Who’s Afraid Of Rachel Held Evans?

There’s a clip of the ever-brilliant Monty Python’s Flying Circus where, at the bottom of the screen, there is a flashing sign that reads “Satire” during one of their skits. Anyone who knows Monty Python knows that this “warning” was of course redundant. Perhaps though the publishers of Rachel Held Evans’ last book might have considered provided such a disclaimer on her dust jacket – because a lot of folks seem to be taking what appears to be a satire (and not necessarily an original one) entirely at face value.

Kathy Keller appears to reprimand Evans very sincerely for not understanding such import precepts to biblical interpretation as context, culture, and authorial intent. While Doug Wilson does a very serious critique based around something that Evans said on a TV show. Now I have not read a whole lot of Kathy Keller, so I just don’t know what sort of “voice” she writes with, but Wilson’s approach of taking this all Very Seriously is a bit odd, since he appears to enjoy deploying humour as a rhetorical approach. With no small irony I can note that Wilson is fond of this joke:

Q: How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: That’s not funny.

I imagine that Wilson’s accusations that Evans is something of a fool would sting if it weren’t so transparently obvious that she was playing one for the purpose of the book she wrote.

Wilson takes the approach of claiming that Evans wrote what amounts to a Talmudic commentary to be added on to scripture – and not a very good. I suppose that that’s what happened if one takes Evans entirely literally. The dots that Wilson cannot seem to connect (but that Keller acknowledges) is that Evans is parodying any number of proponents of complementarian gender roles. Evans may make silly commands for herself about sitting on the roof, but then there’s Mark Driscoll making completely sincere commands about the importance of the wife providing oral sex for the husband, or stripteases. Driscoll’s Talmud, if perhaps somewhat uncomfortable to Wilson, still gets something of a pass from him.

I haven’t read Evans book, I have no idea if it’s good or not, I probably won’t bother with it myself, but let’s at least be honest about just how seriously she took this project.