A little over a month ago, I invited all of you fair readers to read a book together--Andrew Marin's engaging discussion of his journey as a straight evangelical in gay settings, Love is an Orientation. I wondered if his book might provide a way to talk about the important but often challenging topic of homosexuality in religious settings in perhaps a more-productive way than we've yet pulled off on this site.
So, our month has passed, and the time has arrived.
Let me review the ground rules. At this point, this is indeed a book club, meaning that the comments I'm looking for are from those of you who've read Marin's book (or a hefty portion of it) and will largely be about Marin's book (rather than ad hominem comments on homosexuality and religion). If you aren't commenting on your reading of Marin's book, but are opining on the broader subject, sadly, either I or Dan Littauer (who helps edit this site) will likely remove your comment. For the moment, we're going to stick to the subject at hand. :)
Now the broader subject might yet find its way here. I mentioned that Jeff Heidkamp, one of our awesome commenters here, in a fit of naivete, suggested I write an article on something like "Centered-Set Faith and Homosexuality" for the magazine he edits, called Cutting Edge. As I mentioned, I did that, perhaps in my own fit of naivete. I think Jeff liked the article just fine...but it was axed by his highers-up, who wondered if it might be opening a hornet's nest that they weren't ready just yet to open. So it's crossed my mind that I might post my article here...but that, indeed, would open up the broader subject. So we'll save that for a little down the road.
Again, at the moment, we're a mere book club, people.
I'll start with a few of my own opening impressions of Marin's book. I'd read about a third of it when I proposed it to you all, so I was hoping I wouldn't change my mind on it as I continued to read. But no problem there--I loved the book and feel like I learned a lot. I learned a lot of ways not to talk with a gay friend. (Don't refer to someone as a "homosexual" for instance, but as gay, lesbian or "a member of the GLBT community." Helpful tip.) I heard lots of stories that really struck me and seemed really central to my own sense of mission. (I might post on that a bit later too. Maybe it's not surprising, but I've been reflecting recently how all this stuff boils back to a long-standing passion to participate in what some folks a few centuries back might call an "awakening" or, to use more recent terminology, a revival among Western secularists. This really does drive a lot of my choices in life, and Marin's book seems dead on target for that passion.) I was given some, to me, really helpful theological reflections to ponder, from his recounting of Mel White's line of thought (which Marin wasn't endorsing, but which I found very helpful) to Marin's own theological grid, which was also as provocative in all the best ways as any theology I've read in awhile.
I'll stop there for my opening salvo. What struck you as you read Marin's book (oh those of you who have read at least a good chunk of Marin's book)?