Instead of starting a new thread on the topic, I’ll post our latest article here:
Great tribute – thanks so much for writing this.
Keeping faith does not mean pretending we have it all figured out. Commitment to Jesus Christ and his kingdom does not mean never doubting.
I love that RHE embodied that – being a Christian without pretending, but as you also say, not “deconstructing” right out of the faith or enjoying tearing something down.
Well done. Thanks. I have been searching for words since Saturday, but the only appropriate thing that comes to mind is her benediction for the Mission when it closed on Easter Sunday. As she said in Searching for Sunday, “Maybe you can’t build a church on nights and weekends. But at least you can be one."
The final prayer when the Mission closed, adapted from Alcuin of York. May it be true of all of us when our own missions come to an end …
“God, go with us. Help us to be an honor to the church.
Give us the grace to follow Christ’s word,
to be clear in our task and careful in our speech.
Give us open hands and joyful hearts.
Let Christ be on our lips.
May our lives reflect a love of truth and compassion.
Let no one come to us and go away sad.
May we offer hope to the poor,
and solace to the disheartened.
Let us so walk before God’s people,
that those who follow us might come into his kingdom.
Let us sow living seeds, words that are quick with life,
that faith may be the harvest in people’s hearts.
In word and in example let your light shine
in the dark like the morning star.
Do not allow the wealth of the world or its enchantment
flatter us into silence as to your truth.
Do not permit the powerful, or judges,
or our dearest friends
to keep us from professing what is right.
4 posts were merged into an existing topic: Is lament appropriate for Christians today?
Good article about her passing and the reaction, from The Atlantic.
Found myself reading it through tears, oddly enough.
It would help had I included the link:
“Death is a thing empires worry about, not a thing resurrection people worry about,” she told me in 2015. “As long as there’s somebody baptizing sinners, breaking the bread, drinking the wine; as long as there’s people confessing their sins, healing, walking with one another through suffering, then the Church is alive, and it’s well.”
I love that – such a reminder to be careful what kinds of things we think are most important to hold on to.
Jim, until today I confess that I was ignorant of the contributions of RHE. I will rectify that as soon as possible–thanks to the outpouring of grief expressed on this Forum, including yours. Not surprisingly, there were so many questioning: “Why does a good God let bad things happen to good people?”
Oftentimes, my mind comes up with rather quirky rationales, and I wonder what you would think of my “explanation” of the tragedy of RHE’s untimely death. It uses a comparison with Jesus’ experience in Gethsemane. Up to that point Jesus had been an effective human teacher, and, since he was truly human, it would have been a natural desire for him to continue in life until his natural death. But his Godly nature allowed him to appreciate that only through his Passion would his Message be optimally transmitted to future generations. So he said:"….nevertheless, Thy Will be done".
From what I learned on this Forum, it seems that RHE was unusually effective in bringing evangelical Christians into harmony with those of a more ‘progressive’ outlook. Is it possible that God sees that, in this Information Age, her untimely death would encourage sites like #prayfor RHE to be much more effective in spreading her message than what she could accomplish in life?
I would not dare to offer this as something Job-like to assuage the grief that Rachel’s husband and kids feel at these trying times, but it might be helpful to those of us who wonder why our prayers go (seemingly) unanswered sometimes.
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I won’t have time to listen to all of this tonight, but thought I’d share since Pete Enns was just on the BioLogos podcast – it was nice to see that Rachel Held Evans had a final appearance on his podcast before her illness:
Just listened to this wonderful interview. Dang, now I know what has been lost too. We need more people in the world like her.
I think I want to read something by her that talks more about how her background in literature informs her reading of the bible.
I would find that interesting as well – I haven’t yet read her latest book, “Inspired,” but I bet that would be the one of all her books most likely to display that understanding even if it doesn’t directly address it.
Also, FYI to whoever might be interested, it looks like her family will be graciously providing a live stream of her funeral on Saturday: https://rachelheldevans.com/funeral
I just listened to “Inspired” on Audible. I found it very insightful and did reflect her literature degree. To find more background on her reassessment of Christianity, “Faith Unraveled” is terrific, too; my wife and I read it together.
Thank you Laura. I think I’d better put a hold on it at my library.
In my foray into “The Liturgists” podcasts, I’ve run across this one from September 2018 where they interviewed Rachel Held Evans. The interview part doesn’t start till after 8 to 10 minutes in or so - they do promote other things along the way. But overall … what a treat! I continue to feel her loss.
Her funeral was streamed. Episcopal liturgy in a Methodist church with well crafted words and impossible to watch without crying
The New York times has done a podcast on her https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/03/podcasts/the-daily/rachel-held-evans.html
This probably isn’t the right thread for this but my turn with the local library’s copy of Inspired has finally arrived. Perhaps it would be better to have a separate thread in which to discuss it. But to my mind it is nice to see the fruits of her own investigations go on touching people in the thread where she is memorialized. Also, I’m not sure who else may have read it or still be reading it.
I really admire her intellectual integrity and fearlessness. I agree with her that stories are integral to who and how we are and she has the tools to reflect on them fairly. So far I’ve only read the introduction, the Temple story and have started Chapter one, Origin Stories. A couple of excerpts from what I’m reading now:
The role of origin stories, both in the ancient Near Eastern culture from which the Old Testament emerged and at that familiar kitchen table where you first learned the story of how your grandparents met, its to enlighten the present by recalling the past. Origin stories are rarely straightforward history. Over the years they morph into a colorful amalgam of truth and myth, nostalgia and cautionary tale, the shades of their significance brought out by the particular light of a moment.
Contrary to what many of us are told, Israel’s origin stories weren’t designed to answer scientific, twenty-first-century questions about the beginning of the universe or the biological evolution of human beings, but rather were meant to answer then pressing, ancient questions about the nature of God and God’s relation to creation.
From p.9, Inspired
Intriguing stuff and for those who go into it concerned to salvage their faith in the Bible, it should be comforting to know she seems to have done just that.
I keep coming back to Rachel’s book “Inspired”, @Randy and @Laura . I liked the humor and sass in this passage of the last chapter “Church Stories”. Here she is discussing the fact that the NT includes letters and that these probably predate the writing of the gospels. (All news to me, BTW.)
But I wondered when I read this passage if it might possibly shed some light on the misgivings expressed by @vulcanlogician about the apostle Paul’s personality and the weight given to his writings over the words attributed to Jesus:
As Pastor Adam Hamilton explained, "When you read one of Paul’s letters, or any other New Testament letter, you are reading someone else’s mail. Christians often forget this. They read Paul’s letters as though he wrote just for them. This works fine most of the time. Paul’s instructions, his theological reflections and his practical concerns are amazingly timeless. But they become most meaningful, and we are least likely to misapply their teaching, when we seek to understand why he may have written this or that to a given church.
The fun and the sass come in by way of the example she chooses to illustrate this. I know this is a rather long quote and I hope I’m not infringing too much on -what do they call it?- her intellectual property rights. But if I was participating at a remembrance ceremony this is the story I would choose as giving insight into Rachel by way of her humor and insight.
A verse in a letter addressed to Titus illustrates this perfectly. Angered by some of the false teachings emerging from the island of Crete in the Mediterranean, which Titus is busy trying to fix, the apostle Paul declared, “One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: ‘Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.’ This saying is true” (Titus 1:12-13).
Believe it or not, I’ve never once heard a sermon preached on this passage. And yet, if these words are truly the inerrant and unchanging words of God intended as universal commands for all people in all places at all times, and if the culture and context are irrelevant to the “plain meaning of the text”, then apparently Christians need to do a better job of mobilizing against the Cretan people. Perhaps we need to construct some “God Hates Cretans” signs, or lobby the government to deport Cretan immigrants, or boycott all movies starring Jennifer Aniston, whose father, I hear, is a lazy, evil, gluttonous Cretan."
Sounds like the kind of person who should be well and truly missed.
Thanks for sharing. Yep, there we go “picking and choosing” our scripture again.