Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Call to Action - Book Review

I recently read Jimmy Carter's new book A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power. Well, I did more than just read it. I purchased the book and had Jimmy Carter himself sign it at a book signing in New York!

The book signing was quite the experience. I lined up outside the Barnes & Noble about two hours before the book signing was supposed to start. Good thing I did because I was part of the first group to be let inside the store for the signing! By the time I left the store, there were TONS more people standing outside waiting to get in.
I had this idea that I'd be able to shake Jimmy Carter's hand and speak with him for a few minutes. I wanted to tell him how much I enjoyed his book Our Endangered Values. But that was not to be. Secret Service was there, and we were not to touch Mr. Carter nor could we hand him the book. I had to hand the book to someone who handed it to someone else who handed it to Jimmy Carter who signed it and handed it to someone else who handed it to someone else who handed it back to me. Our hands had to be out of our pockets the whole time we walked in front of the former president, and I had to drink from my water bottle in front of Secret Service to prove that it was really water and not ... something else.
It was still cool, though, and I did get to thank Mr. Carter for being there, and he looked at me and said, "You're welcome".
As for the book, I REALLY enjoyed Our Endangered Values, but this new one wasn't at the same level. It was still interesting to read, but I thought it could have been organized a bit better. It was very stream-of-consciousness, and when you're 89, I don't really think your stream is super together. Carter tells many personal stories in this book, but oftentimes I wasn't sure why he was telling them or what point he was trying to make in terms of the theme of the chapter.
I did bookmark a lot of pages because the book tackles an interesting topic. Basically, Jimmy Carter thinks there are two reasons why there is such a high rate of abuse, violence, and lack of equality toward women and girls. The first reason is religion and men who hold religious power misinterpreting religious texts to "perpetuate their claim that females are, in some basic ways, inferior to them, unqualified to serve God on equal terms" (2). The second reason is an acceptance of violence in society, from war to the death penalty.
There are many world leaders who are trying to combat this problem, and Carter's own Carter Center is also working to fix this issue that confronts women in both third-world and developed countries. The book gives examples of what the Carter Center and others are doing to successfully change cultural attitudes.
The book is definitely one to check out, though you should know that there are chapters on female genital mutilation, and if you don't want to read about that because it is kind of gruesome, then maybe you'll want to pass on this book or at least skip that chapter.

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