I’m a long time RHE fan, I’ll never forget reading Welcome to Monkey Town (renamed Faith Unraveled) nearly 5 years ago after moving to Colorado the first time in 2012. Every book of hers since then has made a lasting impression on my perspective and my faith walk, her personal journey and deep reflective way of sharing is moving and deeply meaningful.
If you’ve never read Rachel Held Evans before, I recommend starting with A Year of Biblical Womanhood, it’s a great reminder that the Bible is an old text and that our walks maybe different but what unites us to our God is that we are wonderfully made. Her last book, Searching for Sunday, was a breath of fresh air for me. I was struggling to feel at home in our new church and yet, reminded at the same time that even if it feels hard God is there.
In, Inspired; Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again, I found myself in a similar state of meditative reflection prayerfully thankful for the text in front of me. As I had had similar feelings that I couldn’t give a voice too. Each of RHE’s books are best read in small chunks, with coffee and journal at hand. I found myself reading a page and simply reflecting on it, if not a page, reflecting on the story she tells or sometimes even a sentence stops me in my tracks.
I found the layout of this book most interesting, with a retelling or telling of a biblical story and then a chapter on the issue surrounding that story. Each section begins with the retelling of a biblical story in a new modern way, for instance, the story of Job is written as a Screenplay, obviously, it’s not the whole book of Job because that would be exhausting to read. Then RHE really dives in the text, examines the biblical history, theology surrounding that principle and modern implications of the text. RHE is not a voice everyone is going to agree with, but she stirs a conversation about the Bible and theology that is deeply needed in churches and our culture today.
“While Christians tend to turn to scripture to end a conversation, Jews turn to scripture to start a conversation.” pg 24
As a Mennonite, War Stories was particularly hard to read and deeply introspective for me. She talked about the texts of terror and how although scripture can leave us inspired, in some places it leaves us with an open wound and more unanswered questions. It hurts and pains me to read about rape, ethnic cleansing, and brutal violence, I also loved what she said about these hard to read pieces of scripture. It said a lot of things I resonate with but could never put into words on my own. Thank you, Rachel, for giving my thoughts voice.
“It’s not always clear what we are meant to learn from the Bible’s most troubling stories, but if we look away we learn nothing.” pg 77
While we all come to the Bible with a different perspective, past teachings, and personal experiences this is what illuminates the scripture. There are so many ways to read the stories written here and so many different ways to understand the people of Israel, our Messiah, and the teachings He brought.
“When God gave us the Bible, God did not give us an internally consistent book of answers. God gave us an inspired library of diverse writings, rooted in a variety of contexts that have stood the test of time precisely because, together, they avoid simplistic solutions to complex problems. It’s almost as though God, trusts us to approach them with wisdom, to use discernment as we read and interpret, and to remain open to other points of view.” pg 108
If I had to choose a favorite book of the Bible, I have to admit that Esther is a top contender. In Resistance Stories, RHE dives deep into the story of Esther and breaks down this book with no direct reference to God and yet He is deeply interwoven into this disturbing and intoxicating story with twists and turns at every corner. I’m so glad I’m not alone in my love for this story and for how it feels so incredibly relevant and deeply personal at the same time.
I’m so grateful we don’t have a book that is black and white, with only one right point of view. I’m grateful God gives us unique stories and perspectives to read and approach the Bible with wisdom and wonder as we interpret and grow and live our lives.
I was a member of the Inspired Book Launch Team and received a copy of this book for free in return for a fair and honest review.
Pre-order your copy of Inspired, HERE. Inspired releases on June 12, 2018