Rachel Held Evans died on May 4, 2019.
Local writer from Rhea County, Tennessee, former newspaper reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, author of many books. The last book, Wholehearted Faith, combines her last unfinished manuscript with the help of Jeff Chu. A review from Booklist states that Held Evans was widely known for her openness to question the Bible, God, and the practice of white evangelical Christianity.
Wholehearted Faith, released on November 2, 2021, is available on the ChattState Library's OverDrive collection at https://chattanoogastate.overdrive.com/media/5962325?cid=266370
"This manuscript isn't what Rachel originally envisioned. Our life today isn't what she envisioned. Being dead at thirty-seven isn't what she envisioned. But that's one thing about having vision. It's not about always being right about the future. It's constantly learning what's right and striving for it." Daniel J Evans, Foreward, Wholehearted Faith
"It’s a pastoral letter to someone Rachel loved. It says you’re not alone because you’re questioning." Jeff Chu, co-author, Wholehearted Faith.
The first paragraph of this book describes the East Tennessee hills in the splendor of the sun and the green landscape. Held Evans was from East Tennessee. Her upbringing in conservative evangelical Christianity led her to question the tight grip of having no other dialogue about beliefs. I can relate to that thought process. I've attended churches that were in that way of rigid thinking -- questioning the Bible and fundamentalist beliefs were not acceptable practices.
In the essay, My Wicked Heart, Held Evans talks about changing from a proselytizing high school student to a person who learned about privileged, who learned about critical thinking skills. The chapter talks about how religion has torn people apart. Religious quests and crusades asked so many to ignore their conscience and to conform to expected cultural norms, faking happiness, and looking the other way from things that bother one's conscience. This is, Held Evans writes, an unhealthy way to live.
In this book, the exploration of our relationship with religious beliefs begins with who we are and where we are in the universe. Held Evans through this book has articulated thoughtfully of how to bring that awareness into our spiritual lives. The touch of poetic phrasing often gives a lift of rhythm when reading this book.
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