Book Review: Living on the Boundaries: Evangelical Women, Feminism and the Theological Academy -- By: Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 22:2 (Spring 2008)
Article: Book Review: Living on the Boundaries: Evangelical Women, Feminism and the Theological Academy
Author: Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen

Book Review: Living on the Boundaries:
Evangelical Women, Feminism and the Theological Academy

Nicola Hoggard Creegan and Christine D. Pohl

(InterVarsity, 2005)

Reviewed by

Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen

MARY STEWART VAN LEEUWEN is Professor of Psychology and Philosophy at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. She is currently working on a book about C. S. Lewis and the psychology of gender, to be published by Brazos Press. Although she is an amateur photographer of birds, she herself has not posed for any calendars recently.

In 2006, some senior women faculty at Calvin College were inspired by the film Calendar Girls, a lightly fictionalized account of an improbable fundraising device by a group of middle-aged Britons in a rural Women’s Institute. The Englishwomen decided to pose in discreetly suggestive ways (featuring food, flowers, and fancy hats) for a calendar, which ended up selling so widely and so well that it raised almost $1 million for the cancer ward of a local hospital. The women at Calvin decided to celebrate, in a similar way, the now-critical mass of female professors at their institution while at the same time raising funds for a downtown women’s ministry. The result, a sixteen-month calendar titled “So Far From Cheesecake,”1 features full-professorial women, most of whom earned their terminal degrees from the 1980s to mid-1990s. They are posed in academic regalia surrounded by the tools of their disciplines, which include the social and natural sciences, languages and philosophy, art and music, communication, dance, and business. One woman in religious studies was also featured, her photo flanked by the telling phrase that Jesus used to describe Mary of Bethany as she studied at his feet with the male disciples: “Choosing the better part.”

Nicola Creegan and Christine Pohl—a theologian and theological ethicist respectively, and both professors at evangelical institutions—belong to roughly the same cohort of academic women: they pursued seminary then doctoral training in the 1980s, encouraged by the success of the third wave of feminism and its (albeit fainter) reverberations in the evangelical subculture. Living on the Boundaries is their attempt to track what happened to almost one hundred scholars like themselves: women with advanced theological training who have self-identified as evangelicals and feminists, though not always simultaneously. Lacking a comprehensive database for such a group, they did the next best thing and used a “snowball” method (getting people to refer other people) to assemble their sample. The result is a richly textured analysis of responses combined with thoughtfu...

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