Evolving in Monkey Town

Evolving In Monkey Town: How A Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask The Questions - Rachel Held Evans, Zondervan (2010)

Rachel Held Evans is the latest in a growing line of bloggers-turned-authors of a certain age (25-35ish) who are coming to grips with their former fundamentalist and/or conservative and/or evangelical Christian upbringing in a postmodern, post-Christian, post-Christendom culture. 

Like Jonathan Acuff, Matthew Turner & Anne Jackson, Evans has used her blog as a source for material for her book, and to stay connected with her fans and readers.  She is a writer, who has had articles in a variety of publications, has worked for newspapers and lives in Dayton, TN with her husband. 

Dayton, TN also happens to be the location of the famous Scopes trial that was held there 80 years ago when Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan argued over evolution being taught in public schools.  The trial essentially made a spectacle of Christian fundamentalism, and ended up drawing sharp lines of distinction between people of faith--lines that are never more clear than in our own culture today. 

In Evolving in Monkey Town, Evans uses the metaphor of "evolution" as way to convey her own faith journey from fundamentalism to near-agnosticism to something altogether different.  In this way it offers just a taste of what us theological nerds would call "systematic" theology.  But Monkey Town is far from a dry theological treatise.  It is a diary of sorts, chronicling the growth and strengthening of Evans' faith when she began to ask questions, wonder and doubt.  Evans uses humor (both gentle and not so gentle) to make her point that our Christian faith is deeply personal, constantly evolving and maddeningly difficult to define in concrete terms. 

I would recommend Monkey Town to anyone who is struggling with the dogmatism of Christianity and might be confused by the conflicting messages they are receiving from the dominant evangelical Christian community.  I also commend Zondervan for continuing to publish books like Monkey Town.  It's important to lift up the faithful act of discipleship that doubt can be.  If you want to purchase Monkey Town click on the link at the above right.


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