Friday, November 27, 2015
Top 25 LGBTQ Christian books of 2015 named
Dozens of books with LGBTQ Christian themes were published in 2015. Here is a list of the top 25 – including, theology, memoir, Bible, history, art, film, fiction and church life.
The year's diverse group of authors approaches the subject in all different ways: from Biblical to biographies, institutional or individual, scholarly or simple, fiction and non-fiction, for young and old.
A few trends emerged. Queer theology is still going strong. New titles reveal that Christian conservatives who once preached against homosexuality are welcoming LGBT people or at least softening their tactics. Another development is the emergence of voices from people of color, especially African Americans.
Enjoy! And please let me know if I missed anything. I will keep adding to the list.
“Intersex, Theology, and the Bible: Troubling Bodies in Church, Text, and Society” by Susannah Cornwall (editor).
Intersex people have been considered troubling because they are not easily classified as male or female, challenging the binary sex system of Western societies. Here scholars suggest that intersex people provide positive value by challenging dubious assumptions in religion and society. Writers consider intersex conditions from a range of perspectives, including constructive and pastoral theologies, biblical studies of eunuchs, and sociology of religion. The book features essays by Megan Shannon DeFranza, Joseph A. Marchal, Nathan Carlin and more. Cornwall is an advanced research fellow in theology and religion at the University of Exeter.
BESTSELLER AT JESUS IN LOVE
“That We Might Become God: The Queerness of Creedal Christianity” by Andy Buechel, with a foreword by Mark D. Jordan.
A theologian reveals how queer Christianity already is. He argues that queer theory fits well with Christian faith, specifically the incarnation of “Christ’s queer body,” the sacraments, and eschatology. Buechel teaches theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati and Jordan is a Harvard professor of Christian thought. His foreword says, “"Andy Buechel's book exerts itself to avoid false certainties, easy algebras, in order to acknowledge the full queerness of Christianity. That effort is one of the queerest things about the book.”
BESTSELLER AT JESUS IN LOVE
“Sex Difference in Christian Theology: Male, Female, and Intersex in the Image of God” by Megan K. DeFranza.
Solid theological analysis challenges the gender binary with Biblical resources on eunuchs and critiques various models of sexuality and gender based on images of Christ and God. Author Megan K. DeFranza shows that all people are made in God’s image: male, female and intersex. She has taught at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. This is her first book, but it is published by a major academic religious press (Eerdmans) and endorsed by queer scholars such as Susannah Cornwall. Sometimes queer theology books are extremely expensive, but this one is only $18.
“The Courage to be Queer” by Jeff Hood.
A theology of God the Queer who speaks to everyone through the queerness of each individual context is revealed by a queer pastor/theologian/activist. He shakes the demons out of the Bible and leaves only love, making advanced queer theological concepts accessible with sound Biblical references. Ordained in the Southern Baptist Convention, he recently concluded a doctorate in queer theology at Texas Christian University. Published by Wipf and Stock with 39 endorsements!
“Our Lives Matter: A Womanist Queer Theology” by Pamela R. Lightsey.
With the “Black Lives Matter” protests as a backdrop, the book uses womanist and queer liberation theological approaches to explore the impact of oppression against Black LBTQ women. Contemporary debates such as same-sex marriage and ordination rights are covered. The author is assistant professor of contextual theology at Boston University and a queer lesbian ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.
Art and culture
“Hollywood Biblical Epics: Camp Spectacle and Queer Style from the Silent Era to the Modern Day” by Richard A. Lindsay.
Bible-themed movies are explored from an LGBT perspective by a communication professor from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. He addresses censorship in Hollywood, analyzes Bible films for gay characters and situations and much more as he asks, “If biblical epics are supposed to be adaptations of the Bible, why are they so campy and queer?”
BESTSELLER AT JESUS IN LOVE
“HomoEros: Meditations on Gay Love and Longing” by John Waiblinger and Chad Mitchell.
A collaboration between a poet and a digital artist, “HomoEros” sexualizes the sacred and elevates eroticism to the realm of the divine. The most direct Christian symbolism is expressed by Mitchell, whose poetry in “HomoEros” celebrates Christ the Bridegroom, the Sacred Heart, and the Son of Man, sometimes using phrases from the Roman Catholic Mass. Waiblinger’s artistic process transforms images from gay porn through cropping and layering with nature photos. The juxtaposition of extremes results in an effective effort to reconcile gay sexuality and spirituality.
Memoir and biography
“Messy Grace: How a Pastor with Gay Parents Learned to Love Others Without Sacrificing Conviction” by Caleb Kaltenbach.
In a surprising new twist on the LGBT Christian journey, “Messy Grace” is the autobiography of a man who was raised by lesbian mothers. He grew up marching in Pride parades and disliking Christians, but he converted to conservative Christianity during high school. As an adult he became an evangelical pastor who preaches love for all without judgment. The author pastors Discovery Church in Simi Valley, California, and is finishing his doctorate at Dallas Theological Seminary.
“My Exodus: From Fear to Grace” by Alan Chambers.
Author Alan Chambers, the final president of huge ex-gay group Exodus International, shocked the world when he repudiated its mission and closed the organization with a public apology to the LGBT community in 2013. Still a committed believer in Christ, he now seeks to create welcoming communities. Here he tells his entire life story and faith journey of same-sex attraction and deepening understanding of God.
BESTSELLER AT JESUS IN LOVE
“A Disreputable Priest: Being Gay in Anti-Gay Cultures” by Ian Corbett.
A gay Anglican priest gives a personal account of his journey to accept his sexual orientation and minister to LGBT people while serving in Africa, Ireland and among the indigenous tribes of North America. Corbett was sustained by values learned from native peoples about the importance of the land, artistic expression, human relationships and contemplative reflection. In Botswana he established an AIDS hospice and cared for AIDS patients in the slums.
“Constance Maynard’s Passions: Religion, Sexuality, and an English Educational Pioneer, 1849-1935” by Pauline A. Phillips.
A successful evangelical religious woman leader’s effort to forge “a distinct same-sex sexual self-consciousness” is covered in this biography. She saw her passionate relationships with women as God’s gift and a test her faith. The author is a history/women’s studies professor at the University of Windsor in Canada.
LGBT people in the church
“Beyond Heterosexism in the Pulpit” by Emily Askew and O. Wesley Allen Jr.
Here is help for ministers who seek better strategies to speak from the pulpit in favor of LGBT rights while respecting congregants who disagree. The authors are both professors at Lexington Theological Seminary. Their approach combines critical theology and contemporary homiletics.
“Struggling in Good Faith: LGBTQI Inclusion from 13 American Religious Perspectives” by Mychal Copeland and D'vorah Rose (editors), with a foreword by Gene Robinson.
This interfaith collection shows how 13 religious groups face the challenge of including LGBTQI people. Faith traditions covered are the Black Church, Buddhist, Mormon, Episcopal, Native American, Hindu, Jewish, Lutheran, Muslim, Presbyterian, Protestant Evangelical, Roman Catholic and Unitarian Universalist. A stong line-up of contributors includes Cameron Partridge, Jane Litman and Jeannine Gramick. Editor Mychal Copeland is the Bay Area director of InterfaithFamily and her rabbinate includes having served Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, the world’s largest LGBTQI synagogue. Editor D'vorah Rose is a multifaith healthcare chaplain, rabbi and palliative care and hospice nurse who consults nationwide.
“Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian” by Wesley Hill.
A prominent evangelical scholar in the new celibate LGBT Christian movement writes about friendship as a spiritual path, offering practical ways for building stronger friendships. Wesley Hill. includes extensive discussion of classic writings on friendship by 12th-century saint Aelred of Rievaulx (who is often considered the patron saint of LGBT people). Hill has many fans, but this book won't appeal to everybody. One chapter is titled “Friendship is a Call to Suffer.” The author is assistant professor of biblical studies at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania.
“Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women, and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism” by Deborah Jian Lee.
Evangelical Christianity’s evolution into a more progressive faith is explored by a journalist who left that world because she was frustrated by its conservative politics. Now she sees evangelicalism changing fast due to diverse younger members, including openly LGBT people, women in leadership, and more people of color. This book is getting a lot of mainstream media buzz, and made Publishers Weekly's list of most-anticipated spirituality and religion books for November. The author has worked as a staff reporter for the Associated Press and taught journalism at Columbia University.
“Religion, Flesh, and Blood: The Convergence of HIV/AIDS, Black Sexual Expression, and Therapeutic Religion” by Pamela Leong.
Successful AIDS ministry by one black LGBT congregation in Unity Fellowship is the focus of a rich case study by a sociology professor. She describes how they blend African-American Christianity with the therapeutic ethic of American pop culture. The author focuses on the Los Angeles congregation through field work, interviews and analysis of sermons. Unity Fellowship founder Carl Bean is discussed in depth. Leong is assistant professor of sociology at Salem State University in Massachusetts.
“LGBT In The Name of God: The Black Church's Response to the LGBT Community” by Christopher James Priest, with a foreword by Benjamin L. Reynolds.
Pointed, witty essays aim at building honest dialogue in African American churches about LGBT issues. The author is a Baptist pastor with 50 years’ service in the black church – but he is best known as the first African American writer in the comic-book industry. Topics include same-sex marriage, the black church’s unwritten “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and the roots of homophobia in traditional church doctrine. It includes a foreword by Benjamin L. Reynolds, former director of the LGBTQ Religious Studies Center at Chicago Theological Seminary.
“And God Saw It All was Very Good: Catholic LGBT People in Europe Telling Their Stories” by Sandra Taylor and Hazel Barnes (editors), with a prologue by Jeannine Gramick.
This diverse collection gathers rarely heard personal stories by 34 LGBT Catholics from 18 European countries. Their essays are divided into themes of family, Catholicism, religious vocation, long journeys, significant events, and working for acceptance. The book results from a project of the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups.
“Visions of Queer Martyrdom from John Henry Newman to Derek Jarman” by Dominic Janes.
Closeted queer devotion to Christ has shaped the cultural expression of homosexuality since the 19th century. A professor from London’s University of the Arts begins with a chapter on Cardinal John Henry Newman as a queer martyr suffering in the ecclesiastical closet. Janes goes on to examine liturgical expressions of same-sex desire, the role of Victorian monasteries and other religious institutions in forming queer families, and how the Biblical story of Jonathan and David became a model for same-sex partnerships. He finds that Christianity has ongoing significance in homoerotic works such as the films of Derek Jarman and the literature of Oscar Wilde.
“After the Wrath of God: AIDS, Sexuality, and American Religion” by Anthony M. Petro.
The religious history of AIDS in America is examined by a Boston University religion professor. He goes way beyond the usual discussion of the Religious Right to cover a wide range of mainline Protestant, evangelical, and Catholic groups as well as AIDS activist organizations. The author reveals how the AIDS crisis prompted American Christians to start discussing homosexuality, fostering a moral discourse whose legacy includes abstinence education and same-sex marriage. This detailed and discerning history was published by the prestigious Oxford University Press. The section on Metropolitan Community Churches includes the ministry of long-time AIDS survivor Stephen Pieters.
“Reforming Sodom: Protestants and the Rise of Gay Rights” by Heather Rachelle White.
Religion tends to get downplayed in LGBT history. A religion professor challenges the prevailing LGBT secular narrative and recovers the forgotten history of liberal Protestants' role on both sides of the debates on sexual orientation and identity. White teaches in the religion department and gender and queer studies program at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington.
“Sexuality, Ideology, and the Bible: Antipodean Engagements” by Robert Myles and Carolyn Blyth (editors).
Queer interpretations of the Bible from scholars in Australia and New Zealand are gathered in this scholarly collection of essays. They recognize that cultural baggage shapes Bible-based understandings of sexuality and gender. Topics include Augustine and Paul on Adam’s ‘perfect penis,’ gender violence against the land in Jeremiah, queering binary categories in the Sermon on the Mount and the Song of Songs, imagining Christ who bore both male and female genitalia, and much more.
“Between These Walls: A Novel” by John Herrick.
A young Christian man confronts his fears when his secret attraction to men is exposed in “Between These Walls: A Novel” by John Herrick. The author reveals the main character’s experiences in an accessible, neutral way for a mainstream audience. His goals include “to help readers find a friend, especially any readers who might be wrestling the same way the character does,” “to illustrate how hurtful judgment is” and “to show that his attraction to other men is no indicator whatsoever of his love for the Lord,” he said in an interview with the Jesus in Love Blog. Herrick promises a unique ending that allows readers to interpret it however they want. A news report about bullying of a gay teen helped motivate Herrick to write the novel.
“Inclination” by Mia Kerick.
A gay Catholic Korean high school student adopted into an Italian American family falls in love, gets bullied and faces opposition from his church in this young-adult novel by an author who focuses her fiction on the emotional growth of troubled young people.
“Gay Jesus Cometh” by Alexander Flores.
In this graphic novel, “a messiah named Gay Jesus arrives on earth to save homosexuals from the evils of global homophobia,” according to its official description. The work is the latest installment in “LGBT Bible,” an entertaining comic book series that adds a queer perspective to Biblical stories It was written and illustrated by Pastor Alexander Flores, who was born in Colombia in 1966, raised in New Jersey and currently lives in Los Angeles.
The following are LGBTQ Christian books did not come to my attention until after this list was posted. Please leave a comment if you have more suggestions. Keep checking back for new updates.
“Two Pews from Crazy: My Insane Journey from Christian Fundamentalism to a Faith of Love Alone--LGBTQ Minister” by Cyd Andrews-Looper.
A lesbian pastor raised Baptist and ordained by the United Church of Christ tells the ups and downs of her journey, including adopting a child, losing three different partners, the pain of church politics and the power of God in her life. Short, easy-to-read chapters show her sense of humor. Endorsed by Soulforce founder Mel White. Published by Get Success Inc. (print) and Ronin Robot Press (Kindle).
“The Life and Struggles of Our Mother Walatta Petros: A 17th-Century African Biography of an Ethiopian Woman” by Galawdewos (translated and edited by Wendy Laura Belcher and Michael Kleiner)
This biography of an Ethiopian saint is considered to be the “earliest known depiction of same-sex desire among women in sub-Saharan Africa.” Mother Walatta was involved in a lifelong romantic friendship with another woman. Belcher, associate professor at Princeton University, did incredible research to recover the same-sex love that had been buried. This is also the earliest-known book-length biography of an African woman, never before translated into English. And it includes 64 beautiful color illustrations from early manuscripts.
"God and Difference: The Trinity, Sexuality, and the Transformation of Finitude" by Linn Tonstad.
Queer and feminist theory are applied to Christian theology in a critical analysis of trinitarian discourse. The book argues that other theologians are inadvertently promoting gendered hierarchy while using queer theory or affirming same-sex relationships. The author is a theology professor at Yale Divinity School, and affiliate faculty in both Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and LGBT Studies at Yale University.
“Microaggressions in Ministry: Confronting the Hidden Violence of Everyday Church” by Cody J. Sanders and Angela Yarber
Microaggressions are a hot topic now, but this is the first book to look at these subtle insults in ministry and church life. It focuses on the indignities directed at LGBTQ folks, persons of color, and women within Christian contexts, offering realistic examples and guidance. Co-author Cody J. Sanders is pastor of Old Cambridge Baptist Church in Harvard Square, Massachusetts, and co-author Angela Yarber has taught in seminaries since 2006.
2015 bestsellers at Jesus in Love
(ranked by sales, including books published in previous years)
1. “The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision” by Kittredge Cherry and Douglas Blanchard. (2014)
2. “Sex Difference in Christian Theology: Male, Female, and Intersex in the Image of God” by Megan K. DeFranza. (2015)
3. “HomoEros: Meditations on Gay Love and Longing” by John Waiblinger and Chad Mitchell. (2015)
4. “That We Might Become God: The Queerness of Creedal Christianity” by Andy Buechel. (2015)
5. “The Passion of Sergius and Bacchus: A Novel of Truth” by David Reddish. (2014)
6. “A Disreputable Priest: Being Gay in Anti-Gay Cultures” by Ian Corbett. (2015)
7. “Jesus in Love: A Novel” by Kittredge Cherry. (2006)
2016 LGBTQ Christian books:
New in July 2016: LGBTQ Christian books “Transgender, Intersex and Biblical Interpretation,” “Religious Freedom and Gay Rights,” “Holy Women Icons” and “Is It a Boy, a Girl, or Both?”
New in June 2016: LGBTQ Christian books "This is My Body," "Queer Virtue," "Mr. Grumpy Christian," Uganda's bishop Senyonjo, Mother Juana de la Cruz
New in May 2016: LGBTQ Christian books "Stand By Me," "Speak Its Name" and "Joan of Arc"
New in April 2016: LGBTQ Christian books "Justice Calls" and "Signs and Wonders"
New in March 2016: LGBTQ Christian books "The Firebrand and the First Lady" and "Space at the Table"
New in Feb 2016: LGBTQ Christian books “Brother-Making in Late Antiquity" and “Two Pews from Crazy”
Top 25 LGBTQ Christian books of 2014 named (Jesus in Love)
Top 20 Gay Jesus books (from Jesus in Love)
Queer Theology book list (from Patrick Cheng)
Jesus in Love Bookstore (includes LGBT Christian classics)
Image credit: LGBT Christian books with rainbow flag logo by Andrew Craig William
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