Rachel Held Evans has developed a following for herself as a blogger and author. She is a leading voice of progressive evangelicalism and the current state of the church.
The structure of the book is terrific, arranged into seven sections corresponding to the seven sacraments of the Catholic and Orthodox churches (baptism, confession, holy orders, communion, confirmation, anointing of the sick, and marriage). This structure allows her to mix short reflective pieces with stories of others that reflect the theme, before moving to longer memoir pieces. This enables her to sustain a narrative, while also addressing a range of themes.
The most interesting part of the book for me was an episode I did not know about, her year-long attempt to plant a church with her husband and another couple. She discusses the struggles of this, and the pain of the effort’s failure. There was not as much “lessons learned” as I would have liked, but perhaps the wounds are still too fresh for Evans to have fully processed those events.
This is her most vulnerable and personal work, although all of her books have a good share of that material. Here, she talks about drifting away from the evangelicalism she grew up with, and then from the habit of churchgoing following the failure of the church plant. But it also recounts her return to church, her finding a community of believers where she can thrive. I’ll be interested in reading her future reflections on this new community, as I’m sure she will be writing about her experiences as time goes by.
Given the number of Millennials and Gen X-ers who have made church changes, or have become “nones” n recent years, I definitely think that this is a work that is “of the moment.” Evans speaks to the longings, disappointments, and issues of many young adults, and perhaps this book can help them process their own experiences.
Source: birthday present