“Fascinating, thoughtful, and important. [Jeff Chu] captures the fractures and conflict at a moment when the issue of what to do with L.G.B.T. people is tearing Christian denominations apart. Does Jesus Really Love Me? deserves to be widely read.” —Dan Savage, New York Times Book Review
In this timely work—part memoir, part investigative analysis—a prize-winning writer explores the explosive and confusing intersection of faith, politics, and sexuality in Christian America.
When Jeff Chu came out to his parents as a gay man, his devout Christian mother cried. And cried. Every time she looked at him. For months. As a journalist and a believer, Chu knew that he had to get to the heart of a question that had been haunting him for years: Does Jesus really love me?
The quest to find an answer propels Chu on a remarkable cross-country journey to discover the God “forbidden to him” because of his sexuality. Surveying the breadth of the political and theological spectrum, from the most conservative viewpoints to the most liberal, he tries to distill what the diverse followers of Christ believe about homosexuality and to understand how these people who purportedly follow the same God and the same Scriptures have come to hold such a wide range of opinions. Why does Pastor A believe that God hates me, especially because of my gayness? Why does Person B believe that God loves me, gayness and all?
From Brooklyn to Nashville to California, from Westboro Baptist Church and their god hates fags protest signs to the pioneering Episcopal bishop Mary Glasspool, who proclaims a message of liberation and divine love, Chu captures spiritual snapshots of Christian America at a remarkable moment, when tensions between both sides in the culture wars have rarely been higher. Both funny and heartbreaking, perplexing and wise, Does Jesus Really Love Me? is an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual pilgrimage that reveals a portrait of a faith and a nation at odds.
Whether the Bible disavows or condones gay love takes up its own echelon of discourse in American religious life. In his compassionate, engaging first book, journalist Chu, a gay Christian who was raised Southern Baptist, spends a year interviewing Christians across America, "asking the questions that have long frightened me." What Chu finds is "a country that deeply wants to love, but is conflicted on how to do so." His interview subjects include Jennifer Knapp, a contemporary Christian music star who continues to perform religious music after coming out; and Kevin Olson, who has chosen a lifetime of celibacy and identifies himself as not gay but homosexually oriented. Marching purposefully into controversy, Chu meets disgraced pastor Ted Haggard, members of the "ex-gay" movement, and members of the Westboro Baptist Church. Though Chu unflinchingly reveals the wrecked lives and suicide attempts that church-sponsored homophobia helped create, he acknowledges the religiosity of those who perpetrate it. Resisting easy answers, Chu deftly portrays the lived experience of Christians mostly gay, though not all. The book's few shortcomings occur when Chu shuts down his inquiry, such as with an older lesbian who invites him to a "healing exercise" that he dismisses as "New Agey, hippy-dippy mumbo jumbo." Overall, the book brings complexity and humanity to a discourse often lacking in both.
Nice book thus far for only 2 dollars
I found Jeff Chu when he interviewed Megan Phelps and I thought his book was fascinating and well-written, with useful insight for a boy like me.