- Paperback: 206 pages
- Publisher: Resource Publications (July 10, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781532655722
- ISBN-13: 978-1532655722
- ASIN: 153265572X
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #508,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
A Gracious Heresy: The Queer Calling of an Unlikely Prophet Paperback – July 10, 2018
See the Best Books of 2018
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Customers who bought this item also bought
About the Author
Connie L. Tuttle is the pastor of Circle of Grace, a small, progressive, ecumenical, feminist, Christian house church in Atlanta, Georgia. After seminary and before founding the church with a group of spiritual renegades, she directed the Atlanta Hunger Walk and later worked with the Southern Prisoners' Defense Committee. She is committed to social justice and has a passion for cooking and providing hospitality.
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
Showing 1-4 of 6 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
She notes, “As a woman and a lesbian I wear the first hand scars of the injury done to my soul by sexism, heterosexism, and the not so subtle message that I am ‘less than.’ I also carry within me secondary scars of evil… God calls us to confront evil with love… But the activity of love is justice and God enlists human souls to do justice and BE justice as the antidote to evil.” (Pg. 37) She adds, “My experiences gave me the insight and intensified my call to proclaim the Gospel in which there are no ‘others.’” (Pg. 48)
The persistent issue running through the entire book is her struggle to become ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA); no “spoilers” here, but she remembers thinking, “If I can’t be ordained, then what? If the church doesn’t want me, who will? What the f___ are you thinking, God?” (Pg. 19-20) She flashes back and forth to this matter throughout the book.
A self-described “Army brat,” she recounts her family’s travels due to her father’s military career. She recalls times with her father (with whom she had a fine relationship): “‘You can be anything you want,’ he told me. I believed it.” (Pg. 14) Her ecumenism began early: “Summer meant Vacation Bible School at the post chapel… We all, Protestants, Catholics, and Jews shared the same worship space… It is still who I am---a person who believes all religions point to the same God.” (Pg. 16-17)
When, in her late teens, she was arrested for possession of marijuana and was in juvenile detention for three days, “I realized I expected God to be there for me… and sheepishly acknowledged to God that I had not made a commitment back… ‘I am yours, God.’ I made the formal statement … What mattered were the commitment I made and my pledge to keep it.” (Pg. 55)
She also acknowledges, “I AM a Southerner… dishonest at times and frighteningly honest at others… Fearless and fearful, kind and cruel. I am a Southerner even when I wish I weren’t.” (Pg. 57) She recounts warm and loving friendships with people of all ethnicities, but also recalls witnessing incidents of racism and intolerance.
In 1969 (at age 17), she got pregnant from her teenage boyfriend, and they married in a Methodist church; she later realizes, “we were too young… I believed we were soul mates and couldn’t bear it when reality didn’t match my illusions.” (Pg. 69) They divorced after three years. However, her daughter Tanya was a lifelong blessing from this union.
She began to realize that she was a lesbian. Soon, she prayed, “Thank you, God, for helping me figure out who I am! Thank you for making me!” (Pg. 80) She and her partner bicycled around the country, and she thinks, “There should have been a billboard on the road to Northampton, Massachusetts that read, ‘Lesbian Mecca.’ There were lesbians everywhere… My tribe! I had never seen so many visible and out lesbians in one place before.” (Pg. 96) After they switched to a bus, Connie prayed, “‘Our Mother, who are in heaven.’ It felt right. God is my mother.” (Pg. 98) She realizes, “I want to be around other women… I want to … be a part of something bigger than myself… I felt isolated and sad and there was nowhere to go and no one to turn to…” (Pg. 102)
After the relationship broke up, she thought, “I want to know you, God… I looked to God with longing and saw the Light, and saw the Light watching my hand reaching… And I knew that God reached back and that God would always reach back and that God would do God’s work and I would do mine.” (Pg. 108) Not too long after, she found a liberal Presbyterian church: “I felt at home. This might just be my tribe.” (Pg. 113)
She told others, “I feel called to the ministry.” Thus begins her long struggle to enter the ordained ministry. But after admitting she was a lesbian, she was asked, “Can you keep it quiet?” (Pg. 114) She later notes, “I became the first open lesbian at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. The world was changing and I felt like a part of that inevitable change. It was a hopeful time.” (Pg 142) But one particularly insensitive faculty member told her, “There is no place for you in Christian ministry.” (Pg. 169) Still, “I waited for God to make a way out of no way.” (Pg. 176)
At her “professional assessment” for the ministry, she told the committee, “I know some people are frightened … by the idea of a lesbian in ministry. But I have also met many people who have children, siblings or friends who are gay and need to hear the Gospel of liberation, hope, love, and inclusiveness that is the heart of the Gospel… I can speak for those who have no voice… I want my life to be prophetic and my actions to be pastoral… If the Presbyterian Church won’t have me… then I will have to find another way.” (Pg. 182) You need to read this book to find out what transpired. (Yes, that’s a “book plug.”)
This is a heartfelt, engaging, and ultimately positive and hopeful memoir. Who should read (and enjoy) this book? Certainly, “progressive” (aka “liberal”) Christians; and those who view themselves as “spiritual, not religious”; plus those who are part of, or in sympathy with, the LGBTQIA community; as well as those concerned with issues of social justice; and just perhaps—even some conservative Christians not in agreement with the PCUSA’s 2012 actions (allowing inclusion of lesbians and gays to ordained ministry), but who are honest enough to be willing to hear and consider “the other side” of the matter.
Needless to say, I highly recommend this book. Perhaps Connie will favor us with a “sequel,” explaining the formation of the Circle of Grace congregation/community; forming a Christian community of any kind in the modern era is a major undertaking, and the “house church movement” is a fascinating topic in its own right.
However, all that goes out the window when the author identifies herself as a prophet. Leniency is not called for under those circumstances, but rather a vigorous and critical review of her work, and possibly a recommendation the author seek some intense therapy.
The subtitle of Connie Tuttle’s book, A Gracious Heresy reads “The Queer Calling of an Unlikely Prophet,” and I’ll admit I was wary. But I determined to consider the book, first for its literary merits, and then for its message, and see where that left me.
As to the first point, there is no doubt the woman can write. Her prose is fresh, compelling and always engaging. She moves from narrative to dialogue smoothly, never concentrating so much on one or the other that the reader gets bored. For a memoir, it moves at the brisk pace and covers a great deal of ground in a few pages. She generally handles moments of pathos and outrage with restraint, and more than once I found myself laughing out loud at the author’s wry sense of humour. The story of Tuttle’s life is an adventure story, and I confess I was irritated when I had to put the book down and return to the demands of everyday life. In short, Tuttle’s book is a great read.
But what about the message, yes? Even good writers can be completely deluded. Is Connie Tuttle a prophet like she says she is?
I don’t think I’ve ever met a real prophet, so I don’t have that experience to draw from. But if I ever do, would she be any more persuasive than Reverend Tuttle? Would she show the same humility and uncertainty over her own inadequacies as she doggedly perseveres in responding to the insistent call of the Divine? Would she persist in the face of the most hateful opposition from those who call themselves Christian and counter with steadfast gentleness knowing hate comes from fear? Would she work tirelessly for justice for one of the most persecuted sectors of society today, the LGBTQ community, particularly as it pertains to full inclusion in Christian ministry, even if it meant she would be the solitary standard bearer at the beginning? I’m no expert in this area, but I have a strong suspicion Reverend Tuttle is, in fact, what she says she is.
Jesus said, “By their fruits ye shall know them,” and I cannot deny Reverend Tuttle’s message is bearing fruit in my own life. The Presbyterian Church in Canada has referred the question of the ordination of openly gay candidates to committee, and it’s likely it will be five years or more before a decision is reached. How blithely I received this news and how comfortably I’ve abided this injustice. A Gracious Heresy has reawakened in me an activist’s anger and put an end to my self-satisfied neutrality. I’m casting in my lot with Reverend Tuttle and all who, like her, recognise the Divine is doing “a new thing” in our time.
“Now it springs forth. Do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19)