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

Booklist Reviews 2013 February #1
Lifelong Evangelical Christian Chu well knows the answer to the familiar song. It's, "Yes, Jesus loves me!" But as a gay man, he's wanted reassurance--really loves me? He took to the road to see how and why other Evangelicals answer the question, specifically when it comes to being gay. As his warmly plain-speaking report of his travels discloses, he found vast reluctance to say that Jesus doesn't love gays, assurance from many churchmen and gay believers that he does, and cordiality even among those who scream, "God hates fags!"--yes, he visited Topeka's infamous Westboro Baptist Church. He also encountered past and present members of ex-gay ministries, straight couples who support gay marriage, intentional gay celibates, the founder of the social medium, leaders of gay-welcoming Evangelical churches and of Metropolitan Community Church (the so-called--by others--gay Evangelical denomination), parents and friends of gays, and faithful young gays who remind him of himself. Though sometimes skeptical of his informants, Chu presents every one of them positively, which makes his book outstandingly personable and appealing. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 February #1
A gay Christian's exploration of homosexuality in the American church. Curious as to why Christians in America take such radically differing stances on the issue of homosexuality, Chu set off on a yearlong quest for answers, meeting and interviewing many people from across the range of viewpoints on this issue. Though the author introduces readers to his personal story, the narrative is focused on the people he encountered on his journey. Chu provides ample commentary about those he meets, but he does a good job appearing as their interlocutor, not as the center of attention. At the conservative end of the spectrum, the author visited rabidly anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, where he was surprised by the affability and near-normalcy of many parishioners. His candid meeting with Westboro founder Fred Phelps is a highlight of the book. Chu also explored Harding University in Arkansas, where he learned what it is like for students who are gay on one of America's most conservative college campuses. At the other end of the spectrum, Chu visited two primarily gay Metropolitan Community Churches in San Francisco, which he found "more focused on people than on God" and where he was hit on for the only time in his journey. He also explored a Lutheran church expelled from its denomination over the issue of gay ordination. Between these two extremes, Chu met many individuals whose stories are compelling--e.g., former evangelist leader Ted Haggard, people who lost their faith after coming out, a celibate gay clergyman and a straight woman who knowingly married a gay man. Chu's writing is informal, sometimes overly hip, but the stories he relates are intriguing. Yes, Chu concludes in his revealing book, Jesus really loves him. Other Christians? The jury's still out. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2012 November #1

Time magazine writer and Fast Company editor Chu offers personal reflections while considering the clash of faith, politics, and sexuality in Christian America.

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Library Journal Reviews 2013 March #2

Dismayed and confused by the homophobia prevalent in many Christian denominations, Chu, raised a Southern Baptist, went on a personal pilgrimage to examine what it means to be both gay and Christian in America today. Crisscrossing the country from Nashville to San Francisco, he visited churches and other religious institutions from the notoriously homophobic Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas and the "ex-gay" Exodus International, headquartered in Florida, to the gay-positive Metropolitan Community Churches in San Francisco and Las Vegas. The people he encountered are as wide-ranging and include agnostics, a celibate, a gay man married to a woman, and a lesbian, Anglican bishop. The book is dotted with personal testimonies and a running email correspondence between the author and a young, closeted Christian man. Throughout, Chu balances clear-eyed objectivity with nonpatronizing humanity for even the most dogmatic homophobes. VERDICT Poignant, at times painful, and spiced with wry humor, this is a must-read for LGBT people on their own spiritual journeys or anyone interested in reconciling religion with sexuality.--Richard J. Violette, Victoria P.L., British Columbia

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 December #1

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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