Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America

Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America

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by Jeff Chu
     
 

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Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America is part memoir and part investigative analysis that explores the explosive and confusing intersection of faith, politics, and sexuality in Christian America.

The quest to find an answer is at the heart of Does Jesus Really Love Me?—a personal

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Overview

Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America is part memoir and part investigative analysis that explores the explosive and confusing intersection of faith, politics, and sexuality in Christian America.

The quest to find an answer is at the heart of Does Jesus Really Love Me?—a personal journey of belief, an investigation, and a portrait of a faith and a nation at odds by award-winning reporter Jeff Chu.

From Brooklyn to Nashville to California, from Westboro Baptist Church and their “God Hates Fags” protest signs, to the pioneering Episcopalian 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.

Funny and heartbreaking, perplexing and wise, Does Jesus Really Love Me? is an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual pilgrimage that reveals a nation in crisis.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Dismayed and confused by the homophobia prevalent in many Christian denominations, Chu, raised a Southern Baptist, went on a personal pilgrimage to examine what it means to be both gay and Christian in America today. Crisscrossing the country from Nashville to San Francisco, he visited churches and other religious institutions from the notoriously homophobic Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas and the "ex-gay" Exodus International, headquartered in Florida, to the gay-positive Metropolitan Community Churches in San Francisco and Las Vegas. The people he encountered are as wide-ranging and include agnostics, a celibate, a gay man married to a woman, and a lesbian, Anglican bishop. The book is dotted with personal testimonies and a running email correspondence between the author and a young, closeted Christian man. Throughout, Chu balances clear-eyed objectivity with nonpatronizing humanity for even the most dogmatic homophobes. VERDICT Poignant, at times painful, and spiced with wry humor, this is a must-read for LGBT people on their own spiritual journeys or anyone interested in reconciling religion with sexuality.—Richard J. Violette, Victoria P.L., British Columbia
The New York Times Book Review - Dan Savage
…Chu has written a fascinating, thoughtful and important book. He 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.
Publishers Weekly
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. Agent: Todd Schuster, Zachary Schuster Harmsworth. (Apr.)
Booklist
“Outstandingly personable and appealing.”
Frank Bruni
“Jeff’s own story makes me hopeful. It’s one of grace.”
Christianity Today
“An essential survey description of homosexuality in U.S. churches today that should be read by church members and leaders, and people who care about how U.S. Christians engage with sexual minorities and related issues.”
Dan Savage
“Chu has written a fascinating, thoughtful, and important book. He 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.”
Bookriot.com
“A comprehensive, important, illuminating book for anyone exploring these issues.”
Rob Bell
“In telling these stories—chief among them his own—Jeff has done an extraordinary thing, showing us all to the God who is big enough and loving enough and true enough to meet all of us exactly where we’re at. This book is moving, inspiring, and much needed.”
Stephen Prothero
“Finally an examination of Christianity and homosexuality that refuses to demonize either side. A smart and deeply personal exploration of one of the great public questions of our time.”
Benoit Denizet-Lewis
“Jeff Chu has written a masterpiece about sexuality and spirituality in America. In this unforgettable blend of reportage and memoir, he doesn’t demonize, ridicule, or pander to an ideology. Instead, he explores—and inspires. This is the smartest, and most humane, book about Christianity and homosexuality that I’ve ever read.”
Bernadette Barton
“People struggling to reconcile homosexuality and Christianity will find much that validates their experiences in Chu’s thoughtful book. Those confused why anyone would attempt to reconcile conservative Christian and gay identities will better understand the dilemmas gay Christians face after reading Does Jesus Really Love Me.
David P. Gushee
“A beautiful, courageous, heartbreaking exploration. . . . Does Jesus Really Love Me? is both a moving personal memoir and a pivotal piece of reporting on what the deadlocked Christian fight over homosexuality is costing human beings, the churches, and our culture.”
Lauren Sandler
“This is a book for anyone who believes the church is unbroken, who feels they have no place in a world that disdains them, or who is looking for fellowship amongst courageous travelers striking their own path.”
Mark D. Jordan
“Jeff Chu is a smart and experienced guide through evangelical battles over homosexuality. . . . [He] leads us beyond the battlefields to unexpected scenes of hope. This is a sobering book, but above all a book of compassionate consolation.”
Donna Freitas
“Jeff Chu’s pilgrimage across America to discover his own place as a gay man in the Christian church as well as attitudes about being gay and Christian across denominations is at once timely, smart, poignant, disturbing, inspiring, and maddening. . . . Essential reading for everybody.”
Kirkus Reviews
A gay Christian's exploration of homosexuality in the American church. Curious as to why Christians in America take such radically differing stances on the issue of homosexuality, Chu set off on a yearlong quest for answers, meeting and interviewing many people from across the range of viewpoints on this issue. Though the author introduces readers to his personal story, the narrative is focused on the people he encountered on his journey. Chu provides ample commentary about those he meets, but he does a good job appearing as their interlocutor, not as the center of attention. At the conservative end of the spectrum, the author visited rabidly anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, where he was surprised by the affability and near-normalcy of many parishioners. His candid meeting with Westboro founder Fred Phelps is a highlight of the book. Chu also explored Harding University in Arkansas, where he learned what it is like for students who are gay on one of America's most conservative college campuses. At the other end of the spectrum, Chu visited two primarily gay Metropolitan Community Churches in San Francisco, which he found "more focused on people than on God" and where he was hit on for the only time in his journey. He also explored a Lutheran church expelled from its denomination over the issue of gay ordination. Between these two extremes, Chu met many individuals whose stories are compelling--e.g., former evangelist leader Ted Haggard, people who lost their faith after coming out, a celibate gay clergyman and a straight woman who knowingly married a gay man. Chu's writing is informal, sometimes overly hip, but the stories he relates are intriguing. Yes, Chu concludes in his revealing book, Jesus really loves him. Other Christians? The jury's still out.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062049759
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/26/2013
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
559,107
File size:
1 MB

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What People are saying about this

Bernadette Barton

“People struggling to reconcile homosexuality and Christianity will find much that validates their experiences in Chu’s thoughtful book. Those confused why anyone would attempt to reconcile conservative Christian and gay identities will better understand the dilemmas gay Christians face after reading Does Jesus Really Love Me.

Stephen Prothero

“Finally an examination of Christianity and homosexuality that refuses to demonize either side. A smart and deeply personal exploration of one of the great public questions of our time.”

Mark D. Jordan

“Jeff Chu is a smart and experienced guide through evangelical battles over homosexuality. . . . [He] leads us beyond the battlefields to unexpected scenes of hope. This is a sobering book, but above all a book of compassionate consolation.”

David P. Gushee

“A beautiful, courageous, heartbreaking exploration. . . . Does Jesus Really Love Me? is both a moving personal memoir and a pivotal piece of reporting on what the deadlocked Christian fight over homosexuality is costing human beings, the churches, and our culture.”

Lauren Sandler

“This is a book for anyone who believes the church is unbroken, who feels they have no place in a world that disdains them, or who is looking for fellowship amongst courageous travelers striking their own path.”

Rob Bell

“In telling these stories—chief among them his own—Jeff has done an extraordinary thing, showing us all to the God who is big enough and loving enough and true enough to meet all of us exactly where we’re at. This book is moving, inspiring, and much needed.”

Benoit Denizet-Lewis

“Jeff Chu has written a masterpiece about sexuality and spirituality in America. In this unforgettable blend of reportage and memoir, he doesn’t demonize, ridicule, or pander to an ideology. Instead, he explores—and inspires. This is the smartest, and most humane, book about Christianity and homosexuality that I’ve ever read.”

Donna Freitas

“Jeff Chu’s pilgrimage across America to discover his own place as a gay man in the Christian church as well as attitudes about being gay and Christian across denominations is at once timely, smart, poignant, disturbing, inspiring, and maddening. . . . Essential reading for everybody.”

Read More

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