Score: 93/100 (9.3 out of 10)
“Our Church Mothers” by Gwen Ehrenborg is a non-fiction religious book that covers many of the important female figures in the history of Judeo-Christianity and the Christian church.
This is a book that pleasantly surprised us with its tact and entertaining presentation of information. The truth is, like many people, we come into these kinds of books with some apprehension and skepticism. No one wants to be be told what to think and what to believe. No one wants to be preached to. The incredible thing is that this book doesn't quite get to that level of preachiness, instead it presents information and a religious perspective in a way that's insightful, interesting, and entertaining.
Another thing that we were happy to see is that it seemed open to all sects of Christianity not just one sect like Roman Catholicism or Mormonism, something we were afraid it might do. In fact, when we first read “Our Church Mothers” we immediately thought this was going to be an exclusively-LDS or exclusively-Catholic text. It wasn't.
Another thing beside hyper-religiousness that always has us on guard is hyper-feminism, and this book doesn't venture there either. This book doesn't attack men or prop up one gender as being greater than the other. However, it still acknowledges that patriarchies have been a part of many societies throughout history including Abrahamic societies.
This book is well-researched and well-written. It covers a range of women from Mary of Nazareth (the mother of Jesus), Deborah (the “bravest” of the judges of Israel in the time before King David), Mother Theresa of Calcutta (the legend herself), and more!
The author is even able to present letters of things the church mothers would say if they were still alive and were able to see the world today. According to one reviewer, this brings their personalities and words to life in an incredibly believable way. Yes, these parts are actually educational because they take you into the minds of people at the times, making reference to colloquial languages, practices, and beliefs. Are these parts somewhat idealized? Maybe. But what do you expect?
This book reminds us a bit of “Wild Colts Make the Best Horses” by Mary Rae Mauch, arguably one of the best non-fiction books of the past year.
Check it out if you're interested in the history of the church and the women who made it possible!