Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans is a wonderful a story of survival from certainty, through doubt, to faith. Rachel’s story is about how her beliefs have evolved over time. Rachel started in an unquestioning fundamentalist environment where her faith was not challenged, and where she thought she had all the answers. Her faith then started to crumble when seriously confronted with questions about hell, and was she a Christian only because of where and when she was born. These led to more questions and more doubt. As Rachel was exposed to the environment outside of Christian fundamentalism, she was confronted with the choice of changing her mind on certain beliefs or face losing her faith. She decided to compromise, by letting go of some of her long held beliefs and embraced uncertainty.
As someone who has gone through doubt and is now an unbeliever, Rachel captures the struggle of the doubter. In one moment Rachel is questioning a loving God who sends people to hell for eternity, and then a moment later she is clinging fast to a God that loves her. I could feel the tension and the pain of her struggles. It was also comforting to know that I am not alone in my doubt.
The book is a quick and easy read with very enjoyable stories of different people who have influenced her life’s path. The stories make it personal, while also giving a glimpse of the rich variety of different beliefs and experiences. Rachel is an excellent writer and I found myself highlighting many sections in her book.
I would recommend this book to anyone who feels trapped in Christian fundamentalism. Rachel gives an example of a healthy alternative to the absolutes that are often found in Christianity today. I would not recommend this book to someone who is looking for answers. This book is about asking questions, and living out your faith in spite of the uncertainties.
Rachel also has an excellent blog that I would recommend too.
Here the book trailer: