I learned from Scot McKnight’s Substack about a new book, the Introduction to which is riveting. It’s called Stained Glass Ceilings: How Evangelicals Do Gender and Practice Power, by Lisa Weaver Swartz, a sociologist at Asbury University in Kentucky.
In it she profiles two seminary communities in Kentucky: Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Asbury Theological Seminary. Southern has a “complementarian insistence on male headship,” whereas Asbury “rejects overtly gendered hierarchies.” This comparative study already piques my interest. I expected it to be a takedown of Southern that held Asbury up as a shining example of how to “do gender and practice power.” Indeed, McKnight writes here about Weaver Swartz and “Southern Seminary’s ‘Godly’ Man.” McKnight calls it “faux masculinity” where “the power dynamic becomes asymmetrical, which itself is fertile ground for abuse.”
But Weaver Swartz notes in the introduction, “Asbury, however, has struggled to achieve the demographic equity it prescribes.” Even this seminary with a so-called egalitarian theology has a narrative that “limits women much more subtly.” There is at Asbury Seminary an “individualistic genderblindness” that “limits gender equity.” And so, “Combining theology, culture, rhetoric, and embodied practice, both seminaries narrate powerful institutional stories that center men and limit women’s agency.”
Phew! That’s all from the first few pages. And the title, Stained Glass Ceilings, is really clever. Not to mention a beautifully designed cover.
Check out the book here at the publisher’s site. I’m eager to read it.