I’ve only read the occasional quote by Rachel Held Evans. I’m not familiar with her work in a personal way. I’ve been attracted to other writers since she became popular. But her tragic death this past weekend and the visceral reaction from both friends and enemies on social media has been mind-blowing, to say the least.
There was something about her that is reflected in the way her friends and fans talk about her that makes me wonder and curious. She had no shortage of critics from my tribe on the right. But her impact was and is unmistakable. I am curious about what she has to say. In fact, sometimes I read authors based, not on their work, but on their critics. For instance, I will read almost anyone that John MacArthur tells me not to read or says is a heretic. That says a lot about me, I realize.
(I always test to see if the sign that says “Wet Paint: Do Not Touch” is telling the truth, by the way.)
We live in a strange world in which there are theological brownshirts that will come knocking on your door and tell you that the person you are reading or quoting is not on the approved reading list. I usually find that mildly irritating—a pebble in my shoe kind of thing. But it has been happening a little more frequently to me lately and it makes me wonder if we are drifting into a spiritual dystopian age.
I had a dream one time in which I was given an office in a bookstore and told I could write about anything I wanted and they would promote it on their bookshelves. Even offered to give me an endcap. So, I wrote and wrote and wrote and when I handed it to them they were so sweet and kind and appreciative. They asked me to write some more books. So, I did. Book after book. I gave it to them and they smiled, thanked me and asked me to write more.
One day I took a break from writing and was wanting to check on a quote I wanted to use in one of my upcoming works so I went out into the stacks to find the book. I walked by the section where my books should have been on display. The endcap was empty.
I asked the manager about my books and he smiled sweetly and said that they were wonderful books and that I should write more but that they would never be on the shelves of this store. I asked why and he said, “You believe the earth is round and everyone knows that it is flat. We wouldn’t want your doctrine to corrupt our readers and patrons.”
“Well, I will leave then, ” I said.
I stomped to the front door and found that it was locked. I asked about that. And the manager said, “You must stay here and write books. You can write about anything you want.” He smiled sweetly and escorted me to my writing cubicle.
“Is this a Phillip Dick story?” I asked.
“No. This is a Christian Bookstore,” he said sweetly.
Do I stay in that bookstore, make a deal with the devil and write in such a way as to get my books on the shelves? Or do I take my little geologists hammer and begin to dig a tunnel and hide it behind a poster of Henri Nouwen and break out of that prison where I can write whatever would warm a wandering soul to the love of God?
Perhaps if I read a Rachel Held Evans book she will show me the way.
I really love this Joe. It speaks to me of the alienation often felt by believers who don’t listen to Christian radio or have little angel figurines all over their house. I don’t really mean that as sarcastic as it sounds. I have no problem with those that live in that envelope, but it seems they have problems with me if I am not in it with them. I personally think Rachel Held Evans has a lot to say and feel her voice will be missed. At least by some of us.