A Prayer for Rachel Held Evans

Rachel Held Evans

Almighty God,

we grieve the loss of Rachel and we pray for her family,
and so we remember before you today your faithful servant Rachel;

and we pray that, having opened to her the gates of eternal life,
you will receive her more and more into your joyful service,

that, with all who have faithfully served you in the past,
she may share in the eternal victory of Jesus Christ our Lord;

who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.

Amen.

BCP (edited by Scot McKnight)

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Rob Bell – What Is the Bible?

I have just finished reading Rob Bell’s latest book, titled What Is the Bible?: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything. I really loved it and I think every evangelical should read it. The book does not say anything new, nor does the author claim to do so. It merely presents at a popular level what theologians and Bible scholars have said about it in the last hundred years.

You may ask, what is then so important about it? Here is my answer. Continue reading “Rob Bell – What Is the Bible?”

Rachel Held Evans – Let the World Change You: A Commencement Address Do-Over

Rachel Held Evans

Way back in 2003, when people still left voicemails and Mark Zuckerberg’s “Facesmash” was just a mildly sexist college experiment, I was chosen by my classmates to deliver a commencement address at graduation ceremonies for our conservative Christian university.

I took the honor seriously, prepping for weeks amidst all the final exams and senior parties, working through multiple drafts and soliciting feedback from my parents and professors.

And I did okay, (though, to this day I still have nightmares about approaching that podium only to look down and realize I left my notes…or my pants… in my dorm room).  I admonished my classmates the way any other 21-year-old evangelical would admonish her peers:

I told them to go out and change the world.

Continue reading “Rachel Held Evans – Let the World Change You: A Commencement Address Do-Over”

3 Things You Might Not Know About Proverbs 31

It never fails. Every year, on the Monday after Mother’s Day I receive a flood of messages from women who spent yesterday morning grimacing through yet another Proverbs 31 sermon. The pastors usually mean well. They want to honor women on Mother’s Day, so they turn to the biblical passage most associated with femininity, the one that culminates with what may be the most cross-stitched Bible verse of all time: “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.”  But for women like me who grew up thinking of the domestic super-heronie of Proverbs 31 as just another impossible standard by which to mark my shortcomings as a woman, the passage can come with some…baggage.  That’s because, too often, we focus on the Proverbs 31 Woman’s  roles as a way of reducing womanhood to marriage, motherhood, and domesticity, when really, this passage is about character that transcends both gender and circumstance.    3 Things You Might Not Know About Proverbs 31  Our confusion around Proverbs 31, like most misinterpreted Bible passages, centers around issues related to genre, audience, and language. With that in mind, here are three things you might not know:  1. Proverbs 31 is a poem.  The subject of a twenty-two-line poem found in the last chapter of the book of Proverbs, the “woman of noble character” is meant to be a tangible expression of the book’s celebrated virtue of wisdom. The author is essentially showing us what wisdom looks like in action. (The astute reader will immediately make a connection between the Proverbs 31 Woman and “Woman Wisdom,” found in earlier chapters of Proverbs.)  Packed with hyperbolic, militaristic imagery, the poem is an acrostic, so the first word of each verse begins with a letter from the Hebrew alphabet in succession. This communicates a sense of totality as the poet praises the everyday achievements of an upper-class Jewish wife, a woman who keeps her household functioning day and night by buying, trading, investing, planting, sewing, spindling, managing servants, extending charity, providing food for the family, and preparing for each season.  Like any good poem, the purpose of this one is to draw attention to the often-overlooked glory of the everyday. As a poem, Proverbs 31 should not be interpreted prescriptively as a job description for all women. Its purpose is to celebrate wisdom-in-action, not to instruct women everywhere to get married, have children, and take up the loom.  Good News: You don’t have to know how this works to be a Proverbs 31 Woman.  2. The “Target Audience” of Proverbs 31 is Men  If you’ve read A Year of Biblical Womanhood, you’ll know I first learned this from my Jewish friend Ahava who told me that in her culture, it’s not the women who memorize Proverbs 31, but the men. (What I wouldn’t pay to see a Christian MEN’S conference in which the central text is Proverbs 31!)  They memorize it, Ahava said, to sing it as a song of praise to the women in their lives—their wives, daughters, sisters, mothers, and friends. Ahava’s husband sings Proverbs 31 to her at every Sabbath meal.   As I did more research, I learned that indeed the only instructive language in the poem is directed at the poem’s intended male audience: “Praise her for all her hands have done.”  And yet many Christians interpret this passage prescriptively, as a command to women rather than an ode to women, with the home-based endeavors of the Proverbs 31 woman cast as the ideal lifestyle for all women of faith. An empire of books, conferences, products, and media has evolved from a subtle repositioning the poem’s intended audience from that of men to that of women. One of the more popular books is titled Becoming the Woman God Wants Me to Be: A 90 Day Guide to Living the Proverbs 31 Life. No longer presented as a song through which a man offers a woman praise, Proverbs 31 is presented as a task list through which a woman earns it.  This, I believe, misses the point of the text entirely.  3. Proverbs 31 Celebrates Valor  Ahava repeated a finding I’d discovered in my research, that the first line of the Proverbs 31 poem—“a virtuous woman who can find?”—is best translated, “a woman of valor who can find?” (The Hebrew is eshet chayil, “woman of valor”; the male equivalent is gibor chayil, “man of valor.”)  To make this fact even more fun, Ahava explained to me that she and her friends cheer one another on with the blessing, celebrating everything from promotions, to pregnancies, to acts of mercy and justice, to battles with cancer with a hearty “eshet chayil”! (Think of it as something like the Jewish “you go girl.”) This discovery led me to declare “woman of valor!” when a good friend finished seminary, when my mom beat breast cancer, when my sister ran a half marathon. It also led u

Source: 3 Things You Might Not Know About Proverbs 31

Rachel Held Evans – Donald Trump and a Tale of Two Gospels

Rachel-Held-Evans1
Rachel Held Evans

NOTES: It has been some time since I have shared on my blog a post written by Rachel. But this one is a must, as so many evangelicals in the US seem to be fooled by the perverted version of the gospel promoted by the Republican candidate to the American presidency.

And some good news on Rachel. On Feb 29th, President Obama nominated Rachel Held Evans as member of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Well done, Rachel.

* * *

As it becomes clear Donald Trump’s candidacy for president will be more than a sideshow this year, the probable Republican nominee is making his pitch to Christian voters.

You would think it would be a hard sell given the fact that the real estate mogul and reality star has boasted about his extramarital affairs, profited off casinos and strip clubs, said he doesn’t need to ask God for forgiveness, called for targeting innocent civilians in war, mocked a reporter with a disability, threatened the religious liberty of minority groups in the U.S., and gained wide support among white nationalists for consistently lying about and demeaning blacks, Mexican immigrants, Muslims, and Syrian refugees.

But polls show that despite all of this, Trump remains favored among evangelical voters. After speaking at Liberty University last week, Trump scored an important endorsement from Jerry Falwell Jr., a prominent leader of the Religious Right who, to the applause of thousands, compared Trump to Jesus and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Continue reading “Rachel Held Evans – Donald Trump and a Tale of Two Gospels”

7 Ways to Welcome Young People to the Mainline

7 Ways to Welcome Young People to the Mainline.

I would say, these suggestions work also for some more traditional evangelical churches that started losing the young people.

Tara Owens – Embracing the Body

Tara Owens - Embracing the Body

Christians along history had, and they continue to have an ambiguous relationship with their bodies in particular and physicality in general.

This is the topic of Tara M Owens’s new book, Embracing the Body: Finding God in Our Flesh and Bone.

Here is a short presentation, on Amazon website.

Our bodies teach us about God, and God communicates to us through our bodies. Our bodies are more good than we can possibly imagine them to be. And yet at times we may struggle with feelings of shame and guilt or even pride in regard to our bodies. What is God trying to do through our skin and bones? In Embracing the Body spiritual director Tara Owens invites you to listen to your thoughts about your body in a way that draws you closer to God, calling you to explore how your spirituality is intimately tied to your physicality. Using exercises for reflection at the end of each chapter, she guides you to see your body not as an inconvenience but as a place where you can meet the Holy in a new way―a place to embrace God’s glorious intention.

I have heard of Owens for the first time on Rachel Held Evans’s blog, in a guest post written by Tara and titled ‘How do I involve God in my sexuality?

Read HERE a very good interview with Tara on her book. Here is the beginning of it:

Q – Tara – you’re a certified spiritual director, veteran writer, wife and mum – can you tell us three things we may not know about you?

That’s a fun question! I’ve always thought I would win the “two truths and a lie” icebreaker game—because I have at least three outrageous things about myself that I can share, all of which are true.

First, I used to be an amateur boxer. For nearly eight years, I competed in boxing, muay thai boxing and kickboxing. It surprises people, because I’m a soft-spoken spiritual director, but I loved the sport and learned so much about myself from it. I hope to get back to in some time in the future.

Second, five years ago I had a heart attack. It was completely out of the blue, and almost totally unexplained—I didn’t have high blood pressure or cholesterol. It’s one of the things that created this desire in me to write about the body in a way that both honored the gift that we’ve been given in flesh and bone, and acknowledged that our bodies sometime betray us deeply.

Third, I’ve never had a full cup of coffee in my life. I know that I tend toward fallen, addictive behaviors, so I’ve avoided coffee because I just have this sense that if I started it, I’d be mainlining it every morning within a week or so. It’s part of the way I steward my own weaknesses.

Oh, and I’m British and Canadian, living in the United States on a green card. And I once had a warrant out for my arrest.

Read on at the link above. It is really worth it.

You may also listen HERE to another interview with Tara in her new book.

* * *

Here are a few things about Tara as told by herself:

Tara M Owens

I was born in Montreal to British parents who moved to Canada for a better life for their growing family. Canadian by birth and British by blood, I’ve also lived in Raleigh, North Carolina; Washington, DC; Arlington, Virginia and, now, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

I discerned the call to spiritual direction while completing my Masters of Theological Studies in Spiritual Formation at Tyndale Seminary in Toronto. Like many spiritual directors, I was captured by the incredible privilege it is to companion someone as they discern the voice of the Loving Creator in their lives.

Before pursuing my Spiritual Formation degree, I was a professional print journalist. My love of story drew me to news reporting and then to political journalism. It was that very ear for narrative that God used to bring me to spiritual direction, where I help others make sense of the story in which they are living, and connect it up with the Larger Story of redemption and life that the Trinity is weaving into human history.

In addition to my journey as a spiritual director, I am blessed to marry my love for spiritual formation with my love for the written word as Senior Editor of Conversations Journal. Founded by Larry Crabb, David Benner and Gary Moon, Conversations is a forum for authentic spiritual transformation where authors such as Dallas Willard and Eugene Peterson discuss the patterns and practice of spiritual growth.

I founded Anam Cara Ministries in 2007 as a place of where true soul friendship can be found. ‘Anam Cara’ is an ancient Celtic word meaning ‘soul friend,’ one of the essential qualities of a spiritual director. Celtic  Christianity and its practices form a foundation to the work of Anam Cara Ministries—from spiritual fri en ds hip to a fundamental respect for creation to the discipline of the hours.

Anam Cara Ministries is meant to be a place of grace and hope, where a deeper relationship with God can be pursued in a context of hospitality and safety. I’ve been a practicing spiritual director for more than five years, and I’m honored that you’ve chosen to explore a little deeper here with me.

(Source, HERE.)