Lin-Manuel Miranda has his fans talking after recommending a book by beloved Christian author Rachel Held Evans, who tragically passed away earlier this year. As a composer, lyricist, rapper, singer, actor, playwright and producer, Miranda is perhaps most famously known as the brilliant mind behind Hamilton and the hit songs in Moana.
Miranda often takes the time to engage with fans on social media, and recently took time on Twitter to answer a few fan questions, including one question about his current book recommendations.
Miranda recommended a few reads, such as The New York Times harrowing 1619 Project, a Stephen Schwartz biography called Defying Gravity and Inspired, Evans’ last book before her death.
Inspired invites readers to “explore the magic of the Bible—engaging the old, familiar stories in new ways that honor the past and enlighten the present.” Throughout the book, she draws upon scholarship and literary analysis to creatively retell stories from the Bible while explaining their contexts and possible interpretations, connecting these stories to the present day.
Miranda’s recommendation comes as a surprise to some since he has been open about being on a complex journey with his faith in the past:
After growing up Catholic, Miranda seemed to stray from his faith—having questions that laid heavy on his heart. But various interviews over the years have hinted towards a desire to understand the Bible, and Jesus, in a deeper way.
In the brief interview clip below, he admits that he “has so many questions for Jesus” after being asked who he would choose to have dinner with, dead or alive. While the tone of the interview is lighthearted, his answers point to a real and serious desire to understand Scripture. “Look, I grew up Catholic” he shares, “and I want to separate what really happened with what has grown up since…”
With the inclusion of Inspired in his book recommendation list, it appears Miranda is continuing down a path of trying to understand the Bible better. And fans have taken notice.
Miranda is another member of an increasing group of celebrities who has recently shared their own complex journeys with faith or their return to faith after a period of searching.
Brad Pitt, Mark Walhberg, Kanye West, Chris Pratt and others have been vocal about finding their faith or journeying down a path towards it, amidst the challenges of being in the spotlight of the entertainment industry or having impersonal relationships with the church because it was forced upon them as children.
During his Atlanta Sunday Service, West encouraged a packed sanctuary with sentiments of a singular focus to God, and not man: “Let’s not be concerned with the opinions of men at all. Only the opinion of God. Let’s not be concerned with the validation of men at all. Only of God.”
Wahlberg took to social media to share his daily schedule, including a morning “prayer time,” explaining that “the first thing I do when I start my day is, I get down on my hands and knees and give thanks to God.”
And like Miranda, Brad Pitt opened up about a complex walk with his faith, claiming that he no longer identifies as an agnostic and now “clings to religion.” He is also one of the most recent celebrities to attend Kanye West’s famous Sunday Services.
Amidst disheartening headlines sharing stories of famous church leaders abandoning their faith, we must also remember all those fighting to find it—despite doubts, fears or confusion. Let us hope their journey leads them home.