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Books and Pubs

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Dancing with God: Anglican Christianity and the Practice of Hope
(Morehouse Publishing, 2005)

More than a few people likely imagine dancing and theology having at least this much in common: other people do them. Christian faith actually invites everyone into the divine dance with God, a dynamic and relational life of deep theological engagement that roots us ever deeper in a world-changing practice of hope. Drawing on Anglican traditions and turning throughout to dance as a sustaining metaphor, this book offers an introduction to the key components of Christian theology as sources for building community and enriching the ministry of the whole people of God.

“Here is your personal invitation to dance with the God of passionate love — and the Whole God-beloved community of dancers. It is a dance of mind as well as heart and body, an exciting new way of thinking about faith. And, yes, even those of us who don’t dance in public are welcome!”
— L. William Countryman

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Divine Communion: A Eucharistic Theology of Sexual Intimacy
(Seabury Books, 2013)

Food, sex, and God – these intertwine at the very heart of Christian faith and practice. I invite Christian communities to reflect theologically and spiritually on the desire for God and the desire for sexual intimacy as the same fundamental desire for communion. This is likewise God’s own desire, which Christians celebrate at every shared meal of bread and wine. The longing for intimacy, both its ecstatic joys and deep sorrows, echo throughout our political debates, economic systems, racial and ethnic conflicts, and ecological crises. In no small measure, the vitality of Christian witness to the Gospel in the twenty-first century depends on exploring the depths of desire itself in the hope for Divine Communion.

As one of the first to place sexual ethics in a liturgical context, this book offers an ideal guide for both clergy and laity to explore the sacramental significance of sexual intimacy. Before debating rules and policies, Christian communities ought first to reflect on sex itself, its theological and spiritual significance. The Eucharistic Table provides the best location for Christians to engage prayerfully in that reflection – the Table where the Church has always proclaimed the hope and the promise of “divine communion.”

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Peculiar Faith: Queer Theology for Christian Witness
(Seabury Books, 2014)

Christian faith itself is a queer thing — odd, strange, peculiar. Retrieving the queerness of Christianity, how it challenges cultural norms and oppressive institutions, can once again become a source of hopeful practice in a world of despair. After decades of debating sexual ethics, the controversies over lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have surfaced fresh readings of ancient sources in Christian traditions that carry the potential to revitalize the Church for its God-given mission in the world.

 

Through personal story, academic acumen, provocative and even erotic metaphors and images, theologian Jay Emerson Johnson takes us “over the rainbow” into the realm of queer theology where the reader encounters a Technicolor world of insight, inspiration, disruption and hope. The central image in Peculiar Faith is the image of home and what it means to be at home in our bodies, at home among others and at home with God.  Scholar, student and seeker alike will find this work engaging as Johnson unravels and reweaves the traditional categories of classical theology with images and ideas from queer theory. If you plan to read several theology books this year, make sure Peculiar Faith is one of them. If you only plan to read one theology book this year, make sure it is this one. Here you will meet the “socially erotic God [who] yearns above all else to dance with us.”
–The Rt. Rev. Tom Ely
Bishop of Vermont

Johnson helps his readers open half-closed eyes and jaded ears to see and hear the queer sparks flashing and the peculiar voices ringing in the very texts, traditions, and communities that so many think familiar. Although he shares some of his journey, this is not the map of a single pilgrimage, but an atlas charting the many strange lands in which we wander — even while at home. The goal is not to domesticate that strangeness, but to infuse the ordinary with the unique gift of each peculiar incarnation.
–Tobias Stanislas Haller, BSG
Author of Reasonable and Holy

Jay Johnson’s “Peculiar Faith” finds in the history of Christian faith the keys to revitalizing the future of Christian faith. Exploring the very traditions that have so often been deployed to alienate and disenfranchise “the other” – particularly LGBT people – Johnson inspires the reader to reclaim the transformative power of Christian witness to meet the challenges of the 21st century. His vision of Christian faith that “inspires the hope of at long last being at home in our bodies, at home among others, and at home with God all at the same time” offers good news to a church striving to re-imagine Christianity in a multicultural context. And in calling the 21st century church to embrace the changes and challenges of owning its “peculiar faith” he returns us to the work and witness of the 1st century radical rabbi from Nazareth — and the God who loved us enough to become one of us in order to show us how to love one another.
–The Rev. Susan Russell
All Saints’, Pasadena

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