Calling all agnostics and passive Christians (people who don’t give much thought to God or Jesus but call themselves Christian because it’s easier than being different): read this book. It’s an excellent primer on why atheists find religious people so damn arrogant, hypocritical, moronic, and just plain offensive.
I didn’t have high expectations for this book, but it still managed to disappoint. I was hoping for some insight into what everyday life is like for women in Yemen – but this book isn’t about that. It’s 85% Audra Shelby’s whining about trying to live life without the amenities she volunteered to forgo, with a sprinkling of her highly biased observations of Yemeni life.
Reading about Audra Shelby trying to push her religion on others is like reading about one battered woman trying to convince another to come live in her house with her own abusive husband, as he only beats her on Sundays.
With the same fuzzy logic of a crazed victim, she justifies the bad things that happen to her as Jesus teaching her a lesson, or testing her love. Most of her prayers appear to go unheard (unless you’re as delusional as she is), until she prays for a package to arrive at a certain time and it does… and that’s an important moment in the book. I wish I was kidding.
She picks and chooses when to play it on the safe side, and when to throw caution to the wind and “what will be will be.” For instance, she has a rough pregnancy, and so decides to return to the United States to have her baby. But a few months later, and this is not after a major revelation, she takes him to Yemen against the recommendation of his physicians, saying “[his] life does not belong to us… his life belongs to God.”
A couple of my favorite parts…
Omar’s arrogance about his pure connection to Abraham and his disparaging remarks about the Bible and Jesus had spurred me to hot anger. It was my Lord he was making a common prophet and my Bible he was deriding as corrupt.
Maybe she wrote this book as revenge?
Lying in the dirt three feet away was a naked baby girl not more than six or seven months old…”Why is that baby in the dirt?” Annie whispered as we sat on the cot. “Doesn’t she know how dangerous that is?”
“They don’t even know how dangerous unboiled water is,” I whispered back. “That’s why we need nurses like you for health education!”
I did learn something from this book. In my ignorance, I thought most missionaries actually did some good – teaching people how to read and write, building schools, etc. According to this book, Audra and her husband spent their time in Yemen learning the language and then sitting around with infidels and thinking Jesus-y thoughts at them. She spends a lot of the book bemoaning how so few women in Yemen have any sort of education, but makes no mention of any effort to teach them anything.
“Tihama villages have an illiteracy rate of 98% among women. What they know, they learn from memorization or by word of mouth. They can’t read it for themselves, not even their religion. They know it only by what they are told it is.”
Tears glistened in Annie’s eyes. “Somebody needs to tell them God’s Word,” she whispered.
“I know.” I held her eyes. “they need to hear it for themselves.”
…buuuut again. No mention of any effort by any of the missionaries in this book to teach any people in this book anything (not even about Jesus, except for occasionally praying in front of them). Apparently they just thought Jesus-y thoughts at them.
I thought of Nabila and her malnourished son in their lean-to hut. I wondered how many other children she would have who would die. I thought of all the other illiterate women, women kept in ignorance and treated as nothing else…The women lived that way because they did not know anything else. They did not know they were valued and loved by God, that He had created them intentionally with a beautiful plan for their lives. They did not know they were worth more than gold to God – that they were worth the life of His own Son.
Obviously if these women without resources, who are already living their lives devoted to God, switch from prophet A to prophet B, KAPOW!!!!! they’ll be living the high life in Beverly Hills with an education and good medical care.