I needed to read this book right now. My relationship with the church rides a sort of roller coaster that always circles back to a stage that reminds me of that line in Brokeback Mountain – “I wish I knew how to quit you.” Maybe it’s the political tension and division of people claiming the title of Christian that always seems to fester in an especially irritating way running up to an election year. Maybe it’s because I’m part of the so-called Millenial generation – you know, the ones who can’t commit to anything and always think in terms of “me, me, me” (at least according to some people). These things sometimes make me want to run for the hills and away from the church, but for whatever reason, I keep coming back.
Title – Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church
Author – Rachel Held Evans (RHE)
Page count – 258
I’d actually read this book before, but it seemed an appropriate start to the Lenten season. I ordered it after reading another of RHE’s books – A Year of Biblical Womanhood (which, among other things, pulls apart the idea of the impossibly perfect, “Godly” woman we’ve come to associate with Proverbs 31). Searching for Sunday is divided into seven parts, organized around the seven sacraments – baptism, confession, holy orders, communion, confirmation, anointing of the sick, and marriage. Now, I grew up in a tradition that only recognizes the sacraments of baptism and communion (although potlucks were pretty much an honorary sacrament), but I’m still familiar with the other concepts. The overarching idea in this book is that while “the church can also lie, injure, damage, and exclude,” the church – at its best – is a place where we can be broken together and celebrate together; welcome, comfort, and support each other; and most importantly, love one another.
It’s impossible to pick out only one favorite quote from this book. Instead, I’ll leave you with a selection from the prologue that, in my opinion, hits the nail on the head as to why many “young people” are leaving the church:
“[We] want to be known by what we’re for…not just what we’re against. We don’t want to choose between science and religion or between our intellectual integrity and our faith. Instead, we long for our churches to be a safe place to doubt, to ask questions, and to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. We want to talk about the tough stuff – biblical interpretation, religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, and social justice – but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers.”