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I’m a little behind with Summer Reading Reviews, especially now that I’m still sick in bed for the third straight day and have breezed through two of the three books I brought to Korea with me, and we still have eights weeks here…

Well, the book I finished the day before we left for Korea is one that I’m very excited to recommend: Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans.

I… can seriously not recommend this book enough. Especially for those in their late-20’s/early-30’s; especially for those who grew up with Christian parents; especially for those who attended Sunday School/youth group/AWANA/church lock-ins/Christian winter retreats/organized See You At The Pole/listened to WoW compilations/wore WWJD? bracelets or snarky t-shirts that changed pop culture logos to read “Jesus Christ” instead. I recommend this book especially for those who spent time coming up with witty answers to imaginary critics challenging our faith. And I recommend this book especially to any of the people who fit all those categories who began recently to doubt all the certainties that kept you doing all those things, that began to lead to a slow crumbling of the faith you placed most of your life in.

This book was recommended recently to Eric by a good friend of our’s since Eric has been going through a complete reevaluating of the beliefs he wants to hold onto and the ones he wants to let go of. We’re both doing that. I guess Eric is just a ton more vocal about it while I have been keeping it bottled up, turning things over and over in my head to see what exactly I really believe before stating my opinion. I’ve often stayed quiet when Eric brings up religious discussions, still unsure if I can let go of some of the pieces of beliefs I grew up with, still unsure if I can continue to associate myself with the beliefs at all. I had–I have–a difficult time letting go of some of my religion but still holding on to other parts.

Then once in a while I’ll hear a sermon or a news story or I’ll talk with a beautiful new friend whose life doesn’t fit into a black or white box and the anger and confusion and overwhelming emotion will feel like it’s going to drown me and I begin sobbing and screaming and poor Eric has to see all this… And that’s when I discover what I actually really believe about God.

And Evans understands all of that. She addresses the way I was raised, high school, church, inconsistencies. She tackles evolution, feminism, homosexuality. Things that aren’t looking so black and white to my eyes anymore. And the really big one she tackled was how it’s possible to tear down a belief system that, for me, depended on every black issues being always black and every white issue being always white, and as those issues grey and morph and swirl, it’s ok, and you don’t have to give up the entire belief system just because you’re trading out a few of the pieces and reevaluating what the original motive was for those beliefs in the first place…

sigh. Seriously, as I was reading this book, I couldn’t stop taking notes, marking pages, rereading paragraphs to Eric. So much of this book was just what I needed. Not to feel like I was given answers to my theological questions, but to feel like someone else was wondering the same exact things and that she can still believe in a God that sometimes I can feel angry at. I would literally quote the entire book to you here if I could.

But I promised myself I wouldn’t. Instead, go read it. She writes things out in very easy language, and it would’ve been a breeze to get through if I didn’t have to continually set it down for a couple days at a time and evaluate the position she was coming from.

Again. Cannot recommend this book enough. Go read it.

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Maybe later I’ll write a blog post that you can make disagreeing comments to and quote Bible verses at to prove that I’m going to hell, but that’ll have to wait for another time. For now, read the book. Then after that, we can argue all you want.

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