Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Year of Living Dangerously

After an email conversation with a friend whose advice I always respect, I've decided to embark on the project of following Rachel Held Evans', "Year of Biblical Womanhood". I'll admit here at the outset that I don't hold out much hope for the project looking anything like orthodox Christianity or that it will change Mrs. Evans' view on womanliness. I say this because, as a friend noted over on FB, it's rather odd that a professing Christian can present living biblically as an experiment to be engaged in for a year.

This is why her project is so very dangerous. It's not simply the mocking video she put out to announce the project. It's not the Chinese-menu approach to Christianity. It's not her skepticism about "biblical womanhood". What makes her project so very dangerous is that she announced it this way, "Starting this month, I will commit one year of my life to following all of the Bible's instructions for women as literally as possible." If this is what she admits the Bible teaches, why is it a one-year experiment? Why isn't it the aim and focus of her life if she truly seeks to follow Christ?

She says there will be no picking and choosing, but then immediately launches into the picking and choosing. Polygamy is out. No real problem there, polygamy was never an "instruction" in the first place. But being fruitful and multiply? As to the first "instruction" given woman (Man, if you will)? That's out. As to exemplars or archetypes such as the Proverbs 31 woman? Oh, baby, that's in with a vengeance. So the year of living biblical womanhood seems to come down to what she wants to ridicule, such as head coverings and homemaking skills but things that may actually change her life and her heart? Nope. Not having a bit of it. And never mind that she is only following some of these instructions just once, not the whole year, just once.

Since Mrs. Evans has already stacked the deck, from her enthusiastic embrace of the secular feminist movement (see here ), to her intention to explore "the dark underbelly" of biblical womanhood in which, according to her, it is taught that there is only one "right way" to be a woman (see the same page) all the way to her proposed Table of Contents in which Modesty is described as "Good Deeds in a Size 10", it's clear which way this project is heading. Never any mention of a "dark underbelly" to feminism. Hah!

But this shouldn't surprise us if we know anything about young "Emergents" like Mrs. Evans. Though a reliable source tells me the emergent movement has been dead for years, just last year Evans was lamenting this declaration of death on her blog with the declaration that, "some of us are still talking". Not only does she describe herself as part of the "emergent conversation", she is also a proponent of theological Darwinism. From her "About the blog" section:

Charles Darwin said that the survival or extinction of an organism is determined by its ability to adapt to its environment. I think faith operates the same way. Changes in the environment -- be they cultural or experiential -- test the resilience of our faith and challenge us to rethink our most fundamental beliefs and values.

That's what this blog is about. It's about how faith survives by continually changing*. Its purpose is to reassess the fundamental elements of Christianity in the context of a postmodern environment. . . my insights coming from a small town famous for its fundamentalism, yours coming from wherever you may be.

I believe that knowing the answers isn't as important as asking the questions, and that following Jesus Christ is a lot less about being right and a lot more about, well, surviving. . .

Surviving, adapting and changing. That's the vision of "christianity" presented by Rachel Held Evans. Is it any wonder I'm as skeptical of her as she is of biblical womanhood?

*Emphasis in the original


Denny Burk said...

Great post! Thanks for the heads-up!

vielleur said...

> But being fruitful and multiply? ...That's out.

Because you can't just do that for a year, and then go back to "have it your way" normal.

> So the year of living biblical womanhood seems to come down to what she wants to ridicule...

And then there's the camping out in the backyard during her period. Yep, she's real committed to practicing Christian womanhood.

> And never mind that she is only following some of these instructions just once, not the whole year, just once.

I kept some of the 10 Commandments once. The ones I chose to, that is. Had it on the calender: "No lying today," etc. But I really didn't believe in them so much. I was just doing it to show I could, if I wanted to be one of those legalists. [I'm not exactly positive I kept them once perfectly, but I kept them to my satisfaction on the scheduled occasion, at least.] I should have blogged about it, but I didn't think about it at the time.

> ...her intention to explore "the dark underbelly" of biblical womanhood

Thanks for further background on where she's coming from. Seems pretty obvious what she's up to.

> ...things that may actually change her life and her heart? Nope.

Mostly, she needs our prayers as she sets out to publicly make a fool of herself. Maybe the Lord will get her attention as she kicks against the goads. And we need to pray against others being influenced by this "dangerous" ridicule-the-Scriptures project.

Bible Babe said...

I wonder if she knows she is just recycling a book idea that was done a couple of years ago, when a writer named A.J. Jacobs wrote a book called THE YEAR OF LIVING BIBLICALLY. He actually tried to live as close to the Bible as possible, mostly in the Old Testament. Yes, it was humorous in nature a lot of the time, but it also made you think.
I guess I just find it sad that she not only is trying to ridicule Biblical Womanhood, but she can't even come up with an original idea to do it with!
Like the blog--I'll be back.

Anonymous said...

Ah,yes living a "Christian life" living like the inerrant Word of God tells you to.You criticize her for her "Chinese menu" approach to Christianity and the Bible.SO much for "Judge not lest ye be judged" also do you have both your hands and both eyes?You do?Impossible for Paul wrote,"If thy hand causes thee to sin,cut it off.If thy eye offends thee,pluck it out"
Now come on,no picking and choosing which Holy Scriptures your going to follow and which you won't.No Chinese menu for you;just good old fashioned literalism!Keep your readers posted on when your booking the appointment with the surgeon to remove your hand.

Trevor said...

Too bad I can't think of a scripture off-hand were Jesus asked people not to be smug, judgmental, and self-righteous... :-/

Samaria said...

Yet, surviving and adapting and changing is exactly what Christianity has done in the 2000-odd years of its existence. Hmmm...