By: Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Columnist–
Three recent books about LGBTQ spirituality offer very different insights. In doing so, they underscore how diverse, complex and different a faith journey is for each person.
“Lifting the Spiritual Self-Esteem of the LGBT Community” by Khepra Ka-Re Amente Anu takes on world religions from an African cultural perspective. His tone is angry, militant, impatient and passionate in critiquing religions with his understanding of history, sociology and anthropology. Religion’s artificiality is the common theme underscored by the author. It is made by deeply flawed men and women with insecurities and prejudices. He hopes the book serves as a resource to LGBTQ individuals who are made to feel shame or guilt through religion.
“Magnificent Journey” by Rev. F. Jay Deacon, the former Director of the Unitarian Universalist Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns, has an impressive pastoral and theological pedigree. He defangs fundamentalism (religious extremism) in a gentle, cerebral manner leaving an LGBTQ reader with hope and solace for the present and future. The author is an introspective, very learned man who has a special perspective on religion and spirituality. You get the sense he’s an “old soul.”
Rev. Deacon is a gifted man who is able to take what seem to be very diverse topics and issues and bring them together in prophetic analysis and discussion. His focus is on wholeness, not the duality that often pits people against one another. His book is worthy of seminary study as well as for ordinary folk who explore his or her place as an individual and part of a larger family. In a very “de Chardinian” manner he writes of a “religious vision” and “an evolutionary, integral spirituality – that perceives this roaring Universe of Life as unfolding.”
He acknowledges the angst individuals have on a spiritual journey or just living life and empathizes with it. Rev. Deacon is a spiritual pioneer looking to learn and explore. He invites the reader on a journey of “inescapable purpose as a roaring engine of creativity.”
“The Literary Party: Growing Up Gay and Amish in America” by James Schwartz is an extraordinary collection of poetry. The poems are about love, rejection and awareness. Although these are topics long written about, the poems crafted by Schwartz are very different. They are raw, honest and unpretentious with an underlying struggle to be Amish or understand his childhood faith as an LGBTQ child of God. Each poem is a gem demonstrating spiritual depth and awareness. To that end, I end this book review column with an excerpt from one of his poems:
The feeling of two hearts sealing.
A tribal, mystic rite of healing.
Bruised limbs, congealing to stand.
By dual embrace of heart and hand.
Love unrested lies invested.
Now ours is tried.
Humanity’s humility harks to learn.
The lesson of love in life’s return.
*Paul is an attorney and seminary trained priest. He writes the “Faith, Family, and God” column for TRT. He is Founder of www.CorporateChaplaincy.biz.
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