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9.15.2008

Wanting All The Right Things

Wanting All the Right Things is a relevantbook by Shirin Taber, a Iranian-American who spent most of her life learning what it was like to live a multi-cultural life as a woman. Shirin has spent several years abroad, working with college students all around the world. It is through her childhood, and through these experiences abroad that the content for Wanting all the Right Things birthed.

As a woman who spent most of her life in America, I know how hard it is to be a “good woman.” Many people have different ideas what that looks like—a career-oriented woman who climbs the ladder to influence and success, a stay-at-home mother who has cookies on the table for her children everyday and maybe even homeschools them, or maybe a woman who has perfected the art of balancing taking care of her children and also working outside the home for the betterment on the community in which she lives. Often times the Church will have an opinion on what a good woman looks like, and the world has a different view. Most of the time these two ideas clash. So what’s a woman, more specifically a Christian woman, to do?

Shirin lists several things that women in general tend to want, or desire for their lives (in some degree or another): significance, beauty, intimacy, solitude, financial security, a legacy, and the supernatural. She talks about how each of these things are real needs for women, but the way in which we desire them can be not only unbiblical, but healthy. After spending a chapter on each, Shirin ends with a chapter on raising our daughters in this “emerging femininity,” and another on mentoring younger women.

I won’t go into each chapter, although I want to ☺, but I instead wanted to discuss my major thoughts on the book as a whole. Shirin does a great job of maintaining a balance between the traditional value on being a mother, and pursuing other outside interests. The thing is, she emphasizes that we can do either one, or both… that one is not the “perfect” life across the board.

Shirin emphasizes again and again that women are not men. And by the mantra “I can do anything a man can do”… and then pursuing that, has made it out to look like that men are the ones that should be emulated… that manhood is the best and women should all try and be men…simply because we can. She emphasizes that manhood and womanhood is different. God created us differently. And we as women need to figure out what true womanhood is… not necessarily what the Church has always emphasized, but true, biblical and cultural womanhood. And we need to figure out what real manhood is, for that matter as well. Not necessarily what culture tells us or necessarily what the Church has traditionally said, but what God says about the matter.

One thing that I think was lacking in this book was a strong ending. Shirin ends a little heavy on “mother power,” which I think is unhelpful to those who decide that they would rather focus on raising spiritual children than having biological children. Although probably helpful for some women, I would have enjoyed a little less pop culture images. Although not a bad example, she used Desperate Housewives and Angelina Jolene to illustrate some things throughout the book, the latter being particularly hard to connect with.

This book is just the beginning of the journey that God has me on to discover just this thing. Wanting All the Right Things was a great start. Shirin uses lots of Scripture, as well as popular feminist theorists, to weave a tapestry of healthy womanhood.

Books for further reading:
Eve’s Revenge: Women and a Spirituality of the Body by Lilian Calles Barger

In Pursuit of the Ideal by Nancy M. Wilson

Women Caught in the Conflict: The Culture War Between Traditionalism and Feminism by Rebecca M. Groothuis

What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us: Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman by Danielle Crittenden

Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety by Judith Warner

The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women by Naomi Wolf

Why Beauty Matters by Karen-Lee Thorp and Cynthia Hicks

2 comments:

Scott said...

I really enjoyed the portion about women not trying to be men, since that implies that men are better, despite feminist intentions to the contrary.

Also, since you couldn't relate to Angelina Jolie, does that imply that you're a closet Desperate Housewives fan? What has Africa done!

RYC: We're not reading Pagan Christianity. I'm reading through it again with Steven and a couple guys from Chi Alpha. Our first Living the Sabbath discussion is tonight.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your feedback about my book Wanting All the Right Things. I am glad you enjoyed it and hope it surfaces good conversation aomng your peers. I agree the Desperate Houswives theme and Angelina Jolie refrences are outdated - but I started drafting the book in 2005 when they were all "hot". That's why most non-fiction books only have a "shelf life" of 2-5 years. Readers are so sophisticated these days!

All to say, feel free to shoot me an email any time...and keep the conversation going.

Shirin Taber
Author of Wanting All the Right Things
Southern CA
s.taber@sbcglobal.net