I am regularly dumbfounded by how few Christians have read Half the Sky—Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, by journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Whenever I ask Christian audiences (and I do ask!) how many have read it, the percentage is rarely more than 10% and often significantly less.
If you haven’t yet read this important book for Christians, allow me to offer a couple of nudges to get you going.
- Here’s the 2009 NYTimes review, Changing Lives, that hailed the release of the Half the Sky and compelled me to order the book and start reading.
- Beginning tonight, October 1, PBS is broadcasting a 4-hour documentary series on Half the Sky. You can view the trailer here.
But as Christians, we have even greater reasons to be informing ourselves and doing what we can to end this global crisis that is destroying the lives of millions of women and girls. This issue is central to our callings as followers of Jesus and as God’s image bearers.
How can we fulfill God’s mandate for us to “rule and subdue,” if we aren’t subduing the Enemy in his terrible offensive against women and girls? How can we in good conscience pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” if we turn a blind eye to the evils the Enemy is perpetrating in God’s world? Are we really taking seriously the Apostle Paul’s red alert to “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” if we confine his warning to our private spiritual battles and ignore this most hideous and widespread of his schemes?
My book, Half the Church—Recapturing God’s Global Vision for Women (see Lesa Engelthaler’s review www.faithvillage.net) provides the second “Half” by linking the issues raised in Half the Sky to our Christian calling as followers of Jesus. The video below demonstrates how the whole gospel includes both the good news of salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection and the subsequent deeds of mercy and justice that are supposed to characterize those who follow him.
“Carolyn Custis James has written an unusual and compelling book, mixing her personal story with the dramatic changes in today’s world and her thoughtful interpretations of the Scriptures and how women can respond with greater fervor to the Bible’s call for change and betterment of the world.”—Sheryl WuDunn, co-author of Half the Sky
Amazon is selling both “Half”s—Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof’s, Half the Sky, and Half the Church together! I hope you’ll order and read both “Half”s!
I am also amazed at how few Christians are tweeting, FB, or blogging about “Half the Sky”… I'm dismayed, frankly! Thank you Carolyn for getting the info out there. Other sources ALL over the internet were talking about this documentary and posted banners with the date and time on PBS – online magazines, celebrity twitter accounts, you name it. It really is a picture of what I've found lately…most Christians and Christian organizations are not global thinkers. They have more of an us-and-them mentality as opposed to a “we” mentality. I don't like using labels of non-Christian or Christian because I feel like I'm fostering a negative attitude, but I don't know how else to delineate between the two for my purposes in this comment… What are they afraid of? We are all PEOPLE
This is an interesting question for me. I am a pastor but also a part-time librarian. I have been concerned for years that a huge percentage of Christians don't read at all – let alone an important book like “Half the Sky.” I think for many Christians who are not familiar with the book world, looking from the outside in, “Half the Sky” does not appear to be a “Christian” book (written by a well-known Christian figure and broadly sold in Christian bookstores) on social justice, unlike a book like “Radical”, for instance, which was widely read because of word-of-mouth recommendations. In addition, the previews for the documentary feature Hillary Clinton, which, honestly, is a turn-off for some, because her policies and statements do not always reveal a Biblical worldview.
It is true that these things are trivial when compared with the importance of the issues raised in “Half the Sky.” I'm not providing excuses for many of the Christians I know who have not read it, I'm just bringing to light the fact that at first glance, the book and documentary do not appear to be saying that Jesus is the answer and the Church is part of the solution.
Laurie, I agree. It is distressing that so few Christians are involved in addressing these atrocities. I'm thankful for those who are in the battle and am grateful to see those numbers increasing. Part 1 of the Half the Sky documentary last night was a disturbing reminder of how essential it is for Christians to engage this battle, for we bring double-Good News to these devastated sufferers. Which means those of us who are concerned and involved need to be talking about these issues with our Christian brothers and sisters.
Ann, Your question is undoubtedly on the minds of others. So let's be perfectly clear. Half the Sky is not a “Christian” book and doesn't pretend to be one, although the issues they raise are Christian issues. The authors are journalists reporting on the atrocities against women they've investigated worldwide. We need to hear that message. And while they acknowledge Christian organizations that are addressing this crisis, they challenge the rest of us to engage this battle.
My book Half the Church is a Christian response to their challenge (1) by presenting what I believe is God's vision/calling for his daughters—a message that undermines the demeaning messages (both harsh and polite) conveyed to women and girls regarding their value and mission in this world and (2) by connecting God's calling on us with this crisis. As God's image bearers, we have responsibility for what is happening in God's world and are called to advance his gracious kingdom of light against the evils of darkness.
Here's another addition to the discussion—a reminder that this is a Christian issue and a call for our Christian brothers to join us in watching the PBS documentary on Half the Sky and in engaging the problems.
“Where Were You, Guys? Why I’m Watching #HalfTheSky With My Husband and Teenage Son” at
Ms. Carolyn, I think you're right. I'm one of the many that didn't buy the book because I like to read the reviews on Amazon first and decide on any book Silly reason right? Anyway, when I learned that it tended to favor some politicians, disparage men, etc. I was very hesitant. If there's one thing I don't like to read about, it's talking about politicians but I'm sure this book has a good message so I'll have to get it. I will say that I prefer reading yours than it but thank you for encouraging us to get both books at least.