Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday morsel: "one loud and colorful moment" (from Rachel Held Evans)

I've been reading Rachel Held Evans' memoir Evolving in Monkey Town:  How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions.  The author grew up in a conservative Christian environment that encouraged the development of an airtight worldview and viewed doubts and questions as threatening at best and sinful at worst.  In the midst of her own crisis of faith, she found herself wondering about the eternal destiny of those who had never heard about Jesus, those who had died in the South Asian tsunami, etc.  John's vision in Revelation 7 was an encouragement and a, well, revelation to her:

"I wondered what exactly John saw and heard to convince him that the kingdom of God includes people from every nation, tribe, people, and language, people from the north and the south and the east and the west.  I imagined that he must have seen women wearing glorious red, green, and gold saris beneath their white robes.  He must have seen voluminous African headdresses of every shape and color.  He must have seen the turquoise jewelry of the Navajo, the rich wool of the Peruvians, the prayer shawls of the Jews.  He must have seen faces of every shade and eyes of every shape.  He must have seen orange freckles and coal-colored hair and moonlike complexions and the lovely flash of brilliant white teeth against black skin.  He must have heard instruments of all kinds -- bagpipes and lutes and dulcimers and banjos and gongs.  He must have heard languages of every sound and cadence, melodies of every strain, and rhythms of every tempo.  He must have heard shouts of praise to Elohim, Allah, and Papa God, shouts in Farsi and Hindi, Tagalog and Cantonese, Gaelic and Swahili, and in tongues long forgotten by history.  And he must have seen the tears of every sadness -- hunger and loneliness, sickness and loss, injustice and fear, tsunami and drought, rape and war -- acknowledged and cherished and wiped away.  In one loud and colorful moment, he must have witnessed all that makes us different and all that makes us the same."

4 comments:

  1. My jaw just dropped over this rich quote, Jeannie. And that title: "How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions" could certainly describe me! Makes me think, too, of this print by the same artist who painted the picture Tim has in his office. While still living at home with my parents and attending a fundamentalist church, I came across this and felt drawn to it: http://www.tapestryproductions.com/originalartwork/artist/thomasblackshear/thecoatofmanycolors.php

    P.S. Yesterday I read a post that an ex-Fundy-Gothardite friend linked to which was written by Rachel Held Evans. It's about how fundamentalism erases people. http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/hearts-of-flesh


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    1. Thanks for the link to the picture, Adriana; it fits this quote perfectly, doesn't it. Thanks also for the link to RHE's article; I'll definitely take a look. I've been following her on Twitter and find her thoughts and insights so interesting. You would LOVE this book, I know. It's such an honest and emotional story of her faith journey. FYI, it's being re-released under a new title, Faith Unraveled (which seems like a good idea to me; the title's a bit obscure), in case you're interested in tracking down a copy for your Kindle....

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  2. Does RHE expand on the imagery she uses so as to anchor all those different people in a common faith in Christ? John did.

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    1. Yes, she does, Tim, although I think her actual focus in this chapter is slightly different. She quotes Jesus' words in Luke when someone asks Him whether only a few people will be saved: "People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.” I think the reassurance she found from Rev 7 and expressed in the passage above has more to do with how much God wants MANY people to be saved -- not just the relatively few who've heard of Jesus and prayed the sinner's prayer. As she puts it later in the chapter, "While the Bible certainly speaks of God punishing the wicked, no single passage on judgment can compete with the scope and size of John's description of the redeemed." Whereas she'd been agonizing over the idea of hell's ranks being swelled by thousands of dead tsunami victims, she found comfort in this passage in knowing that God (through Jesus, for sure) wanted to, and would, save many lives because of His grace and mercy.

      Does that make sense? I don't want to misrepresent her, especially publicly! but this is how I read it.

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