About a week ago I got an advanced copy of Rachel Held Evans new book A Year of Biblical Womanhood. I read pretty quickly but my life is pretty chaotic. I don’t exactly have “leisure reading” time in my schedule. I am happy to say that I finished it in 4 days, and it was able to keep me up at least a chapter at a time. This may not sound like a glowing recommendation, but considering most books lose me within the first paragraph (I am just that tired) it is pretty impressive.
I am a frequent reader of her online writing and I was excited start when I finally figured out the PDF was already in my inbox. (Sometimes, when you spend all day with freshman they wear off….) Because of my familiarity with Rachel’s online work, I was familiar with the controversy this book sparked before it was even finished. (Lifeway isn’t carrying it. There is a lot of speculation about this. Everyone from Slate to Huffington Post has written about that. Lifeway has released no statement about it.) I
was pleasantly surprised to see just how un-controversial this book truly
Evan’s spends a year looking at the rules and guidelines various
groups have set down specifically for women based on their interpretations of
the Bible. Evangelical, Fundamentalist, Amish, Mennonite, Jewish, Quaker,
Catholic, even polygamist. All traditions show up and are heard in this book.
The thing that struck me about her handling of these traditions, was the
consistent respect Evan’s showed for the traditions she was looking into. There
was a dignity and respect granted to every tradition. She trusts her readers to
sort out the truth for themselves.
While some have said this author does not take the Bible seriously, I found the opposite to be true. It is with an earnest sense of respect and love that Rachel Held Evans searches for the truth of what God wants for the lives of women. Her explanation of the female characters in the Bible were clearly thoroughly researched and historically grounded. Those passages are some of the best in the book.
Rachel Held Evans and I do not completely agree about what the Bible does and does not say. We differ in some of our interpretations, but the beauty of this book is that there is room for that. There is room for disagreement, there is room to pray through to your own conclusions.
I was deeply challenged by the grace she was able to give others, even as they tell her she is not living biblically. It is something that I am working on and plan to address in a series of posts about specifically how this book challenged my own faith. Suffice to say that the grace chapter hit me hard in the best of ways.
This book did for me what so many books about being a christian woman have failed to do. It reminded me that I am not broken, that it was with purpose that God designed a loud mouth like me for this time and place. It managed to honor all women for all gifts, and all places in life.