Before I launch into my review, a little background. I’m a Seventh-day Adventist Christian, who was raised Conservative. While I am still an active believer with a church home, I am also a pro-birth control, pro-LGBT liberal academic. There are moments where I feel not-at-home in either my largely secular academic community or my largely Conservative, often-anti-LGBT Christian community. When I find like-minded souls, I glow a bit more, because I feel understood. And loved. And that brings me to Rachel Held Evans. I read A Year of Biblical Womanhood for CBR5, and was challenged and affirmed by it. I infrequently followed Evans’ blog, but I gathered that her relationship with the Evangelical Church had soured (and in so many ways, rightfully so–her post on World Vision’s decision to rescind nondiscrimination of same-sex families in their employ points to a discord in the Church about what it means to love like Jesus loved). This book chronicles her spiritual journey over the last few years.
Evans immediately states that her perspective in the book is not theological but literary–she splits her book up into the seven Sacraments and then discusses these elements in Christian faith and her own. She opens up about her spiritual struggles, but also examines the way other faiths view these Sacraments and spiritual practices. When she got to the part about a Christian LGBT conference, I started openly weeping. The idea of forgiveness from a group who has been wronged on so many levels is humbling and healing all at once.
While I have had doubts in my relationship with God, I’ve never second-guessed my decision to follow Him. But I have definitely questioned my church’s (and other churches’) decisions regarding LGBT individuals and women and it’s filled me with many doubts about my place in a denominational setting. But I come back to this thought, time and again: if I leave, who will be left? And so, I stay and try to set an affirming, positive, Godly example for people who want more than just the status quo. Evans echoes so many of my own questions, and it was terrific to read a book that laid bare the struggle of faith in a way that’s real and honest. This book affirmed my faith, and it challenged me to do better at the same time.
*I would apologize for making this such a personal review, but the thing about reading is that it IS very personal. I feel safe in this setting. I’m grateful for this community. And if you took the time to read this, thanks for listening to my rambles.*