Friends, Monday is our usual day for airing our weekly podcast episode and the obligatory social media posts, but the Bible for Normal People team felt this day would be better spent remembering, honoring, and mourning our friend, Rachel Held Evans.
Since her passing on Saturday, we, along with countless others, have felt like we’ve been punched in the gut and our souls sucked out of us. We are too sad and too low energy to be “business as usual” by cluttering the internet with things that seem insignificant in the face of such shock and deep sadness.
We hope to honor Rachel’s memory at some point in the next few weeks, and our regular schedule, including the podcast, will resume tomorrow. But for today, consider posting a comment or memory at #BecauseOfRHE to encourage those whose pain darkest and deepest: Rachel’s husband, parents, sister, and other close family members. And know that her young children will read these in due time and get to know their mother through your words.
Below is something I posted on social media this weekend. It gives a sense of the deep respect, admiration, love—and thankfulness—I for this amazing human being. It was my introduction for Rachel when she spoke at Eastern University in October 2015:
I am so very happy to welcome Rachel Held Evans to Eastern this morning.
Yes, she’s a New York Times best-selling author and mega-popular blogger. Yes, Rachel has been interviewed on The View, The Today Show, NPR, the BBC, The Washington Post, The London Times, and Oprah.com.
But that’s not why I’m so happy that she’s here with us today.
A few years ago, one of my children was in the middle of her college years—at a Christian college—and like every Christian college student ever was struggling with her faith.
Believing had become more complicated than youth group and teen study Bibles had led her to believe. And the faith of her youth wasn’t cutting it.
And so she began having so many questions—doubts—which was unsettling enough for her, but it was compounded by the nagging feeling that the very act of questioning at all was a sign of a faith that was weak and unraveling.
I gave her a copy of a book I had read some years earlier, Faith Unraveled—back when it had the way cooler title: Evolving in Monkey Town. She read it—devoured it—and when I saw her next—well, her face, her tone of voice. I saw a big chance.
She told me that she had found in Rachel—finally—someone who understood her. Someone who articulated her own experience and who was asking her questions—and was brave enough to be vulnerable and write it all down. What a relief. Maybe I’m not alone. Maybe I’m not broken or dirty.
And most importantly, she caught a vision for a bigger God who loved her as she was, who could handle her questions and won’t kick her to the curb for asking them.
That’s why I’m happy that Rachel is here to speak to our Christian community, full of young people, some of whom are probably trying to figure some things out and who might also need to hear what my daughter heard years ago.
Rachel is immensely popular because she models a faith that has learned to “Live the Questions”—and she pulls it off with vulnerability, honesty, humor, and kindness.
That is Rachel’s topic this morning, “Living the Questions,” and I’m looking forward, as I’m sure all of you are, to hearing what she has to say. So let’s not waste any more time. Please join me in welcoming Rachel this morning.
As Rachel took the stage she said she had a tear in her eye.
Back at ya, Rachel. Back at ya.