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Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water,…
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Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again

by Rachel Held Evans

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2361279,954 (4.14)10
If the Bible isn't a science book or an instruction manual, then what is it? What do people mean when they say the Bible is inspired? When Rachel Held Evans found herself asking these questions, she began a quest to better understand what the Bible is and how it is meant to be read. What she discovered changed her--and it will change you too. Drawing on the best in recent scholarship and using her well-honed literary expertise, Evans examines some of our favorite Bible stories and possible interpretations, retelling them through memoir, original poetry, short stories, soliloquies, and even a short screenplay. Undaunted by the Bible's most difficult passages, Evans wrestles through the process of doubting, imagining, and debating Scripture's mysteries. The Bible, she discovers, is not a static work but is a living, breathing, captivating, and confounding book that is able to equip us to join God's loving and redemptive work in the world. --amazon.com.… (more)

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**I received an Advance Reader's copy from the publisher**

Rachel Held Evans is one of those authors who I know I will love, regardless of the content of the book. So when I got a chance to be a part of the book launch, I jumped at the opportunity.

What I love about Inspired is that it looks at the Bible through the lens of story. It reminds you that while scripture was inspired by God, it's just as much a reminder that it was and is a history of humanity. One where we have to reconcile our own personal stories and the lens through which we look at the world with the story of a God who gave up so much so that we could be part of His family.

This book will challenge you, and it will inspire you. It will remind you that you are not alone with your questions. And it will give you a reason to not give up, even as the world gets darker. ( )
  Booksunknown23 | May 18, 2020 |
By the time I got to the very end, I found the part about the epistles to be perhaps the best.... And she deals with some of the same themes she covered in “Searching for Sunday” much better here, unless my mind or memory distorts very much.

But I have more to write about earlier parts—mostly the war stories, I think.

Originally I wasn’t sure I wanted to do the war stories.

I’m essentially a conservative liberal; I know, whatever that is. I’m not really a conservative. But I like holiness; I don’t think that it’s a scam. People who need saving from dire sin don’t need to be reminded that Trump and the Pequot War are only things that matter, except for the grammar of Chinese. But I do think that people, well, the church, (*cough* Protestants) can get into trying to legislate opinions, which, unlike legislating *actions*, is a big hill of dung. *Tell me* about your opinions, don’t order me to believe (attack me, get snide and calmly wipe me with your verbal snot), and tell me I’m not doing it like you are, *really*. (Duh. They’re *your* opinions.) And, as much as I dislike The English Rock Band, The Beatles, we get into the problem of Mean Mister Mustard. I know, some sour youth whining that the old man isn’t like the young girl.

But still.

I’m not much of a protester. I’m waiting for one of the obnoxious ones to get a bullhorn and explain to me as I put the dishes away, that either I’m with them, or I’m with the white supremacist terrorists. You know. Maybe their next idea will be that there’s no porn or anti religious propaganda on the internet, or that television isn’t going from bad to worse. But then they’re not the lumpen proletariat, just the agitators, right, so they can’t actually be blamed for advertising.

This probably isn’t interesting or at least not relevant.

Anyway, this was probably her best book. It was beautiful. There’s still the desire to be just and to write pretty prose, but a little less of the desire to throw it all away and jump off the cliff because, Things Be Bad!

Robber barons off the starboard bow!

I mean, oftentimes protesting does seem to me, (the venerable Goosecap, he-who-does-not-get-out-much, and of whom no one is afraid), like escapism from everyday life, trying to live in a sci-fi movie, or some form of youth media tenuously connected to the realities of ‘paying bills, returning phone calls’ (Anne Lamott, although she’s probably been arrested!).... “She”—the heart-throb rebel, born in the late 90s, younger than me, thankfully I’m 31 and sometimes I feel lucky enough to be a lettered old man, not like I was when I was 23 or whatever, a regular Visigoth—“said, Walking in a straight line, that’s not really her style”, because, you know, the less you know the higher your rank should be in pagan society.

If they’re pagan, that is.... What a spiritual blessing to them, of the worst sort, to persecute them, because it’s such an ugly set of ideas, that outside the most impulsive it would have died out if it hadn’t been persecuted, because then that muddles the whole issue. “He the glory and she the love, and still they try again.” “And if I can’t take your love, then just give it to me anyway!” (*) “You’re gonna hear me roar.” “Hey I’ve got a blank space, so baby write your name.” I think Laura Marling had the right idea, Hold your devil by the spoke and spin him to the ground. Since this is the age of devils, devils that, being persecuted, appear to intelligent people as angels of light.

(*) correction: “If I can't take the whole of you, then give it to me anyway.” But does that really make it less likely to be, you know, Pay *me*; rape *someone else*....

But anyway, sometimes the protesters are honest people, and there are times when they’re right and we’re wrong, and people are overly attached or risk-averse. Prophets are good. I’m kinda, priest scholar and pedant, and the worldwide events escape me sometimes. (I know about the epidemic and I wear a mask and wash my hands, and every hour they should take five minutes or so to say Not Over Yet, the other 95% being, Who wants to flee from God and waste what could be the last day of what could be your only human life? Any takers? Oh my! Back fools, back! Social distancing!)

And getting arrested is probably an acceptable cost for taking down a Confederate flag from US government property. (*offended white man* “I can make you leave it up because it’s proper!!!” Well, no, you’re abusing the idea of propriety and, to come to it, you can’t forcibly transfer your opinion to me; what you can do is make rules and enforce penalties. You can’t actually choose for me whether I decide to fear you or not.) I mean, the government is supposed to be on the side of rationality; they maintain roads and give peanut butter to poor people. It’s not supposed to be about some racial version of King Arthur.... So things like this aren’t 100% against the protesters, although I usually lean the other way.

But so much for all that, that being more of the scatterbrained impressions I used to write. Below my remarks are more carefully prepared and hopefully more like a little essay, which is what I try to do now.

Some people clearly make war an idol. Granted. “I may not be godly, but at least I’m a real man, and that’s close enough!” But my opinion is sorta guided by people like Betty Friedan and Joel Osteen—no, the feminine mystique won't save your life; yes sometimes we have to cross the Jordan and overcome obstacles—instead of the protester thing where we—

Don’t need to go back *there*!

But I did grow from Rachel’s treatment of the topic, too. When the moron peasant general promises to sacrifice the person who ends up being his daughter, her friends turn the anniversary into an annual day of mourning, really for the people who died in the war. (‘Broken bottles under children’s feet/Bodies strewn across the dead end street/But I won’t heed the battle call/Puts my back up, puts my back up against the wall!’) And that’s appropriate. (You’d have to be farther to the right than a mere center-left moderate liberal to *never* protest anything, in any way.) People died in the wars; God is sad; we take the time to be sad, too.

A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.

My opinion is also largely guided by what I got from McLaren. (*Brian grips his seat, like, What’s this kid gonna do to me*). Clearly, 1600 years after the Bible (which part?) or 2000 plus years, who’s counting, we're not still supposed to be slaughtering the Pequots because we're still moron peasant warriors who don’t know any better. But everyone was violent in the past—even the Jews! (C’mon, let's hear some Jew jokes! Money making genius was going to take over the world, until he got attacked by a rabbit and blown over like a leaf! He was crying for his wife to help him! “My husband is no Samson!”) And God’s response is thankfully not to shut heaven’s gate and call through the closed door, Sorry but you guys are a little crazy and I’m a little worried that you guys are going to mess up my house, so. *locks the door from the other side*

Busted.

*Brian unclenches his seat like, That wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be*

So, the Pequot War was a boo boo. Granted.

But nobody grows up in a day, or a year, and a whole people who never had a law or a way of being aside from either slavery or pagan revelry, which amounts to, The strong take what they want, and enjoy themselves until they die—you don’t come out of that situation and grow up without an education that involves laws and penalties. Again, not even the Jews! Imagine trying to teach the Irish, right!

Rachel essentially dismisses most of that as too difficult to understand.

*Sad Cow Sticker*

But the education of the heart is ultimately more important than the education of the head, and if Rachel wants a day of mourning with her sisters for all the people who died in the wars, *even if she doesn’t understand all the reasons why*, then that is much closer to the Heart of God than—than—

Than, uh—

*message ends*
  goosecap | May 13, 2020 |
This is a clear, straightforward book that will be a great first step for people who are looking for a way to read the Bible other than the one they were taught by their overly literal evangelical church.

That's not exactly what I need at this point in my life (I'm ready to move on to more involved and scholarly approaches to scripture), but it would have been lovely to have ten years ago when I was struggling with a lot of the things Evans does in the book. And more than that, I know many, many people who are going to find this book when they need it most. For anyone who's just figuring out that the way they've been taught to approach the Bible doesn't work, but aren't sure of any other way to approach it, this book will be a godsend. ( )
  the_lirazel | Apr 6, 2020 |
I'm think I'm probably one of those Christians the author is complaining about, but I think I'm softening on some points. I learned that the opposite of conservative is progressive in her case, rather than liberal.
My favorite chapter was the one on the Gospel, but I also liked her stories before each chapter. ( )
  eliorajoy | Mar 13, 2020 |
Clearly written by a millenial. I felt her political jabs were out of place in her discussion of what the Bible means in today's world. ( )
  LindaLeeJacobs | Feb 15, 2020 |
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