Questions Abound in Monkey Town

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To make a long story short, I decided to read Rachel Held Evans’ book Evolving in Monkey Town after reading her blog a few weeks ago. See this post for more.

Evans’ 2010 book is a memoir of her faith crisis. She was raised in a Christian home in the Bible belt. She’s lived much of her life in Dayton, Tennessee, a town famous for the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925. Hence her book’s title.

Evans began questioning her faith during her college years. The spark of the crisis seemed to come when she watched a Muslim woman being murdered by the Taliban in the 2001 documentary by Saira Shah entitled Behind the Veil.

This Gen-Xer won’t hold it against Evans for being a Millennial. I like Millennials. They understand Twitter which confounds me more often than not.

I won’t even hold it against Evans that I disagree with some of her reasoning and find parts of her book troubling.

What I like about her is that she boldly questions in the first place. And she will accept “I don’t know” as an answer.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far way, I sat in a church Bible study circle when a newcomer asked a difficult question. Something to do with personal tragedy resulting in doctrinal confusion.

Fresh from my own angry rounds of questioning God after my mom died, I believed there wasn’t a definitive answer to the newcomer’s question. So I spoke up and said, “We don’t know why that happened.”

Then I sat quietly. It would have been wise to add, “We have to go by what we do know. What the Bible tells us that we can understand.”

I didn’t get the chance. The study leader panicked, fumbling to answer the woman’s question. To him, an insufficient or unsatisfactory answer was better than admitting, “I don’t know.”

I can’t fault that leader. Questioning makes me nervous, too. Throughout Evans’ story, I found myself wanting to say exactly what her theologian father said. “Rachel,” he said gently, “be careful what you say (p. 100).”

There are strong passages of assurance in Scripture. And there are instances where God doesn’t explain to our liking or understanding. Much as we need to know, some answers remain hidden.

The thing is, no matter how harrowing the questions may be to us, God can take it. He knows what we’re thinking anyway. With honest hearts, open to hearing Him, let the questions fly. Pursue Him and His Word, and the places of “I don’t know” might just lead to a deeper faith.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 NIV1984

Gravity by Shawn McDonald.

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6 Responses to Questions Abound in Monkey Town

  1. Aimee, I believe you are exactly right. We don’t know everything. And not everything thing can be scientifically or logically explained. Somethings just happen. I think it’s our human nature of control and curiosity to yearn for explanation. And yet, the best response we can have in every situation is to lift it up to God and pray! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and talent!


  2. Joy

    Those I don’t know’s do lead to deeper understanding. It’s ok to question. I love this, thanks Aimee :-)

  3. Yes indeed. Nothing wrong with asking questions and certainly we don’t know all the answers since we’re finite creatures.

    Every time I hear a Christian, non-Christian or myself questioning God – specifically when things don’t go our way – I’m reminded of Job. Further, I’m reminded of the sermon our pastor just preached wherein he noted how so many of us make an idol out of God/Christ in that we make God/Christ into our own image and then berate it when it doesn’t live up to what we want and/or assume it should be/do.

    • Good, good points, WA. Job does come to mind.

      I certainly expect God/Christ to behave the way I want. All the more reason for me to keep pursuing Him through the Bible, prayer, being part of a body of believers, taking the sacraments, serving — to remember Who God/Christ really is.