Quinacridone asked for some reading suggestions… I have been thinking about this a lot, and eventually decided that, rather than just present a list, I’d talk about what I learned from some books that have helped me in my journey. To keep it simple, I’ll keep it to one book per posting.

What’s Important Now, by John Kuypers. 2002. Toronto: Present Living and Learning.

I picked up this book at the November 2006 Promise Keepers event in Toronto. It looked like it had some helpful ideas, and didn’t look too religious. I remember looking at bits of it now and again for about a year. But in 2007, when I told my wife I was no longer going to even try to pretend to be straight, I picked it up and started reading. It is now April 2008, and I’m only just past half way through. That’s not because I have a problem with it. It’s because it takes me about two months to process and begin to use each tool he presents that will help me live in the present, and live according to what is important for me NOW.

The chapter headings are:

1. Listen to your body.

2. Change your beliefs

3. Be authentic

4. Risk disapproval

5. Let go of outcomes

6. Feel your feelings

These are pretty dangerous ideas, especially for someone (like me) entrenched in the Christian church. In Christian circles, listening to your body sounds like giving in to fleshly desires. Changing your beliefs could mean stepping into heresy (and we all know where that leads). Being authentic means taking off the masks we all wear (especially around churches and church people). Risking disapproval is the scariest thing imaginable (especially if we risk God’s disapproval, and how easy is it to separate the church’s approval from God’s approval). Letting go of outcomes sounds reckless (and recklessness is the sin of Balaam). And feeling feelings… shouldn’t we base our lives on the truth, not on feelings?

My only problem with this book is that it seems to place authenticity as the supreme value. While Kuypers does mention values from time to time, and explores the dangers of being authentic (such as “authentically” expressing your road rage), I’m disappointed that he did not devote a chapter to determining a hierarchy of values. As a Christian, I believe that love is that the greatest motivator, and that there are many times when we are required to put our own desires and feelings aside in order to be loving and kind.

That aside, this book has probably been the most significant book I have read in the last… 42 years (except for maybe The Cat in the Hat). It has helped me to embrace the fact that I am gay man, and that coming to terms with that fact will indeed help me get on with my life. I am not sure that this is anything like what PromiseKeepers Canada had in mind when they put this put in their bookstore! But God had them put it there anyway, no matter what their intentions!

Kuypers is a Christian, but this book is written for anybody. He does not quote scripture, he does not use church language, he does not even talk about Christian principles. He is brutally honest and most of his material seems like common sense (even if it is uncommon).

Highly recommended (especially for quin)!