway.)
I received this book free from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.