I assume that most if not indeed all readers of my blog will have heard by now the tragic news that author Rachel Held Evans has died at the young age of 37, leaving behind her husband Dan and their two children. I’ve been a huge fan of Evans’ writing ever since I encountered her first book about growing up in Dayton, Tennessee, the site of the infamous Scopes trial. She then wowed us all again with her book about what it was like to live according to biblical laws as a woman for an entire year. I can’t recall exactly how I ended up having the privilege of reading and providing feedback about an early draft of that book, but having already been impressed by what she wrote, I was even more impressed as I had the chance to interact with Rachel about the book, and discovered that things that I as an academic expected to be mentioned at least in a footnote, she had omitted not because she was unaware of those issues, but because she combined being well-informed with a profound pastoral and pedagogical sensitivity, knowing that she was already challenging her conservative Christian readers in enough ways that adding others that were at best tangential to the focus of this book would not in any way help them to grasp and wrestle with her insights, and might even prevent them from doing so in ways that were to their detriment and ultimately to that of our society as a whole. She continued to write still other inspired and inspiring books that encouraged and challenged us. She surely died having more books to write that would have continued her ministry and made an ever-expanding positive impact on our world.
See further the tributes from Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Morgan Guyton, the bloggers at Anxious Bench, Karen Keen, Richard Beck, Phil Fox Rose, Katelyn Beaty, Vance Morgan, Hemant Mehta, Randal Rauser, and many others.
I have probably shared more quotes from her, and turned more of her words into memes, than I have for any other writer. And so let me end this post by including some of my previous blogging below. It is just a collection of the posts that have the words of Rachel Held Evans as a central focus. There is much more in which she is mentioned or part of my discussion of a topic. Nothing that I can say or do at this juncture is likely to comfort her family, those who knew her, or those who knew only her writings but valued their impact on their lives. Her contribution to Christianity, and to human existence in this world, will be sorely missed, and we will all live from this point on mourning such a tragic loss.
Below, as I said, are posts related to her, and some of the memes that I either made or found with quotes from her. Please share them on social media as tributes to her writing and her life. And if the particular quotes that resonated with me are not the ones that you would have chosen, please find your own memes or make some yourself. But let’s take this moment as we mourn to do so in a way that remembers and values Rachel’s contribution, and aches with the full extent of the incredible human being we have lost from amongst us.
Finally, check out some of these memes, which I’ve re-uploaded to make them conveniently available here: