Christian author Rachel Held Evans turns experience into book

Christian author Rachel Held Evans Yet Evans says her experiment in living like a biblical woman for a year — which she intends to chronicle in a book tentatively titled “A Year of Biblical Womanhood” — changed her relationship to the Bible and deepened her faith.
BY LAUREN MARKOE Published: December 3, 2011
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He got the idea after reading the 2007 best-seller, “The Year of Living Biblically,” by A.J. Jacobs, a secular Jew who kept kosher and, following the rules laid out in Deuteronomy 22:23-24, once threw a pebble at a confessed adulterer.

“Well, as the Bible says, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” Jacobs said of Evans' project. “Actually, the Bible doesn't say that. But it definitely sounds biblical. It's probably in the Talmud somewhere.”

“I hope her journey was as fascinating and life-changing as mine was,” added Jacobs, who joined a synagogue and continued to practice some Jewish rituals after writing the book.

About the book

Evans' book, like Jacobs,' is a serious undertaking that appreciates the comedy inherent in living like an ancient in modern times. The two also discovered the burden of the Bible's clear preference for lots of hair.

Jacobs felt as if he was wearing a “hedgehog” on his face and his wife refused to kiss him for the last two months of his experiment. Evans said her hair by year's end was “eating her head.”

Not touching her husband is probably the part she will miss least. “That was surprisingly isolating for me. I never realized how I relied on a pat on the back or a kiss. They connected me to Dan,” she said. “I would not recommend it.”

Her husband of eight years, who owns a video production company and is partner in a Web startup, fully endorsed the project before his wife committed to it. It wouldn't work without him playing the part of the biblical husband.

They didn't have any “safe word” they could use to take a break, even when it got distasteful, he said.

That happened whenever his wife had to submit to him, including the time she really wanted to throw a Christmas party and he decided it would be too stressful.

“It kind of made me feel like a jerk,” he said, “It was almost as if her ideas were inherently less worthy than mine.”

But the year also brought gifts.

From 1 Peter 3:4, she tried to nurture a “gentle and quiet spirit.” Evans described her own spirit as restless, often having trouble with spontaneous prayer and wondering if she was just talking to herself.

But after a year of reciting the prayers of St. Teresa of Avila and meditating on Psalms 23 and 131, she found herself slower to anger.

“Be passionate, but learn how to control those passions,” she said. “This project helped me learn how to do that.”



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