Just a Sister Away

Published By: Walk Worthy Press

Book Category: Non-Fiction, Religion

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Reviewed by Andrea Sisco

Just a Sister Away by Renita J. Weems was first written some eighteen years ago. Weems revised it and added four new chapters on Mary Magdalene, Queen of Sheba, Achsah and Zelopehad's daughters. Just a Sister Away are biblical stories of women of faith from the perspective of a woman of faith who is also African-American.

Right away, in the first chapter of Just a Sister Away, I thought that it should have been reviewed by an African-American woman. It's written from the author's African-American perspective (which is appropriate) but as a Caucasian woman, I immediately "smarted" at how "white woman" are viewed. In fairness, Weems does point out those problems are not completely issues of race, but also involve "class differences," which cross racial lines.

I almost put the book down. One could say I'm overly sensitive. I would say that I know there are racial issues in our past and present. But as a woman of faith, who happens to be white, I'm weary. I'm tired of feeling blamed for all the "woes in the world." I'm exhausted with trying, but feeling nothing is ever good enough. And that saddens me. Not only for me and women in general, but for my children of color.

I understand that my "picked-on" feelings probably weren't the author's intention, but it is how I feel and that makes it valid for me.

That said, I continued to read the book because I was interested in the subject matter, enjoyed the biblical stories and how they were told and wanted to give Weems the benefit of the doubt. I'm glad I did because overall, it is a book that fed me spiritually, and for that I'm grateful.

The author makes a point that there is betrayal, exploitation, denial, resentment, suspicion, distrust, anger and silence. Weems asks, "How do we get past these memories? How do we reach beyond the enormous gulf of distrust on both our parts and forge friendship and coalitions? It will not be easy. In fact, it will be very difficult. It will require a deliberate effort on our part to listen when it is easier to dismiss. At times, it will mean that we must be as willing to confront and confess the evil in us, as a community of women, as we are to point to evil in the world. It will require a resolve to work with one another both in spite of and because of the pain."

The desire of my heart is that Weems will take her message to heart and participate in dialog, reach out in friendship, take the risk to trust without suspicion, pray for patience when resentment and anger rears up. The downside for us all to do these things is hurt and disappointment. If we don't, we all lose once again. I know I am not being politically correct but if I remain silent it's a loss. I am Just a Sister Away, Reverend Weems, and I just don't feel welcomed. I will prayerfully examine my part in that. I invite all women (sisters) in the world to give and accept love and friendship no matter what the differences. What a wonderful world that would be. Love! Acceptance! Peace and Joy! It's the message of our Lord.

Armchair Interviews says: When we preach to the choir, others who also need the message may not listen. Great stuff in the book for all readers--if you don't stop reading in the first chapter.

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