From the Publisher
“My Almost Certainly Real Imaginary Jesus is a beautiful memoir of a young Christian woman’s determined but hopeless battle with her sexuality, and Barth’s narration is wise, honest, and frequently hilarious. Her struggle and triumph, so engagingly rendered, should resonate with anyone who has taken the long way to thoughtful self-reliance.”
“Funny. Poignant. Heartbreaking. Barth takes us through a world of religious dogma that can be harsh and frightening and emerges into a Christian spirituality we recognizeone of love and tolerance and wisdom. Her nuanced story will be exotic to those of us who have never personally experienced evangelical religion, even as its central humanity remains deeply familiar.”
Sharman Apt Russell, Standing in the Light: My Life as a Pantheist
“Kelly Barth’s heartfelt, funny, and wrenching book is testimony to Jesus’ steadfast love. Her faith, tested and tried, looks beyond the failings of religion to claim that love for all.”
Sara Miles, author of Take This Bread and Jesus Freak
This charming memoir, Barth's first book, is an exemplary coming-out story as well as a wholesale indictment of the hypocrisy and false promises of many archconservative Christian congregations about sexuality—that love, when it happens between two members of the same sex, is a manifestation of broken "machinery in need of parts and service." Barth's recovery from self-loathing and anxiety is a very near thing, but this witty volume leaves her happily partnered and churched. VERDICT A lovely volume for readers who can't get enough Anne Lamott or Mary Karr, Barth's book is both revelatory and amusing.
Learning how to be gay and Christian. From an early age, Barth knew she was different than other girls, and she knew she had to keep this difference a secret. Raised in the Midwest in an old-fashioned Presbyterian home, the author was trained to view homosexuality as deviant and sinful. As such, she could not accept her sexuality and certainly could not reconcile it with her faith. As Barth grew to more fully recognize her attraction to her own gender, she reacted by shutting herself off as much as possible from that very attraction, pretending to be straight. Eventually, she found herself diving into Christian fundamentalism as a way out of her dilemma, going so far as to take part in a class designed to change her sexual preference. Throughout, she was accompanied on and off by an "imaginary Jesus." Barth's concept of her imaginary Jesus may be difficult to grasp for many readers. He is an imaginary friend, an inner voice, someone for her to cry out to in times of desperation, but he is certainly not the divine Jesus Christ of organized Christianity. Barth recalls her youth and young adulthood with vivid detail and imagery. Though much of the book centers on her faith or life amid various faith traditions, she also weaves detailed stories about her relationships with others, including the woman she would go on to marry. At times, the narrative becomes dull as Barth veers down paths few readers will find of interest--e.g., a discussion of her good credit report when she applied for a home loan. Apart from such divergences, however, the author provides an intriguing life story.