By George P. Matysek Jr.
When Father Isaac Karoor was growing up in Kerala, India, he was put off by the way he saw women treated.
Whether it was relatives who had to walk a few steps behind their husbands or fellow parishioners who weren’t allowed to serve as lectors, altar servers or extraordinary ministers of holy Communion, the future priest was troubled by what he thought was unjust.
“I was in rebellion even as a child,” Father Karoor said with a smile.
After arriving in the United States as a young man, the associate pastor of St. Ignatius, Hickory, said he was disappointed to see Christians of all stripes use scriptural passages to “suppress women” and “shut them up.” “The Lost Moonflower,” a newly released book written by Father Karoor, is the priest’s answer to those who belittle women or try to diminish their importance to the church.
A historical novel set in the first century, the book tells the story of Phoebe, a woman mentioned in St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans whom Father Karoor believes was a deacon.
Published by Tate Publishing & Enterprises, a Protestant publishing house, “The Lost Moonflower” examines how Phoebe searches for meaning. Along the way, readers experience life among the early Christians presented in a way that makes them seem down-to-earth and not so different from their modern-day descendants.
“I understand the church as being the people of God rather than just a hierarchical structure,” said Father Karoor, a Scripture scholar who researched his book in the Holy Land.
“Jesus and St. Paul did not put women down,” he said. “They gave them as much participation as men.”
Father Karoor said he hoped his book would help Christians have more respect for one another and remind women of their innate dignity.