Rachel Held Evans Interview – Part 1
Sometime in the past year I found Rachel Held Evans‘ blog. And I’m so grateful I did. She writes about a range of topics — Calvinism, church, doubt, politics, theology and more. Some I’m lost on (she’s an intelligent gal) but many of her topics are things I’ve thought about and/or had questions about. It’s been a joy and an education to read her writings.
Like me, Rachel believes in a God of love, but has questions and doubts. Bonus: she also likes coffee.
Rachel has written a spiritual memoir called Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions. Monkey Town is a reference to the town she lives in – Dayton, TN – where the Scopes Trial, about teaching evolution in schools, took place. The title refers more to her faith evolving and changing, than to evolution.
Her book takes us through her storybook Christian childhood. She knew all the answers and did all the right things. Even winning the “Best Christian Attitude Award” four years in a row.
Durning her college years, she first learns more ‘correct’ answers about Christianity. But sometime in the last year of college, she began asking questions that she hadn’t been asking before. For a time, she wasn’t sure if she could continue to embrace Christianity. In the book, she talks about many of the issues that she struggled with.
Through continued searching, her faith evolved and she found peace in Jesus, while living with questions.
This book is a good read, whether or not you’ve ever had questions or doubts about your faith. And if you think you have all the answers … you really need to read it.
This is a partial list of the things Rachel wrote about in the book. (List is in alphabetical order, like all good lists should be)
Rachel was gracious and did an interview for me about Evolving in Monkey Town. I asked her about some of the topics above. Here is part 1 of the interview. Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.
According to the dedication in Monkey Town, you knew you wanted to write a book at age 8 already. Congrats on achieving that dream! Did that desire stay strong through the years or were there times you considered another career?
When I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be either an author or a cowgirl when I grew up. I’m allergic to horses, so my career path became clear to me early on! I majored in English in college, worked in journalism for a while, and did some freelance writing before writing the book. I always knew I wanted to make a living as a writer—with or without a book deal. “Evolving in Monkey Town” has just been the icing on the cake.
As you question your beliefs in the book, you say, “Sometimes I’m afraid I might be wrong.” Was that only a fear at that time or is that an ongoing fear? Or does it fluctuate depending on … the moment/reading material/conversations/weather?
I suspect I am wrong about a lot of things, which is why I am more careful these days about speaking in absolute terms. Learning to live without certainty has alleviated the fear that my entire faith will fall apart when I am proven wrong something—so I am much more hopeful and patient.
What worries me now is that I will allow this uncertainty to turn into apathy and I won’t take a stand for the people who need it the most. I recently read “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett (a fantastic book, by the way!) and was reminded of how much bravery it took for Southerners to stand up for the African American community during the civil rights movement. I don’t want to be that person who remains silent on important issues because I haven’t made up my mind about them yet.