The Cross in the Closet
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130 of 133 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2012
I have held the concept of this book at a distance since I first heard about it. Lying about being gay as a social experiment? I wasn't sure I could endure reading a book that retells the tale of lying about sexuality in order to make a point.

But then I read the book. And I discovered that Timothy Kurek was not conducting a social experiment, but was on a quest, a deeply personal quest to identify with a community of people he once abhorred and condemned. Perhaps in some ways it was also a quest of penance to redeem himself from his past homophobia. The stories he tells certainly thread together into a tapestry of renewed thinking and changed perspective.

Even though I had my qualms about Tim concealing who he really was even to family and friends in his quest of discovering "the other," his storytelling reveals that he was experiencing what many gay citizens around us already know : that concealing who you are is detrimental to your soul. It was a brilliant reversal of a straight man putting his straightness in the closet and acting gay in order to be associated and accepted among the gay community in Nashville. It is well established that many gay men and women act straight for the same reason.

The book is a quick read. Tim is a great storyteller. It's a memoir, not a definitive authority on gay culture or theology which he is quick to point out. Written with candor, grit and stripped of the all-too-familiar sanitized tone of most Christian books, The Cross in the Closet is a refreshing book.

This book could be especially helpful for those who care to see the human drama under all the debates about whether or not being gay is a sin. Tim brings the reader into his quest as he discovers not just the cross in the closet, but also humanity.
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69 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2012
It's not often I find myself interrupting my reading with shouts of "finally a straight guy who gets it!" This is a wonderfully empathic true story about Tim's immersion experiment: living with the label of gay. As a gay man who was raised in the conservative faith I found myself feeling a kinship with Tim as he uncovered the reality of my own frustrations of living, both before and after I came out, as a gay person in the Church and in society. I am certain that this work will be an eye-opening and challenging book to those who are attempting to wrestle with these issues. Thanks, Tim, for being so brave!
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2012
I am amazed that Tim was able to stick with his commitment through everything. It seems like it would have been so easy to walk away and quit. It is inspiring to see someone care so much about the "other" in his life that he is willing to work so hard to try and understand just a small part of their life. If only more people would do this with other issues in life that separate them from their neighbor. What an inspiration.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2012
Tim's amazing story---amazing not so much for the people and experiences he encountered, as for his own heart and the transformation he underwent---takes him from Nashville to New York to Portland, but takes his heart on a far longer journey than that. Tim is one of the few Christians I've known (speaking as a lifelong Christian myself, for some 50 years now) who---gasp!---actually aimed to walk the talk of what Jesus said and of how he loves people, and as happens any time that people do that, it changes them from the inside out. In Tim's case, it changed his religious bigotry into genuine love for people. I'm also bisexual, and I've dealt with some of the situations and conflicts that Tim and some of those around him have dealt with, from "both sides" of the religious aisle, and where Tim ended up is simply where anyone who wants to be honest with themselves and others will end up: accepting and loving people for who they are, not for who we want them to be. I've also been very privileged to have gotten to know Tim personally, and he is every bit as remarkable and genuine a person as you see him in his book.

Tim's words put it best, of course:

"I wonder what would happen if--instead of preaching from soap-boxes and shouting through megaphones, or spending millions on political campaigns meant to hinder the rights of the gay and lesbian community--what would happen if we ... shut our mouths and simply served the people in our neighborhoods and cities, without an agenda? Would the message of Jesus survive? ... I think so.

"For the first time in a long time, I feel whole. Not because my eyes have been opened to a 'new way of life,' because there is nothing new about this. Love is the original way."
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2012
Let me give it to you in fairly short terms.. I am a straight guy, from Nashville, who went to a small Christian college similar to Mr. Kurek's.. I come from a VERY stable traditional home life. I am a Christian.. Now that we have that out of the way..

10 years ago = Me as a homophic person who hates gay people or anyone not like me!
5 years ago = Me realizing I have some friends who are gay. Still homophobic and trying to come to terms.
3+ years ago = Me meeting Mr. Kurek through a very random aquaintace (total God thing) a couple months before the end of his "experiement".
2 years ago = Learning some of the components from Tim that you will read in this book. As a result, I realized that after 30+ years of claiming to love Jesus, I hadn't "loved my neighbor as myself" all because of the title "Gay".
Today = Don't have all the answers but I know this. No longer homophobic but, approach all people with the love of Christ!

Thankful Tim wrote this book. I guarantee this book with stretch you no matter where you are in your walk with life on this ball we all share called Earth!
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2012
Tim Kurek came out of the closet for a year. He told his family, friends and church congregation that he was gay. Reality is, he wasn't.

I've read a lot of feedback from haters that have judged both Tim's motives and his message. Some say he did this to write a book and get rich. Others say his project couldn't have been good (or blessed by God) because it was based on deception. They just want to label Tim a liar.

I'd like to set the record straight if a voice from the inside can offer any clarity.

I walked through this project with Tim from the fourth month of his year-long experience. I was one of the few that he processed with during this experiment. But i really don't like calling it that, because it was more about a personal stretch than it was seeing if he could trick people into believing he was gay and have an expose to write when he was finished.

This is not a book about what life looks like as a gay man - Tim isn't gay so he never could write from that perspective.

This is not an attempt to get rich - there were opportunities to get this book published by mainstream publishers that would have gone all out to promote the book, but they wanted Tim to change it and write it in a way to make it more marketable. Tim wouldn't do it, even though he would be giving up a huge advance and ended up having to fund raise to get this book published they way it needed to be, with a publisher that he could trust to leave his story unadulterated.

The Cross in the Closet is a book about Tim dealing with his inner pharisee. Tim was a bigot, just like you and me. He treated people differently because of their labels. His heart was drawn to go after this bigotry in his own life with a vicious strategy - put the label he despised on his own back.

Could I do that? Would I be willing to set aside my own identity and incarnate myself into something I wasn't just so I could relate to that people group? Probably not. I probably protect my inner pharisee too much to crucify him that way. Timothy though was done being guided by his pharisee so he drug him outside of the temple to touch the same precious people Jesus did.

Has it worked? I've had Tim as a guest in my home. I've been a guest in his apartment. I've spent a weekend with him at a Christian festival and traveled with him to Seattle in hopes of viewing a gay pride parade. I've watched how he treated my wife, my children, his friends, his neighbors and total strangers. He has introduced me to some of the friends in his book and I now count them as mine as well.

I guess what I am saying is that Tim's life, his story, his very personal stretch has affected my life. I am not in the same place to walk in someone else's shoes the same way that Tim has, but I have found great value in his journey. His story is worth reading.

The only people who have a right to judge Tim are those he purposely misled for a year. He doesn't dodge that issue, in fact it plays very prominently in what he writes. I unashamedly cried as I read the stories of reconciliation in the last chapter.

Next time you look at someone and the first thing that comes to mind is a label, consider what living with that label for a year would do to you. And if you can't begin to imagine, then pick up The Cross in the Closet because it may just give you an idea.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2012
If I had an unlimited supply of money I would order this book by the case and pass it out to everyone I know. Timothy Kurek's account of his year living with the label "Gay" is one of the most powerful testimonies I have ever encountered of the reality of God's continuing ability to change hearts and minds about "the Other" as well as a powerful rebuke to those of us within the Christian church about how we treat those with whom we disagree. In the tradition of "Black Like Me", Tim's immersion in the GLBTQ world in the city of Nashville, Tennessee is a fascinating read. I highly recommend it.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2012
I have never met the author but I feel a kinship for Tim. I would never have been as brave as he was to take such a radical step, but over the last 5 years I have been confronting these same issues in my life. Some how the beliefs, I was taught and was clinging to, distressed me when it came to how they impacted and damaged people around me.

I got the book at midnight and started reading and just couldn't put it down. He writes in a way that is easy to read very personal and compelling. He acknowledges that he is not an expert in any sense of the word on LGBT issues and concerns but he is telling his story of coming out of the closet and living "gay" for a year. The emotions that he experienced are powerful look at what happens to people who are gay when they announce to their family and friends.

Whatever your opinions of the church and its views on LGBT you should read this book and think through how people are being impacted around you by the way beliefs are taught and implemented. Questions are raised that need to be answered not in a doctrinal statement but in a manner of life and love.

Several of the chapters were so intense and deeply emotional that i was weeping and felt like I was in Tim's shoes experiencing the pain of the people around him. Deeply moving. It has changed my life.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2012
Thank you so much for this book.

I have been through a lot of the same experiences as you, and have seen many friends be driven to suicide by being rejected by their religious families and churches.

I am straight myself, but am very much a gay rights advocate now. It is ironic that some years back I was someone who much have been very annoying to sit next to on a bus, and it took going to Bible College to turn me into a liberal atheist who stands up for those who the church would reject.

I read the whole book in one sitting. I will read it again. Our stories are so close to each others that I could not help but feel swelling emotion, and normally I'm a pretty tough guy.

I'm not a believer, but god bless you anyway.

To anyone else reading this message, please buy this book, read it, and try to be a light to those who are outcast in this world.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2012
Amazing! I have never read a more human and personal account of a challenging journey. Very happy to see the reaction of a straight man experiencing the life he'd vilified and seen persecuted. And then to read about his experiences *within* the LGBTQ community. Great read. Recommended!
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