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Let the Bones Dance, reviewed by Timothy Lim Teck Ngern

Men are often perceived as initiators of relationships, supporters of pregnant spouses and sharers in the parental role. Psychological studies typically claim that men operate more readily with their left-brain, and that men have been culturated to suppress most of their feelings (Beth Erickson, 1993; Fredric Rabinowitz and Sam Cochran, 2002). Apart from aggression and anger, men have difficulty expressing their emotions through the language of feelings. Nevertheless, as psychologist Babette Rothschild claims, that it is not just that The Body Remembers (2000) [its trauma] but that the body rehabilitates as it overcomes the experience of relational estrangement (which sums up the thrust of Shoop’s proposal): Babette asserts that this bodily function operates in male and female bodies. Given the dynamics of male-socialization, how would the roles men play in their embodied experience be a factor for ecclesial reflection on redemption, ecclesial formation and worship? How would it differ from Shoop’s proposed outcome? Would we then need to moderate Shoop’s original proposal for a churchwide theology that plays exclusive attention to women sensibilities in the areas of redemption, ministry and worship?

In the final analysis (despite the one-sided orientation of the book towards female voices), Shoop certainly offers a good read for pastors, theologians, and church leaders in the urban contexts seeking a psychological and ecclesial theology of human experience from and for a women’s perspective. What is now needed is a sequel dealing with male embodied experience for an ecclesial theology of human experience. At this point, a caveat is in order: Shoop’s insightful interdisciplinary exploration may pose difficulties, especially for readers uncomfortable with approaching theology from feminist perspectives. Still, I would recommend Shoop to pastors and church leaders who desire their church to reach the major of their congregants. We may be on our way to mobilizing women in the churches towards God’s purposes that the churches have yet to encounter if Shoop’s ideas are taken seriously! In that sense, while the book is academic in nature, the implication of the book is more than academic. Hence, I recommend a wider readership than a mere academic audience.

Reviewed by Timothy Lim Teck Ngern

References Cited: Beth M. Erickson, Helping Men Change: The Role of the Female Therapist (Newsbury Park, SAGE Pub., 1993); Fredric E. Rabinowitz and Sam V. Cochran, Deepening Psychotherapy with Men (Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2002); Babette Rothschild, The Body Remembers: The Psychophysiology of Trauma and Trauma Treatment (New York: Norton, 2000).

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About the Author: Timothy Teck Ngern Lim, M.Div. (BGST, Singapore), Ph.D. (Regent University), is a Visiting Lecturer for London School of Theology and Research Tutor for King's Evangelical Divinity School (London). He is on the advisory board of One in Christ (Turvey) and area book review editor for Evangelical Review of Society & Politics. He is an evangelical theologian ordained as a Teaching Elder with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He has published in ecclesiology, ecumenical theology, and interdisciplinarity. A recent monograph published entitled Ecclesial Recognition with Hegelian Philosophy, Social Psychology, and Continental Political Theory: An Interdisciplinary Proposal (Brill, 2017).

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