I first heard of Eve Tushnet when I attended a Courage conference in Detroit several years ago that was hosted by Janet Smith. Even though I had much stronger, and much less nuanced, opinions back then I thought that Eve’s talk was the highlight of the conference. She spoke with clarity and honesty, and without a culture war mentality. That stood out.
Since then I’ve followed her writing, and what I appreciate about her work is that it’s vulnerable, it’s rooted in what the Church teaches (without additional moralisms), and she is respectful of people who disagree with her. I recently read her book, “Tenderness: A Gay Christian’s Guide to Unlearning Rejection and Experiencing God’s Extravagant Love.” It was so good. So I wanted to have her on to talk about that book as well as a new project she’s working on for Catholics teenagers. The thesis of her book is:
“God offers himself and his ardent love to his gay children, and he offers us as gifts to our churches and loved ones—but Christians have made it unnecessarily hard for gay people to trust in God’s tenderness. Thus, even—especially—gay people who grew up loving God often need to rediscover him, uncovering his hidden, tender face.”
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This week, Paul and Dominic interview Eve Tushnet about her wonderful book, “Tenderness: A Gay Christian’s Guide to Unlearning Rejection and Experiencing God’s Extravagant Love.” Our discussion had two key themes. The first is that gay men and women are, in fact, relentlessly and tenderly loved by God and have a place in the Church. The second is that gay folks often experience harm in the Church ranging from outright discrimination and bullying to casual spiritual abuse. And, as Eve points out, those experiences are an “anti-catechesis” that proclaims that God is more like an abusive boyfriend than a loving father. A quick note, Eve was recovering from pneumonia when we recorded this episode, so please excuse what she called her Darth Vader voice.
Eve Tushnet is a freelance writer, a Patheos blogger, and the award-winning author of Gay and Catholic. She also has written two novels, is the editor of the anthology Christ’s Body, Christ’s Wounds, and has contributed to several books, including Sex and the Spiritual Life. Tushnet has written on the paths of love available to gay Christians for a wide range of publications, including America, American Conservative, Commonweal, and Christianity Today, and online for Atlantic, New York Times, and Washington Post. She has spoken at multiple conferences for LGBT Christians. She also writes and speaks on the arts. Tushnet lives in Washington, DC.
Building Catholic Futures:
PFG episode, Pastoral care for LGBTQ Catholics:
ABOUT DOMINIC DE SOUZA SmartCatholics founder, Dominic de Souza, is a convert from radical traditionalism – inspired by WherePeterIs, Bishop Robert Barron, and Pope Francis. He is passionate about helping ordinary Catholics break the ‘bystander effect’, and be first responders. “We don’t have to be geniuses. We just have to show up with witness and kindness. Christ does the rest.” Today he hosts the SmartCatholics community.
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Paul Fahey lives in Michigan with his wife and four kids. For the past eight years, he has worked as a professional catechist. He has an undergraduate degree in Theology and is currently working toward a Masters Degree in Pastoral Counseling. He is a retreat leader, catechist formator, writer, and a co-founder of Where Peter Is. He is also the founder and co-host of the Pope Francis Generation podcast. His long-term goal is to provide pastoral counseling for Catholics who have been spiritually abused, counseling for Catholic ministers, and counseling education so that ministers are more equipped to help others in their ministry.