Published by Thomas Nelson Inc on April 14, 2015
Genres: Christian Life, Religion, Spiritual Growth
New York Times bestselling author Rachel Held Evans embarks on a quest to find out what it really means to be part of the Church. Like millions of her millennial peers, Rachel Held Evans didn’t want to go to church anymore. The hypocrisy, the politics, the gargantuan building budgets, the scandals—church culture seemed so far removed from Jesus. Yet, despite her cynicism and misgivings, something kept drawing her back to Church. And so she set out on a journey to understand Church and to find her place in it. Centered around seven sacraments, Evans’ quest takes readers through a liturgical year with stories about baptism, communion, confirmation, confession, marriage, vocation, and death that are funny, heartbreaking, and sharply honest. A memoir about making do and taking risks, about the messiness of community and the power of grace, Searching for Sunday is about overcoming cynicism to find hope and, somewhere in between, Church.
I read Searching for Sunday during a major slump, a lot of which had to do with hateful attitudes I was seeing from fellow Christians in the wake of the Caitlyn Jenner interview. My cynicism level was through the roof, and I couldn’t even muster enough interest in reading. Cleaning up my Facebook lists helped a lot, but when I remembered I had Rachel Held Evans’s new memoir on my Nook, I had a feeling it would give me a boost.
It did. It helped to read about the experiences of someone who has been through the very same struggles I have with the church as a whole. Someone else who “thinks too much” (admittedly, overthinks at times), who struggles to fit in, whose first reaction tends to be more like suspicion than anything else, who cringes at platitudes, who craves freedom to doubt and think through tough questions. Most of the reading experience was like having Evans voicing things I’d had racing through my head these past several years. Watching her work through her own feelings was comforting. If you’re feeling disillusioned about the church, this is a must read.
I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite quotes. The first two mirror my own past experiences, and the third gave me a gentle helpful reminder:
I was too scared to speak up in support of LGBT people, so I ignored my conscience and let it go. I played my role as the good Christian girl and spared everyone the drama of an argument. But that decision—to remain silent—split me in two. It convinced me that I could never really be myself in church, that I had to check my heart and mind at the door.
I left a church of kind, generous people because I couldn’t pretend to believe things I didn’t believe anymore, because I knew that no matter how hard I tried, I could never be the stick-figured woman in the Vote Yes On One sign standing guard in front of the doors. I didn’t want to be.
Cynicism may help us create simpler storylines with good guys and bad guys, but it doesn’t make us any better at telling the truth, which is that most of us are a frightening mix of good and evil, sinner and saint.