This is so not my usual reading material, but my aunt recommended it and was kind enough to lend me a copy, so I figured I would give it a shot. I ended up really enjoying most of it, and I’m glad I tried something outside my comfort zone. As a bit of background, I am a liberal atheist who lives in a very conservative state and works for a very Christian company. My parents made us go to church until I was a teenager, then stopped for two reasons: our church was attempting to raise $5 million to expand again, and my mom got tired of dragging her two uninterested daughters out of bed on Sunday mornings.
Rachel Held Evans had a slightly different background: raised by Christian evangelicals, she was very familiar with the church and its teachings, and she was most raised along like-minded folks. However, when she decides (after pitching it to her publisher) to live exactly as the Bible demands (specifically what it demands of a woman) for a year, she still undergoes quite a bit of culture shock.
“That a woman who managed to be both a virgin and a mother is often presented as God’s standard for womanhood can be frustrating for those of us who have to work within the constraints of physical law.”
Evans assigns each month a virtue (be more obedient, more compassionate, etc.) with a corresponding list of tasks (call her husband “master”, participate in charity, etc.). She struggles with some aspects and embraces others. Most of the book is pretty good — some of the more Bible-intensive bits got a little dull, but overall I enjoyed it. I really liked the focus on charity and giving back — that’s a major focus at my office, too, and one of the aspects of Christianity that I really do like. Evans also interviews a lot of people who are very orthodox in their own faiths or communities, which was pretty interesting. And her writing and tone kept things pretty light and fast-moving.