Monday, December 22, 2014

Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul

September 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Audio Book, Bound Books, Kindle e-Books

Every little girl has dreams of being swept up into a great , of being the beautiful princess. Sadly, when women grow up, they are often swept up into a life filled merely with duty and demands. Many Christian women are tired, struggling under the weight of the pressure to be a “good servant,” a nurturing caregiver, or a capable home manager.

What Wild at Heart did for men, Captivating is doing for women. Setting their hearts free. This groundbreaking book shows readers the glorious design of women before the fall, describes how the feminine heart can be restored, and casts a vision for the power, freedom, and beauty of a woman released to be all she was meant to be. By revealing the core desires every shares-to be romanced, to play an irreplaceable role in a grand adventure, and to unveil -John and Stasi Eldredge invite women to recover their feminine hearts, created in the image of an intimate and passionate God. Further, they encourage men to discover the secret of a woman’s soul and to delight in the beauty and strength women were created to offer.

From Publishers Weekly

John Eldredge became the Robert Bly of evangelicalism with his blockbuster Wild at Heart. Now he up with his wife, Stasi, to encourage women to connect with their deepest desires. To facilitate this, the Eldredges reveal in the first chapter what every woman’s three core desires are: to be romanced, to play a role in her own adventures and to display beauty. (This formula will be familiar to Eldredge’s fans, as Wild at Heart offered a similar tripartite model of men’s desires.)

The rest of the book is an extended reflection on these three impulses. Drawing heavily on popular films to prove their points, the Eldredges warn that most women tend to become either controlling or needy. Godly women, in contrast, should see as the ultimate lover, and look to Eve (and not, say, J. Lo) as their model.

Also, women should form close, intimate friendships with one another, à la Ruth and Naomi or the ladies in Fried Green Tomatoes. These are all unoriginal themes, which evangelical women’s writers have been recycling for years. Christian readers who embrace a robust egalitarianism will not find the Eldredges’ perspective congenial. Regardless, the book is likely to fly off the shelves, purchased by all those women who gave Wild at Heart to their husbands, brothers and dads. (Apr. 14)

Rating: (out of 443 reviews)

List Price: $ 14.99


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5 Responses to “Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul”
  1. Lara says:

    Review by Lara for Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul
    I just spent the last 10 minutes reading or skimming through the 60-some reviews on here. Interesting to note that most people either love or hate the book. Personally I love it. When I read I find myself tearing up over various issues that fully resonate with my heart. I also promise you that I am not your typical ‘gushy’, chick-flick watching female. To be honest, i’m much more tomboyish and struggle to be feminine instead of ‘tough’. But I believe God plants in woman many universal core desires and that is what ‘Captivating’ addresses. I give this book 4 stars and am going to explain why by addressing issues OTHER people had with the book’s content.

    A warning, this could be long. I love to write. I beg your indulgence.

    First off..the title of the book, ‘Captivating’. I saw one review that claimed this title is negative and implies men being captives of women. How misunderstood! In my evening Bible-reading, I came across this verse in Proverbs(5:18.19) ‘May you rejoice in the wife of your youth…may you ever be CAPTIVATED by her love.’ So yes, for the record, being captivating is very Biblical.

    Secondly, comments about the ‘over-use’ of movie references and pop-culture. I’ve noted that much of our Christian culture has always been AFRAID of popular entertainment. I agree that there is a great necessity for discernment, but at the same time, we must address society WHERE IT IS. This book does not seek to REPLACE the Bible, but to encourage us to see God in everyday things. How many of us never go to the movies or listen to the radio or read classic literature? very few indeed. Is it really so terrible to draw truth from fiction? Fiction is not synonmous with lies, yet some still chose to believe this. God is the author of our creativity..our desire to spin tales for entertainment. We shouldn’t shun that.

    In order to avoid writing a book instead of a book review, I’m just going to address one final that holds more reason for concern. Eldredge’s books do tend to lack ‘meat’. Not to say they are faulty — the books NEVER make claim to replace the Bible or other quality non-fiction. All i’m saying is that it’s true that while a huge portion of his books will be easy to relate to, sometimes one walks away being unsure of answers. And this is my main concern and the reason for 4 stars instead of 5. However, if this book is studied WITH the Bible, I believe that it will be a blessing and a source of healing instead of emotional ‘fluff’.

    This book will likely resonate with certain personality types more than others. In my experience, it touches more of the expressive/creative types than those who are blatantly practical. That’s ok. There is no one cure-all book, and ‘Captivating’ is NOT for everyone. However it does speak great truth about hurt and healing to those who will listen. And I encourage women and their husbands,boyfriends, brothers in Christ to read this book without prejudice and to see what God teaches.

    God bless.

  2. Skeptical says:

    Review by Skeptical for Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul
    I decided to read this book because I’d been told by multiple people that I respected as Godly women to read this. And I was given the warning- you might hate it at first, but get through the first few chapters and see what you think. I was skeptical, and reading the first few chapters I wanted to chuck the book across the room. I’m far from a Bibical scholar, but I value Scripture a lot and I think we’re called to be skeptical of people’s interpreations.

    I do not think that John and Staci Eldredge have everything right. But I think “Captivating” speaks to our need for God to meet us deeply, personally and intimately. I hear many people saying- I don’t relate because I don’t need someone to rescue me. Well then, why do you need Jesus? I think I believe a lie that “God loves sinners- His grace is sufficent for sinners- sinners need Jesus to save them…but now, I’m a Christian (a saved sinner) and yeah, I still need grace and He loves me, but I’m no longer in need of rescue.” God wants more for us then this- read Romans 5- read 5:8 (while we were still sinners Christ died for us- AMAZING)…now keep reading- it doesn’t end with salvation…Paul says “HOW MUCH MORE” multiple times in the next few verses talking about what God has FOR us after our conversion. It never stops being about God rescuing us, or our need.

    What I love about this book is that it does beat the idea that God loves us. And you know what- I don’t think we ever really learn this lesson and need to stop hearing it. This is not a Barney “God loves me” now let’s all run and give eachother hugs- it is learning that God’s love is totally life transforming. HE changes us- and not because we are this problem He has to deal with (which I think is how many people see sanctification)- but because He loves us more than we can imagine! “Captivating” forces us to our continual need…that’s not a comfortable place…I think that is part of why I wanted to chuck the book across the room. I don’t want to need anyone- I am a strong woman, right? Oh, wait, I am broken…we all are!! This book is not for low-self-esteem women- it is for any women who is willing to consider that she is broken (and maybe more than she wants to admit).

    I think the Eldredges are bold, and sometimes with being bold, you miss sometimes, but I think the message behind this book- that we are ALL broken and in need of rescue, and that God loves us in our brokeness and that He cares about our redeemtion beyond our salvation because we are of immense value to Him- is a message worth being bold about. I think they lack in some theological arguments, but I think their core message is Bibical- very Bibical- but I’m not sure we always want to hear it.

    I advocate reading this book. Read it as a skeptic, but be willing to actually consider their argument. Don’t accept everything you read in ANY book…only the Bible is God’s Word. Test things. Test their arguments against Scripture- see the flaws. But don’t let your skeptism harden you to also hearing a message that might bring you some amazing freedom.

    Sorry this is long- these are my thoughts.

  3. says:

    Review by for Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul
    “As a new Christian, the first book I picked up on godly femininity I threw across the room. I never picked it up again. In the twenty-five years since, I have only read a few I could whole-heartedly recommend. The rest drive me crazy. Their messages to women make me feel as though, ‘You are not the woman you ought to be — but if you do the following ten things, you can make the grade.’ They are, by and large, soul-killing. But femininity cannot be prescribed in a formula.”

    So begins (or very nearly begins) CAPTIVATING, written by John and Stasi Eldredge. The “I” in question is Stasi, but it’s her husband John you are more likely to be familiar with. He’s the author of THE SACRED ROMANCE, WILD AT HEART, and a number of other books that promote an adventurous and cathartic brand of Christianity. Whereas WILD AT HEART tailored that message for men, CAPTIVATING looks to tailor the message for women and is likely to have similar bestselling results.

    But even though femininity cannot be prescribed in a formula as the introduction says, CAPTIVATING’s premise is that there is an essence that God has given to every woman. “We share something deep and true, down in our hearts,” Stasi writes. And it’s this universal feminine heart that CAPTIVATING hopes to expose, heal, develop, and celebrate.

    That this feminine heart needs healing is not hard for the authors to evidence. “Every woman I’ve ever met feels it — something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does. An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is. I am not enough and I am too much at the same time. Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough. But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy. The result is Shame, the universal companion of women. It haunts us, nipping at our heels, feeing on our deepest fear that we will end up abandoned and alone,” writes Stasi.

    If that statement doesn’t hold water with you, don’t even bother picking up this book because it’s an observation (and a foundational one for this book) that’s only anecdotally supported. If you don’t already believe it, this book isn’t going to convince you it’s true. But if this being both not enough and too much at the same time strikes a chord with you, as it does for me, you’ll want to read on.

    When you do so, you will learn that every woman’s heart longs for three things: to be romanced, an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and beauty to unveil. It’s worth noting that in WILD AT HEART John Eldredge writes that every man’s heart longs for three things as well: a battle to fight, adventure, and a beauty to rescue. Isn’t that nice of God to pre-load both male and female hearts with desires that fit nicely in parallel three-point outlines?

    Snark aside, CAPTIVATING contains some truly moving stories of women, their anguish, and their beautiful blossomings into whole-heartedness. I especially appreciated a section about emotional promiscuity among young single men and women. And as in the books that John authored alone (or with best friend Brent Curtis), CAPTIVATING’s imagery is steeped in nature, also something that I personally appreciate. I feel the closest to God under a West Texas night sky where the stars glitter like so many princess-cut diamonds (though admittedly, the site of Chicago’s skyline under a full moon as viewed from Lake Shore Drive has been known to do a number on me too).

    The breathlessly romantic tone of CAPTIVATING will alienate some. But of greater concern to me is that, while Scripture is sprinkled around liberally, the real source material here for making sweeping statements about the needs of women is literature, movies, music, and nostalgia. And while all of these are beautiful landscapes to explore and traverse, given that they often offer potent glimpses of Truth, they aren’t necessarily meant to be our spiritual base camps.

    Having said that, CAPTIVATING surely will be a balm for the souls of many women. And if you and/or the man in your life is a fan of John Eldredge’s previous books, don’t miss it.

    — Reviewed by Lisa Ann Cockrel

  4. Maia Petee says:

    Review by Maia Petee for Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul
    First of all, I’d like to begin by saying that this book touched areas in my heart I had either assumed unimportant or been ashamed of. I approached it with an open mind and an already solid relationship with God, and what I got out of it was absolutely invaluable and life to my soul. For the benefit of those reading these reviews who are trying to decide whether or not to read this book, let me address the main concerns I’ve seen expressed from my own perspective. I don’t fit the stereotype of ‘the type of woman who would like this book’ given by its detractors, and it spoke deeply to me nonetheless.

    – “Geez, I didn’t even feel wounded enough to read this book. The women given as examples had all gone through horrific sexual or verbal abuse, so they need this kind of building up, and me, not so much.”

    Nor was I wounded enough to read this book. You don’t need to be a dysfunctional human being to be confused about the fullness of a woman’s role, or to not have had your ‘question’ (and yes, as a very atypical woman, I believe that the questions the Eldredges have hit upon for both genders are spot on!) answered in a more subtle way. As a girl and a teenager, I was a very intellectual, achievement-driven young woman who tiraded against placing relationships before accomplishments and any form of softness whatsoever. All my friends were male. Other young women tried to befriend me and within twenty minutes were sent packing by my scathing, uncompromising view of everything. As I grew into my early twenties and returned home for a year or two to work in between college and law school, my dad came up to me one day after reading John Eldredge’s small booklet about fathering (naming the ‘questions’ both boys and girls have) and said, “I have to apologize. I raised you well, in many senses, but I raised you as a boy.” I blazed through the booklet and found the answer to all my mysterious teenaged behavior. By this point, by God’s grace, I was being transformed into the woman He had created me to be and had finally formed a number of close female friendships. “Captivating” was more the resonance with what God was shaping my soul into, making me yell “Yes!” and “Exactly!” to a lot of what it was saying, than it was anything new. And I wasn’t tremendously wounded. I was a young woman already walking with God, highly respected, filled with integrity and a growing sense of kindness and compassion. But there was something missing, created by the misstep of a well-meaning, involved, and loving, but slightly misguided father. I challenge ANY woman who believes (and who doesn’t come with a metric ton of religious baggage and a hyper-sensitive offense meter) to come away from this book without a truth ringing in her heart.

    –“Any woman who doesn’t fit this twirly, dopey idea of a woman that Stasi has won’t get anything out of this book. I have ____ credentials, was always a tomboy, actually have ambition, blah blah blah self-defense and closemindedness.”

    Listen, sisters. At age twelve, I could outrun every boy in the seventh grade. I didn’t have a female friend until my last year in college. I actually lectured everyone I met about the weakness and frippery that things like makeup, perfume, and shaving your legs engendered (or indicated). I got my high school diploma a year early and my bachelor’s degree two years early (at age 20). I was hard. I was determined. Anyone who didn’t meet my standards was met with no small measure of contempt. Even after the thaw in my heart came, even after I took a year off of school and discovered much of who I truly was becoming, I took that knowledge and a newfound compassion and used it to reevaluate my path and strike boldly off in a new direction. I’m not waiting to be rescued, and I don’t believe that Stasi believes women should wait passively for their prince to come. By digging deep to the core of every woman’s soul, she tells us, “Yes, you are lovely. Yes, you are worth fighting for.” What to do with that assurance is up to us. It’s so key, so central, that it helps us with everything, single or married, working or not, educated or not, ‘girly’ or not. With that question answered, we can more easily discover our true purpose and more functionally (and joyfully!) go about fulfilling it. Because yes, it’s worth it simply because we are. It’s so much more worth it.

    –“This book is so self-centered, so very unChristian. The author focuses on pampering oneself and ignores Christian duty.”

    What is duty without joy? And where is joy without self-esteem, or, a much better alternative, God-esteem? Before you can effectively turn to others and affect their lives, you must get the fundamentals right in yourself. And, may I ask further, where’s the sin in acknowledging that God didn’t make a robot, but an absolutely beautiful living, breathing human being? It’s not self-centered to give yourself some attention, but normal and healthy. My greatest joy exists in spreading love among others, being of service, and helping others see who God is and who they are called to be. But without appreciating myself as well, it’s all lost in a joyless, tight-lipped mire of “Christian duty,” whatever that is. What Stasi is giving women here is a *tool*, not an end in itself. By coming to a fuller knowledge of who you are, you become more able to enable others.

    You know what? This book may be a little bit unChristian. But it’s very much like the God I know, and I delight in it (and Him).

    –“Many fewer Biblical examples than examples taken from secular movies and music, and gosh dang, I’m offended and/or concerned about the validity of the conclusions drawn.”

    First of all, do you believe God speaks in more ways than one? Secondly, if you read the Gospels and try to get the *spirit* (NOT the law, always the law) of what Jesus was about, He was about speaking and teaching in diverse ways, unusual ways, many ways that offended the established and “Godly” people of the time, the Pharisees. In fact, those Pharisees were livid purple most of the time. Jesus just didn’t act the way they expected a good Jewish Messiah to act. Read the story of the water into wine carefully. Yes, Jesus went to a party that was well under way, saw that the guests were already five sheets to the wind, and created barrels MORE wine for them! He kept a wild party going. I’m definitely not condoning drunkenness or saying he did, but am with this trying to say “Lighten up!” Christians are the Pharisees of today. They have expectations, they have a very small, plain box, and they have doctrines and dogmas used as a stick to try to beat the Christ and the living God into their boxed model of propriety. Movies and music Do Not Fit this Box. However, if we consider ourselves as reflections of God and consider that our hearts are indeed the ‘wellspring of life,’ and then consider that movies primarily deal with affairs, both good and true and twisted and wicked, of the human heart, I believe we can see quite a few reflections of God in them. All the examples used in the book rang true. May I ask, what are you afraid of?

    –“Stasi’s writing is mediocre. She belabors some points, and her word choice is goofy here and there.”

    Yes, sometimes. So what? Are you a high-school English teacher or someone looking to glean truth from the very real revelation of a godly woman? Also, better to say it too much than to not say it enough.

    –“The sensual language and the comparisons of Jack and Rose from “Titanic” to Jesus and myself just grossed me right out, and heaped on even more offense.”

    Oh, come on. It’s not meant to be literal. It’s meant to emphasize that God considers us precious in the most incredible way a woman knows how to be precious. Also, I think the lavish language of love was used so often to get us acquainted with the overwhelming, abundant nature of God’s love, rather than using all the approved monastic equivalents. This book was written to instill hope. It does an incredible job.

    In short: potential readers, I encourage you to read this book. Men and women. If you do two things, I guarantee you’ll walk away from it richer than when you went in.

    1) Let go your ease of offense, your nitpickiness, and your dogma. This is a book of heart, real heart, rather than of technicality. You will probably find some discrepancies with what you had drilled into you in Sunday school. Let it GO, and listen to God speak through this woman in a package you weren’t taught to approve.

    2) Let down your defense mechanisms. I fully realize that if I had read this even a year ago, my iron-clad defenses and presumptions about who I was would have shot up and cut off the life I got from this book. “It doesn’t apply.” “I’m fine.” If you just can’t read it, try coming back a year or two later. Much may have changed. It takes a lot of work to peel back all the layers sometimes.

  5. Re4mdmom says:

    Review by Re4mdmom for Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul
    I picked up this book in the hopes that I would find something original, something challenging, something other than the evangelical dribble that passes for “Christian Living” books these days. Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed.

    What I Liked:

    1. There really were some challenging ideas in this book. So often, “biblical womanhood” is portrayed as being all about homemaking, mothering, and hospitality. It’s all about being “against feminism.” While I don’t see anything wrong with a balanced view of a woman’s role, I do think that it’s easy to take these ideas to the extreme. Stasi Eldredge’s book definitely does not fit the mold, at least not in the circles I tend to frequent. Mrs. Eldredge’s ideas are concerned more with the heart. To her, “godly womanhood” means getting back to our roots as women, to embrace our femininity and use it for God’s glory. Unfortunately, Mrs. Eldredge’s ideas about femininity are wrought with their own problems. (See below). Additionally, Mrs. Eldredge’s idea that womanhood and femininity doesn’t always look the same between women is very refreshing and something of which I need to be reminded every day.

    2. The authors are clear about the God-ordained distinction between the sexes. In other words, men and women are not the same.

    3. The chapters, while lengthy, were quick and easy to read. Yes, that is a plus when you’re running after two children under the age of three.

    4. This book was easy to read in pieces.

    What I Did NOT Like:

    1. The Eldredges have a very low view of women. In their minds, all women are broken, messed up creatures who have spent their lives hurting and looking for someone to build them up and fill in all the holes they experienced growing up. There is no room for strength, confidence, industry, dignity or any other “Proverbs 31″ quality in their economy. In fact, they mock and ridicule the “Proverbs 31″ woman as though hers is an unattainable, impractical, useless standard to which we should strive. For them, it all boils to whether or not a woman feels she is beautiful (and while they spend an entire chapter developing this idea, I never understood what they meant- beauty on the outside? Inner beauty? What beauty are they talking about? Oh, the beauty that is completely corrupted by sin, but made alive and beautiful again by the saving work of Christ? That beauty?), and whether or not she is being properly “romanced.” In fact, I’m actually nervous about writing a bad review of this book in fear that Stasi will read it and spiral into a depression again. What if I hit a nerve, dig a deeper wound, remind her of her difficult childhood? Why not generalize this fear to all women because according to the authors, women are weak, wounded, and helpless.

    2. Theologically, this book is a mess. For example: “Eve was given to the world as the incarnation of a beautiful, captivating God” (pg. 44). Hello! That is heresy! Jesus Christ, ALONE, is the incarnation of God. I think they must have no clue as to what they are actually saying in that statement. It would be more appropriate to say that Eve was made in the image of a beautiful, captivating God. Image and incarnation are not the same thing. They make this error several times throughout the book. They suggest that Eve was the “Crown of Creation.” In reality, mankind (women AND men) is the apex, the pinnacle, the crown of creation. They often refer to Jesus as the “bridegroom” of the Christian woman and that the woman is His bride. Actually, the Church is the Bride of Christ, and that includes men as well as women. They refer to Jesus in these sappy, overemotional, and overtly sexual terms when they talk about Him as a “Lover.” Well, were I a man, I would either laugh at this or be very turned off. Jesus isn’t my boyfriend. He’s my God. He’s my Savior. He’s my Lord. He is the Bridegroom of the Church Universal, but not of individuals. I could go on, but its late and I’m tired…

    3. Frequent and blatant misuse of Scripture. They take so much of the Bible out of context that its hard to know where to start in pointing it out. Their use of the Song of Solomon is a frequent offense in this regard. The book was written as a description of marital love between husband and wife, not between Christ and the Church and certainly NOT between Christ and a woman. Hosea is another example. This book was written as prophecy regarding the eventual return of Israel from exile, not as a description of the return of a woman to her “first love”. They often mock the correct interpretation of several passages in Scripture, tossing them aside for their own feminized, overly-sentimental view as well.

    4. They have a very low view of Christ. Essentially, they suggest that He cannot act in our lives unless we let him, unless we “open the door of our hearts” where he stands knocking (yet ANOTHER reference they take completely out of context). Theirs is a neutered, powerless Christ. There is nothing said in this book about the beauty He gives us because He is IN US, living HIS LIFE through us. The reason I need to look to Christ to find this beauty for which I am allegedly seeking affirmation is because the beauty I possess comes from Him.

    5. There is an overemphasis on the effect that Satan/demons/spirits can have on the lives of Christians. I believe this issue stems from their use of the Neil T. Anderson’s book The Bondage Breaker, a book that has been widely rebutted due to its unbiblical views of Satan and his relationship to believers. They attribute common marital and even medical problems to meddlesome spirits when there were completely natural explanations for what they were experiencing. I’m afraid that people will fail to get to the root of their problems and just “blame Satan” instead of really working through very complex issues (or seeing a doctor for medical issues!).

    6. Enough with the movie metaphors already! I don’t want to hear about how I’m like “Cora” in “Last of the Mohicans” or “Rose” in “Titanic.” Tell me about Rachel, Rebekah, Mary, Deborah, Ruth, Phoebe, Dorcas, Mary Magdelene, the nameless women throughout the Bible who acted in faith when God called them out of their normal lives into greatness. Tell me about those women FIRST and leave the movie metaphors out of it! Instead of looking to God to learn about us, they point us to our culture and ourselves in order to learn about God. That’s completely backwards!

    This book is nothing more than really bad pop psychology trying to be passed off as “biblical” truth. It is sappy, overly sentimental, erroneous, and, in most parts unbiblical. I had a hard time following any of the points put forward by the authors. The meat in this book would’ve made for an interesting article in “Christianity Today” or “Focus on the Family” magazine. They didn’t need a whole book to detail this dribble. Please don’t bother with it. There are much better books out there about biblical womanhood than this one.

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