After seeing a number of my friends toting around Queering Lent, I decided to pick up the slim volume of devotional poems penned by a nonbinary pansexual Presbyterian pastor. Written as a spiritual practice over the course of last year’s Lent, the highly personal poems touch on interwoven themes of suffering, identity, and empathy burnout, all while employing classical mystical language of God as Lover.
Independent publishing can be a toss-up, so when I find something that shines in the lackluster mire of self-published titles, I’m quick to promote it. Queering Lent gleams despite its unpretentious packaging, and while some of the poems are unremarkable, many have a sort of understated profundity to them that’s hard to forget. In particular, I found the poetic sermon on binaries, the expansiveness of God, and the upside-down kingdom of Heaven in the back of the book to be particularly stirring, and I’ll be returning to it again and again in this Lenten season and beyond.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Slats a number of times, and they’re a truly unique artist and ardent lover of God who has a way of infecting atmospheres with joy. If you’re interested in learning more about the creative process behind Queering Lent, you can check out this feature on Slats over at Sanctified Art. You can buy a copy of Queering Lent on Amazon, and 100% of the proceeds go to organizations committed to supporting queer and trans people in the church.
A few days ago, an anoymous reader asked me over at Millennial Gospel if I knew of any books in a similar vein of progressive, experimental, grassroots theology. While I’m not as well-versed in Christian nonfiction as I would like to be, I do read an awful lot of it, and thought I would point you all towards the best of what I’ve read in the genre.
I read heaps of spiritual memoir, which is where I find the most authentic, gritty accounts of faith in a postmodern world.
- Rachel Held Evan’s Searching for Sunday accounts her journey out of evangelicalism and her wrestling with faith in the Episcopal church
- Nadia Bolz Weber’s Pastrix is the story of a rough, addicted, tattooed woman finding God and becoming one of the most unorthodox and celebrated pastors on the Lutheran scene right now
- Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz is a classic work of “emergent” Christianity, and shares the story of his chaotic, beautiful re-discovery of a God who had disappointed him in childhood
- Christian Wiman’s My Bright Abyss is a prose-poetry story of struggling towards the ineffable Divine in a life of academia, love, and illness.
For those interested in progressive, Biblical perspectives on gender and sexuality
- Mark Labberton’s Understanding Gender Dysphoria: Navigating Transgender Issues in a Changing Culture covers the science of gender dysphoria, different theologies of difference and inclusion, and treatment options for trans youth all from a moderate, Christ-centered perspective.
- Sarah Bessey’s Jesus Feminist is an affirmation of the God-given dignity and power of women told in a bounteously grace-filled, warm tone that invites both men and women into God’s vision for equality
- Mark Gushee’s Changing Our Minds and Matthew Vines’ God and the Gay Christian for those seeking a Biblical, ethical, and sociological defense of the inclusion of partnered LGBTQ folks in the kingdom of God
Budding theologians will enjoy
- Richard Rohr and Mike Morrel’s invitational exploration of the mystical, relational Trinity in The Divine Dance
- The more ambitious should pick up Elizabeth Johnson’s She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse, after which you may never need another defense of the feminine face of God.
I read a lot of political theology and liberation theology for graduate school, but I would not wish 45 page academic articles on you guys! That said, I do really like
- Lammin Saneh’s Whose Religion is Christianity: The Gospel Beyond the West, which explores the theological and cultural shift of Christianity to the global East and South, and unpack colonialism, western guilt, and new trends in Christianity in a conversational, question and answer format.
But I’ll keep my eyes peeled for any accessible introductions and point them your way.
What other titles in progressive Christianity do you consider essential? Comment with your favorites and I’ll add them to my TBR!