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

Jeff Chu, Author
Jeff Chu. Harper, $26.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-204973-5
Ebook - 384 pages - 978-0-06-235930-8
Ebook - 384 pages - 978-0-06-204975-9
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-06-204974-2
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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.)
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