Wednesday, November 5, 2008

BOOK REVIEW: BULLETPROOF FAITH: A Spiritual Survival Guide For Gay And Lesbian Christians

If you are a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender Christian, how do you feel when someone calls you a fag, a dyke, a sissy, a pansy, or any other hateful, derogatory name? How do you feel when others, such as family members, and even professing Christians, seek to deprive you of civil rights and call you an abomination in the eyes of God? How do you feel when clergy preach against you and what they call your “homosexual lifestyle” and demand that you give up “the sin of homosexuality” in order to become “right with God” or else you’re going to hell? How do you feel when even family members discriminate against you, and make it very clear that they don’t accept you for who you are?

Now, how do you handle those feelings, and what do you think about the person hurling one or more of those epithets at you? I guarantee that after you read Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide For Gay And Lesbian Christians, by the erudite and eclectic Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge, you will finally understand the psychological and spiritual strategies that you may employ to not only neutralize the effects of the hurt that you understandably feel, but translate those insults and that hurt into further psychological and spiritual growth, as well as help move the struggle for full and equal civil and sacramental rights for GLBT people forward.

As Rev. Chellew-Hodge writes: “Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people are in exile—cast out from our homes, our churches, our jobs, and our society. We are ostracized and oppressed by dogma, tradition, and legislation. We are a wounded and outcast people, desperate for a word of hope from the one who loves us most.” (Pp. 151-152)

Fortunately, this book that is one of a kind gives concrete methods by which GLBT people can both contend with personal and institutionalized homophobia and also lead happy lives while so doing! Rev. Chellew-Hodge uses her own considerable experiences, other eclectic sources, and her keen insights that puts into a healthy perspective essential psychological and spiritual coping mechanisms that is a breath of fresh air in dealing with the sufferings, heartbreaks, and anxieties attendant upon attacks by those who seek to both demean and distort both the Bible and the reality of GLBT people’s sexuality and very lives.

When one is castigated by virtually all institutions within society, as well as by one’s family, neighbors, pastors, and strangers for who he or she is, and is threatened with being rejected at a moment’s notice for the same reason, one is understandably defensive, angry, and afraid. Indeed, the psychological damage such exclusion and oppression engenders can be overwhelming, and cause much emotional turmoil, often resulting in disengagement from others, self-destructive behaviors, assorted emotional illnesses, and even self-loathing.

The GLBT Christian is likely to suffer from such oppression at least as much as the GLBT non-Christian, as he or she has long been exposed to spiritual vilification with hateful messages that tell him or her that God can’t possibly love that person; that person is going to hell if he or she doesn’t repent of “the sin of homosexuality”; the “homosexual lifestyle” is an abomination before God; that person is an abomination before God; the destruction of society is largely due to his or her very existence. How is the GLBT Christian to deal with such vilification, oppression, discrimination, and hate and the emotional feelings that they engender?

This excellent book fills a much-needed gap in the literature! It shows the seamless reconciliation between being a Christian and being a GLBT person; provides down to earth practical advice and coping strategies for the GLBT Christian. Other books that seek to show that reconciliation deal with assorted Scripture verses that are erroneously used by many professing Christians seeking to prove that homosexuality is a sin, and there are many such excellent books available to all Christians, Gay and Straight (A list of many of them can be found in the Appendix of her book.), that finally lays to rest any such erroneous contention.

It is this one book, however, which meets a need that no other book of which I’m aware even addresses. That is, it provides down to earth, concrete, ways of thinking and interacting with one’s oppressor whereby the GLBT Christian can neutralize the devastating effects of homophobia on the one hand and on the other hand also improve the quality of his or her psychological and spiritual life.

Rev. Chellew-Hodge shows an easy familiarity with the Bible, learning and rejoicing at least as much in the questions it poses as in the answers it gives, and highlights its essence as it applies to GLBT Christians without either torturing certain seemingly offending passages or relegating the Bible to some idolatrous embodiment of God, Who is best and most confidently seen in one’s very own life experience that, she affirms, is the only viable means by which to sustain and reinforce our faith.

This very well written, easily readable book delivers on its promise that it: “…empowers readers to withstand even the most aggressive assaults without fear, doubt, or anger by providing a useful working knowledge of biblical history; solid, proven tactics that can be used successfully when faced with an attack; spiritual practices…that enhance and strengthen faith; practical tools to discover one’s ‘authentic self’... [and] guidance on how to turn attacks into opportunities for spiritual growth.”

Indeed, I feel confident in saying that every GLBT Christian who reads this book will approach his or her spiritual life, the world, and those perceived as his or her “enemies,” in a new, refreshing way that will most assuredly redound to the benefit of his or her emotional and spiritual health.

Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide For Gay And Lesbian Christians is truly a life-changing book! It provides psychological and “Spiritual Survival Tips” that will open the eyes of the reader to productive ways of experiencing, processing and handling homophobic attacks, virtually guaranteeing that his or her life will be immeasurably improved.

If you read only one book this year, Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide For Gay And Lesbian Christians, should be that book!

Click This Link To Purchase The Book.
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