Flyleaf Books will host a reading and discussion on Saturday about a new anthology that brings together essays by 40 women under 40 that tackle the taboos Christian women face in their communities.
“Talking Taboo: American Christian Women Get Frank About Faith” is the fourth book in the “I Speak for Myself” series, a narrative collection of interfaith and intercultural books. The discussion will be from 2-3 p.m.
Maria Ebrahimji, co-founder of I Speak for Myself Inc. and former executive producer for CNN, said the idea for I Speak for Myself came about in 2005 with the first book in the series “I Speak for Myself: American Women on Being Muslim.”
“When my co-editor and now business partner Zahra Suratwala and I actually decided to write that first book, we never really thought about the fact that we wanted to move on and form an entire publishing business and an entire series around it,” she said.
Ebrahimji said “Talking Taboo” is a continuation of the interfaith collection of books in the series and the topics discussed in the book are universal.
“Love, sex and marriage is a universal theme in any religion or any community, and therefore, I think that this book will also be something that people of non-Christian faith might reach to and learn a little bit more about Christianity through the eyes of these women,” she said.
“That’s really the beauty of I Speak for Myself — we really do intend for these books to be by and for a specific community, but the narratives are such that they can really sort of transcend. I think a lot of people can learn from them.”
In this book, “taboo” is not a negative term, Ebrahimji said.
“It’s really that which is not discussed openly but should be, and that’s how we define the idea of taboo,” she said.
“Issues like government, leadership in the church, women’s role in leading the church, the ideas of sex, marriage and divorce, all of those are topics that these women individually touch on.”
Erin Lane, co-editor of “Talking Taboo,” said she and co-editor Enuma Okoro thought it would be interesting to ask their contributors what the church isn’t speaking about and what people aren’t writing about in the Christian community.
“Each woman has to speak for herself,” Lane said. “These aren’t essays in which people are trying to make theological points or argue an abstract issue, but we asked each contributor to speak primarily from personal experience and really flesh out what that taboo looks like in their lives.”
Lane said the book features a mix of women from various backgrounds, denominations and theological leanings, which means that what’s taboo for one woman, could be completely normal and mundane for another woman.
“I think there are a lot of young women in the church that still feel like their voice isn’t being heard,” she said. “My hope is that we would learn to listen better and that people would pick up this book that don’t agree with all of the essays — I don’t know how one could — that men would pick up this book because they think there’s something of value in listening to women.”
Pilar Timpane, a contributor to the book and local multimedia producer, said “Talking Taboo” is a rare kind of book. From it, she said she has learned that women of faith have very diverse experiences and perspectives.
“It’s really hard to say that there’s one kind of Christian woman; there are actually many kinds,” Timpane said. “It’s important for our voices to be heard and to be connected, so that’s what I hope that people will get from it, the sense of connection to women’s stories in the church.”
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