RIP Rachel Held Evans, Eshet Chayil

RIP Rachel Held Evans, Eshet Chayil May 5, 2019

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.

Rachel, you were a true eshet chayil by any definition, a woman of valor and courage, and you will be sorely missed.

See further the tributes from Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Morgan Guyton, the bloggers at Anxious Bench, Karen KeenRichard BeckPhil Fox Rose, Katelyn Beaty, Vance MorganHemant 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.

Mistaking Fear for Faith

Searching for Sunday

The Very Condition of Humanity is to be Wrong about God

Walking the Extra Mile With Pastries for Gay People

Leaving American Christianity Behind?

Culture Wars

It’s Wisdom

Review of Rachel Held Evans, A Year of Biblical Womanhood

A Straightforward Reading of the Text

Rachel Held Evans Interviews Rob Bell

Animate Bible

Historical Amnesia and Hindsight

Rachel Held Evans’ Open Letter to the Open Letter

A Test it is Better to Fail

What Comes From God

Mind-Changing as Religious Imperative

If You Can’t Have the Bible You’d Love, Love the Bible You Have

Is This Cartoon Biblical?

Rally to Restore Unity Synchroblog

The March to Keep Disunity Alive

A Year of Living Justly?

Millennials and the Church (Rachel Held Evans, Hemant Mehta, and Admiral Ackbar)

Finally, check out some of these memes, which I’ve re-uploaded to make them conveniently available here:


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  • Jon Altman

    She grew up in Dayton, Tennessee, not Dayton, Ohio

    • Thank you for spotting that and pointing it out to me. I went into Midwestern Dayton autopilot mode, apparently…

      • Jon Altman

        My great-grandfather was a reasonably well known businessman in Knoxville. He was stabbed to death in early 1925 in a misunderstanding over whether he had stiffed a couple of “Negroes” over fixing a flat tire (unlikely, since he owned the Buick dealership in Knoxville and could have called an employee to fix the tire). The trial of the two killers was displaced on the front pages of the Knoxville papers by the “Monkey Trial” in nearby Dayton.