One of my first thoughts upon hearing of Rachel Held Evans’s death was “who is going to say all the hard things for us now?”
This was a silly question. Not because Rachel Held Evans did not say lots of hard and important things to people who needed to be told important and hard things. Because she did, in fact, do those things with humor, grace, and unflinching resolve.
It was a silly question because one of the remarkable things that Rachel Held Evans used her influence to do was to encourage, lift up, and recruit other people to do the kind of brave and wonderful work she was doing.
Some of the were already doing that work, and others were nurtured and encouraged by her. People like Sarah Bessey, Austin Channing Brown, Jeff Chu, Jen Hatmaker, Glennon Doyle, Diana Butler Bass, and the wonderful writers, preachers, thinkers and speakers she was gathering for her Evolving Faith Conference coming up in October. I didn’t need to worry that there wouldn’t be anyone left to say the hard things.
But, I am grateful for her leadership and empowerment of other people to share the journey. One thing that I believe Rachel Held Evans wrote about in her book Searching for Sunday is that it’s hard to be a Christian on your own. It’s not just hard, it’s not possible to be a Christian without community. What is remarkable to me about Rachel Held Evans was that she created this community online and in real life for people who felt left out.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m going to do something I don’t usually do, which is recommend some resources that I haven’t fully finished going over myself. But if I don’t collect all the things I want to read and listen to about Rachel Held Evans in one place, I will forget. So, if you’d like to join me for a deep dive into Rachel Held Evas. Here are some recommendations.
- “How Rachel Held Evans Should Be Remembered” by Sarah Bessey and Jeff Chu This is a wonderful tribute to Rachel Held Evans written by her close friends and fellow writers, Sarah Bessey and Jeff Chu.
- Jen Hatmaker’s “For the Love” Podcast 2018 interview with Rachel Held Evans
A brave a thoughtful faith leader in her own right, Jen Hatmaker found herself in the Evangelical wilderness with Rachel Held Evans after “coming out” in support of the LGBTQ community.
She re-aired this interview from last year with Held Evans and it is lovely, personal, and beautiful, and I enjoyed what I’ve listened to so far, and think you will to.
Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers host a bipartisan political podcast called “Pantsuit Politics” that I love. They had Rachel Held Evans on their podcast to talk about her book Inspired. It’s a lovely conversation that they re-aired along with some other commemorations on their second podcast “The Nuanced Life” where they talk about bringing their values into their rest of their lives.
- Rachel Held Evans also helped start and support a podcast called “The Liturgists” which has also compiled the episodes that she was featured in.
- I thought this piece by Eliza Griswold in The New Yorker “The Radically Inclusive Christianity of Rachel Held Evans,” about her work, and her contribution was wonderful and thoughtful: “She fiercely insisted that God’s love included everyone, and she attempted to offer those who’d been shunned by the church a way to return.”
I would like to end today with a quote her publisher posted from Evans’s first book Faith Unraveled:
“What my generation is learning the hard way is that faith is not about defending the conquered ground but about discovering new territory. Faith isn’t about being right, or settling down, or refusing to change. Faith is a journey, and every generation contributes its own sketches to the map. I’ve got miles and miles to go on this journey, but I think I can see Jesus up ahead.”