We talk to Abigail Rine Favale, who directs and teaches in the William Penn Honors Program, a great books program at George Fox University. She is the author of 'Into the Deep: An Unlikely Catholic Conversion.'
We discuss her conversion, evangelical purity culture, the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, Consent and 3 Paradigms, Transgenderism and Feminism, Waves of Feminism and her work at George Fox.
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- Into the Deep: An Unlikely Catholic Conversion — Into the Deep traces one woman's spiritual odyssey from birthright evangelicalism through postmodern feminism and, ultimately, into the Roman Catholic Church. As a college student, Abigail Favale experienced a feminist awakening that reshaped her life and faith. A decade later, on the verge of atheism, she found herself entering the oldest male-helmed institution on the planet--the last place she expected to be. With humor and insight, the author describes her gradual exodus from Christian orthodoxy and surprising swerve into Catholicism. She writes candidly about grappling with wounds from her past, Catholic sexual morality, the male priesthood, and an interfaith marriage. Her vivid prose brings to life the wrenching tumult of conversion--a conversion that began after she entered the Church and began to pry open its mysteries. There, she discovered the startling beauty of a sacramental cosmos, a vision of reality that upended her notions of gender, sexuality, identity, and authority. Into the Deep is a thoroughly twenty-first-century conversion, a compelling account of recovering an ancient faith after a decade of doubt.
- Kissing Purity Culture Goodbye — Foremost among these is the reductive notion of “purity” itself, which becomes more or less synonymous with virginity. In this understanding, a person exists in a default state of purity, which can then be corrupted or lost through sexual activity. The implied trajectory is from purity into corruption, from which only partial redemption is possible. Virginity, once lost, can never truly be regained. This inverts the arc of the Christian life, in which one moves from original corruption into purification by grace. While the biblical understanding of purity includes sexual activity, it is hardly reducible to it. Rather, purity concerns conversion of the whole self to Christ, a continual and lifelong process. The Evangelical purity paradigm also ignores the question of how to faithfully live out one’s sexuality after getting married—especially after one has been taught to associate sex with shame and sin. This is a major flaw in Harris’s approach, which he acknowledges in his statement of retraction: “The book also gave some the impression that a certain methodology of relationships would deliver a happy ever-after ending—a great marriage, a great sex life—even though this is not promised by scripture.”
- Evangelical Gnosticism — My students are a microcosm of what I see as a growing trend in contemporary Evangelicalism. Without a guiding connection to orthodoxy, young Evangelicals are developing heterodox sensibilities that are at odds with a Christian understanding of personhood. The body is associated with sin, the soul with holiness. Moreover, this sense of the body, especially under the alias flesh, tends to be hypersexualized. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the Evangelical emphasis on purity, a word that has become synonymous with bodily virginity. Despite the biblical usage of purity as holiness in a broader, holistic sense, including but not limited to sexual matters, the word “purity” has become narrowly sexualized. It is not a virtue to be continually cultivated, but a default physical state that can be permanently lost.
- Gnosticism creeps in! — 1 minute sound bite of how Gnosticism keeps showing up.
- The Sex Education We Need (Book Review: 'Love Thy Body' by Nancy Pearcey) — She presents thoughtful challenges to Christians, urging us to resist polarizing gender stereotypes in our families and communities, which may fuel the transgender fever. She emphasizes the need to revive a radical hospitality, especially toward those who have struggled with sexual issues and thus have a unique wisdom to share. Pearcey weaves in such voices throughout the book, voices of those who don’t fit the culture-war scripts—such as Cari, a woman who has “detransitioned” from living as a trans man, or Lianne, a Christian intersexed woman who was raised as a boy. Pearcey keeps human beings complex, accentuating their dignity and situating them in a created order that, though ravaged by the fall, is nonetheless divinely designed.
- A Movement, Hijacked (Book Review: 'Subverted: How I Helped the Sexual Revolution Hijack the Women’s Movement' by Sue Ellen Browder) — A particularly fascinating thread in the book is Browder’s nuanced profile of Betty Friedan. She was initially ambivalent about legalizing abortion; the issue of “reproductive rights” was conspicuously absent from the first edition of The Feminine Mystique. By the 1980s, she was blaming the “failure” of the women’s movement on “our blind spot about the family.” As Browder reveals, the pro-abortion movement—led by Larry Lader, the central villain of the book—was decidedly male until successfully wooing the National Organization for Women in 1967.
- Irigaray, Incarnation and Contemporary Women's Fiction: Abigail Rine: Bloomsbury Academic — Drawing on the provocative recent work of feminist theorist Luce Irigaray, Irigaray, Incarnation and Contemporary Women's Fiction illuminates the vital and subversive role of literature in rewriting notions of the sacred. Abigail Rine demonstrates through careful readings how a range of contemporary women writers - from Margaret Atwood to Michèle Roberts and Alice Walker – think beyond traditional religious discourse and masculine models of subjectivity towards a new model of the sacred: one that seeks to reconcile the schism between the human and the divine, between the body and the word. Along the way, the book argues that literature is the ideal space for rethinking religion, precisely because it is a realm that cultivates imagination, mystery and incarnation.
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