Saturday, August 21, 2010

Charlie's Angels and Brave Women















When I was in junior high, all of my girlfriends wanted to look like Farrah Fawcett-Majors, or at least copy her blonde shag hairstyle.


Her tragic death after a long battle against cancer made me reflect on my school-girl admiration of the tv star.

Farrah Fawcett played Jill Munroe in the 1970s television show Charlie’s Angels. Her character was one of a trio of female detectives – young adult women who were smart and strong and brave as well as beautiful. They could drive fast cars, solve complex crimes and outrun men. They didn’t let fear or villains stop them. Although I was definitely much more fearful of danger, I admired those women.

I was also a fan of the Bionic Woman played by actress Lindsay Wagner. Her character, Jaime Sommers, was noted for her amplified hearing, a greatly strengthened right arm, and the ability to run faster than a speeding car. She also happened to share my first name.

While these two shows certainly did not have a profound influence on my life, they did shape my idea of what a woman should and could be. Growing up as I did in the 70s – girls were trying to redefine themselves. Who were we meant to be? What type of roles should we fill in society?

While young girls in my generation were starting to be told that we could do anything and be anything we wanted – our main toys were still domestic or beauty-oriented items. We played with Easy Bake Ovens and dressed our Barbie dolls in the latest fashions.

For me, Wagner and Fawcett represented a different kind of woman, one who could break stereotypes and be more than just a pretty face. These women were taken seriously – and could look good doing it. They didn’t have to choose between beauty and intelligence – they could have both.

As women, we often get mixed messages about what it means to serve God. The brave missionaries I heard about as a young girl were always men like David Livingstone and Jim Elliott. While in Sunday School, I marched like the infantry, and sang songs like ”Onward Christian Soldiers,” rarely did I hear about brave, daring women. The ideal Christian woman that I read about in stories was demure and modest, quiet and submissive.

But the Bible is filled with strong women. Esther defied the King and saved her people. Ruth lost her husband and still braved the fields alone to care for her mother-in-law. Deborah was the only woman to hold the office of Judge for Israel, when no man was willing to fill the position. Rahab risked her life to save the Israelite spies from certain death.

Like these biblical heroes, the youn g women I meet in my teaching career at Moody Bible Institute are an assorted group. Some are quiet and delicate, others are artistic and unconventional, still others are strong and athletic. Yet, each of them have been called by God and have bravely answered His call for service.

I guess we are a bit like Charlie’s Angels after all. We too are agents on a mission. We are serving an unseen Boss and facing a dangerous enemy.
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