GOOD APPLE: Tales of a Southern Evangelical in New York

Memphis author Elizabeth Passarella grew up in a conservative, Republican family. Then she moved to New York City. She votes Democrat now, but is still an outspoken evangelical Christian. I love the way she writes about her faith, politics, and culture. Her first book, Good Apple (January 2021), is at once hilariously funny but also addresses serious issues. Here’s my favorite passage, from pages 66-69 in the book:

What I’d like to say to my Christian brothers and sisters is: my political party, and yours, it not a big deal. It should not be the basis for our identity. It should be a footnote to the person that you are. I don’t agree with every stance the Democratic Party takes. Does anyone agree with everything their chosen politician stands for? The only person who has walked this earth and lived a blameless life was Jesus. Your congressman, even the handsome one, is a majorly flawed human being. We are all making tough decisions, weighing options, and trying to go with our conscience. Where mine leads me might not be where your leads you. That’s the lovely outcome of being freethinking people. But if I’m going to talk about politics–and these days, it seems impossible not to–then I have to be specific. So here goes—a few of my thoughts on the subject:

(Her first two “thoughts” are about race, and government involvement in caring for the poor and marginalized. I loved those sections, but here I’ll just share part of her third section, which is about being pro-life.)

I am pro-life. But the way the Republican Party has strong-armed people into becoming single-issue voters over abortion is wrong. If we are pro-life, we need to change our gun laws. If we are pro-life, we need to meet mothers and their children crossing our borders with compassion and respect. Those lives are equally as important a the unborn. If we are pro-life, we should care about how climate change is affecting the poor in developing countries. I think about the lawmakers who have tried to outlaw abortion in their states. What if, instead of simply making abortion illegal, they said, “Hey, we think abortion is wrong and immoral, and we want it to end. So we are going to gradually work toward that goal. As we do we are going to support the most vulnerable women in our communities who would be most affected. Birth control is going to be free and available at every supermarket checkout counter, because we know that it is the number one way to reduce unwanted pregnancies. We are going to fund programs that teach young women and young men–who are equally responsible–about sex, its consequences, and how contraception works. If a woman does have an unwanted pregnancy, we are going to embrace her in love, give her the best free health care she could possibly imagine, and then walk alongside her not just during pregnancy but as that baby grows. We will enact laws that demand free childcare, since we know that woman probably needs to work. We are going to call on businesses in our communities to hire mothers and give them flexible work hours. We are going to expunge criminal records for minor drug offenses, so that they can find work and support their children. Oh, and we are going to raise the minimum wage. We are going to set up a small savings account for those children that can grow over time and pay for community college someday. Wouldn’t that be a beautiful picture of the gospel?

Passarella is a contributing editor for Southern Living magazine, where she writes the “Social Graces” column. She’s also a former editor at Real Simple and Vogue and writes for publications like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Parents, Martha Stewart Weddings, Coastal Living, and Apartment Therapy’s The Kitchn.

Her second book, It Was An Ugly Couch Anyway, launched on May 2. It’s now on my to-read list! I’m sorry I missed meeting her when she read at Novel Memphis on May 2. Maybe next time!