Point Loma Writers: An Evening with Rachel Held Evans

this ucsd-tv program is a presentation of university of california television for educational and non-commercial use only check out the new youtube original channel you see TV prime at youtube.com slash you see TV prime subscribe today to get new programs every week welcome to our 17th annual writers symposium by the sea at Point Loma Nazarene University I'm Dean Nelson on the journalism faculty at the University and tonight we have Rachel held Evans a very very interesting blogger writer thinker speaker she's just you were really gonna like this woman and part of part of her legacy has been a very very interesting memoir called evolving in monkey town we'll get into that with with her in a little bit and part of her what's so interesting about her is a book that will be coming out later in 2012 called a year a biblical womanhood have I got that right okay and and she's a very very famous person in the blogosphere so she's with us tonight so would you welcome Rachel held Evans Rachel your your perhaps best known these days as a as a blogger but you started out as a newspaper reporter right few years and news writing I come from a really tiny town and Dayton Tennessee and for a few years I wrote at the local paper which was interesting you report on a lot of city council meetings you do sports you do you know kitchen features recipes you do everywhere every hat I worked for the Chattanooga Times Free Press for a little while T's I did the daily thing as well so daily newspaper hang and then you're into this very very popular blog you've and you aren't doing any kind of print reporting or any of that kind of thing anymore you're anymore sometimes people publish stuff that I've written for them but I'm not a reporter okay so blogging is primarily what you're doing now right kind of my bread and butter pays the mortgage every month seriously you're actually making money your blocked ID I still ads you can sell products affiliates so if somebody buys a book from Amazon via my site I get a small portion and one time and I get anything that people buy after that as well I get a tiny percentage so one time somebody bought a big-screen TV after they had bought a book off my vlog and so I really wrecked it in so if you're shopping online and you're gonna buy a book come through my site and write around I didn't realize you were that shameless in your in your self-promotion now you you wrote this absolutely wonderful book you know and I'm old school so I found out about your book before I found out about your blog and and loved this book evolving in monkey town and it's it's about your kind of progression from growing up in an a fairly narrow minded kind of a culture and family and and this kind of progression into a more maybe some broad minded thinking and now this this other book that you've got this year a biblical womanhood this will be coming out but you blogged about that first right I mean you you did the the biblical woman had blogged and now that's gonna become a book that's the order you blog you know on my blog I wrote about I've sort of my blog has followed me throughout the publication of both books and through the process of writing both books so I wrote about my experience with the year of living biblically my year of applica womanhood on the bog in little pieces and tested some ideas that with the readers and to see what they liked and see what caught their interest so and yeah now the I didn't blog every single day about the project it's just I wrote about it every now and then so the bulk of the material is not hasn't been released yet okay so the biblical womanhood project though is you tried to take everything that the Bible from the Old Testament laws to stuff in the New Testament you tried to take literally and live it all the Bible all the things the Bible star women mmm-hmm for women and AJ Jacob says Canada I kind of stole this idea from him a little bit he already rude about the year living biblically and I remember reading that book and thinking oh man this would be a totally different story if a woman did it but it didn't really occur to me to do it until you sort of in this evangelical culture that I come from everybody has been talking about biblical womanhood and how women should ascribe to be biblical women and I well that's what I was wondering and that's exactly why I decided to do the project because to me it it didn't make complete sense what does that mean why does everybody have a different opinion about what that means and aren't we being a little selective when we're talking about the biblical womanhood as technically speaking it's difficult for a woman to cover her head when she prays its biblical for her to be one of many wives biblic her biblical for her to be there are all kinds of laws that we we don't observe anymore and that we are very selective in applying and so I just thought it would be interesting to take this whole idea for a run and see how realistic it is to expect women to live up to biblical womanhood and this included I assume being submissive to your husband yes it did and that was weird I had to call him master for a week which was interesting at first Peter three four to thank for that one it says wives submit to your husband as Sarah submitted to Abraham and called him master so for one week I called Dan master so so did me give me an example of how a normal conversation would go where you were calling him master he he would say I would say well where do you want to go eat dinner master yeah and he would say I want to go here and then well I was why weren't you cooking him dinner hahaha that very biblical right you can't be that selective Rachel I'm sorry I'm being selective yeah I made a lot of dinners too or I you know when you know he'd be he'd lose something like hun have you seen the car keys and I'd be like well where the heck did you leave them last master you know so we had some fun with it I'm glad it only lasted a week cuz I couldn't because I couldn't continue that one all year there was some other crazy fun things I get to do for instance proverbs 31 23 says a virtuous woman's husband is praised city gate so I made a sign that said Dan is awesome and I sit outside the Dayton City gas limit sign with a sign this is I've seen this photo on your blog you're standing outside the welcome to Dayton Tennessee sign with this big Dan is awesome I think people thought I've lost a bed it was it was one of the more fun things all right so so you did this for a solid year this is gonna come out in a book form but I'm just wondering about what are some of the the things that you did that you you thought actually that's still that's kind of still worth doing I'm guessing there are a few things that you were glad to be rid of oh most of it yeah I certainly don't recommend that any other woman try this you know part of the point of doing this is to show that none of us are actually practicing biblical womanhood and that we need to be more careful with how we treat the word biblical there's a you know we kind of throw that around and stick it in front of other loaded words and to train bolster our position on something and that that's not only disrespectful to women it's also disrespectful to Bible I don't think it's meant to be read that way and reduced to this adjective but there were some things that I enjoyed and that I planned to carry over for instance every month I focused on a different virtue so that I wouldn't have to do everything all year and also just to get just be asking too much would you some things I did all year I covered my head when I prayed all year and I had like 10 commandments that I followed all year but most everything else fell into these different virtues basically in one month they focused on silence and I wanted to look at sort of both sides of silence the way that women have been silenced in church history in the way scripture has been used to silence women which is sort of the negative aspect of silence but I also wanted to look at the the positive side of silence because it's one thing to be silenced quite another to silence yourself before God and so I spent three days in a Benedictine monastery which for an introvert like me is like six flags I was so happy had a wonderful time I'm gonna go back and just um and there were a few little things like that that I got to do where I was focusing on the contemplative life contemplatively Prayer lectio Divina and that I really connected with and really enjoyed and I've carried that over and there are a few other things that I that I enjoyed during the year and have tried to continue to implement in my life and at the end of the year I came up with 10 resolutions because the end of the year felt perfectly with Rosh Hashanah the Jewish New Year and I thought what a great time to make some resolutions so that began the year of 10 commandments you know cover your head when you pray submit to your husband grow out your hair out and I ended the year with 10 resolutions 10 things I wanted to keep from the year and that the contemplative side was one of them to nurture that the contemplative impulse that I have and you know that's been something that women in church history have excelled at Teresa of Avila and some of my favorite mystics are women and in times and cultures when women were typically silenced and had very little voice because these women were able to silence themselves before God they gained a platform gained a voice where they might not otherwise have it Julian of Norwich some of my favorite women throughout church history were great contemplative and it was great to connect with that what are some of the practices that you're glad to be done with most of them you know I tried to focus on honing my domestic skills and and I tried to learn how to sew and it was a complete and utter disaster that's right you tried to sell your own clothes and yes I had to make because I was trained as turning proverbs 31 which this should never be done by the way don't turn proverbs 31 into to-do list that's not what it's meant to be we tend to try to do that with it but I tried to learn to make my own clothes because it says a virtuous woman it clothes herself in purple so I made this I say I made it I basically I was getting to the end of my rope because I had all these sewing projects to complete and I was really struggling so I just invited a bunch of ladies from the church over like Betty and to come help me finish all these projects and I just delegated it all and by the end of the day they were all done and my husband was so impressed he comes through the front door I have all of these sewing projects done and I said do you think I cheated and he said I didn't marry a woman who could so I married a woman who'd get stuff done there you go so and it doesn't matter because the proverbs 31 woman had servant girls that says she provides food for her servants so I figured my friends are just my servants for the day if I make them food they'll make my clothes for me dear and I'll take the credit very biblical that's awesome right look let's let's talk about blogging as a as a medium for you blogging has become more important than maybe writing books yeah it's given me a platform where I might not otherwise have one you know the first book did fine but it didn't do great but I get invited to things like this because of my blog it's and my putt you know when publishers are looking at picking up books they want to know how many followers you have how many Twitter followers how many Facebook fans how many people subscribe to your blog because that's sort of the future and I have this for whatever reason it turns out I'm pretty good at blogging and I have this great platform that gives me an opportunity to speak where it might not otherwise have that opportunity so how is it different how is blogging different from any other kind of writing oh goodness in a lot of ways I mean you have to be I try to put content up every single day which is a pretty rigorous writing schedule you don't have as much time to really think through what you're gonna say and it's its own style you know you have to get people's attention quickly you have to say something in a relatively short amount of space cuz people's attention span is just you know not as great on on the internet and and so it's its own style of writing and I kind of click into a different mode when I'm writing for the blog than when I'm writing for books but yeah you just have to and it's also you have to be in conversation with what sort of what's the buzz in your particular world and your little blogosphere world so I tend to interact with people who are you know evangelical Christians is sort of where I came from and where I interact with those folks a lot and so whatever they're talking about I try to weigh in this is this is the matter with blogging it's a matter of jumping in to the conversation that's already happening and then finding a way to be a strong voice in that conversation and building a reputation around that so you have to be on your toes you have to be paying attention to what's going on you have to be up-to-date with what people are talking about you have to be ready to respond to controversy quickly and and wisely it's its own little game and it's kind of fun to play I enjoy it a lot since you since you mentioned controversy you've you've gotten into kind of a public thing with with some evangelical Christian leaders and and I'm just curious as to as to what your take on all of that is now I mean some of these folks who call for our more muscular kind of faith and more masculine and and you've weighed in and said now wait just a second how's that worked out for you you know it's interesting because there's a troubling trend and this is one of the reasons why I wanted to write this book about biblical womanhood is because there's a real troubling trend in evangelicalism that holds that that all men must be this way and all men must be that way or women must be this way and they sort of throw the word biblical in front of it to justify these very narrow gender roles gender stereotypes and it's very troubling and it's a very popular movement people don't always realize how popular it is and it's always sort of bothered me and I've always been blogging about it but when as soon as a woman starts criticizing patriarchy you know starts criticizing the misogyny she sees you're typically labeled and angry feminist it just comes with the territory and that's hard for me because I don't really feel angry I feel concerned and I want to speak up for the women who maybe don't have a voice in this but it can be it sometimes it's hard to feel like I have to carry that label around when all I'm trying to do is speak up about something that I see as problematic and you know I hate to be boxed in as the controversial girl the girl who's picking on Mark Driscoll or John Piper but at the same time somebody has to speak up when women are being mistreated and when people are bullying yeah you know and I think this goes back to I don't remember how old you were when you saw on a television account of a woman in Afghanistan being killed and something something snapped in you is I really questioned the faith I had been brought up with because this was right after the u.s. invaded Afghanistan and you know that's when all of a sudden people started talking about the women of Afghanistan who'd been there are many years before that but you know you know that goes so to justify sort of what we were in doing there and it was you know they had this documentary called behind the veil and it was featuring women in Afghanistan and it was sort of an undercover documentary and they had this scene where they drug this woman and she was in you know the full burqa out to a soccer stadium pitched and executed her and I saw that video when I was a junior in college in the dorm room we were watching in the dorm room and the dorm lobby and when I saw that I realized in that moment that everything I'd been taught growing up assured me that that woman would spend eternity in hell and I just couldn't accept that I just couldn't anymore and at that moment I just started deconstructing and rethinking everything I'd been taught and growing up about my faith about heaven and hell about Christ and it was a difficult time of doubt it was a dark time of doubt for me but it started a process of evolution that's made me the Christian I am today the follower of Christ I am today which is a little less certain about everything but a lot more faith-filled as I recall you had trouble you were asked to give your college commencement talk and you had been raised in all of this certainty and and you just had trouble coming up with what am I going to say now now that I'm not so certain about things anyway yeah I sort of faked it for the two years after I saw that I was a junior and I was a kind of a big of kind of a big deal it's kind of a a big leader you know as in student government and I was sort of in front of everybody doing my thing a super Christian you know when I was a kid I won the best Christian attitude award they actually had this award at my private school and I was like really competitive and trying to win it you know you competed to win the best Christian attitude three years in a row I wanted it for a fourth you don't do that by like being lazy on the job man you know I was like super Christian I had this reputation for being this great Christian girl and you know and so I wanted to keep that up even though inside I wasn't even sure I believed in God anymore and I remember I was asked to give the commencement address at my college which was a huge honor and just I remember being up there saying things I didn't entirely believe and I mean and sometimes that still happens cuz you know I speak and I don't have and not every day is faith-filled for me I have difficult days of doubt still and sometimes I'm you know I'm speaking and I'm saying things that I I believe in my head but sometimes it's hard you know to believe it deep down so yeah I for a long time I just pretended that I had it all together and finally through the blog and the book I sort of told the truth and said you know I had these doubts I have these questions I'm not sure about this and it's actually it's been wonderful because apparently there's a lot of other people if you have those same questions and doubts and finding those people has been so encouraging and enriching and finding them here has been a blessing I want to go back to blogging for a second okay there are a lot of people I know who are bloggers who are sort of obsessive-compulsive about their blog you're sad yeah they're constantly checking their stats and saying are you are you one of those people sorry it's so bad there's this new feature called real-time Google Analytics you know I don't go there yes I can see how many people are on my site every single second where they're coming from yeah it's really unhealthy you know yeah that's that's just sick it is and you know I don't know if the numbers plummet oh well my self-esteem goes right down with it and it's awful this is why this is why I need Benedictine monasteries to get away see every now and then because it will make you crazy and sometimes my husband's like Rachel you might want to put the stats away for a while and I say yes master and everything but yeah I keep track of it and I know when I start to get obsessive that I need to but it's a temptation because you see your numbers go up and you're like yeah I'm rocking the BlogWorld then they start to go down a little bit you're like what's going on what's going on and then it starts to just plummet and you think I'm a terrible person I'm not worth anything but that's why you need to step away step away from the blog every now what you did for a while right every now and then I'll just say I'm done for a week I just can't cuz it's really easy to get caught up in it because it's so day-to-day it's not like other writing where you have time to simmer think about it revamp it edit it you know just you know really let it simmer you have to get it out every day it's very it rewards the most reactive oddest voices and to not lose yourself in that it can be a challenge they really can't and and there are days when I question whether it's good for my soul which is what you know why wouldn't the world be a better place if more people let things simmer and and that's the thing the blogosphere doesn't reward that you get you get rewarded if you're the first to respond or if you have the best best response basically the most out-of-the-box response to some any given news item or whatever and so for me I have to avoid the temptation of always trying to be the first to respond because I don't that's just not good for my soul you know it's we're supposed to be slow to react slow to speak slow to anger right please to listen and that that's the most bloggers you know that's not really the that's not gonna make you a successful blogger well not you know I thought no that's true though I mean because I think the big controversial posts they get you those big numbers as big jumps they all just come and go unless you build a faithful following of readers and that faithful following takes a different sort of dedication and a different sort of writing and a more consistent thoughtful approach to keep the readers there so hey you know it's it's kind of it's a constant I constantly have to be thinking about what is this doing to my soul how am i balancing my life am I being too reactive but I need to take a step away just I mean I think you could probably be more successful if you didn't ask those questions but success isn't the most important thing I want to be able to do this in a way that I can be me and in a way that I don't get too carried away by it which can't really easily happen online you you wrote a blog post called blessed are the uncool that just went viral you probably got it on Facebook where it really blew I got it from several people and and I'm just wondering what was it about that blog post that you think so resonated with the world I think with the posts that really take off like that our when I've said something that a lot of people have been feeling but they weren't really sure how to articulate and I think what that post was about was I was saying that even though I'm young and people think I want a big cool show in church that what I really want is just an authentic community of people where Jesus and his friends who were uncool would fit in because they're sort of this assumption that oh you're young you're a thirty year under you must want like fog machines and church and like if we do that then the young people will come yeah and if we just say add a rock band and do a light show then the young will come and I've that's not really actually what I want I don't have a problem with those things but so I wrote about how what I really want is a church that would welcome uncool people and I was also writing a bit in response to see there was a big mega church I think it's out west here where there was a special needs child in the audience who they felt was being a distraction to the musical performance since they escorted the special-needs kid out and I used that as sort of the starting point for this story of have we lost our way when this special needs child is considered the distraction maybe the worst that was the distraction and that one had a nerve and it really blew up because I think a lot of people felt the same way like wait we've got our priorities wrong when a special-needs kid is escorted out of a church or into a they put him you know in a special holding room I guess or some place away from the performance yeah that yeah that something has gone wrong and and that that's not really what we want and it just resonated with a lot of people and I got shared it's still to this day the most popular post I've ever written all right so we've got a lot of people who will be watching this who are who want to be writers we've got a lot of people in the audience who our writers want to be writers give us your give us your best advice oh my goodness for for writing well work hard oh come on come on there are a lot of people who work hard who still suck work hard and and don't suck and reads you know read everything you can get your hand on you know hands on to read don't just read in your own genre I think that's important practice other genres write poetry if you're a newspaper writer write news writing if you're a poet just because I think that expands your your capacity to be better in your own particulars on or if you just have that crossover experience and just read everything read the newspaper read books read the back of the cereal box you know just read and it slowly seeps in I think read people who are great writers and make notes of what they do right I'm very I'm pretty deliberate about it you know I went through all of my favorite spiritual memoirs before I wrote evolving it monkey town and took notes on what they all did that I thought they did right and like who'd give a something like I'd Don Miller Donald Miller and and Lamont Sarah miles ian cron and I wrote down what I thought they were doing right and there were certain themes that came up over and over again all of them are great at having a self-depreciating since of humor and it'll come out right at the beginning of the their books and you immediately like people who can laugh at themselves and so I was like I gotta be sure to remember to do that so I'm very meticulous about keeping notes when I see something that I like I try to figure out why do I like this sentence what about this sentence makes me happy you know what about this metaphor resonates so much and I keep a journal of all of that so when you read something you like write it down figure out why figure out how it works all right anything else work hard don't yeah that's gonna be my mantra Rachel held Evans thank you so much for being with us tonight thank you guys

20 thoughts on “Point Loma Writers: An Evening with Rachel Held Evans

  1. She mocked the word of God for a living. https://eternity-matters.com/2016/08/06/with-rachel-held-evans-as-the-author-you-can-judge-a-book-by-the-cover/

  2. RIP. False prophet. I guess the Lord had enough of you taking his rule book out of context to justify the modern pulp culture.

  3. She has gone the way of false prophet, the Lord has taken her life. Hopefully those who have turned from Jesus to the world will repent and believe again. God is real, and his word is true. God will not be mocked.

  4. That’s what happens when you expect the Lord to save you. When there’s no Lord you die.


  6. Never heard of her until learning of her death. Upon researching her ideas and her championing of sin, I question her salvation.

  7. too much obsession with blogs here – but, a counter western american evangelical christian resonates deeply with my soul (and im a guy) lol – love her approach…..!!

  8. Do you notice the bullying? "narrow minded" "open minded". If YOU disagre with them, because the Holy Bible strongly disagree with them, THEN, you are a "narrow minded". A bigot. That is why people like those two despise everybody else, including God's Word. After all, they are ssssoooo special….right?
    Be aware of her deception. She is one of those who read the Scriiptures from sexuality, culture and apettites. After all, the "evolving" thing should be "let's fit the Scriptures with the 21st century secular mindset…yeeyy…:(
    I  read some Rachel's articles making acrobatics and splitting hair to defend sin of lesbianism. Just wait for the next "Christian" writer or "pedophile christian" to raise the voice for pedophiles. Or those who identify themselves in having sex with animals or a group. After all, those "bigot Christians" are been idolatrous for worshipping "gender binaries"…this is unacceptable!! Those bigot Christians keep saying that Jesus created man and women! how insensitive! after all, if someone identify with same sex or a group marriage, what the rec Jesus care about it? right? He "is love" and "everybody is welcome" (and live their sinful appetites, OPS, identity freely of bigots). Hey guys, you could all write a book together….incestphobia of those bigot Christians who has the Bible as ultimate authority, not APA or LGBT fascists.
    Or maybe Rachel could publish her own Bible – don't they have the "queen bible" for lesbians? after all the APA is the ultimate authority…WHO CARES of "what somebody wrote 2000 years ago? right? man! we ARE living in the last days…..

  9. The modern idea that faith is the opposite of certainty needs to be challenged. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for. It's not believing something that's hard to believe. It's believing things we are actually mentally convinced of. 

  10. Jesus Christ said, "Children, I have just masturbated to Miley Cyrus. And, oh but God fucking damn it felt good!!!!!!!

    So my question is, can a Savior masturbate to a second rate media whore and still be admired as much as George Bush and Sarah Palin?

    Because, otherwise, I'll just have to go back to my normal masturbation idol, Sean Hannity."

    —-yours in Christ,



  11. This book is truly amazing. It challenges Christians to think deeply about the way we define biblical living and what Jesus really calls us to do. 

  12. Evans is the epitome of the new "Christian Intellectual" – young, inexperienced, self-absorbed, and a danger to herself and others.

    Blogging allows the arrogant and foolish a path to fame and a platform to express their ignorance. She played with Biblical womanhood for a year, found it difficult, and now sweetly mocks it. She is treated as an authority on the subject, but she is nothing more than a toned-down feminist who uses the Bible to justify whatever she does or does not want to do.

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