The Black Swan Effect: A Response to Gender Hierarchy in the Church is a new book by Felicity Dale with contributions by Jon Zens, Frank Viola, Alan Hirsch, Katie Driver, Michael Frost, and others.
In 16th century Europe, nobody had ever seen a black swan, and so it was assumed that all swans were white. The term, “black swan” meant something non-existent. Then a Dutch explorer went to Australia and discovered a whole species of black swans. So the term came to mean something that was previously thought to have been impossible, but discovered to be real and commonplace. All it took was one black swan to change people’s minds forever.
Why then, does much of the church world dismiss biblical examples like Deborah, the prophetess/judge who presided over Israel for 40 years? Why is it considered an anomaly that a church met in Lydia’s home, Junia was an apostle, a group of women were the first to see and announce that Jesus had risen from the dead, or that Queen Esther saved her people?
These remarkable women are often relegated to the sidelines by commentators who say they were exceptions, not normative, or not the standard God has for women. But all it takes is one example—one black swan—to know, by the grace of God, a thing exists. And if there is one, there could be many.