Rodney Eivers, Chair of our UCFORUM Executive, has managed some reading over the Easter break.
Beyond Power, – on Women, Men and Morals
Marilyn French (November 21, 1929 – May 2, 2009)
Being away from the pull of my at-home office for an Easter break gave me the opportunity to catch up with a bit of general reading. For the rare occasions on which I have done this , over the past 12 months or more, I have been working my way through, Marilyn French’s “Beyond Power – On men women and morals.”
Marilyn French was a flavour of the month feminist writer of a previous generation. Her best known title was probably, The Women’s Room. Beyond Power would probably claim to be an academic study on the tragic and demeaning effect that patriarchy has had on both women and men over many years – it has 640 closely-written pages with several thousand notes and references. I have no quarrel at all with her argument and it is one which needs to put. It does need to be kept in mind that being first published in 1985 the world had moved on in some respects. And yet as the daily newspapers remind us, the treatment of women by men and society’s attitudes even in our “enlightened” Western society still leaves much to be desired.
As I made my way through the book and its litany of “complaints” I found myself from time to time thinking, “Yes, all right, but what do we do about it?” Ms French does not seem to come up with any specific solution other than we can hope to educate people to “do the right thing”. There is no religious orientation. There is plenty to regret and condemnation at the history of religions, including Christianity in their response to the place of women in our culture. The book does not hold back in describing instances of oppression.
Imagine my surprise, then when I reached the penultimate page of “Beyond Power” to find this paragraph:
“But I am heartened by the thought of the early followers of Jesus’s ideas: slaves, women, publicans, poor Jews, Greeks, and Roman soldiers, prostitutes, respectable housewives, intellectuals, people who craved a new and more tolerant way of life; people who were sickened by the ways of power. Of course, if their success stands as an example , the subsequent fate of their religion, which was swallowed whole by patriarchy, stands as a warning.“
Isn’t this what we are trying to achieve by revitalising the Jesus message through Progressive Christianity. I take heart that a relatively secular observer can come to the same conclusion.
Rodney Eivers, April 2017