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Talking Taboo

2013 May 7
by Julie Clawson

Adobe Photoshop PDFSo I know it’s been quiet here the last few weeks. I’m finishing up seminary and the process of completing my thesis and all the other final projects has utterly consumed my time. But in the midst of the busyness, I’m excited to announce a new book project that I am honored to be a part of. I have contributed an essay to the forthcoming Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank about Faith. Here’s what the editors have to say about the book -

What happens when young, American women speak the unspeakable about our experiences of faith? This collection of essays unearths the taboos that have stifled us, divided us, and prevented us from feeling at home in our Christian communities.

We are Erin Lane and Enuma Okoro, and we are ridiculously excited to be working on a new anthology for the I Speak For Myself series. Our book is called Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank about Faith and is set to publish in October of 2013 from White Cloud Press. But Talking Taboo is not just a book – it’s a collection of essays that can start a movement of people getting frank about faith across the globe and risking the scrutiny of showing up as their imperfect selves in the world.

But perhaps the coolest part of this book – this whole series, really – is that you get to hear women speak for themselves. This takes the pressure off having to agree with them or even “tolerate” them, and instead you get to bear witness to the people who are living in your neighborhoods, communities, churches, and home. Pour a cup of tea. Pull up a chair. Get to know us. Maybe you’ll get to know something of God a little better, too, in the process.

My contribution explores what it means to be a strong woman. I got to write about superheroes (which was pretty awesome). I ask why is it that now that women are being portrayed as “strong” and heroic in the media that generally means they are super-violent and cold-hearted? When did that become our definition of strength?

Here’s what others are saying about Talking Taboo -

  • A diverse range of voices rise together in a song of solidarity and sisterhood in Talking Taboo. Bold and beautifully written, these essays will make you giggle, weep, roll your eyes, cheer, balk, gasp, and whisper prayers of thanks. Each story gives the reader permission–permission to speak, permission to ask questions, permission to follow Jesus and serve the church without cramming into a mold. This book is a gift. I hope many will cherish it. – Rachel Held Evans
  • When I look over my books and see how few women theologians/leaders are named in the footnotes compared to the men, I’m sad and determined to do what I can to turn the tide toward balance. That’s one reason I’m thrilled to read Talking Taboo. It introduces me – and I hope you too – to many new leaders who deserve our attention and respect. I’m grateful to Enuma Okoro, Erin Lane, and all the contributors. By presenting women leaders/theologians/writers/thinkers who are as smart as they are brave, Talking Taboo will help us redress an imbalance that has been in place for far too long (as my footnotes evidence) … which is just one of many taboos that it’s time to talk about. - Brian McLaren
  • This array of more than forty stories of Christian women in America is about sexism in church and society, sexism that takes a great variety of forms and has shaped and distorted women’s lives in endless ways. Yet these women are all emerging from these distortions and discovering a God who loves them and a good self that loves oneself. The insightful stories in Talking Taboo bring us in many ways to that hopeful place. - Rosemary Radford Reuther
  • How did Christianity—a faith founded on the reality of “the Word become flesh”—get tied in knots and torn asunder over gender, sexuality, sexual orientation, and other features of the God-given fact we live embodied lives? Scholars argue over that question, but this much is clear: women have been the main victims of this heresy, to the immense loss of both church and world. In the clear and honest words of the women who “talk taboo” in this book, we hear voices of truth that can help Christians reclaim respect for flesh and come to feel more at home in their own skins. Talking Taboo is an important book, one that should be read and discussed in every church in the land. - Parker J. Palmer

This is an exciting project and I can’t wait to be part of the conversations it sparks. We need your help in spreading the word about the book. Share about the book in your networks and, if you can, help give the book momentum by pre-ordering a copy. Visit the book’s campaign on at Indiegogo to contribute and find out more!

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  1. June 1, 2013

    While it sounds like a really interesting book, I can’t help but wonder why under-40 women’s voices on “the taboo” are more valuable than over-40? A question one asks when one is over 40, but not before. (One assumes agism as truth until you get older. I did, too).

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