100 untimed books: borders

72. borders

72. borders

Imaginary countries have borders, just like any others. If you’re interested in where the Ruritanian border might be, here‘s a good post on the question.

I really ought to move the Bronte juvenilia up here, but that would mean moving the other Brontes there, too, and anyway the Buchans are only on this shelf until I complete the set of the red Nelson edition on the shelf above (not shown), and, and…

I don’t have enough bookcases.

100 untimed books

LGBTQ Christian fiction book recs

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Note: this began as a spontaneous blog post in 2016 and has metamorphosed into an ongoing rec list over the years. I add relevant books to it as I read them, and am always on the lookout for more.

I got chatting on Twitter with the user of the Diverse Church account about books with LGBTQ Christian characters, and how few of these there actually are.

Now, at least part of the reason I wrote one of my own was that I was frustrated with the lack of representation. However, I’ve found a few over the years, and it only seems fair to share the intel. In this post, I’m only listing books I’ve actually read, but in some cases it was a while ago. I’m adding warnings, but there’s always a possibility that I’ll not have remembered something horrible. Proceed at your own risk!

While not all of these end with hugs and puppies, they do start from, or at least eventually arrive at, the assumption that being Christian and being LGBTQ are not incompatible states, and call, in one way or another, for affirmation.

As for things I haven’t read (yet)… I’ve found Jesus in Love to be a very interesting source of recommendations. There’s also the reliqueer tag on LGBTQ Reads. Do add your own – either for individual books or authors, or for rec sites or round-ups – in comments!

On to the books…

 

Michael Arditti, The Celibate. The AIDS crisis and the narrator’s own personal crisis meet head-on. Warning for some gory Ripperology and [spoiler: highlight to read] child sexual assault, connected with gay identity in a way that I found quite distasteful. But ultimately affirms the holiness of queer sexuality.

Michael Arditti, Easter. Set in a London parish over the course of one Holy Week, with multiple storylines playing out across the congregation, seen from multiple perspectives.

Jaye Robin Brown, Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit. US young adult. The narrator is the daughter of a radio minister, is herself a committed Christian, and is an out lesbian. None of which is a problem in Atlanta, but when her father remarries and the reconfigured family moves to a more conservative part of Georgia, she agrees to go back in the closet, just for the time being. Things only get more complicated when she falls for one of the girls at her new church.

Paula Boock: Dare, Truth or Promise. New Zealand teen fiction of the ‘challenges of high school’ type. One of the main characters is Roman Catholic, and there’s a lovely scene with her priest, which meant a lot to me back in the day.

Catherine Fox: Lindchester chronicles (Acts and Omissions, Unseen Things Above, Realms of Glory). Barchester for the modern day, with outright representation of gay and lesbian characters and engagement with the politics.

Radclyffe Hall: The Well of Loneliness. Definitely short in the hugs and puppies department, but I couldn’t leave it off the list, for much the same reasons as those that Kittredge Cherry explains over at Jesus in Love.

Heather Rose Jones: Alpennia series. (Daughter of Mystery, The Mystic Marriage, Mother of Souls). Low fantasy, early nineteenth century, Ruritanian. I ate these books up with a spoon, but I append a health warning as the fantasy element crosses over with the religious element in a way that might not work for everybody. Nevertheless, they do include at least one character who speaks positively and explicitly about the intersection between her faith and her sexual identity, and absolutely deserve their place on this list.

A. M. Leibowitz, Anthem. A worship leader’s confessional song becomes an accidental Christian hit. Particularly entertaining for anyone who’s ever had to stifle a snigger at the unintentional suggestiveness of some worship music.

A. M. Leibowitz, Passing on Faith. The gay son of one homophobic pastor (and brother of another) falls for his affirming Christian neighbour. This is the first in a series; I haven’t read the rest of it yet.

ed. Gabriela Martins, Keep Faith. This anthology of short stories includes two featuring queer Christian girls: “Godzilla” (Kate Brauning), a perceptive examination of what it’s like to be the token same-sex couple in a well-meaning affirming church youth group, and “Whatever She Wants” (Kess Costales), whose time-lapse structure works well to show how its narrator comes to understand who she is and how her faith fits with that. (I reviewed the anthology as a whole here.)

Alex Sanchez: The God Box. American teen fiction, also of the ‘challenges of high school’ type; engages the question head on throughout the book.

Sarah L. Young, Plus One. Another American YA book. One of the narrators is bisexual and (presumably) Roman Catholic; there’s quite a lot of discussion about how her faith affects her reaction to an unplanned pregnancy, but she doesn’t seem to experience any conflict between her faith and her sexual orientation. (Reviewed here.)

Morning people, morning pages (I’m not one and I don’t do them)

Season of bike lights

Season of bike lights

Last week I bought two things – well, I bought several things, but among them were:

I’d flicked through the book in the shop, as you do, but it was only when I’d brought it home and started at the beginning that the irony struck me.

I remembered the problem – my problem, I should say – with Julia Cameron.

Morning pages. Or, rather, her insistence that morning pages are essential, that, before you do anything else, you should dump the contents of your head into a notebook, and that if you have to get up early to do it, then that’s what you should do.

I understand the theory, and I am perfectly willing to admit that dumping the contents of my head into a notebook has been very useful to me on more than one occasion. I just can’t do it every day, and I definitely can’t do it first thing in the morning.

I am not a morning person. I am particularly not a morning person when it’s dark when I have to get up. And I have to get up at six thirty as it is. September hits me like a steamroller, every year, when the morning retreats that little bit further and whatever it is in my head that gets me out of bed stops working. If I were to set the alarm for 6.10am, I would spend the twenty minutes between it going off and my having to start getting ready for work lying in bed hating myself. I’ve tried it.

In fact, I was very happy to realise this morning that it’s now October and therefore not too depressing to look forward to the clocks going back.

And so morning pages are not an option for me. I am not even tempted. At this time of year, any sort of ritual that asks me to get up earlier than strictly necessary is not an option for me. So I’m not doing them.

I will, however, read the rest of the book with interest and an open mind.

It is not exactly news to me that some techniques work for some people and don’t work for others. What’s changed is my reaction to discovering that this is one that didn’t work for me. In past years I’d have given up on the whole thing in disgust. Now I’m prepared to pick and mix.

What I am working on at the moment is retaining the baby – in this case, Julia Cameron’s otherwise humane, compassionate and patient approach to the artistic process – while ditching the bathwater. She runs the bath too hot for me.