Monday, October 19, 2015

I'm Attending a Christian Women's Book Club

I recently began attending a CHRISTIAN WOMEN’S BOOK CLUB. Three-dimensional, corporeal female friends can sometimes be hard to find and I realized that this was the best I was going to get. My good friend hosts the book club. She is exceptionally intelligent, creative and an extraordinary communicator. She is married, has a degree in Architecture, her husband is a successful Oncologist and she has a two- year old son. Like me, she is pregnant with a baby girl and we both happen to be in the same trimester.

The moment I met her I could see that she enjoyed the pursuit of intellectual discussions, controversial ones…challenging ones. She wasn’t your typical boring woman who would talk incessantly about movies and television shows or “what she did yesterday” or “how funny her dog/cat is”.  She liked ideas. She would discuss world events and hypothesize about their effects. She wasn’t opposed to seeing things from a different angle. Furthermore, she composed herself with kindness and humility and had a “free-thinking” flow to her thoughts.

 I DID NOT introduce myself to her as an atheist, though I did mention that I was “no longer religious”. I didn’t want to excommunicate myself from the get-go.

We became friends almost instantly and have spent time together going to Flea markets or having tea in her kitchen. She is ambitious and has amassed quite the cohort of female friends—many of them pregnant or with young children and all of them are devout Christians.

We are currently studying the book, “The Envy of Eve”. This book exposes a common vice of women: Envy, Covetousness…Jealousy.  The book is written from a Christian woman’s perspective.  The general thrust of the book is that having these negative emotions steals your contentment in life.  The resolution for the negative trait of envy, of course, is to be more appreciative of what you do have. It is harder to let discontentment and jealousy seep in if you remain grateful for the wonderful things in your life—like having two working legs, being able to use your (limited) brain and having clean water to drink.

Abolishing jealousy comes back to mindfulness—approaching situations and navigating your feelings about them by being continually mindful. While feelings of jealousy can be easily aroused it is important to stop and recognize these emotions as they appear…and then dispense of them. Jealousy comes when we are constantly comparing ourselves to the success of others and then feel bitter that we are no where near as successful.

 Of course, this book is written from a theological standpoint and is drenched with scripture verses and the insistence to “stop and pray”. As usual, it seems that prayer and Biblical meditation are the prescriptions for having a jealous, covetous mind-set.

What struck me most about this Christian book study was how practical and useful the message was. From my vantage point as an atheist, I see things like jealousy and covetousness from a psychological or biological perspective and no longer from a Biblical perspective.

A major reason why jealousy exists among women comes back down to our human (biological) desire to find a long-term mate and reproduce with this person. Women can be jealous of other women because they are in competition with other women to secure a long-term partner and push their genes into the next generation.Thus—there are biological—not theological—reasons why women are jealous of other women. Women are also jealous of other women who are more successful in their career than they are. Competition begets jealousy—I think.

Anyways, it will be interesting to learn more from these women at the book club. I will just have to start reading the book. HA!


  1. It is interesting on seeing the verisimilitude of observing negative aspects of people and coming up with similar ways to overcome them.

    You could sum it up as, "Yes we have these things, but instead of letting it over come you, you look at where you are and had bad it could have been. Strive as best as you can and help others to do so."

    You can do this theologically, philosophically, form a group session, all sorts of ways to over come these negative aspects.

  2. Fascinating. I've long pondered the role of christian fiction, and I think it works because religious believers can't tell fact from fiction. The reader "knows" the book is fiction, but while reading it, perceives the events described as real* - and that feeling persists after the book is finished.

    This provides comforting evidence that prayer and religious devotion really works - something the bible doesn't do as strongly since its (alleged) events occurred thousands of years ago. Contemporary plots are much more relatable.

    Good luck! I couldn't do it.

    * fMRI studies show that the visual cortex and fusiform gyrus activate while reading - we "see" things in our minds.

    1. Do you think this is because these books provide a means to feel the spiritual fix they get from reading the Bible but don't find it in everyday life? Ticking themselves so to speak?

      Makes sense with the Left Behind series.

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    3. Probably confirmation bias. There's no evidence that prayer works in real life, so fiction provides that squirt of dopamine as the reader sees that the things she (almost always she) does provide a solution for the book characters. Remember, we have trouble distinguishing fact from fiction, and this is especially the case for the religious. See

    4. As Penn Jilltte said "If children could tell the difference between fact and fiction, all art from Shakespeare to children stories would be immoral".

      This article would be a case in point.

    5. The book I'm reading is a non-fiction book--not a fiction book. Most Christian books like this are non-fiction. Think "Purpose Driven Life" type.

    6. Good grief - it's a Christian Women's Self-Help Book Club? I admire your intestinal fortitude - my head would explode, being exposed to so much earnestness. ;)

    7. Sorry to lose focus of the subject. I was originally thinking on different ways to solve the same problems.

  3. "I see things like jealousy and covetousness from a psychological or biological perspective and no longer from a Biblical perspective." --Renee

    Me too. I just read in 'The Self Illusion' how, in 1966, prior to killing 14 and injuring 32 in a shooting rampage, Charles Whitman had written "After my death I wish that an autopsy would be performed to see if there is any visible physical disorder." A sizable tumor in the region of his amygdala had been found. The author cites another case where pedophilia corresponded to the presence of a tumor in a man's prefrontal cortex.