Water Is Thicker Than Blood: An Augustinian Theology of Marriage and Singleness

By Jana Marguerite Bennett | Go to book overview

Preface

I first began thinking about this book while on retreat at a Carmelite monastery, before I ever decided to study theology. I found myself gripped by twin conflicting societal ideals: one was the thought, gleaned from a few years of educational formation, that I could not be a complete person (especially as a woman in this patriarchal culture) unless I was an individual, free to do whatever seemed right and good to me within the bounds of state laws and common decency; the second was the conviction, based on enticing magazines at the grocery checkout stand, that I could not be complete (especially with that ever-present female biological clock) unless I was dating, falling madly and passionately in love, planning the wedding of my dreams (never mind that I had never dreamed of weddings), and starting to work on building my family.

Carmelites are traditionally hermits and spend part of their time in solitude and contemplation, but also part of their time in community. While watching the monks, both men and women, go about their days, living lives that acknowledged the individual but also the dependence that each had on the other, I began to think that perhaps there was another way to conceive of the world and my place in it, and also to rethink what it means to be married or single, male or female, citizen or homebody. Those first thoughts eventually led me to take up these questions in an academic way. I became suspicious of these two ideals: the overidealization of marriage and the vapid individualism that appeared over and over again, each competing for

-vii-

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