Book Review: Style, Sex, & Substance


Style, Sex, & Substance: 10 Catholic Women Consider the Things that Really Matter, edited buy Hallie Lord, is full of spiritual truths and spunk! The ten women who each tackle a different current issue seem to hit most of the hot topics usually found splashed across the covers of women’s tabloids, but from a Catholic (read truth-filled) perspective. Ever wondered to yourself, “As a committed Catholic woman in today’s world, just where do I fit in?” Well, each of these women comes from a different walk of life, each has a different story, and each has a unique perspective on the issue she discusses. And every chapter is written in a witty, down-to-earth style that makes for a fun, read, easy read. Consequently, what you glean from this book just might help you feel greater ease in the journey you are now on, or help you find your niche in life, and in your walk of faith.

With chapter headings such as “God and Godiva,” and “Receiving, Creating and Letting Go: Motherhood in Body and Soul,” just about all the “biggies” are covered. But if you’re looking for a “how to” manual, you may be disappointed. Every one of the ten women who shares herself in this book, has the ability to think critically, and they expect their readers to be able to do the same.

For example, if you had hoped Elizabeth Duffy, in her chapter, “Sex, Passion and Purity,” would tell you just “how far you can go” physically in your relationship with your boyfriend without crossing the line into serious sin, you might not like what Ms. Duffy has to say. She discusses the topic frankly, but her chapter is meant to help her readers draw closer to Christ and His Church. She tells her readers, “Without a relationship with God, we are graceless creatures attempting to live by arbitrary standards.” She also says that by dating chastely, women are free to be companions at ease, rather than mere lovers. Ms. Duffy challenges her reader to wrestle with these issues, to set some clear boundaries, and to ask more informed questions.

This book is full of wisdom like Ms. Duffy’s. And in every chapter you will read about the author’s experiences, both her struggles and transformations. This is the stuff committed Catholic women yearn for—real stories of real Catholic women.

Jennifer Fulwiler, for example, writes of her quest to find an image of a modern Mary and then experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit as she looked into the mirror one day and realized she need look no further than her own image. She sensed the Holy Spirit telling her, “This is what a holy woman can look like.” In her chapter, “Style: Balance, Beauty, and You,” Hallie Lord reminds us, “…while we are called to conversion…we are not called to jettison our personalities and passions.” And Anna Mitchell, in her chapter, “Single and Seeking God’s Plan,” reminds us that we should not ignore feelings of loneliness but instead use them for good, for a “spiritual purpose.”

This book also dispels the stereotype of what the “perfect modern Catholic woman” should look like. She is not just an at-home mom with a house full of children, and she is not only a woman who works away from home full-time. Rather, an authentic Catholic woman is the woman God calls her to be, whether it be at home, in the work place, in her church or in her community. As Hallie Lord reminds readers when she quotes St. Catherine of Siena in her “Afterword,” “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

Style, Sex, & Substance is an excellent book for self-study or for small-group study. If you are already walking closely with Christ it will give you a good shot in the arm, and if you are struggling in your journey, it may provide you with just the insights you were hoping to find to get you back on track.


To order your copy of Style, Sex, & Substance go to Our Sunday Visitor Catholic Publishing.





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