By Rachel Held Evans
The grace-filled and justice-oriented voice of Rachel Held Evans bursts with life in her posthumous memoir, Wholehearted Faith. Evans, who tragically passed away in 2019 at the age of 37, was a beacon of hope to many who felt alienated by the Evangelical Church or who questioned the religious paradigm they inherited.
The collection of essays and stories in Wholehearted Faith invites readers to cultivate the same grace, curiosity, and inclusivity that made the author a key voice in the Church’s continued reformation. As a full-time book collaborator myself and as someone who was deeply impacted by Evans’ wisdom on my own deconstruction journey, I was especially impressed with collaborator Jeff Chu’s ability to cultivate Evans’ voice, flow, and ethos of her transformative message. He did an exceptional job serving her family’s request to complete the book she was writing when she passed away.
It is a bittersweet read, as one cannot help but pine for Evans’ voice in these troubling times of division and isolation. The present-tense flow and playfulness of the book are poignant reminders of all that she had left to give—of the suddenness of her death and the unfathomable loss her family and friends have endured.
Evans was a reformer and a modern prophet to our culture, and no doubt an architect of emerging sects of progressive Christianity, yet the introspection, grace, and nondualism that permeate the book make her version of faith even more trustworthy. She calls out the flaws and blind spots of evangelicalism while also praising what she gained from evangelical doctrine, conservative culture, and her curious, loving evangelical parents. Her conviction is coupled with radical humility, as she models an inclusive faith that extends not only to the margins but also to those with whom she would vehemently disagree on matters of politics or theology. Wholehearted Faith is an extension of what Evans did best in her work—speaking truth with grace and love.
—Stephen Copeland is a frequent contributor to St. Anthony Messenger.
St. Dymphna’s Playbook
By Tommy Tighe
Ave Maria Press
Mental health has been a burgeoning topic during the pandemic, so Tommy Tighe’s newest book comes at an opportune time. Tighe chose St. Dymphna to lead off his title because she is the patron of mental health—something Tighe wants Catholics to be able to discuss openly to create more community and support.
Each chapter delves into a different mental health issue focused under headings including depression, anxiety, and grief. As a licensed marriage and family therapist, Tighe explains actual symptoms and diagnoses and includes practical ideas for coping.
By Terry Hershey
Popular speaker, writer, and blogger Terry Hershey wrote about his daily experiences and reflections during the beginning of the pandemic—when the world turned upside down. This book emerged from his musings and can be used for guidance whenever our lives take an unexpected turn.
Hershey uses simple yet powerful stories to show how we can choose where we “park our presence, ” even if we feel unmoored. Gain insight into how to love and give of yourself through the most challenging times—don’t wait until you have everything figured out.
—Book briefs by Julie Horne Traubert