- Paperback: 276 pages
- Publisher: Personal Success Australia; Revised edition (September 28, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0994152418
- ISBN-13: 978-0994152411
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 41 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #321,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Life of Unlearning - a preacher's struggle with his homosexuality, church and faith Revised Edition
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'Anthony shares his life with us with all the colour that a story-telling evangelist can capture. The honesty of his story is compelling. His story faces the hard issues, HIV/AIDS, Suicide, Sexual Assault, Relationships, Marriage, Parenting, Domestic Violence, Loneliness, Guilt, Shame, Rejection, Love and Sex. He has nothing to hide and it is refreshing. I recommend this book as a non-threatening way to understand and process the issues of sexuality and spirituality; however, I can't say you may not experience discomfort as the honesty in these pages invites you to be honest in your own life. Read it if you dare.'
Dr Wendell Rosevear - O.A.M., M.B.,B.S., Dip. RACOG., FRACGP.,
'There is scarcely a page that does not engage you personally..........nothing is held back. Some will find Anthony's story disturbing and confrontational and others will find it liberating and an example of the triumph of the individual human spirit. For those who want to understand human frailty, courage and personal redemption it is an invaluable resource. I highly recommend it.
Roger Fedyk, Sydney Morning Herald Margo Kingston's Webdairy
'Ultimately, as the theme that emerges is about being true to yourself, 'A Life of Unlearning' should be compulsory reading for every man, woman and child in Australia, whether gay or straight, young or old, religious or non-religious.'
Gary Fishlock Editor of SX Magazine part of the Gay News Network
In this well written autobiography, Anthony Venn-Brown takes the reader on a remarkable journey ....... a heartfelt story of someone attempting to reconcile two disparate, but equally powerful, elements of his life - his sexuality and his faith. Anthony wonderfully invokes growing up in Sydney in the nineteen fifties and his prose really rings true for a first time author. As our exploration of who we truly are always affects those closest to us, and it is their pain that echoes through this book. Through it all, however, we come to see the essential nature of 'character,' despite the dramatic changes of scenery along the way.'
'Anthony's book is well-written, a 'must-read' for all (adult - though some may disagree with that) Christians, especially Christian leaders. It's confronting, occasionally (appropriately) explicit, irenic, sad, honest, and well-researched. There's a commendable integrity about his approach.'
Rev Dr Rowland Croucher, John Mark Ministries
From the Back Cover
"Jason's love unraveled the cloak of denial I'd wrapped myself in for years. For weeks, I'd felt alive. Reality and love touched me so profoundly, I'd been willing to forsake everything to be with him. How could it have gone so devastatingly wrong?"
A chance encounter thrust former high-profile preacher Anthony Venn-Brown through a devastating maze of public scandal, rejection, and isolation. With everything gone and no answers to the questions, his life of unlearning begins. You'll be moved, challenged and inspired by this brutally honest account of Anthony's journey to authenticity.
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At one time I was in the same church congregation with Anthony and his family. I knew/know them well although at the time of his humiliating degrading `fall from grace' standing down from ministry, episode of his life, we, my family and I had moved on to another congregation. Of course via the `Chinese whispers and smoke signals', we had heard some of the story, albeit mostly `gossipy' and just stories!
So then, to read this, his revised version of the original book, has overwhelmed me. The very institution, `the church' that is supposed to protect and nurture, at best, did no more than lip service. At worst they've turned their backs on a `friend', `college' and fellow Christian Totally unbelievable almost unforgivable.
However, Anthony, a resilient and intelligent man has over time been able to not only forgive but return to his faith through `His Life of Unlearning'. He's a brilliant man. I do admire his courage.
The Kindle version, my first Kindle read...I found easy to read albeit the subject somewhat graphic and truthful, confronting and because of this at times difficult read.
The biography has helped me with my thought process regarding the `church' and its journey of acceptance/non-acceptance of GLTB peoples within our communities.
I am for the past four years a non-church attending Christian who has made the decision to stay just that, non-attending, until there is acceptance within the institution of `church' for GLTB peoples as opposed to in `ignorance' just tolerance of them within congregations.
I wish Anthony all the best with his future of educating/nurturing those who've been damaged by the `church' and society. His is certainly a story of being able to turn a negative into a positive. Lemon to lemonade...good for you Anthony
The journey of theVenn-Brown’s was particularly harrowing. He hoped that a life of service in his faith community would deflect him from his inner urges. He was conditioned to believe they were wicked and should be driven out. With the most earnest of intentions he believed he could be made whole through service, confessions of his sinfulness, exorcism even. But after so many fresh starts, the underlying reality of his homosexuality remained.
Anthony’s story reads like a novel to me. I kept thinking this is fiction, it couldn’t have happened to one man. His style is engaging, honest and raw even, in telling it how it is to be trapped by a belief system that says his ‘condition’ is evil and the work of the devil. Anthony is a great storyteller and communication is the gift he gave in his work for his church. If you are anything like me you will be swept along by his narrative and find yourself reading late into the night.
From the darkest and most tortured times he has found peace with himself and his family. What a continuing tragedy that the Christian churches by an large are yet to make peace with our tribe.
Just read this book. Weep and rejoice in the lows and highs. If the book gives you a new understanding of how we relate to those who are ‘different’ it will have done its work.
A PS if I may. In the book ‘This Remarkable Gift: being gay and Catholic’ is a lovely warm-hearted quote by Lynne Lavner. It goes like this:
'The Bible contains six admonitions to homosexuals
and three hundred and sixty-two admonitions to heterosexuals.
That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love heterosexuals.
It’s just that they need more supervision.'
In many ways, I found my own life unfolding in just about every page of this soul-baring autobiography. I was not familiar with Venn-Brown’s story, so this book was a real page-turner for me. I identified completely with his struggles and was wishing I’d had this book 35 years ago when I went to Bible college. Even more so, I wish I’d had this book 24 years ago when I married a wonderful women believing I could conquer “the gay.” And 20 years later I would divorce her even though she was willing to give me space to work things out.
I’d been on that “work-it-out” road too many years and had learned like Anthony that it’s really not possible to change your sexuality. That may be a shocking statement to many Christians who believe “all things are possible.”
To those like Anthony, me and many other Christians who’ve struggled with homosexuality, church and faith, there’s freedom in finally realizing we can’t change. There’s peace in at last loving ourselves the way we are. Truly you can’t love others when you don’t love yourself.
I’ve personally had years of depression lifted from my shoulders and for a change I’m looking forward to the years ahead. I wish I could put this book in the hands of every pastor, parent, spouse or loved one who has pushed someone to believe they can change their sexuality. I hope every person who’s in the midst of the struggle right now reads this book and finally finds peace.