Judging By Its Cover the New Book, “Turning Controversy into Church Ministry: A Christlike Response to Homosexuality”

This morning I received an email from mega-huge Christian book publisher Zondervan (a division of HarperCollins), asking if I’d be interested in reviewing their new book,  Turning Controversy into Church Ministry: A Christlike Response to Homosexuality.

Actually, they were wondering if I’d like to review a chapter of the book. From their email:

Read the entire book by the time of the blog tour (January 10-17, 2011), and let us know as soon as you’ve read it, so that we can assign you one chapter. … You will then post a brief review of that chapter (your comments and perspective can also refer to the book as a whole) on your blog during the blog tour week (January 10-17).

Huh? “Read the whole book, but write only a brief review of the chapter of it that we choose for you?”

What is this, book reviewing for people with ADD? Who wants to write a review of a chapter of a book? How is that even possible? It’s like having to review fifteen minutes of a movie.

“Oz certainly is a colorful place. Dorothy seems to be in a daze, as the Munchkins gradually reveal themselves. Glenda the Good Witch floats down in a bubble, and explains to Dorothy that she needs to visit the Wizard. I’m not really that sure what happened before or after this.”

But whatever.

The book’s cover is above.

A moment of silence, please, for all the unemployed good book cover designers and graphic artists out there who can’t find work. And a big “whoop-whoop!”, apparently, for designers of 70′s-era giveaway drugstore calendars and high school textbook covers.

Yikes, man. Are publishers even trying to survive anymore? Have they just thrown in the wet towel? Because unless this book’s suggestion for a “Christlike response to homosexuality” is to drown homosexuals in the ocean, this cover makes about as much sense as the Church Lady doing naked yoga. Which would at least be interesting. This thing is death.

Anyway, I wonder if I should review … well, whatever part of this book they tell me to?

Hmmm. Well, if I can manage to look at the cover without slipping into a coma, what’s immediately obvious is that the publisher is really pushing the “Turning Controversy into Church Ministry” part of this book’s title.

Annnnnnnnnnnnnd we’re back in a coma.

Gee, what a surprise. Zondervan is hoping lots and lots of pastors will buy this book.

“Church ministry” is code for “grow your church,” see. And “grow your church” is barely code at all for “make money.”

Zondervan wants pastors to believe that, if they use it in their adult-education classes, this book will help grow their church. As well as anyone in the world, they know that 99.99% of pastors will only use for their adult-ed classes books that they think will help grow their church. And if you don’t think Christian publishers are crazed to get some of that adult-ed book sale action, you’ve never imagined being rich. Like all Christian book publishers, Zondervan primarily pushes its pedestrian products to pandering, prosperous pastors.

I’ve written this before, but, to repeat: the hierarchy of church structure is a marketer’s dream. Sell to the pastor; the pastor sells to the congregation; ka-chings all around. When the honchos at a Christian publishing house sit around talking about the Big Title on which they’re pinning their hopes, they don’t talk about the content of the book. They talk about one thing, and one thing only: how to market the book to pastors.

So what’s the fact that they’re clearing doing that tell me about this book? It tells me that I have a better chance of sprouting wings and flying to Mongolia than it has of saying one single new, bold, or even vaguely interesting thing about homosexuality.

Pastors aren’t about to alienate their congregations. And any book that says anything real about homosexuality is guaranteed to do exactly that, but quick.

And thus, in about 1.2 seconds, am I absolutely, 100% assured that this book is a boring, bland, fence-sitting nothing. It won’t sell. It cannot, because in its efforts to offend no one, it’ll also interest no one. No one—not even a pastor—likes to be bored.

Oh, well. Another missed opportunity. Too bad! Or not, I guess. Christian book publishing continues to sink into the morass of its own mediocrity. And without even reading it, I know this book is typical of why.

****

The follow-up to this post: Was I Rude to the Author of “A Christlike Response to Homosexuality”? Hell, Yes.

See my pieces about Christianity and LGBTers.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://gooseberrybush.wordpress.com Gooseberrybush

    They won’t publish a book that you author, but they want to use you for a blurb/review to publicize the guy they DO want to publish?? How does that work exactly? Do you get money for that? I’m afraid I already know the answer to that question. Aren’t there any real Christians out there who publish material about reconciling congregations? These churches exist. They might be rare, but there IS an audience out there of Christians who get that it’s okay to be gay. So…how come books don’t get written for those churches?

    • Anonymous

      Zondervan would publish a book that I wrote. I mean … I could certainly write a book they’d publish. (Though maybe not NOW: as you can imagine, I’m not exactly ingratiating myself to publishers these days …. ) No, blog book reviewers don’t get paid. Publishers are convinced that “Get a Free Book!!!” is inducement enough for bloggers—and so many bloggers are so eager to be in any way affiliated with publishers that they jump at a chance to review their books.

  • kenleonard

    Bible Dude did a group book review by chapters a year or so ago, but those chapters were assigned BEFORE we even got the book. And it was a book divided by subject, so you didn’t have to have read chapter two to understand three.

    This is kind of weird.

    And I don’t get the cover, either.

    • Anonymous

      My guess–honestly (though it’s just a guess)—is that they’re finding reviews of bloggers to be so lame and rambling that they’re trying to get a more … focused approach. I mean, clearly they’re unsatisfied with the whole-book reviews they’re getting. And they should be: all the ones I’ve read are pretty awful. So I’m guessing this is some kind of stab at quality control?

    • http://bibledude.net/ @bibledude

      I run chapter-by-chapter projects on books on a regular basis, not so much as a review, but more like a small group study. I don’t require people to read the entire book, or to provide any judgement on the whole of the content of it.

      I’ve found that the way I run these group blogging projects has been a great way for people in diverse locations to study a book together, whether they are writing on a chapter for the project or not.

      I can’t speak for Zondervan but I like reading books with a group of people, and giving people an opportunity to share on the subject. But it sounds like your experience is a little different than the projects that I’ve run on my site…

      • Anonymous

        Yeah, what you do does sound quite a bit different from what Z. is apparently trying with this book. What you do sounds edifying, and … normal.

  • http://shadsie.deviantart.com/ Shadsie

    The cover reminds me of a mass-produced church bulletin, or one of those little scripture-a-day devotional books or a book of cheap, bad poetry. Or like someone spent all of five minutes in Photoshop. “I’ll stick to just one font, that will make it easy.” “I don’t think I’ll experiment with a placement or punch for the title – I’ll just leave it left-justified.” “The background? Clip-art photo.”

    Mind you, I cannot accurately judge books I have not read, but I can judge the cover.

    • Anonymous

      Well, in this case—as I think I’ve made the point—you really, really can judge a book by its cover.

  • Andy Christensen

    Sounds like an interesting subject. Somebody should read it and post a concise review so the rest of us will know if there is anything to it.

  • Anonymous

    Ok. Micro type and possibly the single most yawn worthy and over used image in publishing. As a graphic designer who works in ministry, I must admit that associating an image to this subject is probably about as challenging a task as I could think of.

    Personally, I would give it a read. Maybe I wouldn’t review any port in of it on my blog, but I think that any attempt in the direction of Christian ministry re-examining their mindset on homosexuality, couldn’t be any worse than the usual assignment of this issue to that locked supply closet in that impossible to reach corner of the storage space.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

    Awww what a pretty picture on that cover. Of course it doesn’t hurt that it kinda blends the text out in that sapphire pool of water. Of course any “reviews” are going to be of the wonderful, marvelous type that should help sell a copy or two, and any critical or honest review will be round filed.

  • Don Whitt

    John, I think you should review the whole thing on your blog. The door’s been opened.

    • Anonymous

      Hey, Don. Yeah, but … when I say I know it’ll be an excruciatingly boring book, I mean that I KNOW that. There’s not .00001% chance that it won’t be. There are GOOD books I don’t have time to read. Reading this one would be like rolling around on cactus.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure I’d resent publishers who told me they would burn the copies of my books they had in inventory. Still, this is the first review of an unread book I can recall. Food for thought.

    • Anonymous

      This piece here actually has nothing to do with my one experience with NavPress. And, in truth, I’m not at all resentful of Nav. They published my book (“I’m OK–You’re Not”) exactly as I wrote it; gave me a superb editor who did great work on it; transferred back to me all my right on it, and sold me back my remaining stock at a terrific price. Not too shabby for ol’ John.

      I wrote this “review” of this book just as way to maybe help people get a view and understanding of the Christian book universe that perhaps they didn’t have. I can’t tell you how positive I am that I’m right about the content of this book—and I thought people might find that interesting, since generally you’re NOT supposed to be able to judge a book by its cover.

  • WP Campbell

    John:

    I encourage you to take the .00001% chance. If you really don’t want to read the book, however, at least take note of the reviews on Amazon.com. Or here’s another that came out today:http://www.layman.org/Resources/BookReviews.aspx?article=27857.

    I am the one, not Zondervan, that initiated a second blog tour of the book. If you don’t like the idea of writing about one chapter, consider reviewing the book as a whole. You will find that the cover of the book actually connects with its first few chapters (or at least attempts to do so).

    The goal of the book is to foster church ministry. All of the author profits in fact go back into ministry. See ChurchReflections.com to note resources designed to go with the book.

    I would appreciate your taking this topic more seriously. It is tearing apart congregations and threatens to divide whole denominations. It needs to be addressed, and few books are written to handle it on a church/ministry level.

    Blessings,
    WP Campbell (author)

    • Diana A.

      Okay, I just read a couple of the reviews of the book in Amazon and the one at http://www.layman.org you provided above. I also looked at your guest blog post at emergingchurchblog.com–and I’m bothered. I get the impression that you regard those who are attracted to members of their own gender as “sexually broken.” Is this a correct summation of your viewpoint? You see, this strikes me as being at the center of what is wrong with how some of us heterosexual Christians react to gay people–this automatic assumption that homosexuality is evidence of something being wrong/defective with the person experiencing it. I actually know a lot of gay people, gay Christians in particular–and many of them strike me as being far more emotionally healthy than I am (I have ACOA issues, among other things). Moreover, this attitude seems to elect heterosexual people as judge and jury over gay people–which, to me, seems arrogant. Rather than sitting in judgement on gay people, shouldn’t we accept them as they are and permit them the dignity of deciding for themselves how to deal with these feelings that are regarded as “sinful” by some Christians?

      Maybe I’m misreading you completely. I admit, I have not read the book itself. If I am misreading you, I apologize and welcome your clarification of your viewpoint.

      • Anonymous

        Perfect as always, Diana A.

    • Anonymous

      It’s good to hear from you. At the same time, I now see why John might rather roll on cactus. Just as I don’t believe left handers might be healed to become right handers, I don’t think this applies to gender orientation. Acting on sexual impulses may be sinful or not depending on whether or not it accords with God’s will. Nothing in scripture contradicts this. We are all broken by sin. We are all redeemed by grace. It is important to read scripture honestly and see that the human notion that marriage “should” be between one man and one woman is not a scriptural idea at all. It is one of many different marriage customs accepted by scripture. The “should” is used once in referring to bishops by Paul in the letter to Timothy. Normal Biblical marriages involve one man and his wives and concubines, and marriages were of this type in both new and old testament times. The scriptures seem to sanctify the God pleasing use of the customs of all its times and places. All these customs could be honored or dishonored and dishonoring them was termed adultery. If we mistake proper and honorable homosexual activity for sin, then we are the cause of controversy and distress in the Church.

      • Anonymous

        Beautiful, Don.

    • Susan

      Being gay is not a sin. Period.

      • Anonymous

        And there it is.

    • Anonymous

      Hello, Mr. Campbell! Thanks very much for your patient response.

      I promise you that I take the subject of Christians and homosexuality every bit as seriously as you wish I would. By way of proving that specific point, see my posts at “Love Jesus? Hate Bigotry?”

      I’d be very happy to interview you. Do you suppose there’s any way to do that online, in real time, in such a way that I type in a question, and you type in your response, and others can listen/read along? I would love that, as I’m sure would readers and potential readers of your book.

      • WP Campbell

        John:

        If you’re still offering, I’d be happy to do the interview.

        Let me know,
        WP (Bill) Campbell

        • Anonymous

          Thank you, Bill. But I’m afraid you’d have to set it up; I have zero idea how to do a real-time, online back-and-forth that other people can watch live. I know people DO do that … and that’s pretty much the extent of my knowledge on the matter. And in truth, I already know your answer to the only real question that matters here, which is whether or not you feel that being unrepentantly gay is an unforgivable offense against God—a moral abomination; a one-way ticket to hell. Tell me you feel that it’s not—that God has no more interest in whether a person is gay than they do in the color of their hair—and we’ll have ourselves a conversation. Otherwise, let’s do ourselves a favor, and let it go.

    • DR

      It is tearing apart congregations and threatens to divide whole denominations.>>>

      I’m sorry but with all due respect, no one cares about the denominations when gay kids are killing themselves in part or in whole due to the messages these denominations are sending.

      Write a book about that and then I will be interested. As a Christian myself, I’m done caring about the maintaining the flock as it stands today when it as a group and a system is causing so much pain and seems primarily interested in figuring out the next enemy of God (instead of looking within).

      • Stepgs

        DR: You hit the nail on the head! Thank you for this wonderfully accurate and insightful comment.

      • Anonymous

        Very well said as always, DR.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1586314662 Christopher Constant

        I believe what is tearing apart denominations is that people are finally being willing to say to their church leaders: “You are talking about my brother” or “those people are us”; and yet the leaders of those fractious churches aren’t willing to listen to the truth and reflect on the gospel.

        There is a great tearing occurring. A scab of hatred is falling off. A healed flesh is arising.

        • Donwhitt

          A big part of the Thanksgiving table discussion with my family a week or two ago was about “gay churches”. That is, churches where the pastor is gay or a large part of the congregation is gay and the entire church is gay-friendly. My 86 yr-old father and my 85 yr-old step-mom are considering making the move from their somewhat entrenched, conservative small-town church to one of these “gay churches” nearby. They are simply exhausted by the lack of Christianity in Christian churches and attracted to the dynamic, loving environment of these emergent churches.

    • Stepgs

      Many evangelical leaders would have filled a post like the one above with judgment and sarcasm. I commend you, WP Campbell, for maintaining civility even when disagreed with. So many evangelicals today are absolute beasts in dealing with people less evangelical than themselves.

      • Anonymous

        Good job, Step.

    • DR

      Mr. Campbell,

      I read your review. First, I think it’s great that you’re starting a dialogue in the church regarding this topic. A dialogue has already been started, but it’s good to see others challenging the leadership to join in.

      The thing that I think the leadership of the church is facing is what the church has always faced. While it believes it is the definer of morality, it so often – as history proves – lags behind what God’s standard really is for the ethical, loving treatment of those who God has lovingly designed in His image. History unfortunately proves us on the wrong side more often than not when it comes to how we are to esteem and honor those in our society who are otherwise marginalized. Women, are one example. The Christian community entered into the fight for women being able to vote kicking and screaming. Slavery – that was challenging for us to let go of as a christian community, but we finally did. And now, the rights of gay men and women to marry and hold an equal social standing in our country.

      So there absolutely needs to be a dialogue and clearly you possess the courage and the conviction to have it in the first place (which is what a lot of people are too afraid to do). But like so many in our churches, be wise about the doors you’re opening. Perhaps they are not there for you to open anyone else’s mind and heart – perhaps you are about to embark on facing some of your greatest fears that you might actually be wrong about how Christians have traditionally defined sexual immorality. The dialogue you want the churches to have with one another is one that perhaps, God wants to have with you alone.

      As a church, it’s hard for us to really face the ways our beliefs about what the Bible says are just simply inconsistent. We need to learn how to talk about that, not spiritualize it away.

      And lastly Mr. Campbell in a world where kids are literally dying due to being kicked out of their homes by their loving Christian parents because of books like these? Know how deeply accountable you are to that. We are perpetuating a belief that who we want to have sex with is the literal be all and end all to someone being loved, cherished and redeemed by God. That if it somehow doesn’t change, we’re “sexually broken”. We’re all so deeply broken – why we focus on “how we talk about the gays” instead of “how do we make this so small of an issue that gay kids don’t kill ourselves and their parents don’t believe they need to provide them tough love if they don’t change, that “tough love” being abuse or being asked to leave the home?”

      With all due respect. That is your job. Do your job.

      • Anonymous

        Wow.

      • Holly

        “how do we make this so small of an issue that gay kids don’t kill ourselves and their parents don’t believe they need to provide them tough love if they don’t change, that “tough love” being abuse or being asked to leave the home?”……… Thank you, times 10.
        I saw pictures a mob of christians wearing red shirts outside of Honolulu’s State judiciary committee, to show their non-support on bill 444. Bill 444, as I’m sure you can guess, grants legal protection to gay couples and their families, equal to those given to hetero unions. The main question that kept popping up, for me, was: How this could be SUCH a big deal to these people? How did this turn into something this huge? Their time, money, and energy could go to say, putting people through counseling who are on the verge of divorce. Homelessness in Hawai’i is unlike anything I’ve ever seen elsewhere. Gentrification forces them out of their homes and into tents and shelters. Meth abuse is rampant. There are countless people on the island, in true need of something. ANYthing… and THIS is where these christians are spending their time and energy? How are they not ashamed of themselves?
        DR– That one quote sums it up for me. Awesome.
        http://honoluluweekly.com/cover/2009/03/coming-home-3/

    • DR

      Oh and lastly, when someone doesn’t agree with your approach to a topic that is so much more than just a provocative topic? It doesn’t mean that s/he isn’t “taking it seriously”. Conversely, that you want to have a dialogue in order to make sure Christians all still sit in the same building together saying the same things about the gays while children are killing themselves – one might actually think that you’re projecting.

  • Anonymous

    WP: I went to the Amazon page for your book (http://www.amazon.com/Turning-Controversy-into-Church-Ministry/dp/0310321328/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1291716357&sr=1-3), and there learned (under “About the author”), that you’re on the advisory board of OneByOne, “a ministry that equips churches to bring truth and grace to those who struggle with same-sex attraction.” So I went to the website of OnebyOne, and saw that it’s all about how to overcome same-sex attraction (http://www.oneby1.org/story_gwen.html). Bye.

    • Holly

      Well… That’s worrisome. We need a christian response to hidden agendas. It looks like WP Campbell really did write the book on controversy and the current christian response to homosexuality. What a jackass.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric

    I’m thinking your book title should be something like Steve and Bob’s Cabin with a subtitle that somehow incorporates the words: The Shack.

    • Kara

      I lol’ed. (Although I’d be far more likely to read Steve and Bob’s Cabin, I think.)

    • Anonymous

      “Steve and Bob’s Cabin”!! How funny. I love it. “Decorating the Shack.”

    • Holly

      double like!

  • Lee Walker

    [compressing comments for 2 venues here] YAY for Diana A.’s succinct, clear and accurate comments above re: hetero-Xian assumptions. YAY for you, John, on response to WPC. And I’m 100% behind you on the Facebook comments as well, particularly that you should write “the” book. You are also one of my “go to” resources now for referring those stuck in the ‘party line’ thinking.

    • Anonymous

      Bless your heart. Thanks, Lee.

  • Kara

    Yes, John. I so wish you’d take homosexuality and Christianity more seriously. Nineteen posts is obviously too few. Moderating thousands of comments and participating in rigorous and thorough discussions with your readers; who do you think you’re trying to fool? Raising awareness of the Trevor project at one of the most important times in its history? It’s obvious that you don’t take this seriously at…

    …what’s that? Oh! I’m sorry, apparently I had that backwards. Those are the things that show that you take this more seriously than any Christian blogger I’ve ever read. My bad.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, K. I appreciate this, very much.

  • http://gooseberrybush.wordpress.com Gooseberrybush

    I wonder why they came to you in the first place. I mean, do they even read your site? Or do they just assume that you will automatically agree with W.P. Campbell’s prejudices?

    • Anonymous

      I dunno. From what I gather, someone who works with/for the author thought I’d be a good person to review WP’s book. Research fail.

  • RedLefty

    I think the problem is that church members and ministers take bedroom activity TOO seriously already.

    Oppression of gay singles/couples/teens? Worthy of seriousness.

    Sanctity of marriage and discussion of godly definitions of family? Worth of seriousness.

    Claiming that God will burn a man in torment for eternity because he likes dudes instead of chicks? I can’t take that seriously anymore. It’s completely opposite of what I’ve seen in the souls of the gay people I know and love. And if I love them and see them as whole, not broken, I have faith that God will see them as all that and even more.

    • Anonymous

      Nice, Red. Thanks.

  • WP Campbell

    All:

    I’ve been amazed from the start at how quick people on this blog (starting with John Shore’s entry) have been to label a person and book without reading the book or meeting the person. Amazing, really.

    In part I can understand. The conservative side of the Christian church has displayed a sad lack of understanding and compassion about homosexuality. I have been reading the literature for years and felt there was a need for a fresh and more balanced take on the topic. And that is the primary reason I wrote the book. It is primarily targeted for Evangelical Christians and it is primarily a call for them to gain understanding and compassion for people who experience same-sex attractions.

    When I describe “brokenness,” I do so around the contention that we are a broken people in a broken world. I call church members and leaders to realize that they are on a level playing field with gays and lesbians. We each have our weaknesses and struggles.

    The core message of my book, set up in the first three chapters (which you can read online at Scribid: http://www.scribd.com/doc/34072381/Turning-Controversy-Into-Church-Ministry-Sample-Chapters) is that Christ embraced compassion and truth without compromising either. I believe extreme positions that ignore the complexity of issues surrounding our sexuality cause factions in our churches and in our country. We can do better.

    When it comes to morality, I believe God has given timeless guidelines for all of humanity. The same Scriptures that call us to follow standards (whether gay or straight, single or married) also call us to love all people.

    I wouldn’t expect the average person who frequents this blog to agree with everything in the book. It wasn’t written for you, however.

    I do challenge each of you, however, to make sure that you aren’t helping to foster the polarization that has a lock hold on our country.

    Let me add that I take the position of a learner. I don’t have the final word on anything. I read all of John’s blog posts on the gay verses Christian issue. If find it all to be well written and I enjoy John’s humor. I also felt that some of his perspectives were out of balance. I would not want to live in a world where sexuality is devoid of morality. The concern here is not simply homosexuality, but also heterosexuality. It is a concern I have for myself first, and then for others I love.

  • WP Campbell

    All:

    I’ve been amazed from the start at how quick people on this blog (starting with John Shore’s entry) have been to label a person and book without reading the book or meeting the person. Amazing, really.

    In part I can understand. The conservative side of the Christian church has displayed a sad lack of understanding and compassion about homosexuality. I have been reading the literature for years and felt there was a need for a fresh and more balanced take on the topic. And that is the primary reason I wrote the book. It is primarily targeted for Evangelical Christians and it is primarily a call for them to gain understanding and compassion for people who experience same-sex attractions.

    When I describe “brokenness,” I do so around the contention that we are a broken people in a broken world. I call church members and leaders to realize that they are on a level playing field with gays and lesbians. We each have our weaknesses and struggles.

    The core message of my book, set up in the first three chapters (which you can read online at Scribid: http://www.scribd.com/doc/34072381/Turning-Controversy-Into-Church-Ministry-Sample-Chapters) is that Christ embraced compassion and truth without compromising either. I believe extreme positions that ignore the complexity of issues surrounding our sexuality cause factions in our churches and in our country. We can do better.

    When it comes to morality, I believe God has given timeless guidelines for all of humanity. The same Scriptures that call us to follow standards (whether gay or straight, single or married) also call us to love all people.

    I wouldn’t expect the average person who frequents this blog to agree with everything in the book. It wasn’t written for you, however.

    I do challenge each of you, however, to make sure that you aren’t helping to foster the polarization that has a lock hold on our country.

    Let me add that I take the position of a learner. I don’t have the final word on anything. I read all of John’s blog posts on the gay verses Christian issue. If find it all to be well written and I enjoy John’s humor. I also felt that some of his perspectives were out of balance. I would not want to live in a world where sexuality is devoid of morality. The concern here is not simply homosexuality, but also heterosexuality. It is a concern I have for myself first, and then for others I love.

    • Anonymous

      WP: You said, “I’ve been amazed from the start at how quick people on this blog (starting with John Shore’s entry) have been to label a person and book without reading the book or meeting the person. Amazing, really.” There’s nothing amazing about it. You feel that being gay is a weakness to be overcome. Deny that’s your conviction, and we’ll have ourselves a real conversation—which I’ll begin with a sincere apology. Don’t, and we’ll know everything we need to about your book. That’s not “labeling.” That’s just us acknowledging whom you’ve told the world you are.

    • Diana A.

      Okay, so I’m trying to be fair. And, to me, being fair in this instance is reading the chapters which you have provided to see what you are actually saying rather than making assumptions about what you think.

      I am in the process of doing this and I just came across something that made me scream (literally) in frustration. I was going to copy and paste it so that I would not inadvertently misquote you. But when I did so, I ended up with gobble-di-gook (apparently, your pages are encripted), so I’m going to attempt to summarize what I saw and if you feel that I am misquoting you, please feel free to clarify:

      You have five basic descriptions of how a church family can respond to homosexuality, one of which you regard as being strong in both truth and grace and four of which your regard as being various degrees of weak in either truth or grace:

      1) Gay Affirming–you regard as strong on grace and weak in truth, as an ungodly passion. You define gay affirming as believing that homosexuality is inborn, can’t be changed and is a gift from God.
      2) Fearful and
      3) Apathetic–you regard both of these as being weak in one area (grace or truth) and weaker in the other. You also regard these as being evidence of little passion on the part of the congregation.
      4) Gay Bashing–you regard this as being weak on grace and strong on truth and as another ungodly passion. You define this as condemning homosexuality to the point that homosexuals do not feel welcome, even as visitors.
      5) (What you call) “Sold Out to Christ’s Way”–which you regard as being strong in both grace and truth and as a Godly passion. You define this as “a church whose members love homosexuals as much as they love any other member” but “who clearly proclaim that the practice of homosexuality is a violation of God’s purpose.”

      It was number 5 that made me scream.

      Have you ever taken a serious look at the possiblity that the Bible has been misinterpreted when it comes to the issue of homosexuality? (Other issues too, but we’re talking about homosexuality here.) There are so many resources when it comes to the study of this issue, including the More Light Presbyterians (http://www.mlp.org) and Reconciling Ministries Network (http://www.rmnetwork.org), among others. And yet, like so many other conservative Christians, you seem determined to remain ignorant on this issue and to coldly uphold “law” over “grace,” even when your interpretation of the law may be in error.
      Can you not see how some of us might have a teeny, tiny problem with this?
      I’m going to keep reading, but so far I’m sickened by your point-of-view.

      • Anonymous

        And I’m refreshed and inspired by your point of view, Diana.

        • Diana A.

          Thank you.

        • Diana A.

          Thank you.

    • Diana A.

      Okay, I’ve finished reading the chapters. I am now hoping (fervently) that John will read the (entire) book and review it on his blog. Based upon the chapters I have read, I believe there is much dangerous nonsense in your book that needs to be countered and that John is just the person to do it. John, I know you’re busy, but this really needs to be done–if not by you, then by a guest blogger–Kara, DR, somebody.

      • Anonymous

        Anyone who wants to write this review, just lemme know. (Though I’m guessing that at this point Mr. Campbell isn’t going to be sending anyone from this site a free copy to review.) But we’ll work something out. Just lemme know.)

  • Meg

    Dear WP. Frankly, as a Gay Christian, I am sick and tired of being told how broken I am!
    I am no more broken than the next person… well as long as you don’t count the osteo arthritis (which is NOT a punishment for my sin) that has afflicted me since I was born with a malformed neck.

    I’m just a normal, human female who just happens to love another normal, human female. I am a mother, a student, a Christian (though sometimes I shudder to bear that name) a woman, a friend, a writer and a pretty good cook, if I do say so myself.

    All I want from church, or from anyone, is to be left alone. I don’t need you to decide how best to ‘treat’ or ‘approach’ me. If only you could live on day on this side of the fence and understand just how hurtful and insulting those words are! I’ve been driven to despair more than once in my life by this “brokenness” lie.

    Wanna know when I felt the most broken? I’ll tell you, Mr WP! I felt the most broken in 2005 when my marriage of 21 years to a straight male finally broke under the pressure of trying to live a lie for so long. I felt broken when my emotional, mental and physical health finally broke under the pressure to live that lie! Where did that pressure come from? Not from GOD, Mr. WP it came from the church, and people who think it is in any way THEIR business to tell another human being who he or she can love or be attracted to.

    I’m sorry if this come over as being rude, but Sir, you can take your “Approach” to my brokenness and hawk it on some other street corner. We’re all stocked up, here!

    • Anonymous

      Whoomp: there it is.

  • Meg

    *grin* This kind of all started when I got a dirty look for hugging my darling girl earlier today and came to a head while reading WP’s comments here. Somebody was due for a ‘whoomping.’


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