UK Christian Bookshops Directory: Christian Book Reviews: The First Stone
The First Stone The First Stone
Some Questions Of Sex And Power

Helen Garner
ISBN 9780747532521 (0747532524)
Bloomsbury, 1997 (216pp)

Category: Ethics & Morality

A college principal is charged with indecently assaulting two students at an end-of-term college party. In The First Stone a middle-aged feminist reflects on the events surrounding this noted Australian sexual harassment case. At this point most people will already know what she will say, so no further reading is necessary. Wrong!

This very readable book is, although non-fiction, more than suitable as a replacement for an easy-read novel on a plane or at bedtime. The developing story and the exploration of character and motivation is fascinating. But the real worth is in the honest and generous way the author tackles questions about power, revenge and forgiveness in the realm of sexual politics.

The author takes no sides about the question of guilt or innocence in this particular case, but asks — herself as well as the reader — whether immediate recourse to the courts is the only or the best way of handling minor sexual harassment cases, whether a drunken grope should be reacted to as fiercely as a violent rape, whether men and women cannot find a kinder way to relate to one another than that which involves tarring all with the same brush, whether forgiveness and generosity cannot be more prominent in our lives. The perspective is not Christian but the issues raised are as biblical as the quote that forms her title.

This book is well worth reading.

Mary Evans, March 1998

Mary Evans is the author of The Message of Samuel (Bible Speaks Today Series, IVP, 2004) and — until her retirement in 2007 — was Vice Principal and Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies at London School of Theology.

Previously published by London School of Theology. Reused here by kind permission.

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