Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Evolving in Monkey Town

Even if you consider yourself a fairly avid reader, you probably don't sit down and blow through a 200+ page book in one sitting too frequently. I know I sure don't.

Except yesterday.

Yesterday I devoured Rachel Held Evans' new book Evolving in Monkey Town from cover to cover. Even though I was only able to read it in spurts, I was constantly drawn back to it whenever I had a free moment. I'm fortunate to call Rachel a friend, and was thrilled for the chance to review her book. She even sent a hand written thank you card along with it, complete with apologies for the horrible handwriting. How awesome is that?

You may have heard it said before that sometimes faith can be like building a wall, where each brick represents a specific belief that is layered atop another, atop another, atop another. The problem with having faith like this wall, is that when some of the bricks in the middle or the bottom are removed (as often happens when the realities of life are thrust upon us), the whole wall crumbles. "Evolving in Monkey Town" is a story about what happens when some of those bricks are removed. Rachel shares her journey from iron clad certainty about her faith and her life in the apologetics intensive, Christian as an adjective, anti-skeptical, anti-doubt, evangelical Christian subculture into...well, where she is now.

Rachel would love to be known as a female Donald Miller. But let's get real here, she's not. It's more like Donald Miller is a male Rachel Held Evans. (Yeah, now we're talking some SERIOUS bonus points!!!)

The book is hilarious, incredibly deep, and if I'm honest pretty convicting. I read Rachel as a more intense version of myself in many of her recollections of the arguments she held onto, false fundamentals she swore to, and beliefs that gradually got shattered as she became more and more exposed to the world we live in. I know too well the pain and fear she experienced as her intellectualized faith fell to pieces. I subconsciously was right along with her as she struggled to keep her faith in God while losing all the reasons she had to believe in him in the first place.

It didn't take me long to notice there was an "oh snap" quote about every two pages or so that was worth sharing. So I put some of the shorter ones out onto twitter yesterday. Just do a hashtag search for #monkeytown and you'll get a decent list of some snippets. As Rachel would agree, most of her sentences are way too long to put onto twitter, so you'll have to read the book to get the really good ones. Clever ploy on her part, isn't it? ;)

Honestly, you need to read this book. 

I try not to say that too often, but you really do. I thought of many people who would feel such reassurance and relief from reading about the struggles and victories Rachel went through while her faith evolved. I already know who I'll be lending this book to first (sorry Rachel, one less purchase).

I know my faith has changed drastically over time. I'd imagine yours has as well. I'd love if you could share some ways that your faith/belief structure has transformed over the years. How you adjusted. Or even if you're still adjusting (I think most of us are). And while you're thinking of what to write, you should go buy her book.


If you're not convinced yet, watch this "official" book promo:

Buy Evolving In Monkey Town on Amazon
Subscribe to Rachel Held Evans' blog
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