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Fall 1989 · Vol. 18 No. 2 · pp. 114–15 

Book Review

Bless Me Too, My Father

Katie Funk Wiebe. Scottdale, PA: Herald, 1988. 272 pages.

Reviewed by Robert Enns

This book, it was suggested, might well be reviewed by a sociologist. So I assigned myself the task of reading the book not primarily as a clear window into a fine spirit (which it is!), nor as a repository of gems of wisdom (it is that, also!), nor as the testimony of one only slightly older than I who provides a model of how to adjust successfully to a new stage in life (and the book does that, too!). I attempted to read the book, rather, as a mirror which reflects the church and society in which Katie Funk Wiebe (like many of the rest of us) lives and writes. I tried to read in the book the larger social and churchly story which provides the context for the personal story which Katie Funk Wiebe tells so well. I found Bless Me Too, My Father to be a troubling book when read from this perspective because so many of the issues which the author confronts are rooted in the nature of the church and society in which we participate together.

The book chronicles a series of decisions and adjustments through which the author has struggled, heroically perhaps, but all too often alone. She struggles alone because the church in our individualistic society falls so far short of being the “body,” “building,” or “family” which could have shared more fully in her struggles and experiences. She struggles alone {115}because like American society in general and unlike the biblical people of God, the church tends to be centered around the nuclear family unit. She struggles alone because the church, like the surrounding society, provides too few “rites of passage” in which the community defines and participates in transitions in the stages of life and “alternations” in identity. She struggles alone because the church, like the society around us, is too frequently shaped by the glorification of youthful consumption. She struggles alone because both church and society remain so largely male dominated.

Katie Funk Wiebe is not the first daughter in the family of God to plead “Bless me too, my Father.” When the daughters of the deceased Zelophehad brought a similar request, “Give to us our property on the same footing as our father’s brothers” before the leadership “and all the community,” the response was not simply encouragement for these women to accept graciously their proper place in a God-ordained patricentric social order. “The Lord spoke to Moses and said, ‘The claim. . .is good. You must allow them to inherit’ ” (Num. 27:7). Women were to share with men the rights of inheritance. The patricentric structures were to be changed.

Bless Me Too, My Father shows that we have not gotten things right yet. Our sisters, especially, still struggle, too often too much alone, with a church and society that are unresponsive to both their gifts and their needs. Katie Funk Wiebe’s book is a beautifully told story of how one woman is succeeding in that struggle. Each of us can learn much from her story about our own personal story. But we need to learn, also, to make church and society more responsive to the prayer that is the title of her book.

Robert Enns is Professor of Sociology, Fresno Pacific College, Fresno, California.

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