A Review: Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans

Kyle Reed // @kylereed

Rachel Held Evans was the kind if kid that most would want to beat up.

Not what you expect to read first line in on a review of a book, but it was that character trait that made this book most relatable to me, as I was also very much so, “that kid.” I was a know it all Christian that was more concerned about making sure that my favorite baseball player was a Christian and that I could fill up my memory verse sheet at church with stars,then to actually understand what it means to love your neighbors and to pray for those that persecute you.

Evolving in Monkey Town, Held Evans takes you on a personal adventure in her evolving process-from being a know it all Christian who had everything figured out, to one that had more questions then answers. I love the way she describes it:

I went from the security of crawling around on all fours in the muck and mire of my inherited beliefs to the vulnerability of standing, my head and heart exposed, in the truth of my own spiritual experience.

Evolving in Monkey Town is more about asking questions and being okay with not always having the answer.

Held Evans great up in the town that held the famous Scopes Monkey Trial that brought Christian fundamentalism to the forefront. Not only was Christian fundamentalism up on trial, 80 years later Rachel’s faith was on trial. After calling herself an “evolutionist”, not in Darwinian sense, but as someone who has let faith evolve over time, Held Evans leads the reader through the trials of her faith and how she is navigating the world of uncertainty.

The thing that grabbed my attention as I read through this book was that I have been and am on the same journey of faith. From the very beginning I realized that we had a lot in common. I love how she describes the faith journey over the last 2000 years:

We haven’t spent the last two thousand years simply defending the fundamentals; we’ve spent the last two thousand years deciding on many of them.

Its not that Rachel is attacking beliefs that are held true in Christianity, its that she is asking for members of the Christian community to step back and look at it in another perspective. She illustrated this well when she used the example of Galileo and geocentricism. The church adamantly opposed the idea of an earth-centered universe that anyone presenting evidence to the contrary could be excommunicated.
She goes on to say “But if a geocentric universe is indeed this vital to the survival of Christianity, then Christianity would have died out with the eventual acceptance of a heliocentric cosmology. Imagine centuries of faith undone by a telescope!”
Christians are atheist, at least in the trustiest definition of an atheist.
The survival or extinction of an organism is determined by its ability to adapt to its environment.”
When the environment shifted, they chose to change their minds rather than accept extinction.
But Christianity goes well beyond adapting and into the idea that it just is. That is why God can tell Moses that “I am” is a proper way to describe Him. It doesn’t make sense, it just is.

I’m an evolutionist because I believe that the best way to reclaim the gospel in times of change is not to cling more tightly to our convictions but to hold them with an open hand.

If you have not had a chance to read Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachel Held Evans you need to remedy this problem right now. Click here to get your hands on a book that will make you laugh, think, and evolve.

And if you need more convincing check out this video

Buy Evolving In Monkey Town on Amazon
Subscribe to Rachel Held Evans’ blog
Follow her on Twitter
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FTC: It was my pleasure to receive this book and review it. By no means am I benefiting from the sale of this book. Instead it was my pleasure to read and review this book and then encourage you to go out and buy it because it is good, not because I get money for it. I did receive this book from the author and you should go and buy it so you can receive this book from the store.

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Kyle Reed

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I create websites, conversations, and ideas. Advocate for the 20 somethings. Looking to connect everyone to a mentor. Married to my best friend, Ginny. I like my coffee black and my dog Jack. I currently live in Nashville and work at Sony Music/Provident in Nashville