I did re-read Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans, but I already wrote a review last year which you can find here. If you are interested in more of RHE’s writing, you can find that here. This post is going to be a little different than my usual book reviews. It is geared more toward friends and family who know me personally, but I hope it will help anyone else who is stunned, appalled, frustrated, grieving, and/or feeling hopeless about things happening in the Christian Church.
The tagline for Searching for Sunday is “loving, leaving, and finding the church.” It uses the sacraments as a structure to chronicle RHE’s relationship with a Christian Church that, instead of welcoming people into a place of hope and love, is leaving people broken, outcast, and feeling distinctly unwelcome. Over the past…couple years, I guess…I, too, have become increasingly distant from the faith I’ve always known, and I want you to know why.
You don’t get to pat yourself on the back for donating food to your community’s food bank when you say the people who use that same food bank to feed themselves or their families are “lazy” and “they just need to get a job.” When you cast a sidelong glance of suspicion at the mixed-race family who walks through your sanctuary’s doors. When you decide your love for the flag and “what it stands for” is more important than the lives and well-being of real life, actual people. And when you overwhelmingly supported a political candidate who has vowed to build walls to keep out people who don’t look like you or speak the same language, when so few of you criticized that same candidate for cruelly mocking a person with a disability, all I can think is…how did we get here?
Because the Jesus I used to know said to welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and comfort the prisoner. Because “what you do to the least of these, you do to me.” (Matthew 25:34-40)
The Jesus I used to know was a Middle Eastern man born to an unmarried teenage mother, who broke bread with his society’s outcasts.
The Jesus I used to know would tell us to work for justice, act with kindness, and walk with humility (Micah 6:8). He wouldn’t say to meet injustice with silence for the sake of not rocking the boat or making anyone uncomfortable.
And I’m at a loss for what to do. I can’t keep attending churches where the same people who would hug me during the “passing of the peace” or make a casserole in the event of a loved one’s illness would also turn away my friend because she’s a lesbian or whisper behind my back if I introduced a black or Muslim man as my significant other.
I know there are many in the Church universal who are actively working to bring justice to the oppressed and marginalized which is why I can’t write it off as a lost cause. But I’ve also spent far too long sitting in the pew in silence.
Below is just one example of how Christians have used the Bible to justify horrific actions. RHE also wrote a timely post related to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. here. MLK’s brilliant “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” can be found here.
“Likening their conquests to Joshua’s defeat at Canaan, European Christians brought rape, violence, plunder, and enslavement to the New World…It is said that a tribal chief from the island of Hispaniola was given the chance to convert to Christianity before being executed, but he responded that if heaven was where Christians went when they died, he would rather go to hell.” (p. 75)