Rachel Held Evans: Evolving in Monkey Town

First I have to confess to Rachel that I am getting through her book much more slowly than I anticipated: Rachel, it's not your book, I'm just not a good time-manager!

There are books that I enjoy, books I hate, books I tolerate, books I can appreciate because of an idea but don't really enjoy, books that are brilliant but very much beyond my capacity to fully comprehend or digest, and then there are books I (narcissistically) wish I HAD WRITTEN!  Ha!  Rachel's book is quickly turning out to be the latter.  Her wit, compassion, humor, transparency, and ability to turn-a-phrase without beating it to death (a subtly sometimes lost on me) is really admirable, and makes me want to write more (an inspirational element I  have only consistently found in great writers like Anne Lamott or Kurt Vonnegut).

I was fully hooked by the fourth page of Rachel's introduction.  Rachel, forgive the plagiarism but hopefully you won't mind another shoutout:
The problem with fundamentalism is that it can't adapt to change.  When you count each one of your beliefs as absolutely essential, change is never an option.  When change is never an option, you have to hope that the world stays exactly as it is so as not to mess with your view of it.  I think this explains why some of the preachers on TV look so frantic and angry.  For fundamentalists, Christianity sits perpetually on the precipice of doom, one scientific discovery or cultural shift or difficult theological question away from extinction  So fearful of losing their grip on faith, they squeeze the life out of it. (pg. 18)

Wonderfully insightful, Rachel!

Then, as she concludes the introduction, she offers one of the best word pictures of evolving faith I have read in years:
To survive in a new, volatile environment, I had to shed old convictions and grow new ones in their place.  I had to take a closer look at what I believed and figure out what was truly essential.  I went from the security of crawling on all fours through the muck and mire of my inherited beliefs to the vulnerability of standing, my head and heart exposed, in the truth of my own spiritual experience.  I evolved, not into a better creature than those around me, but into a better, more adapted me - a me who wasn't afraid of her own ideas and doubts and intuitions, a me whose faith could survive change. (pg. 23)

If only more of us were willing to stop fighting textbook battles, put away our picket signs and adopted battle cries, and simply allow the natural, beautiful process of evolution (not only biological, but spiritual as well) to change us.

There's a lot more here than a great introduction, and I'm still reading, so I hope you'll join me.

1 comment:

Chad Holtz said...

Ha! I loved this book as well and said much the same things in my review. You can catch it here: http://chadholtz.net/?p=1350

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