Religion, Feminism, and the Family

Carr, Anne, and Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen, eds. Religion, Feminism, and the Family. The Family, Religion, and Culture Series. Don S. Browning and Ian S. Evison, eds. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996.

Religion, Feminism, and the Family, edited by Anne Carr (Chicago Divinity School) and Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen (Eastern College), treats three important subjects—seldom brought together in the same volume—as conversation partners rather than natural adversaries to suggest their inherent mutuality and compatibility regarding gender equality, the importance of the family and the role religion plays in supporting both family and feminist concerns. According to Van Leeuwen in the Introduction, the goals of the book are fourfold: “to address the relationship of various forms of feminism to the structure and functioning of families; to examine whether there is an inherent conflict between families as defined in the past and the current goals of feminism; to explore what kind of ethic can best promote gender justice while strengthening family life and the family as a societal institution; and to explore what religiously based feminism can contribute to the resolution of the above questions.” <p> The book’s contents deal with four broad topics: the meaning of, and the relationship between, feminism, religion and the family (Part I); the family as defined in Jewish and Christian theology and contexts (Part II); six historical narratives exploring women, Christianity and family in European and American life and thought (Part III); and current issues facing families and women from a theological perspective (Part IV). In the book's Final Reflections Carr notes that, while the book does not present a single argument or point of view, a number of important themes emerge, calling for a reconsideration and reformulation of the book’s three subjects in a way which makes it possible for each to pay greater attention to the concerns of the others. This perspective seeks to honor each subject, without subordinating any, in an attempt to integrate the inherent value of each within the others.