Can I get a B-U-S-Y to describe my summer? Phew. I’ve been feeling inspired for a long time but I simply could not find enough time to actually write a full post. Today’s the day! So let’s get started.
I know most of my readers follow a large number of similar blogs (I follow the same ones!). Now, a ‘trend’ on these other blogs is (and has been for months and months) a focus on certain teachers from the P/QF movements, often closely linked to book reviews and the likes. One blog may be very strongly involved in the Godhard-side of things, another may be more focused on Vision forum. I really really enjoy reading these condensed views, reviews and collections. I personally never felt compelled to focus on any specific leader in my writings, simply because I don’t know that much about them (e.g. their personal histories, affiliations etc.). Another factor is that I never got deep into reading their materials, so I can’t really speak in such a knowledgable way about Godhard & co. What I’m trying to say is that I always thought that I never followed a specific leader religiously in my past life, and that means to me that I should not be spreading pseudo-knowledge when there are so many good (and knowledgable) resources.
Recently, however, I have noticed that I did follow a specific group religiously. I did soak up materials like a sponge. I did listen to sermons and talks and all that, took notes, marked their books, etc. And that group is – Eric and Leslie Ludy. Funny I never noticed how obsessed I used to be (and still am, avid reader of Leslie’s magazine here!). Additionally, I find that the Ludys take very much a backseat in the discussion of hurtful theologies and ideologies. Seriously, it’s very hard to find a critique of the Ludys on the webs. Why is that? Here are some thoughts:
As opposed to many other leaders in the evangelical community, the Ludys are a couple. Now, obviously Mr Phillips is also married, but his wife never played a major role in his projects. When she did appear, she very much seemed in the role of a supporter. Godhard was never married, so there’s that.
Finally, we got the Pearls. Now, the Pearls are also a couple, but the constellation is very different from the Eric-Leslie Ludy constellation. The Pearls enforce the exact same values and ideas, the only difference being that Debbie’s books are labelled “For women” whereas Michael’s books are labelled “For men”. At the end of the day, they talk about the exact same stuff, the exact same ideas. Michael and Debbie Pearl are not so much a couple as they are the same person (at least concerning the books they produced) in male and female respectively. This is a huge difference to the Ludys, and I think it is this difference that sets the Ludys apart from the majority of ideological leaders in the evangelical world.
Eric and Leslie Ludy populate vastly different spheres. Their books are very different: Their styles of writing differ greatly, so it’s actually possible to guess very easily who of the two wrote a text (as opposed to Debbie and Michael, you would probably not be able to tell who wrote a piece of text in a blind test). Most importantly, however, their topics differ greatly. Leslie Ludy has a strong focus on clothing, style, make up, family life, children, housekeeping and all things “feminine” (eg. gossip, texting, Internet, etc). Eric Ludy, on the other hand, has not published as many books as his wife to begin with (possibly due to the fact that Leslie’s books have a different target audience which happens to simply consume more books of this sort), and those that he did publish are on topics such as missioning, theology, religion in daily life, etc.
I think this short list gives you a pretty good idea that there is very little chance of the two getting in each other’s way, meaning, they will never repeat what the other one has stated before because they do not intrude each other’s spheres. This also means that the Ludys come across not only as very complementarian (“perfect match” anyone?), it also gives them a quality of respecting each other and each other’s roles in life without reflecting a pattern of “submission” of the wife. In fact, Eric never talks about submission at all – that is entirely Leslie’s job (though she does not like to use the term “submission” at all; Leslie has developed a whole array of terms to cover for it). That may make Eric look like the perfect husband, but whether this reflects his actually state of mind or if this is simply a relatively smart way to solve the problem of a man telling a woman about her place in life is a completely different story.
The very few hints Eric’s writings and sermons give us is his usage of terms like the anecdotal “warrior-poet” (I’m serious, direct quote). This is something I will go into in more detail in a follow-up post, for short a warrior-poet is a man like King David: A brave warrior as well as the shepard who write poems and plays on the flute. Now, warrior-poets are leaders by definition, and, because they are not just brave but also incredibly romantic (the poet part), women are to trust the warrior poets to lead the relationship. I think this very short description gives a good glimpse into the idea of “letting a man lead”. The whole point of this is, though, that the idea represented by the Ludyesque warrior-poet differs in no way from the man in the good old purity/courtship culture. Not one bit.
Eric Ludy hardly ever talks about relationships outside of this warrior-poet-symbolism, and that is, in my opinion, what distinguishes the Ludys from everybody else and ultimately makes them seem extremely liberal while extremely complementarian – this sounds like a contradiction in itself, but it is not, as I hope to show a bit clearer in the next few posts.
Now, Leslie, as opposed to Eric, is very much into the strong representation of female qualities in her writings. Leslie has published a number of books on beauty, style, love, relationships and the like. In her writings, Leslie often takes a very critical approach towards women who fall out of the line of what she deems “godly behavior”. In fact, without ever stating this specifically, she often implies that a woman truly saved will look just the way she expects you to. Everyone who does not meet this ideal of the perfectly made up and styled woman fails to do so because they lack faith. In a sense, Leslie differs very little from other leaders in this field, except for the lack of involvement of her husband in these issues. This lack gives her an authority on these issues that is unmet in the evangelical circles: She speaks truth without her husband being involved in this at all. She speaks truth because she herself does not need her husband’s input on it. This makes her believable and uniquely authentic. She undermines this seemingly god-given perfection of the feminine sphere of Christianity with her magazine “Set Apart Girl” (available for free online, just google set apart girl), in which she uses beautiful layout, beautiful photos and beautifully arranged texts. You may say I’m overinterpreting here, but as a matter of fact, Leslie manages to publish and honestly beautiful magazine, while looking beautiful herself, sitting in her beautiful house, with her perfectly clean kids (rosy cheeks and all) – this is what attracts the young female reader. Leslie turns into the perfect role model because she has it together (or so it seems), because her husband is so immensely proud to have a perfect wife (and he didn’t even have to publish a book on how to be a perfect wife because his wife already is perfect).
These things are exactly what drew me towards the Ludys (and still does), so bear with me while I go into more detail on a number of the things I mentioned (and some others). I think it’s going to be interesting, and I also think it’s going to be a nice addition to the rest of the “evangelical leader” publishing field.
By the way, since book reviews are so popular, I went through the small stack of christian living books I still own (They are all Ludy books). I came across “Meet Mr Smith”, which is a book on sexual and emotional purity in relationships, written by Eric and Leslie together. I thought I’d offer this up for a review because it’s one of the least-known Ludy books and it’s actually a very interesting read. Thoughts?