Called Out: 100 Devotions for LGBTQ Christians is exactly what it says in the title: A collection of 100 devotions for Christians who are LGBTQ. This book was written by the Rev. E. Carrington Heath of the United Church of Christ and is published by Westminster John Knox Press. Called Out is being released on 27 September 2022.
Whenever we read, we’re entering into a conversation with the author. I think it’s important to know a bit about who we’re talking with, especially in a realm like theology where there are many assumptions, ideas, and nuance to contend with. E. Carrington Heath was ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and worked in health care chaplaincy, particularly trauma and emergency units. In 2009 they transferred their ordination to the United Church of Christ over frustration with PCUSA’s formal exclusion of LGBTQ+ people from full ministry in that church. They continue to work for the UCC today.
There are no surprises in Called Out. It does precisely what it claims it will do and this is, for me, a great point in its favour. I love a product that does what it says on the box and this book is a fine example of this virtue. From the publisher:
The experience of growing up “different,” coming out in a disapproving environment, having one’s identity and relationships questioned or downright rejected shapes the faith of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer Christians in ways those outside the community cannot fully understand. LGBTQ Christians need spiritual resources that speak to the unique joys and challenges of their journey. E. Carrington Heath offers one hundred devotions on such topics as authenticity, coming out, relationships, chosen family, religious trauma, and more to nurture the faith of our LGBTQ siblings and help friends, family, and allies grow in understanding and faith. Fully affirming of all, sensitive to the diversity of the entire LGBTQ community, and backed by theological depth, these devotions will lift the reader up and empower them for the work of transforming the world
After a short and informative introduction, the format of Called Out becomes familiar quickly. Each of the 100 devotions is two or three pages long and follows the same structure: A short quotation from Christian scripture; a reflection on the quotation, often including a personal anecdote from the author’s own life and experiences; a prayer to close the devotion.
The reflections and the anecdotes they contain are primarily based in Carrington Heath’s own life and pastoral experience, making this a personal book where the author is more present in the writing that might be the case in other devotionals. Being an LGBTQ+ person is not an easy thing and many of the anecdotes reflect the unpleasant experiences that many of us endure in this world. Readers should be aware that some of the content may be upsetting to people with traumatic experiences of their own. Mentions of homophobia and similar experiences are not excessive nor are they gratuitous. The stories are shared carefully and with sensitivity, but they are present. Indeed, I think it would be a failing to write a book for LGBTQ+ Christians and not make mention of these negative experiences. They are, tragically, something that nearly all of us share.
Depending on the reader’s personal piety and preferences around theology and scriptural interpretation, the author’s own views may or may not line up precisely, but with the author’s background in mind, there should be no surprises here.
Overall, I think this is an excellent collection of devotions. Specifically for LGBTQ+ Christians as many of the reflections and prayers will be deeply relatable to their own lived experiences. However, I think anyone looking for an open, affirming, welcoming theology described in this devotional format will find this book a fine investment.
Thank you to WJK Press and NetGalley.com for providing a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.