Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Interview: Rachel Held Evans

I consider myself really lucky to be alive in the future. Back in the day, I never would have thought that I'd have the opportunity to interact with authors and musician I admire, but now thanks to social media like Twitter and Facebook and blogs, there are lots of opportunities to have interactions with these folks. I still get a little giggly about being able to "know" them, but I do love that I can now go right to the source to ask questions.

When I was offered the opportunity to be a part of the blog tour for Rachel Held Evans's new book, Evolving in Monkey Town: How A Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions, I was thrilled. Just getting to review my favorite blogger's book was exciting. Amazingly, I was also able to have a chance to ask Rachel a couple of questions. She very graciously took time out of her (no doubt!) busy schedule to jot down a few answers for me. Thanks so much for your time, Rachel!

BigMama: The book title indicates that you're still a questioner. How do you avoid falling back into being the "girl who knew all the answers" with a blog and a book which invite questions from others?

Rachel Held Evans: It's tempting when I feel like I have a good response to questions being asked...but that doesn't happen nearly as much as it used to! My faith has changed so much over the past few years that I'm reluctant to speak too definitively about big theological issues or philosophical questions. I want to leave myself plenty of room to change and grow in the future. I'm still really opinionated, just a bit much more tempered in how I express those opinions (especially in print).

BM: You touch on politics in your book. Do you feel as though your questions led to a change in your politics or were your political leanings a precursor to your questioning?

RHE: It was a little of both, really. I grew up in a culture in which conservative politics were considered part of a "Christian worldview," so when I started questioning that version of Christianity, my political persuasions began to shift a bit. I resonated with some of the issues typically tackled by the Democratic Party (poverty, healthcare, human rights) and preferred Barack Obama's approach to foreign policy to John McCain's in the 2008 presidential election. At first I jumped headlong onto the liberal bandwagon. But since then I've tried to remind myself that my first allegiance is to the kingdom of God, which is not achieved through power or politics, but through service and love. If I place my hope in a political party of president, I will always be disappointed. Keeping this in mind has helped me maintain unity with my friends and neighbors here in Tennessee, a VERY red state.

BM: When you were in the midst of your deepest question period, in what community did you find the most help? Was it primarily from fellow doubters or did those who had greater certainty offer you more support?

RHE: Fortunately, my family was really supportive -- my husband, especially. I also found a lot of friendship and encouragement online through the blog. Of course, not everyone was thrilled with the fact that I was struggling with the beliefs they held dear. I've resolved that there are some friends with which I cannot talk about my faith journey without it turning into an argument. So I let it be.

BM: How do you find that you interact now with people who have a very "certain" faith? Do you find it easy to relate because you have a similar history? Or difficult because your path has led you away from that mindset?

RHE: The truth is, I'm often frustrated with people who seem to find faith so easy, who never have second thoughts about what they believe or doubts about Christianity. It's taken me a while to accept the fact that not everyone is going to struggle with doubt and not everyone wants to be dragged along on my journey! But I suspect I will always relate the most to people whose faith doesn't come easy.


For some of my favorite quotes from Evolving in Monkey Town (as well as favorites from others), you can check the hashtag #monkeytown at Twitter. Lots of awesome there!

Also, check out the book trailer below!

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I'm a wife to an amazing man, and mom to four incredible kids. I'm a Christian woman who sometimes struggles with doubt. I'm a musician and a writer who is sometimes afraid to play and write. I'm trying to be more authentic every day.
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