I was predisposed NOT to like the book's author, Neylan McBain, as I've found her writing unnecessarily divisive and/or self-congratulatory (see, e.g., this article, for an example of how I've viewed her--I agree with the author about how the "bloggernacle" [hate that word] tends to magnify small problems into big ones, and to think that because their select circle of friends is concerned with an issue, that makes it An Essential Issue for Everyone to Care About!).
I was predisposed TO like the review's author, Valerie Hudson. She's one of my favorite writers. Therefore, reading her positive review of this book made me think I may have been too hard on Neylan McBain. And I have since read several other very positive reviews of the book, Women at Church, so I'm now anxious to read it myself. It sounds like it does a good job of addressing creative solutions to women's concerns from a faithful perspective.
I liked your description of the "three camps," Andrea, and think I am maybe slightly between the second and third. I DO want to tell women who feel marginalized to "get over it"—but only sometimes and over some issues. And I fully realize I may be the unChristlike one in these feelings. I guess I just think we are so often so petty and so small-minded in our little corner of the world. (I include myself, of course—what do I know of real-world problems? Not much.) It seems so arrogant to say, "MY hurt feelings because I wasn't allowed to sit on the stand"—or whatever—"mean that Women Are Marginalized!! And that matters to ME, so it Matters!!"----when we know there are women in the world being raped because they're Christians, or not allowed to go to school, or forced to undergo genital mutilation, or whatever. Who are WE to say this church isn't a women's church?? It most certainly IS a women's church, as women who face those TRUE crimes against women well know!! (I heard that point made in a talk recently and completely agreed.)
Anyway, but okay, I admit that we can acknowledge our blessings as women in the church and STILL see that there is room for improvement, so I should get the chip off my shoulder. Of course there is room for improvement, and why not try to find it when we can? I'm okay with that.
Andrea's larger point about the importance of motherhood is a great one. Or we could say "Priestesshood" as V. Hudson did in the article we talked about earlier--anyway, whatever you want to call the role of women. It needs to be more validated and valued (and NOT just in relation to how alike it is to the power of MEN! It's different and needs to be understood on its own terms!) if we're going to elevate ourselves as women, I think.
I also agree that finding ways to change church culture is really tricky. The example you gave about baby blessings was perfect. I'm totally with you, I would offended to have it thought that I needed some token role in the blessing at church, after I built that baby with my own body! Even the somewhat-traditional "mom bears her testimony during the meeting after the blessing" (and I read some people suggesting this as a Policy, like the bishop gives the mother a special invitation to do so) isn't an attractive thought to me. I made this baby! Haven't I done enough? Why do I have to bear my testimony too? I'll bear my testimony when I want to and when the spirit tells me to, dang it, and not because some cultural/church norm tells me that I have to!! And yet some women would see this as their moment of well-deserved recognition and participation, and feel they weren't valued unless they got it. So, argh! What's a bishop to do? Seems like an awful responsibility, trying to please everyone.
I guess I basically just rehashed Andrea's points there.
Anyway, the book looks interesting and reportedly it has some good ideas. Maybe as long as they were applied selectively (i.e. Individual bishops would just pray about it and see if this was right for THEIR ward), it would be fine. And it would also help if we as women were lenient/easygoing about it all---like, if my bishop DID implement the "mother bears her testimony after the baby blessing" thing, I could just do it, or politely decline, but not get all mad and in a huff about it even if I didn't think it was necessary/a good idea. We have to do that all the time in the church anyway, and I don't see how it should be different with women's issues.