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Does Jesus Really Love Me?: A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America Hardcover – March 26, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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 gaychristian.net, 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. --Ray Olson

Review

“Chu has written a fascinating, thoughtful, and important book. He captures the fractures and conflict at a moment when the issue of what to do with L.G.B.T. people is tearing Christian denominations apart. Does Jesus Really Love Me? deserves to be widely read.” (Dan Savage, New York Times Book Review (cover))

“Jeff’s own story makes me hopeful. It’s one of grace.” (Frank Bruni, New York Times)

“An essential survey description of homosexuality in U.S. churches today that should be read by church members and leaders, and people who care about how U.S. Christians engage with sexual minorities and related issues.” (Christianity Today)

“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.” (Library Journal (starred review))

“The stories [Chu] relates are intriguing. . . . Revealing.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Outstandingly personable and appealing.” (Booklist)

“Compassionate, engaging. . . . Resisting easy answers, Chu deftly portrays the lived experiences of Christians-mostly gay, though not all. . . . Overall, the book brings complexity and humanity to a discourse often lacking in both.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“In telling these stories--chief among them his own--Jeff has done an extraordinary thing, showing us all to the God who is big enough and loving enough and true enough to meet all of us exactly where we’re at. This book is moving, inspiring, and much needed.” (Rob Bell, author of What We Talk About When We Talk About God and Love Wins)

“Finally an examination of Christianity and homosexuality that refuses to demonize either side. A smart and deeply personal exploration of one of the great public questions of our time.” (Stephen Prothero, author of The American Bible)

“Jeff Chu has written a masterpiece about sexuality and spirituality in America. In this unforgettable blend of reportage and memoir, he doesn’t demonize, ridicule, or pander to an ideology. Instead, he explores—and inspires. This is the smartest, and most humane, book about Christianity and homosexuality that I’ve ever read.” (Benoit Denizet-Lewis, author of America Anonymous and American Voyeur)

“People struggling to reconcile homosexuality and Christianity will find much that validates their experiences in Chu’s thoughtful book. Those confused why anyone would attempt to reconcile conservative Christian and gay identities will better understand the dilemmas gay Christians face after reading Does Jesus Really Love Me. (Bernadette Barton, author of Pray the Gay Away: The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays)

“A beautiful, courageous, heartbreaking exploration. . . . Does Jesus Really Love Me? is both a moving personal memoir and a pivotal piece of reporting on what the deadlocked Christian fight over homosexuality is costing human beings, the churches, and our culture.” (David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics, Mercer University)

“This is a book for anyone who believes the church is unbroken, who feels they have no place in a world that disdains them, or who is looking for fellowship amongst courageous travelers striking their own path.” (Lauren Sandler, author of Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement and One and Only: Why Having an Only Child, and Being One, is Better than You Think)

“Jeff Chu is a smart and experienced guide through evangelical battles over homosexuality. . . . [He] leads us beyond the battlefields to unexpected scenes of hope. This is a sobering book, but above all a book of compassionate consolation.” (Mark D. Jordan, author of Recruiting Young Love)

“Jeff Chu’s pilgrimage across America to discover his own place as a gay man in the Christian church as well as attitudes about being gay and Christian across denominations is at once timely, smart, poignant, disturbing, inspiring, and maddening. . . . Essential reading for everybody.” (Donna Freitas, author of The End of Sex and Sex and the Soul)

“A comprehensive, important, illuminating book for anyone exploring these issues.” (Bookriot.com)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (March 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062049739
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062049735
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #732,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Over his eclectic journalistic career, Jeff Chu has interviewed presidents and paupers, corporate execs and preachers, Britney Spears and Ben Kingsley. As a writer and editor for Time, Conde Nast Portfolio, and Fast Company, he has compiled a portfolio that includes stories on megahit-making Swedish songwriters (a piece for which he went clubbing in Stockholm); James Bond (for which he stood on a Spanish beach and watched Halle Berry emerge from the waves over and over and over); undercover missionaries in the Arab world (he traveled to North Africa and went to church); and the decline of Christianity in Europe (he prayed). On the wall of his New York office, you'll find a quote from former Senator John Warner, who once told Jeff: "You're a good little interviewer!"

A California native, Jeff went to high school at Miami's Westminster Christian, where he sat behind Alex Rodriguez in Mr. Warner's world history class. A graduate of Princeton and the London School of Economics, Jeff has received fellowships from the Phillips Foundation and the French-American Foundation, and in 2012, was part of the Seminar on Debates in Religion and Sexuality at Harvard Divinity School. The nephew and grandson of Baptist preachers, he is an elder at Old First Reformed Church in Brooklyn, New York. He loves the San Francisco 49ers, the Book of Ecclesiastes, and clementines. And he detests marzipan more than he can explain in words.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Aoife VINE VOICE on March 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The title really does not do this book justice. It gave the impression that this was going to be another maudlin memoir, another journey of self-discovery filled with angst and complaining (however justly or unjustly) about one's parents. It is anything but that. Rather, this is a masterful work of contemporary journalism in which Chu turns over pretty much every stone in the garden surveying the contemporary Protestant world as it reflects on the role of gay people in the church and society. If you doubt such thoroughness were possible, consider this: in the same 350-page work, he visits MCC ("gay") churches, talks to gay evangelical peacemaker Justin Lee and lesbian CCM star in demi-exile Jennifer Knapp, sits down with a partnered lesbian bishop and a gay evangelical man committed to celibacy, and even has amicable conversation with Fred Phelps himself. Just the probably unprecedented act of going and speaking with and listening to people on such far-flung points of the rhetorical and theological landscape speaks volumes about the spirit of Chu's work and the enormity of its importance. And this sampling barely hints at the number and diversity of the people interviewed in the book.

Chu mostly stays out of the way of his interview subjects and lets them speak for themselves, articulating their widely varying understandings of God, truth, Gospel, and morality. This is a fantastic and lost art of reporting that I greatly appreciate. (One of my few complaints about the book is that when Chu does step in, it often reads as overly snarky in tone, but fortunately such moments are very few.
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43 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Brendan Moody VINE VOICE on April 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
To write his new book, Jeff Chu visited a wide variety of Christian churches across the United States, interviewing members and leaders to uncover the range of opinions on homosexuality. After all that traveling, his conclusions are (1) that there are so many permutations of Christianity that no features exists that is common to all of them; (2) that sometime people remake God into what they want rather than becoming what God wants; and (3) that communication among pro-gay and anti-gay Christians is difficult and frequently impossible. If none of these strike you as especially novel conclusions, the sort of thing it would take a book and 25,000 miles' worth of travel to work out, DOES JESUS REALLY LOVE ME? is unlikely to be worth your time.

The book is heavy on interviews with well-intentioned and thoughtful people who aren't especially articulate or insightful, so their stories of coming to terms (or not) with their own homosexuality or that of others tend to blur together, as do the many potted histories of splits and other internal dramas. Chu himself doesn't seem to be a particularly rigorous thinker; his brief judgments on various churches he visits are instinctive and smack of a bland middle-of-the-road-ism. The churches that hate gay people are, of course, unacceptable, but so is the one where (horror of horrors) a couple men are mildly flirtatious during the service. The one church that notably wins his approval-- manages to be gay, but not TOO gay-- is praised for its theological rigor, which is surprising, since theological rigor has not been a feature of Chu's own writing, which tends to put forth his own religious preferences as natural goods.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Labarum VINE VOICE on July 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
First let me state that Jeff Chu seems to be a really nice guy. Even better, "Does Jesus Really Love Me" is very well written and each chapter would make an interesting article. However, what was not addressed makes as much of a point as what was addressed.

The book details Chu's interaction with those in the thick of the controversy over the place of gays in the Church and how the Church should react. Interspersed between them are personal testimonies. Much of it makes interesting reading. The problem is that it all becomes predictable and avoids the big picture issues. While we get much on personal struggles with family and friends, the policies of various churches and how things might change in the coming years, and other issues one might call psychological or sociological, it avoids anything theological. There is little on how someone with same-sex attractions might reconcile their actions (if they choose to do so) with Christian teaching and the Biblical witness. Merely chalking things off to being "old fashioned" or "out of touch" has little of substance. The closest the book comes to touching the subject is when those who chose to lead celibate lives mention that God does not approve of sexual relations between two men or two women, but even there it is presented matter-of-factly with little in the way of deep consideration.

After reading the book, I have to wonder what those mentioned think of Jesus and the idea of God in general. At points it seemed more of a comfortable abstraction that one held for some sense of cultural attachment without having to get thinking about such ideas as sin, atonement, and repentence. Where does that fit in Jeff Chu's version of Christianity? I was hoping to find out; I never did.
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