In Hounded by God, the author writes about his struggle to integrate his homosexuality with his personality and his Catholic-Christian spirituality. Born in 1948, he grew up in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s when homosexuality was considered either a mental illness or a major sin. In 1968, he had his first homosexual experience. Feeling shame and trying to repress his feelings, he spent over six years in therapy.
Raised a strict Roman Catholic, Joseph confessed his many “sins” to a priest and attended Mass daily. He felt hopeless in accepting his homosexuality and living happily as a gay man, repeating nightly, “If it gets too bad, I can always kill myself.” By 1974, he knew that therapy was not changing his sexual orientation and felt desperate.
Joseph experienced God as hounding him to accept his gay identity and to believe that God loves him as he is. His autobiographical journal reveals his gradual awakening to live his vocation, not only as a gay man in relationship with his partner and with God, but also as someone willing to share his journey with those who struggle with their homosexuality and their faith.
St. Augustine put it beautifully into words: “You made us for yourself, Oh Lord, and our hearts will never rest until they rest in you.” Most of us go through life covering over that yearning at the heart of every human, distracting ourselves with the desires of this world. Not so, Joseph Gentilini. God gave Joseph an extraordinary awareness of that call to union with God.
In his autobiographical journal, Joe spells out his painful journey as an active gay man, from revolt against that voice of God to final acceptance with God’s grace of his gay identity given to him by God-a remarkable journey which brings hope to all of us that God’s call to union is to the authentic self. God dwells within us, and the only way to union with that God is through the authentic self!
John McNeill, former Jesuit priest and author of The Church and the Homosexual; Taking a Chance on God; Freedom, Glorious Freedom; and My Spiritual Journey: Both Feet Planted in Midair
This was a very insightful and emotional book. It’s full of pain but it’s also very hopeful and uplifting
It was written as entries from the author’s journal, it also includes letters sent and recieved, and some of the author’s prayers. It’s not written in chronological order, instead, the chapters lead to an specific subject and the entries from the journal are related to the subject the chapter is about.
It took me a while to read it but for the right reasons, it had some very deep thoughts that had me, on several ocasions, stoping, rereading and analyzing what i’d just read. It made me think a lot and i think very much of the concepts displayed are valid not just for gay or catholic people but to everyone.
The chapters adress very interesting topics such as the relationship with the parents, sexuality and promiscuity, understanding God’s love through the ability to love another person and being love by another, the constant presence of God in our lives.
For me, one of the hardest chapters to read, was the one that talked about the author’s relationship with his parents, as the whole book, is full of ups and downs, but i think that, consider a parents love conditional, is one of the most difficults things a person can experience, and yet, it’s such a common thing to see.
One constant subject along the book is the self acceptance, it’s hard to see the struggle, but it’s also very satisfiying to see where the authors stands at this moment.
There are very strong critics to the catholic church, but there is also hope within some of the aspect of what it represents, i think, some paragraph on the book, are a very good example of it, and it makes a beautiful summary of the meaning of the book.
“…This process of self-discovery and self-examination was a painful and lengthy struggle, but, in the end, I stood before God and decided that, in this area, the teaching of the Catholic Church were wrong for me. I choose to dissent from the teachings in this area but that does not negate for me the Catholic faith and traditions, in which i believe and which i practice”.
“My task in life is to hold on to the belief that I am a son of God, that I am loved as a son in spite of whatever Church may say about me as gay. Even though all condemn me, I must hold on to the belief that God loves me as I am, as a son, as a gay son…”
“…God loves us as we are, not as we might like to be or as others, including the Church, want us to be…”
In general, i think, it was a great book. I did have some issues, maybe because of the way it was written i got a little bored at times, but that is on me, the book is very good and overall i think it’s an amazing reading, i would really recommen to anyone to give it a try.
*Book provided by NetGalley.