Saturday, October 27, 2012

How Rachel Held Evans Beat the Evangelical Decency Police

Oct 26, 2012 -  Book Beast - David Sessions

Christian bookstores won’t sell blogger Rachel Held Evans’ highly anticipated new book because it contains the word ‘vagina.’ The good news? They’re in decline, and she’s just getting started.

Just ahead of the book’s release Oct. 30, evangelical author Rachel Held Evans announced that LifeWay Christian Resources had refused to stock her second work, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, which describes her humorous year-long attempt to follow the Bible’s rules for women. LifeWay, which is operated by the Southern Baptist Convention, gave no official reason for the censorship, but it wasn’t difficult to guess. Just a few months earlier, Evans had revealed a tangle with her publisher over the word “vagina,” the inclusion of which they feared would be too offensive for Christian bookstores. Evans had allowed other mild profanities (“damn,” “kick-ass”) to be stripped from her manuscript, but she drew the line at “vagina.” Her publisher, Thomas Nelson, allowed her to keep it in, but their fears proved correct.

Ask almost any evangelical writer, musician, or artist who came of age in the past two decades, and he or she will have a similar story. Thanks to a combination of evangelical prudery and corporate anxiety, popular Christian books, music, and films have been part of a totally sterilized landscape. Curse words or mentions of female genitalia weren’t the only things off limits: so was any serious portrayal of evil, suffering, anxiety, or doubt that wasn’t presented in a carefully calculated formula where good and bad were always clearly distinguishable, where pain was always resolved in redemption and hope.

‘A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”’ by Rachel Held Evans. 352 p. Thomas Nelson. $10.87.

Full piece at Book Beast

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