I just finished reading the book “Eve’s Revenge” by Lilian Calles Barger. Normally it wouldn’t sound like something I’m interested in – I don’t usually like women’s interest books. I also knew that this author was a Christian, and I have to admit that I’m especially wary of most Christian women’s interest books. However, this book was NOT full of self-help, reasons why you should love yourself, or Bible verses to tell you to do so. It’s also not about taking any kind of female “revenge.” This book is truly a breath of fresh air.
It essentially asks the question: If who we are as an eternal being is more than just our soul – if our body and soul together will be redeemed after death, how do we reconcile ourselves to our bodies now as part of our spirituality? The author takes the approach that this question is a difficult one for women especially because of the way that our bodies have been viewed and treated through history, and now especially. How can we see our body as something spiritual, as something that will be redeemed, in light of the things that seem to tear spirituality from it; things like the historical view that women are less valuable, a devaluing of the female body through rape and pornography, or by limiting the female into being an image only, or some kind of spiritual mother only, like the Virgin Mary? All of these things seem to tie our bodies down to the earth and make it something that must either change to fit a prescribed earthly mold, or something we long to get rid of entirely. We don’t see the body’s eternal significance so we want to change it to fit the world’s significance. We beat it up, we go under the knife voluntarily for plastic surgery, we go on extreme diets, we modify it to fit whatever the current trend seems to be. And in the end, our bodies betray us in sickness in death. Our souls are not able do whatever they want to do, because they are tied to a body that provides weakness and limitation, and eventually causes us to die. So how do we reconcile ourselves to what Frida Kahlo called “this Judas of a body”?
The bulk of the book is spent talking about the topics I just mentioned above. It’s helpful to see all of those historical meanings that we’ve placed on the female body, and all of the ways and methods (through both feminism and spirituality) that we’ve tried to escape them. But we haven’t been able to do it… we still feel trapped and betrayed by our bodies. The second part of the book discusses the work of Jesus as a person who was fully man and fully God. I think it was extremely helpful to focus on the real flesh and blood humanity of Christ, and to think about the spirituality and meaning of his body and how that can change our view of our own. This book caused me to ask myself if I could begin seeing both myself and others the way that Christ does, seeing the beauty of both body and soul together.
This book won’t blow your mind and cause overnight changes. I believe that it’s asking for an entire shift in perspective, and something like that certainly must be a process and not something that happens immediately. However, I think the questions that it poses are so central to our identity that it’s something that will stay with you and cause you to think for a long time afterward. I would highly recommend this book to all women and men.