Hooray, it’s finally here! Today is the official launch day for A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans. Today I’m celebrating by a) doing my happy dance, because it means I will soon have an actual paperback copy in my hot little hands and b) posting my initial thoughts on the book right here. I would tell you all to stop reading my blog and get yourselves over to someplace that sells the book, but I like having you read this blog too much. You can go buy your copy after you read what I have to say about it.
Here’s a little history: I first found out about Rachel’s project almost a year and a half ago, while she was still in the midst of living it. At the time, I was having a crisis of faith of sorts. I was rapidly becoming disillusioned with the church and the way that, particularly, conservative evangelical Christians viewed the Bible. It was during that time that I discovered the writings of Brian McLaren and was looking to read things written by other Christians who were ready to question the way things were done. By clicking through various links, I came across a blogger (my apologies, I can’t remember who) that mentioned Rachel in a post and linked to her blog.
I liked Rachel’s style immediately. She nurtures a much more gentle approach than I do, and that’s been good for me. I have a tendency to just be kind of cranky, but Rachel invites discussion. I’ve learned a lot just from reading her blog. You can imagine, then, how excited I’ve been in anticipation of her book. When I saw that she had an application on her website to be part of the launch team, I jumped at the opportunity. Free copy of the book? The chance to use my social networks to spread the word about a great project? Making new connections with fellow team members online? You bet I wanted in!
Which is how I ended up here. Today, I’m going to tell you all the things I love about this book. Over the next few weeks, I will be writing my thoughts chapter by chapter. I would love if you all bought the book and joined in with me so that I don’t ruin all the fun for you of reading it yourselves.
I think I fell in love with AYoBW on the first page. Rachel has a great sense of humor, something that is evident throughout. Rather than complaining about how hard it was to live out a literal interpretation of the Bible, she pokes gentle fun at herself. From her Jar of Contention to her ruined apple pie to her misadventures in sewing, she doesn’t ever take herself too seriously.
At the same time, Rachel clearly takes the Bible seriously. She makes every effort to understand the original context of the Scriptures while not ignoring the modern-day applications. In each chapter, she discovers a way in which she can honor God and the Bible without resorting to strict, legalistic readings of the text. This view is refreshing, given the tendency of conservative Christians to decry the demise of “traditional” family roles.
Reading AYoBW is like sitting down with a friend for a cup of coffee and a chat. It’s important to keep in mind that this book is what Rachel experienced. The vast majority of what she’s written is her own journey and her reactions to situations; she talks about people she meets and places she visits. This is not meant to be some academic dissertation on the theology of feminism.
When I finished the book, my husband asked if I thought it was only appropriate for women. I said that I thought he would probably enjoy it as well, especially since we have been talking together a lot lately about women in modern American society. I have seen some reviews that suggest it is unnecessary for people more liberal than Rachel and unwelcome by those more conservative. I disagree; I believe there is something in this book for everyone. Even when there are points of disagreement, there is room for conversation and clarification of our different views. The only people who won’t benefit from Rachel’s book are the ones who won’t read it.
As you can probably tell, I loved the book; it exceeded my expectations. My hope is that every Christian will read the book and use it as a springboard for discussion. Rachel gives us plenty to think and talk about, as well as practical ways we can take action. Let’s give this book a chance to help us connect at a deeper level: with God, with the Bible, and with each other.
You can read my other reviews of the book at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and CBD. Stick around this week, there will be great stuff going on, including links to my fellow launch team members’ blogs. Don’t forget to submit your essays for the contest, there are only 4 days left!