Book Review: Malestrom by Carolyn Custis James

Malestrom-cover-art-borderAs a female pastor, I have a lot of experience thinking about how women are negatively affected by patriarchy–particularly in the church. With Malestrom: Manhood Swept into the Currents of a Changing World, however, Carolyn Custis James cogently articulates the negative impact that patriarchy also has on men. James explores both the biblical text and the contemporary world, studying the plight of men contrasted with the flourishing that comes when men and women participate together in the Blessed Alliance designed by God for humanity.

James’ primary research for Malestrom focuses on the stories of men in Scripture, including Adam, Abraham, Jacob, Judah, Joseph, Barak, Boaz, Matthew, Joseph, Jesus, and Paul. Each of these men had to battle the malestrom, which James’ describes as “the particular ways in which the fall impacts the male of the human species—causing a man to lose himself, his identity and purpose as a man, and above all to lose sight of God’s original vision for his sons,” (18). Through each of their stories, these men find freedom as they break the pull of their culture and participate in the mission of God in the world by partnering with their sisters in the faith in a Blessed Alliance.

For readers wanting more practical solutions to resisting the malestrom, that is not the direct aim of this work. Rather, James brings our attention to discover the currents in our world that entrap men, into which we need to live and proclaim the freeing gospel of Christ. Malestrom is a book to alert our minds and senses to become aware of the problem. It has certainly done such for me and filled me with greater conviction to contextualize the gospel in a way that matters for men who are stuck in the current confines of our culture’s ideals.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Find out more about the book here.

* A special thanks to Zondervan Academic for providing a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Professional Reader


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