Faith Unraveled: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask Questions (previously published as Evolving in Monkey Town) by Rachel Held Evans
There are always polarizing figures in Christian circles, and Rachel Held Evans is no exception. She has energized liberal Evangelicals with a bent for social justice, inclusion, and mercy (I include myself in this) into action, just as she has outraged politically conservative Evangelicals who believe that being a Republican is a sign of morality, and that Democrats are evil. I am only slightly exaggerating—the last eight years have leached my patience. That said, Evans takes an unflinching look at faith and religious practice in a way that makes you uncomfortable and makes you think. I’ve read her latest two books, A Year of Biblical Womanhood and Searching for Sunday, but I hadn’t read her first book. I’ve since rectified that situation.
Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions has since been republished under a slightly modified title, but it deals with Evans journey towards activism and away from the unquestioning dogmatic faith in cultural Evangelicalism that has since poisoned faith for so many people. [Sidenote: if I sound a little bitter, it’s because I AM BITTER. It pisses me off that people have taken the name of Christ to justify unspeakable hatred and rancor against other people, particularly those who are LGBT+, or at least to deny others the rights they demand as US citizens. I can’t even.] She uses the metaphor of evolution—which is definitely charged for Christians—to discuss how faith adapts and changes as we seek the truth.
Because I had read the other two books, I didn’t find as much insight in this one, partly because I had seen the fruits of Evans’ earlier labor. If, however, you’re somewhat new to the left side of Christianity and politics (and I’d be delighted to take you in hand, as I’ve more recently taken to be outspokenly and unapologetically liberal in my own faith walk), this book is for you. Start here, and read the other two. Otherwise, you’d be okay skipping this one. It’s a good read, but it’s not going on my personal Christmas list this year.