When I read books I often ask myself and wonder what makes one book speak to me more than another? And what makes one book successful or valuable? Why do I fall in love with some books and not others? Why are some books sold for years and years while others end up at the Dollar Store?
Not every author writes poetically like Maya Angelo, but must a book be written that way to be great? What makes one book valuable and great is not the same thing that makes another book valuable and good. If we measured every book by the Maya Angelo standard, there would not be many books that would be “great.” I love Maya Angelo’s writing and I love Viktor Frankl’s writing and I love Malcolm Gladwell’s writing, but they are all very different and great for different reasons.
That We May Be One is a conversation that is needed, specifically among Christians, and this author is the perfect individual to have the conversation with. That is one component that makes this book valuable and great.
In this book, Tom Christofferson shares his experience of being gay in a Christian Community, more specifically in a “Mormon” community.
The thing that impressed me in this book is the way it starts and the way it ends. With integrity.
“When I asked to be excommunicated, it was from a sense that I needed to be honest about my life and that the only way I could do so was to move forward on a different path.”
Tom Christofferson said there were two times in his life when he faced the difficulty of coming out. The first was when he was in his twenties and he came out as gay. The desire to fully embrace that part of his life meant that he would need to give up part of his Christian lifestyle. The second coming out was much later in his life when he came out as a Christian. The desire to fully embrace that part of his life meant that he would need to give up part of his gay lifestyle.
I grapple with the concept that what someone feels is right for them can be wrong for someone else. How is it that your right can be my wrong, or my wrong can be your right?
Dylan Marron, who focuses on social justice issues, receives a lot of negative messages online. In his podcast Conversations With People That Hate Me, he calls some of the individuals who posted negative messages towards him asks them one simple question: why? Why did you say want you said?
Josh had publicly posted some negative comments about being gay on Dylan’s Facebook page. So Dylan asked Josh if he would be willing to be on his podcast to simply share his views and perspectives about why he said what he said.
Josh: I believe that being gay is a sin. Homosexuality is an abomination. I try my best to follow what the Bible says. In my mind, I think that being gay is a choice. I don’t mean to offend you.
Dylan Marron: I don’t feel offended only because I know that I didn’t choose this and it’s helpful to just hear what you believe even if it’s in direct opposition to what I know to be true for me.
Do we create our own truth? Is it possible that something can be true for me and not true for someone else? Is it possible for something to be morally wrong for someone but morally permissible for someone else? Can something be unjust for someone and just someone else? Can something be morally right and morally wrong just depending on the person? Do we create our own truth? Or is truth absolute? Is morality relative?
If I just look the part, does that please God? Or, does God want me to be true to myself, as long as my intentions are sincere in pursuing truth. Is that acceptable to God?Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife
In an Interview with Dr. Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife titled Developing Integrity in an Uncertain World, Dr Finlayson-Fife shares this personal experience which lead to a very profound perspective:
“I remember being in the MTC, and feeling like obedience, obedience, obedience was being drummed into us. My thinking on this was less developed then, but I remember feeling that there
were so many things I didn’t know, and yet I felt as if I was being told I had to claim to know them, in order to be okay with God. I remember having a bit of an internal crisis during a testimony meeting in the MTC where I was wondering if God would really ask me to pretend? If I just look the part, does that please God? Or, does God want me to be true to myself, as long as my intentions are sincere in pursuing truth. Is that acceptable to God? The entirety of my mission experience ended up confirming to me that my job as a moral being, as a child of God, was to grapple earnestly with what I believed was right and wrong, and to confront the fact that there are false traditions everywhere, including within our faith, and to struggle with the Spirit and my own honest effort to know what is right, and live accordingly. So I see that process as fundamental to becoming a developed spiritual person—having an anchored internal sense of self and strong sense of what is good that allows you to be a strong presence in a family, in a marriage, in a ward—just complying does not enable any of that. When we think about people we admire most in history, it’s people who could stand strongly for what they believe is right, despite the social costs of doing so. These are people with a strong sense of rightness, a strong sense of self, and that is an important spiritual and relational reality.
The entirety of my mission experience ended up confirming to me that my job as a moral being, as a child of God, was to grapple earnestly with what I believed was right and wrong, and to confront the fact that there are false traditions everywhere, including within our faith, and to struggle with the Spirit and my own honest effort to know what is right, and live accordingly.Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife
What I found to be most inspiring in this book was the way in which Tom Christofferson has chosen to live his life with integrity even in the face of heart wrenching risks.
December 26, 2019
Time writing this book review: easily 1 hour maybe more
Total time writing on this blog: 170 hours
9,830 hours to go
If I write for one hour a day then in 27 years I’ll reach 10,000 hours