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Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church Paperback – April 14, 2015
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"Honest and moving, this memoir is both theologically astute and beautifully written." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"In Searching for Sunday, Rachel's honest and hopeful wrestling tore through my cynicism about the perils of organized religion and touched my heart, reminding me why this broken but beautiful Bride is worth the fight." -Michael Gungor
"Evans has written a zinger of a book. Grounded in the deep things of faith, she writes in a vivid style and transposes the claims of faith into compelling concrete narrative. Her book is a forceful invitation to reconsider that faith has been misunderstood as a package of certitudes rather than a relationship of fidelity." -Walter Brueggemann
"As I tore through the pages in this book, I realized I'd been waiting my whole life for Searching for Sunday." -Glennon Doyle Melton
About the Author
Rachel Held Evans is a New York Times bestselling author who has been featured by many national media outlets including NPR, Slate, BBC, The Washington Post, NBC's Today show, People, and The Atlantic. Her official website is rachelheldevans.com
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Initially I expected, going on my earlier fears and misconceptions, that the book was going to be a long, blasaie diatribe about how my friends and I were the "bad guys" for disagreeing on various issues and how I wasn't a true Christian unless I supported a whole host of controversial ideas on both politics and theology. I couldn't have been more wrong.
Instead, what I found in those pages was a story about someone who wasn't all that different from me, and in fact had many of the same doubts and questions I still wrestle with today. Rather than an argument or treatise to quit your faith and understanding of Christianity, most of the book is her telling her story and how it has influenced her own faith. Instead of attacking you, the author comes alongside in your spiritual walk to offer encouragement. At least that's how I read it. At many times, it felt as though I was looking in a mirror at my own struggle of faith as I read through the book.
Now to be clear, Rachel Held Evans makes it abundantly plain what her views are on controversial issues, namely LGBTQ and other major divides such as Biblical inerrancy, ecumenicism and the exclusivity of Christ. However, she does not seem to outrightly condemn those like myself who disagree with her on certain questions, although in my opinion by sharing her experiences she does challenge us all to do some serious homework and soul searching, no matter what our views might be.
She seems to view the church as one big, divided mess that will somehow all be sorted out in the end, and that she is ultimately no better and in need of just as much grace as her conservative counterparts she claims to be at odds with. Honestly, for all the negativity I heard about her, I felt a real sense of humility in the author throughout the book, whether I agree with her on everything or not.
So, there it is - I'm giving this book a 5 star rating and recommending it no matter what my conservative circles think of me for it, because I'm not bought out by any political or religious party and I speak my mind freely about what I read. If Rachel Held Evans ever ends up reading this review, I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to her for writing this book and helping me along my journey in a difficult time.
Below are some of my favorites from the book
On how the litmus test of belonging is belief:
"Belief, after all, is the language of evangelicalism. Not sacrament. Not spirit. Not liturgy. Not tradition. Not discipleship. Belief. We’d been taught all our lives that it was shared belief that kept us in this community of faith, so we just assumed difference in belief left us out of it."
A quote of a quote on priesthood:
“To be a priest,” writes Barbara Brown Taylor, “is to know that things are not as they should be and yet to care for them the way they are.”
On one's commitment to their religious heritage:
"I realize I can no more break up with my religious heritage than I can with my parents. I may not worship in an evangelical church anymore or even embrace evangelical theology, but as long as I have an investment in the church universal, I have an investment in the community that first introduced me to Jesus. Like it or not, I’ve got skin in the game."
"Cynicism is a powerful anesthetic we use to numb ourselves to pain, but which also, by its nature, numbs us to truth and joy. Grief is healthy. Even anger can be healthy. But numbing ourselves with cynicism in an effort to avoid feeling those things is not...
...if we want to heal from our wounds, including those we receive from the church, we have to kick the cynicism habit first. We have to allow ourselves to feel the pain and joy and heartache of being in relationship with other human beings. In the end, it’s the only way to really live, even if it means staying invested, even if it means taking a risk and losing it all...."
This is by far my favorite quote from the book and found in the first few pages. It exemplifies the blunt desires of the millennial generation regarding their religion:
"I told them we’re tired of the culture wars, tired of Christianity getting entangled with party politics and power. Millennials want to be known by what we’re for, I said, not just what we’re against. We don’t want to choose between science and religion or between our intellectual integrity and our faith. Instead, we long for our churches to be safe places to doubt, to ask questions, and to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. We want to talk about the tough stuff—biblical interpretation, religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, and social justice—but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers. We want to bring our whole selves through the church doors, without leaving our hearts and minds behind, without wearing a mask."