19 Comments

The little yellow book that could! As the little Methodist feminist who at 18 fought C.S. Lewis and John Piper with a freshman composition paper and didn't understand why she was given a sticker with "Girls can do anything boys can do" (because, obviously?), this book was less a path out of anything and more a path into the world of not being alone anymore. By 2013, I was in cycle of constantly discovering more and more conservative theology than I knew existed, as "coalitions" rose despite our Twitter and blog protests. And somehow, armed only with 100 years of theological conviction and this little yellow book and a sister book with a veiled woman sitting on a house, I found myself fighting the "heretical patriarchy" (my words to my own employers who I thought I would convict to do better. Bless.). Your writing and Rachel and all our little blogosphere circle saying not just that we could be Jesus feminists, but that the patriarchy was a distortion of the gospel gave me strength to survive those environments I naively, so so naively, thought I could change with some good common feminist sense. haha

Pulled up the ebook just to see my old highlights from back then, and this one in particular hits hard as I edit Evolving Faith 2023 transcripts:

"That's the thing when we say yes to God--it's not about that one yes. Our one yes keeps resounding and spreading, like ripples in a pond after a pebble is thrown into it, until the yes of God and the yes of our hearts and the yes of Jesus' love and the yes of us all sweep over the world."

Okay, no, we didn't smash the entire patriarchy. But my god, look at the last decade. We've got all these incredible people coming to share their wisdom and learn and grow together, from all over the world, and how far their impact in their own communities will go, and those future generations growing up like me, not knowing why there was ever any question about Jesus being a feminist. Of course. Of course feminism is core to Christianity. And it's intersectional, with collective liberation now at the heart in ways we couldn't yet dream of in 2013 with our limited perspectives.

My last highlight was just that line at the beginning of The Commissioning, so simple, yet something I needed EF and the last 10 years to grasp: "Stand now, head up---you are loved, remember? You are loved, and you are free. There is no shame here." I spent so long re-reading that one, just needing it to be true. No shame here. Love and freedom carrying us on into another yes and another and another.

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One of this book's greatest legacies for me personally was how, in 2013 (age 23), it sparked some of my dearest friendships in adulthood. I was a closet-feminist volunteering in a youth group at the megachurch across the street from my newlywed apartment and would bring this book with me (because I always bring books with me everywhere I go). Then a junior in high school, Embo came up to me one Wednesday night to tell me she was reading Jesus Feminist too and was thrilled to see someone else at church reading it. She asked me if we could get coffee sometime to talk about it. She then told me one of her mentors, Jen--another youth group volunteer, was who recommended Jesus Feminist to her. I told Embo that she must introduce me to Jen...I was so desperate for IRL friends I could process these things with. And the rest is history! Ten years later, Embo and Jen are still two of the most precious friendships I have. <3

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Oct 31, 2023Liked by Sarah Bessey

I’m going after a Masters too! I’m 71 and have thrown out the age and gender paradigms!

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Oct 31, 2023Liked by Sarah Bessey

Just wondering as I hear you say “There are definitely things I’d change if I had the opportunity to write it again from this vantage point in my life and learning…” might there ever be a second edition?

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Oct 30, 2023Liked by Sarah Bessey

Thanks for sharing all of this goodness with us, Sarah!

(Eliza, I ended up in seminary, too! I just finished my masters at Chicago Theological Seminary. I loved writing my thesis. IT WAS ALL SO FREAKING FUN.)

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I teared up as I read how Rachel midwifed your books, and considered how this upcoming book, and the last few years of EF have not had her by your side. I want to acknowledge that deep loss, and thank you for continuing to write and share all of it.

I’ve also been meaning to say, I’d been praying for you specifically before and during EF that people would suddenly not have the desire or feel the right to comment on your appearance. You shared a while back how that had been happening and I know you looked different at EF than last year. I pray that people did keep their mouths quiet on that front and that you were able to not bear all that junk when they didn’t.

I also called you Mama Sarah or Mama Bessey when I first found you. So very grateful for your life and how it has guided me in times I had no one else to do so.

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Oct 31, 2023Liked by Sarah Bessey

As I sit reading this post, tears streaming down my face, I glanced over and saw my 73 year old husband reading with tears streaming down his face. I got up and sat with him. He was reading your post too. It all started with Jesus Feminist. Thank you for helping us all to wake up! We are fully human beings too. Thank you for being your beautiful self- your real self. You are a gift. Jesus loves the freedom you spread with your vulnerability and we love you too!

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I felt so daring buying Jesus Feminist way back then. Thanks for enlarging my borders along the way ...

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Reading these comments made me emotional. This book, for me too, had such a huge impact. It was recommended to me by my mentor while I was serving in a spiritual leadership position at my very conservative Christian college. Those whispered recommendations were like revolution. I think the words finally freed to me to explore what Jesus meant to me as a then female-identifying person. It led me to spiral into deeper study of feminist theology, and explore intersectional thinking about scripture and society in general. Since then, I’ve gone on to be loud. Im a disability activist, mental health provider who works frequently with religious trauma in the LGBTQIA population, and all around proud to finally speak with my God-given voice. Because God gave women voices and damn it am I going to speak. Thank you.

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Hi there, I really enjoyed reading about your journey and getting to know a bit about you Sarah. I'm new to Substack and just discovering other writers here. Can you or anyone else here recommend other people to follow as well who are also writing about doing life with Jesus?

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This is so beautiful and inspiring. Thank you Sarah. As a new mom to a 10-month old, who's first book is coming out this week (eek), I relate so so hard to this. Exhausted, but inspired, hopeful, but constantly riding the hormonal emotions wagon. Trying to find time for my passions, while also soaking in every milk-stained moment with my little boy.

Also a reminder for me to return to Jesus Feminist on my kindle! May it awaken my tired momma brain <3

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I remember standing in line for you to sign my copy in a coffee shop near the Paramount lot in LA. I met two other women who had come by themselves to the event - and we were all named Sarah.

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