One Less Lonely Person

In the evening of April 16th, 2013, on a whim after having seen it on Amazon on a recommended list, I purchased the book “Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate” by, Justin Lee. At roughly 5:40 a.m CST, as a thunderstorm raged and lit up my room with flashes of light, I finished the book whilst curled up in my blankets with my smartphone plugged into my charger as the Kindle app ran continuously. I couldn’t get enough of the book and the reasoning for this is pretty clear to me. Once again, in the middle of the night, God was letting me in on something; I am not alone.

I know, I know; simple right? You’d think so for most people, but as someone who is both gay and a Christian, this feeling is more prevalent than you would think.

Justin and I share much of the same story, though there are some deviations throughout. We both grew up in homes where both parents were incredibly loving. We both grew up in the South (in the good ol’ Bible Belt). We were both raised in Christian homes. The deviation comes when we take into account things like my being molested by multiple men in my life. Justin wasn’t (this is actually a discussion point in his book). Despite the differences, reading through his book was like reading a template of my life’s progression. As he chronologically ventured into each area of his life, I found myself becoming more and more captivated by what would occur, if only because I wanted to know how alike our stories were. I wanted to know if he encountered the same things I did. I again wanted to know that I wasn’t alone.

Justin eloquently delves through the journey of his life, pitting the traditions of the Church against the experiences of himself and others. He doesn’t do so in a way that is flippant of either side of the tracks. This isn’t a gay Christian lawyer versus the evangelical Christians of today. This is a man who has been making, and is still making, his journey through understanding how sexuality interacts with Christianity. There is no “Us-vs-Them” dichotomy in the book, merely an experiential outline and struggle. Justin’s views stated in the book aren’t easily come to. Though there are many gay Christians who decide that, based on experience, they can’t make themselves straight so being gay MUST be OK, (Justin addresses this view in the book) Justin isn’t one of those people. He fights with the scriptures and wrestles with them before forming and then elaborating on his positions in this debate.

I had known of Justin before reading his book, but only in a passing manner. Other gay friends of mine had mentioned him to me and had mentioned his network. I had read his stance on gay relationships through his page here and had agreed with much of it, but hadn’t gone much further than that. I was midway through the book before I looked him up on Google and was like, “Oh yeahhh. That guy.” What I had known of him before was good, but reading this book made me respect him.

As someone who loves a good debate, one of the things I can’t stand is when people hold beliefs that they can’t defend; or when they defend them in a flippant manner such as, “I just believe this.” I love hashing out ideologies and reasonings and listening to people’s apologetics. To me, it’s a sign that someone has come to their belief through good critical thinking and time. Justin is one of the people I would get along with in debates, for he is such a person. I can’t recommend this book to my friends enough. Especially with the way current events bear down on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, books like this shine a light in a really dark room.

Justin’s book takes a look at all sides of the debate whilst not painting anyone as a “villain.” There are people and stances he takes issue with, but never in a condescending or condemning way. Even if you don’t agree with the theology in the book, there’s no way you could read it and feel unloved. Justin is a shining example of Christ’s unconditional love for all, and that light shows itself throughout the pages. Pick up this book. Seriously.

Print

Amazon: Here

Barnes & Noble: Here

Official Site: http://www.tornbook.com/

Good Lord, September was Great for Music!

A bunch of fantastic artists dropped new albums this past month of September. P!nk, The Killers, Green Day, Mumford & Sons, Imagine Dragons, etc… There was a plethora of brilliance that hit the music industry. Here are some albums that you should pick up:

I had bought the Imagine Dragons “Continued Silence EP” earlier in the year and this full album, their first, is an awesome blend of heavy beats with alternative rock. Sometimes that’s a weird blend. “Radioactive,” the album’s opening track, uses those heavy beats (an almost dubstep sound) throughout. Meanwhile, tracks like “It’s Time” end up summoning a more “Mumford & Sons” sound (this is definitely a good thing).

This album gets a 4/5 for me. I’m excited to hear more from them.

I am a devout Matthew West fan. I think he’s one of the most talented songwriters in our day and age. Each consecutive album he’s released has just been better and better. After “Story of Your Life,” an album completely inspired by stories that people sent in, I was eager to listen to “Into the Light,” for the same reasons. “Forgiveness,” “Do Something,” and “We Are The Broken” are some of my favorite tracks throughout. He just knows how to write songs that speak to people whilst still having them “sing-along-able.” :] He’s 4 for 4 on albums in my book.

This one gets a 5/5 from me. One of my favorite albums of all time.

¡Uno! is a return to the sound of old for Green Day. This is a heavier album than both American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. There are no ballad tracks to be heard on this outing. ¡Dos! and ¡Tres! will be out in the months to come, and maybe those may have some of the sound of the two concept albums, but this is still a great set of tracks for the band. “Nuclear Family” has the sarcastic/anti-authority bite we’ve come to expect from the band. “Kill the DJ” is one of those tracks that places Green Day firmly into the pop-punk genre that they’ve played around with in the past.

3/5 here. Waiting for the next two companion albums to thrill me.

After the release of the single “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” and the leak of “The King is Dead (But the Queen is Alive)” I was incredibly excited for a new outing from P!nk. Funhouse was a phenomenal album and I wanted more of it. The Truth About Love is of course, a more “love” oriented album. My favorite track for now is “True Love.” It’s a poppy piano blend about the trials of loving/hating someone at the same time; the struggles of any relationship. “Slut Like You” brings the heavy rock sound of yore to the album whilst “Beam Me Up” brings the ballad. This album is a fantastic outing by P!nk, but in my opinion, Funhouse is still her best album to date.

4/5 here.

The Killers always aim to please and this album is no different. This is the album that has been making the most rounds through my media players and headphones. It’s fairly difficult to find a track on the album that’s merely decent, because they’re all so GREAT. “Flesh and Bone,” “Be Still,” “Here With Me,” “Battleborn;” the hits keep coming throughout the album. I also got the deluxe edition, and those three tracks offer some great additions to the album as well, with “Prize Fighter” being my favorite track of the whole album. “Battleborn,” the title track, has a weird effect, in which the sound becomes louder (like, volume-wise) midway through the track, seemingly for no reason. I downloaded it multiple times just to see if it was me and it wasn’t. This only detracts a little bit though. The Killers once again released a stroke of brilliance into the music arena.

This one earns a 5/5 from me. Albums don’t get much better than this.

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I haven’t had a chance to listen to Mumford & Sons’ “Babel” or No Doubt’s new album, among other ones that were released. If you have, let me know what tracks I need to listen to first, or whether or not I need to pass them up altogether! Sound off in the comments!