summer read-along book revealed!

And the Summer 2012 Read-Along selection is…

Evolving in Monkey Town: How a Girl Who Knew All the Answers Learned to Ask the Questions by Rachel Held Evans.

I’ll be honest. When I first heard about this book (in 2010), I was scared to read it. I was already feeling tender about my new views on loving the poor and seeking/doing justice and reeling from the fact that I’d somehow missed this HUGE part of the gospel my whole Bible-reading life.

The last thing I needed was a memoir by some good conservative Christian girl who started questioning stuff she’d believed in since she was a kid. Especially a memoir with the words “evolving” and “monkey” in the title.

I’ve always considered myself SUPER grounded in my faith and SUPER well-versed in absolute truth (and secretly SUPER scared of reading/hearing something that might maybe possibly put the tiniest chink in my armor of definite certainty).

So I didn’t read it for awhile.

And then I thought, “What am I so scared of?”

And I read it.

And it made me s-q-u-i-r-m.

So I tucked it away and forgot it even existed. I’d read Rachel’s blog every once in awhile, but it always made me feel uncomfortable, so I mostly stayed away.

And then, evolving and monkeys aside, my own tension and wrestling got more intense.

I plopped myself in the middle of the Trayvon Martin case (because I realized my black friends really cared about it), and it kick-started an eye-opening exploration of racial issues in our country (in the past and n-o-w).

I shook my head at the strong, strong opinions we Christians have about what we wear to church and why.

I apologized to Democrats and started feeling super rubbed-the-wrong-way whenever I got forwarded e-mails from Christians spewing venom at the President.

I started re-writing Blushing Bride (to release as an e-book) and sat agape at some of the regurgitated Christianese and Bible verses I quoted glibly (and often out of context).

I asked myself if keeping gays from getting married would’ve been at the top of Jesus’s To-Do List while millions of people around the globe are starving (including some poor Cambodians I now know personally–and love dearly). And why the heck didn’t he ever mention homosexuality in one of his Mount Sermons or Temple Sit-Ins so we could know how to respond to this issue? Would that have been so hard??

I read some books about women (Half the Sky, Half the Church, etc), and I wondered if God really created us girls to stand in the background while men do all the important stuff?

And if I’m so stick-to-the-Bible like I say I am, why did I not think twice about speaking to (teaching? preaching?) 170 men about s-e-x back in October (when the Bible says women shouldn’t teach men), and why do I not wear a head covering when I pray, and why is my father-in-law’s hair longer than mine?

Am I picking and choosing (gasp!) which parts of the Bible to follow??

And then I read a book called The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible by Scot McKnight (just finished it yesterday), and for some reason, when I was done, I picked Monkey Town back up and read it from cover to cover again in about 2 hours.

And holy cow. Holy. Cow.

And I just felt this overwhelming urge to discuss it with my peeps (YOU).

Who Should Read This Book:

If you’re a Christian and you’ve ever doubted some things you’d consider Essentials of the Faith–and it scared you to death–you should read this book.

If you’re a Christian who is 100% certain about every single one of your beliefs, you should read this book.

If you don’t consider yourself a Christian and want a little more insight into us crazy folk, you should read this book.

Do I agree with everything she wrote? Nope.

Do I expect you to agree with everything I write? Nope.

Do I hope we can get a really cool dialogue going that engages all kinds of people in a constructive way? Yep.

The cool thing about Rachel’s story is that she went from certainty –> doubt –> faith. Her doubts didn’t lead her to walk away from God; they brought her closer to him.

Our God is big enough to handle our doubts and fears and questions. He really is.

Some Details (more to follow):

We’ll start the week of June 4th (probably Tuesday).
We won’t be doing Link-Ups (I don’t think). We’ll try to keep the discussion centralized.
Some chapters are super-short, so we’ll do more than 1/week. Hey, I read it in 2 hours. You can do it!

Any questions??

I’m so excited.

So tell me: Are you in??

87 thoughts on “summer read-along book revealed!

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  4. Tiffany

    “I asked myself if keeping gays from getting married wouldโ€™ve been at the top of Jesusโ€™s To-Do List while millions of people around the globe are starving (including some poor Cambodians I now know personallyโ€“and love dearly). And why the heck didnโ€™t he ever mention homosexuality in one of his Mount Sermons or Temple Sit-Ins so we could know how to respond to this issue? Would that have been so hard??”

    I’m asking the same questions friend. So glad others feel the same way.

    Wow. so powerful. I have a ton going on BUT I may have to beg the husband to buy me the ebook to read along. I’ve never heard of the book but is sounds challenging!

  5. Danielle

    woohoo! My book just came in today. I used the remnants of a GC, found it used and didn’t have to go too out of pocket for it. Yay! Let’s get it started friend!

  6. kim hansen


    I am in. Already have the book and my husband is reading now. Have you ever read the book The Shack by William Young…OMG…loved it you ought to give it a try.
    Hey, saw you at the Bubba Bash last night, was going to come up and say hello but I figured you would not remember me. I was there with my daughter. I went to see Jeremy Camp–he is awesome. I have seen him so many times. Praying for you and the family

  7. Patty Ewing

    Just finished the book today. Made mention on my fb page that I’d love to be in a group talking about it… John Mark McCollum suggested I join you…. so, I’m in!

  8. ann

    hhhmmm, just found you in the last few weeks when i was searching for blogs that had dealt with hatmaker’s “seven”…am i up for the challenge?? we have a lot going on in our church family, and in my hubs and i’s brains, so maybe God used “seven” as a way to get me to read this next. i’m thinking yes…

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  10. Mary

    Oh geez, way to make me squirmy! I started reading her blog randomly awhile back and some of her posts also make me squirm ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll think about it…

  11. Lori

    Recently found your blog Marla, and have enjoyed “getting to know you a bit”…would never read this type of book (maybe I’m too much like Rachel…?) so just previewed it on Amazon…and let’s just say, I’m in. Buying today. So excited!!!

  12. Liz

    I am in. But I am also curious – why is this book so scary to read? I know the feeling with books, but I don’t persoanlly understand it with this one.

  13. Marcy

    Ok, now you have me curious!! I have had questions since my son died and have come to peace with them. I believe with absolute certainty in the Bible’s inerrant truth but you SO hit the nail on the head with some of your questions. I don’t think I have time to read right now, but I’m going to keep that one in the back pocket of my mind and buy it maybe for my holidays in July.

  14. HopefulLeigh

    I LOVE Rachel’s book! She is such a kindred spirit in many ways. I don’t know that I’ll have time to re-read it but I will certainly be a part of the discussion. I will also be recommending people join in on this Read Along.

  15. kim hansen

    I am in. I love to challenge my faith, learn more and just have a book leave me wondering, praising, crying, or saying..YOU have got to read this. Have you ever read The Shack by William Young..YES another read for us.

  16. Sharon

    Never heard of the book before. From your description I’m a bit terrified to read it, to be honest. But if I had to sum up one reason God put you in my life, Marla, it would be stretch me and expose myself to new things. So, I’m in!

  17. brooke

    i’m in! running a little short on personal spending this month (2 races + a manicure will do that to a girl) but i’ll use my amazon prime membership to get it quick like. there is only $1 difference b/t the Kindle price and the regular book price. with a paper copy i can pass it around and make my IRL friends read it and discuss.

      1. brooke

        yep, got it in the mail on Thursday. I decided to go ahead and order it and just subtract whatever I was over from this month’s personal spending. or just be over ๐Ÿ˜›

        i’m excited to get started!!

  18. jolie

    NOW YOU’RE TALKIN MY LANGUAGE! I love Rachel Held Evans – love love love her blog and I want to read her funny book about following all of the rules for women in the Bible. As you know, I am swimming through my faith wide-eyed and with a lot of questions. I’m in!

    1. brooke

      i found her blog b/c of her “Biblical womanhood” project and am excited to read it. maybe we can talk Marla into hosting a read along for that somewhere down the road.

        1. brooke

          funny – the first question on her FAQ page is “Q: You look like youโ€™re 14. Are you in high school? College? Whatโ€™s the deal?”

          last night my friend Kelly and I volunteered and were ask if we were in high school or college. they were shocked to learn that we are both in our 30s.

      1. Valerie

        I forgot to order it. Saw your comment and it reminded me to order it…… will have Mike assist me in getting my kindle set up on the tablet so I can just purchase the ebook and have it immediately ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. amber

    I’m in.
    Faith growing and pulling my chair as near to the Father is at the top of my list these days. And if reading books with evolving monkeys helps to untrain my Christianese trained brain, then lemme’at’em.

    PS…you’ll have to remind me when I’m supposed to do all this. I put the milk in the cabinet today and the cereal in the fridge. So remembering to get the book for 2-3 weeks from now probably isn’t looking too favorable. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Heart you.
    Big time.

  20. Denise Dilley

    How funny! I bought this book about a year ago at a discount store because someone I follow on Twitter mentioned it and then put it away without ever reading it. Yesterday as I was digging through some stuff in my office I came across this book and thought to myself, “I should read this.” So now I’m going to along with you!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. Elizabeth

    This is honestly not a book I ever considered reading. But I trust your judgment, so maybe I’ll try it. I seem to be reading a lot of books lately that I thought I’d never read.

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