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Institute for Creation Research


book review: "Searching for Sunday" by Rachel Held Evans

I sat down to start reading Searching for Sunday a little over a month and a half ago, and I couldn’t get past page xvi before I was sobbing. I’ve been reading this paragraph out loud to everyone I know, and it’s one of the things that rang inside of my soul like a sonorous bell:

This book is entitled Searching for Sunday, but it’s less about searching for a Sunday church and more about searching for Sunday resurrection. It’s about all the strange ways God brings dead things back to life again. It’s about giving up and starting over again. It’s about why, even on days when I suspect all this talk of Jesus and resurrection and life everlasting is a bunch of bunk designed to coddle us through an essentially meaningless existence, I should still like to be buried with my feet facing the rising sun.

Just in case.

And I’m sobbing again. That sentence– I should still like to be buried with my feet facing the rising sun— is exactly where I am right now. Exactly. It put every agonized, spirit-wrenching emotion I’ve had over the last few months into a dozen words. I sat my Nook down and cried like a baby until Handsome asked me what was wrong and we had a four-hour-long conversation about why we’re still bothering with this whole “being a Christian” thing.

This book was for me, and I think this book might be for a lot of you, too. If there’s a part of you– a big part, a small part– that is whispering the question why am I still a Christian? then I think you might need to read this. Not because she has some earth-shattering answer that will miraculously solve all our problems. I didn’t finish this book, set it down, and think to myself “ah, this was just the thing I needed to get me to go to church again.” I still have reservations, and questions, and doubts, and the thought of walking into a church still terrifies me. But it did help make hope a little more possible.

Since we left our last church, I came to the conclusion that my emotional well-being will not let me attend a church where a) women are barred from any form of leadership whatsoever, and complementarian messages are preached from the pulpit in subtle or overt ways, and/or b) anyone in church leadership embraces the “love the sinner, hate the sin” approach to the LGBTQ community. Those may not be hard lines for you (nor do they have to be), but they are for me now. Finding a church that doesn’t conflict with either of those has been … difficult. The longer I’m away from church, the easier it is to wake up like I did yesterday, make cinnamon buns and read The Great Hunt out loud to my partner while I pet my cat.

But the longer I’m away from church, the more a sliver in the back corners of my heart hungers for the bread the wine. Reading Searching for Sunday was a gentle, gracious, gorgeous reminder that I do believe in the sacraments. I do believe in the Body. Reading her chapters on Communion was one of the most sacred experiences I’ve ever had, and it gave me the nudge I needed to start reaching out again. I don’t know where this road will take me– maybe further away from church, from faith, I don’t know. But I want to hope. I want to believe. I want to try again, even if I get terribly burned.

Going through this book was comforting, and encouraging. It was like sitting down with a friend and drinking tea and being honest in a way that terrifies both of you, but once you start talking you can’t seem to stem the flow of words. Each slicing knife wound is recounted, each euphoric moment comes out tinged over with a little bit of sadness. You’re sad because you wish your faith were still that simple, that fresh and naive– and sad because you know that those moments of happiness came in the middle of suffering, and the pain made those brief moments of joy seem like ambrosia.

But we can’t get rid of who we are. There are many days, many weeks when I wish I could pave over my life and pretend like there isn’t a graveyard underneath what I’m building, but our lives aren’t like that. At one point in the book, Rachel uses the metaphor of a palimpsest, and that image made me catch my breath. My theology might look and feel completely and utterly removed from anything I thought or believed as a child, but there are remnants peeking through, things I won’t ever be able to shake.

I won’t ever be able to forget the look on my pastor’s wife when I tried to tell her I’d been sexually assaulted and she called me a liar who was only jealous of his musical talents.

But I won’t ever be able to forget it when I came to her, unsure that I’d been “sorry enough” when I’d said the sinner’s prayer, and she hugged me and took her face into my hands and said that wasn’t up to me, that the only thing that mattered was that Jesus loved me.

I won’t ever be able to forget the time a family friend lectured and berated me for not respecting my mother enough to clean our house like Martha Stewart would when I was 10, contributing to a complex that still has me panicking before anyone sees my home.

But I’ll never forget the look on her face when she came to my senior piano recital and she was so proud of me she could have burst, or that when she hugged me afterward she cried when she told me she loved me.

For better or for worse, all of those things are part of who I am today, all so mixed up and confusing it would be easier if I could set it all aside. However, Rachel reminded me that the God I believe in is one who makes all things new. She cares for the broken things, even the dead things, and restores them.


Searching for Sunday officially releases tomorrow, although if you’re near a brick-and-mortar Barnes & Noble some already have it stocked. If you buy it sometime this week and show a proof of purchase, you gain access to the “launch celebration” goodies. And yes, I got a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.


walking through the woods in wonder

[where I walk every day when the sun is shining]

When I was about sixteen, I remember laying in my backyard. It was early summer in Florida, and the heat was that balmy sort of pleasantness where you can enjoy it as long as you don’t move. Drowsiness took over that afternoon as I spread my hair out over a blanket and let the sunlight sink into my skin. A humid, warm wind caressed my arms and legs, and I remember staring deeply into the grass next to my face. I studied each blade of grass, watched the ants hauling one piece of sand at a time, saw a dragonfly land before it took off for the cherry tree, and I marveled.

Not for the first time, I remember thinking that the world was a miraculous place. Grass and tress can grow— it always seemed beyond me that living things have the ability to reproduce, to heal, to extend further into their piece of the universe. I wondered at the near-impossible intricacies that defined every moment, every breath. How rich and wide and wonderful the world was.

What always accompanied these thoughts was a bone-deep awareness of God’s handiwork. How can anyone think this is anything less than created? That a blade of grass or the color of my eyes is all becauseĀ  of chance?

I grew up believing in literal six-day young earth creationism. I’ve read every book they published on the subject, and spent two years in college regularly reading the new issues of Ex Nihilo (it’s been renamed as Journal of Creation). I fervently defended it any time I had the opportunity. To me, the “theory of macro-evolution,” as I always referred to it, made no sense. I had also been told by nearly everyone in my life that theistic evolution was a completely untenable point of view– if you believe in God, and you believe that God created things, it’s nonsensical to not accept the events of Genesis. Why do you need neo-Darwinian evolution if you believe in God? I had been taught that evolution was an intellectual outgrowing of atheism– if you don’t believe in God, well, you still need an explanation for how the world got here– hence The Theory.

For me, personally, I think I emotionally needed creationism. I was frequently and intensely overcome by awe when I viewed nature, and I somehow needed for it to be orderly and precise. In order for my universe to make sense, creationism was the only answer I had access to. I grew up being told to take the Bible supremely literally, to always assume that its statements were always completely fact-oriented. I heard arguments that the first chapter of Geneses was mythic poetry, and I was harshly commanded to ignore that lie. The Bible is not a myth, it is not a fairy tale, and everything about our faith depends on a literal interpretation of the first three chapters. If we can accept that these are not literal, what else in the Bible are we going to accept as non-literal? Not believing in creationism was a slippery slope that could only end in atheism and, horrendously, moral relativism.


When I was in graduate school, I abruptly encountered an impasse. At this point in my life, I had grown used to re-examining many of my deeply held and most cherished beliefs. But, I hadn’t gone anywhere near evaluating the validity of young earth creationism. It had been such an integral part of my faith system for as long as I could remember believing in God, and, at that moment, it seemed superfluous. Honestly, to me, it still is.

But what brought me to this place, what wrenched me from a staunchly-defended position to one of ambivalence, was a single scientific study. In all my previous internet forays, I had made an odd friend of sorts. We were each other’s opposition on a variety of forums, but we somehow formed a respectful bond. He sent me a study that linked endogenous retroviruses and common ancestry. I read it, and the evidence was powerfully compelling.

So, I did what any good creationist would do– I found a geneticist that works with Answers in Genesis, and I wrote him a letter. I included a link to the study and asked him to provide a counter-argument.

The reply I received was complete and utterĀ  BULL SHIT.

I cannot express that firmly enough. My letter had been articulate and had indicated that I had a passing, non-scholarly familiarity with biochemistry and genetics. His reply was dismissive, anti-intellectual, belittling, and insulting. He reacted childishly and implied that if I could accept any peer-reviewed study as “evidence for evolution,” that obviously I wasn’t educated in creationism enough, and he directed me to the AiG page on genetics. Which did not address my question at all.

I was so far beyond frustrated. And I decided that I wasn’t going to bother anymore. I wrote my friend back, told him what had happened, and that I would, eventually, re-think some things. Not right then– right then I was putting together a paper on Frankenstein, the birth of chemistry, and how scientific philosophy affects literature. I asked him a few questions about galvanism and moved on with my life.


Last Saturday, I was walking through the woods that line the Chesapeake Bay. At first my walk was energetic and brisk, but when I reached a deeper part of the woods where the houses disappear and all you can hear are the gentle lap of waves, I slowed down. I paid attention. I listened to the multi-layered symphony my footsteps caused. The gentle, gritty, sliding crunch of sand, the muted crack of pine cones and twigs, the crinkle-snapping of leaves, and the plush, muted compression of pine needles. Sunlight bounded off of barely-cresting waves, the wind murmured back and forth between the treeline and the shoreline. I stopped and closed my eyes. I heard the birdsong, felt the wind, absorbed the sun.

And as I listened, I felt a newness . . . a dawn, of sorts.

I don’t need literal six-day young earth creationism to be overwhelmed by the beauty and majesty of nature. I don’t need it for my world to make sense. I don’t need it in order to believe in balance, or provision.

For me, I can look at the artistry of Genesis and see the beauty and power of myth. I find it comforting, actually, that my religion began by deeply rooting itself in myth. That I have a creation story that emphasizes order instead of chaos, where the creation of the world was intentional instead of happenstance. I have a creation myth where the creator-god looks on the physical splendor of what he’s made at calls it morally perfect and absolutely beautiful.