God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Book of Ruth - The Romance

When I was in graduate school getting ready to take my doctoral exams in political science, my feminist studies professor gave me books of suggested reading. One of the books she wanted me to read was READING THE ROMANCE by Janice Radway. This was an academic study of romance literature. A professor wanted to learn why women read romance novels. What was being satisfied by the reading of these books. I don’t remember much of the book, I always wondered why my prof wanted me to read this book. Granted I had said I was thinking about writing my dissertation on Feminist Utopian Literature as a way to say that feminists had come up with a theory of state, but feminist utopias and romance novel are very different literature. The one thing I remember about the book is she argued that the Romance stories the woman found the most satisfying where the ones where a reconciliation took place with a mother. In many of these stories mothers are absent from the picture and a good story was when in the process of falling in love they also found either a caretaker (the male lead acting like this) or they female lead finds the mother she lost.

One of the reasons given for why people love the book of Ruth is that it is the great romance of the bible. In this story, other wives, sisters, or slaves don’t play a role. Ruth is a romance, a love story, where a failed relationship in a foreign land with a first husband who is both barren and sickly is replaced by a love story of a poor foreign widow with a prominent landowner Boaz. So what makes Ruth a great love story, is it the fact that a poor foreign widow is saved from poverty by a wealthy landowner. While this is one of the stories running through the book, I wonder if part of what makes this story so satisfying is the same thing that makes a romance novel powerful – the relationship with the mother figure.

In Ruth, we have a powerful romance but we also have a powerful love story between Ruth and Naomi. Naomi, the foreign mother-in-law who loses her sons and husband, tries to get rid of her daughter-in-laws. Naomi who describes herself as bitter and empty, through the actions and steadfast love of Ruth once again becomes full. Does Ruth as a story move us because everything that was lost is reborn, renewed, found, filled.

Mother...am I still your son
You know I've waited for so long to hear you say so
Mother...you left and made me someone
Now I'm still a child, no one tells me no
Looking for a sound that's going to drown out the world
(Been around the back...been around the front)
Looking for the father of my two little girls
(Been around the back...been around the front)
Got the swing got the sway got my straw in lemonade
(Been around the back...been around the front)
Still looking for the face I had before the world was made
(Been around the back...been around the front)
Bubble popping sugar dropping rock and roll (Mother...)
Soothe me mother
Move me father
Fool me brother
Woo me sister
Soothe me mother
Rule me father
Show me mother
      MOFO by U2

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