Saturday, 28 July 2012

Review: A Life of Unlearning – a journey to find the truth’

A Life of Unlearning – a journey to find the truth’
A Life of Unlearning – a journey to find the truth’ by Anthony Venn-Brown

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Writing this review a long time (about a month) after I finished reading the actual book, although on the other hand, I'm also writing this review after a week at the UCA Assembly, where we discussed various issues relating to what ended up being called "same-gender relationships/marriage". I kind of don't want to discuss the ins and outs of that debate in this review, but I will say this: I really am glad that I've finally read Venn-Brown's book.

I remember when this book was first released. Venn-Brown's situation had garnered a little press, the book got a hell of a lot more. It was a thing - naturally: a clergy-person from a conservative Christian group not only coming out, but coming RIGHT out. But reading this book in light of the UCA Assembly coming up, that kind of wasn't what I was focusing on.

I found Venn-Brown's dismissal of mainline (to borrow a term from the US Christian bloggers) denominations hurtful (as a member of one and adherant of another, technically), although I entirely understand that's where he comes from. (Doesn't make it less annoying, to be honest.) I found his lack of knowledge of mainline denominations throughout the book infuriating, but again, that's because of his subject position and mine. Which are significantly different.

I could have done with a trigger warning in the early stages of this book (damn specific triggers) and I know that doesn't form part of the standard marketing etc: I really do find it difficult. I acknowledge the honesty of Venn-Brown's writing, as much as it hurt me in myriad ways. I appreciate the perspective of a gay male, and particularly a gay male Christian who is willing to write about these things. I still think, however, that the "letter to all denominations" at the end shows an ignorance of the position of the Uniting Church, which although it is far from where I believe we ought to be as a church, is still far beyond where Venn-Brown seems to think any church is at all.

It was a valuable read, and I'm glad to have finally finished it.

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1 comment:

  1. thanks for the review and feedback Heidi.....alwsys good to know how your readers feel. I am glad that I got three stars at least....hehe.

    As the second edition (the one you have read) sold out over 12 months ago now I am currently working on the third edition and have taken on some feedback from readers. Eg there is an introduction for christian/heterosexual readers to prepare them for some of the content.

    The second edition takes us up to around 2006. An enormous amount of progress has been made since then and I will give the reader a lot of background of what has happening behing the scenes as well as the wins. I will take on board your criticisms and see what I can do to weave that into the story. As my personal journey of faith/sexuality conflict was very much within the Pentecostsl/Charismatic/Evangelical context it will be a bit of a challenge to weave the other breeds of christianity into the story.....but I will see what I can do.

    1. A Life of Unlearning – coming out of the church one man's struggle (2004) was basically the personal journey
    2. A Life of Unlearning – a journey to find the truth (2007) went much deeper into the personal journey and included more hbackground and research.
    3. A Life of Unlearning – the journey continues (working title - to be released late 2012)...will be all of the above and more......very much the full circle of the journey. I am doing not only adding new material but restructering the way the story concludes. One thing I have noticed is that my sense of humour comes into play more towards the end. Something lacking in the two previous editions.

    I hope people like and see the value of the addtional work.