Since I published my first novel almost two years ago, I’ve received a lot of feedback in the form of online reviews. For the most part, these have been positive and encouraging. I realize that my soft-boiled Southern mysteries aren’t going to be everyone’s cup of sweet tea though, so I’ve come to accept that I’ll inevitably receive the occasional one or two-star review. Every time I do, my skin just grows a little thicker. (At least that’s how I’m explaining the weight I’ve gained over that period of time). Everyone’s entitled to an an opinion, right? It’s only a novel after all.
Or is it? One kind of bad review that’s cropped up a few times which my superthickened skin (which, incidentally, must weigh at least four pounds based on the weight I’ve gained) still can’t ward off comes in the form of a diatribe from anti-gay Christians. These are the folks who don’t like my books because they feature a homosexual character who works as a Christian hospital chaplain. At first, I was tempted to shrug off the comments of these apoplectic reviewers, who, by the way, often seem to have defective keyboards that are permanently stuck on ALL CAPS. After all, my books aren’t romances, and this character’s sexuality is, in the main, peripheral to the plot. But a Zen level of shrug-offery isn’t so easy to achieve. Some of these reviewers hated, or were disgusted by, my book just because it contained a gay Christian character, whose monogamous relationship is portrayed in a positive light. If just the idea of such a person could elicit such a strong reaction, what must life be like for actual LGBT Christians? And does that vitriol get handed out in double measure to LGBT ministers?
My first experience with the intersection of homosexuality and religion came in the form of a young man who attended the Baptist church where I passed my Sundays (and Wednesday nights, and some Saturdays. We were big on church.) as a child. This young man was active in the youth group, volunteered to help with the Sunday school program, and was generally thought of as a great guy. However, after he left his parents’ home, he came out as gay. He was never seen at church again. In fact, the church leaders went so far as to make it clear to him that he wasn’t welcome–performing whatever bureaucratic ritual comprises the Baptist version of excommunication. A mighty fortress is our God indeed–with gays and lesbians firmly on the outside the fortress walls.
That was more than twenty years ago, but things haven’t moved on as much as the #lovewins hashtag and the recent Supreme Court victory might indicate. In more recent years, I’ve heard of a hospital chaplain being spit on and another being tossed out of a room. I’ve heard of an Episcopalian minister being asked to be discreet about the existence of her wife in certain situations or among certain constituents.
Look, I’m not claiming that because some meanies said they didn’t like my books, I know what it feels like to be discriminated against or suffer under the yoke of oppression. And by no means do I wish to rain on the (pride) parade of those who are justifiably elated by the expansion of the definition of marriage. I also know that there are many, many people of faith who welcome their LGBT brothers and sisters with compassion and openness. I guess I’m just saying that I wish prejudice and hatred were things that could be contained within the pages of a novel. Then we could easily close the book on them once and for all.
3 thoughts on “Hatred isn’t pretend.”
I have encountered many gay men and women in my career as chaplain. It also pains me that the very place that should be welcoming all persons who seek the grace and love of God are turned away by modern Pharisees. Instead of being like Jesus who bids all to “Come unto me,” the invitation is to stay away, be invisible. The hatred coming from some of the most vocal “Christians” make them seem to be in the majority. This is really not the case. There are many misguided believers who have been feed on the fear of homosexuality.
I have to respect each patients room and each residents place as their home for the hospital stay or in a senior living facility. If they chose not to have a chaplain visit them that is their right. Frankly, and this will get me into trouble, it might be a good idea for the gay chaplain curb, slightly, his or her gayness. I often have to curb my beliefs, and liberal slant just to be able to minister to the patient or resident.
Keep writing your books and maybe give a bit more of how chaplains, and yes, gay chaplains actually minister as they encounter patients and their families.
Thanks for the comments. I don’t think it’s controversial to say that a chaplain’s sexual orientation (along with most aspects of their personal lives) should take a backseat to providing pastoral care. I’m sure most chaplains and ministers would completely agree that the patient/parishioner’s needs should be foremost.
Thank you for your reply. I appreciate you and how you treat chaplaincy in your books.
My friend and chaplain supervisor Laura, returned my call in her spare moment in a day when she went from crises calls in one of the ICU”s to one in the Cat. Lab. That didn’t include ministering to families the surgery waiting room and others.
Mindy, I know you write mysteries, its just a day in the life of a Hospital Chaplain would, I think, be very interesting. Or a mystery book with a lot of things a clinically trained Chaplain encounters when he or she is somewhat looked down on as “Just another preacher”, instead of a professional member of the hospital staff.
Here I am giving my ideas of what I would like to read about, but I don’t have the courage to write mystery books with chaplains in them. Yes, you probably wrote some things in your books that I brought up. Gee, what do you expect from a 76 year old guy. Hey, I am now an official volunteer chaplain for four units of the hospitals senior living campuses.