Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Faith Words - Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans

My faith is a constant in my life - I have tested it, doubted it, argued with it, fought against it, and it still remains. I don't fit easily into a cookie-cutter definition of a Christian. I read a lot about faith - things I agree with, things I reject, things that frustrate me, things that encourage me. Faith Words is a journal of my readings in the area of faith.

Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions by Rachel Held Evans
published 2010
232 pages

Synopsis from publisher -

Eighty years after the Scopes Monkey Trial made a spectacle of Christian fundamentalism and brought national attention to her hometown, Rachel Held Evans faced a trial of her own when she began to have doubts about her faith. Growing up in a culture obsessed with apologetics, Evans asks questions she never thought she would ask. She learns that in order for her faith to survive in a postmodern context, it must adapt to change and evolve.

Using as an illustration her own spiritual journey from certainty, through doubt, to faith, Evans adds a unique perspective to the ongoing dialogue about postmodernism and the church that has so captivated the Christian community in recent years.

My thoughts -

I stumbled upon Rachel Held Evans in the most contemporary of ways - someone posted a blog post on their Facebook page. (It was this post - where she encouraged men to speak out about the issue of a woman's "place" in the church), and from there started regularly following her blog. I found I could relate to much of her journey. And when I saw the title of her book, I knew I had to read it - because heaven knows, I've BEEN the girl who Knows All The Answers.

I appreciate Evans' style because while she is obviously a smart girl, her writing never comes across as highbrow or "intellectual" - she is writing smart, challenging words for the everyday person. It's a great balance between making the reader think and keeping them entertained - and honestly, many nights when I'm exhausted from my day, intellectual just isn't where I need to be.

I could relate to so much of Evans' journey - the growing up years in a conservative Christian community, the seeds of doubt pushed back into the recesses of the mind, the dawning realization that the faith of her parents might not be the right faith for her. It's chronicled beautifully throughout the book, and it struck a powerful chord for me.

"What makes a faith crisis so scary is that once you allow yourself to ask one or two questions, more inevitably follow. Before you know it, everything looks suspicious....The space between doubting God's goodness and doubting his existence is not as wide as you might think." (p. 95-96)

"For as long as I can remember, the Bible has been compared to a weapon, and for as long as I can remember, it has been used as one....Rather than using the whole Bible as a sword, however, we tend to pick out certain verses and use them as daggers so we can fight at closer range." (p. 187)

"Many of those who consider ourselves more progressive can be tolerant of everyone except the intolerant, judgmental toward those we deem judgmental, and unfairly critical of tradition or authority or doctrine or the establishment or whatever it is we're in the process of deconstructing at the moment." (p. 208)

I don't think this book will be for everyone. For some it's not a topic they are interested in; for some, it will be difficult to stomach. For me, it was an honest and beautiful picture of one person's struggle to come to a place of authentic faith. I look forward to reading more by this author. Recommended.

Finished - 6/8/13
Source - my shelves
MPAA rating - G
My rating - 9/10

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