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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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Because so much of Christianity is viewed by the evangelical // fundamentalist lens in the Bible Belt South, it can be very frustrating to be a progressive, moderate Christian. For those of us who believe in marriage equality and the fair, loving treatment of LGBTQ people, we often feel there is not a place for us in many denominations. For those of us who believe women should have a place in the pulpit, we can experience outright hostility.
However, I found myself slightly saddened by some of the sentiments expressed in Searching for Sunday. For one, Evans mentions the belief of some of her contemporaries that if a church does not welcome LGBTQ people and women into their ministrative openings (or even the church itself for the LGBTQ folks), we should refuse to attend. On the one hand, I understand this sentiment. On the other, I feel that in the spirit of ecumenism, we must "be the bigger people" and recognize that just because someone doesn't believe a woman should preach does not mean that they reached that conviction out of bigotry and hate. Just because someone doesn't believe in marriage equality doesn't mean they hate gay people or that they arrived to their beliefs lightly. We should extend love to those Christians who are sincerely struggling with their conservative convictions out of a sincere desire to serve Christ to the best of their abilities.
I DO think, though, that this book does an excellent job of espousing the idea that in all circumstances, our highest calling as followers of Jesus is to love one another. We are called to love ALL people. While some do not believe you can do this AND still protest marriage equality, I do believe that it is possible to disagree with one another and still sincerely express love.
That being said, I DO support women in ministry and I DO support full inclusion and equality for LGBTQ people and, like Evans, I have experienced much frustration with finding a church in my area (of the South) that does as well. Options are limited for those of us with these beliefs. Many areas do not have ECLA or Episcopal congregations and even if they do, not everyone feels the same love and attachment for High Church, liturgical expressions of public worship. I have faced this dilemma. I'm not really the High Church type. I love contemporary worship, autonomy for the congregation, and more Baptist instincts. But finding a Baptist church in the South that embraces marriage equality and women in ministry can be a bit like finding a cool place on the sun. Thus, I attend a church with vastly different theological beliefs than my own, but you know what? These people seriously love the Lord and I can get behind that so long as there are no obvious acts of hatred or persecution of the marginalized (and, thankfully, there haven't been thus far).
I feel I have been exactly where Evans is. I've faced depression and confusion about my faith. I've faced despair and hopelessness about the trajectory of the Church and the damage it is doing to the world. I've been dismayed by the sense that I'll never find a place to "feel at home" in the Church.
I've taken comfort from this book and other quotes like the one from C.S. Lewis that hints that if you'd like a comfortable religion, don't choose Christianity. I stick with it, because I believe strongly in the message of Our Lord, a beautiful and loving carpenter who taught the rational notion that we must love all people--even those we disagree with and those who seek to hurt us.
Faith is a journey. We are all in different legs of it. I love that this book brings up a great many questions, thoughts, and emotions that many in the Church today aren't willing to express. I wish more people would step out in honesty and transparency, as Evans has, and be willing to show their thoughts about the Church -- warts and all.
I hope that everyone who reads it is as blessed as I was by it and that it is another building block in the complex temple of their own faith journey with Jesus.
Robert J Naumann
A young woman, who has grown intellectually and theologically, sheds her biblical idolatry and finds that the evangelistic fundamentalist Church that she has invested so much of her childhood and youth into, is at odds with her political, scientific, sexual, and gender beliefs and goes searching for something to meet her spiritual needs as well as to remain a follower of Christ. Rachel Held Evans is a gifted writer and provides a deeply personal account of her struggle to leave the Church and the fellowship that had had meant so much to her. My only complaint was the way in which she organized the book. By trying to divide the contents into the sacraments of the church, the narrative lost continuity and devolved into anecdotes rather than a coherent search for a new church home.
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I expected so much more out of it. Disappointed.