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Book Review: A Queer Thing Happened to America: And What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been

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As a graduate of author Dr. Michael Brown’s FIRE School of Ministry, I’d been waiting and expecting this book to come out for nearly six years.  I had known no publisher was willing to touch it, and that it was going to be different to all of the books he’d ever written previously. I also knew that he was shopping it around to mainstream publishers and not just the Christian niche market.  So naturally, I was excited to see it finally get printed.  It had been a long time coming.

 

The title of “Intellectual Lightweight” can not be attributed to Dr. Brown. The sheer number of end notes in this book show that the man has sought to do his best to source all of his material — even to the point of overkill, maybe.  It cannot be denied that even daring to approach this subject and go against the flow of popular culture and venture into territory such as this was a surefire risk.  But if anybody has got a strong resolve and thick skin, with a prophetic calling to sound an alarm to a generation, it’s Michael L. Brown. This book is not like his other books in style or scope, and it addresses a wider audience than usual.

Fortunately, if you can get past the offensive cover — which I always removed when I’d take it in public to read on park benches or at coffee shops here in Peru where I live — you’ll find that the book is not a 600-page theological diatribe about why homosexual marriage is wrong.

Instead, Brown looks at the historical, political, and social events that have occurred since the Stonewall Riots in 1969, and with lots of quoting and research from very pro-GLBT researchers and advocates, he lets you know his opinion all through out the process.  His enemies’ accusations that this book is filled with hate or poorly researched are quite laughably off-base, but I can see why they won’t be happy that he wrote this and published it.  However…

If I were to give it a rating on some kind of scale, I’d give it 3.5 stars out of 5.  It’s very well researched, yes, don’t get me wrong.  It does its purpose and serves its point well — as a wake-up call to the bulk of the culture around us who think nothing’s happening and that there is no ‘agenda’ to not only come completely out of the closet but stifle any opposing viewpoints (such as conservative pro-family values).

However, I really think it focuses only well on just sounding the alarm and opening one’s eyes to what has happened — ‘a queer thing’ (see what I did there?) to America, over the last several decades — but then doesn’t provide any kind of solution or action steps. The last chapter of the book had a small section stating that it’s not too late to change the trajectory we’re on.  But… then… doesn’t really… go on to explain how we can change the course we’re heading.

The book is also about 200 pages too long and over does it on many of its arguments.  In fact, in an early chapter, it seems Doc spends an awful lot of time fixated on nasty comments a teenage YouTuber writes about him after watching his brief appearance on the Tyra Banks show in 2010.  I read through some pages thinking “OK, I get it, next point please.”  After giving two or three examples of a point he’s making, he tends to give about eight more just in case you didn’t get it.  Not a big deal, but again, it probably would have trimmed the book’s length a few hundred pages. I’m sure the daunting size of it will inhibit some people from reading it, unfortunately.

My main problems with the book, to be honest, are not that I couldn’t stomach the facts and the details he goes into in various place.  It’s certainly not because I want to bury my head in the sand and ignore the reality around me.  Nor was I even disturbed as many others who need to read this probably will be.  

Rather, I was bored by it.  I started it nearly six months ago, and found it hard to force my way through the whole thing, and then finally when I got 3/4 of the way through I just put it down for several months.  I only picked it up again recently when I had moved and was without internet for over a week.  If anything, I like to finish every book I start, and thought I needed to if I was going to write a review or share an opinion with anybody about it.

I’ve noticed that if you go to Amazon.com and read the reviews, there’s primarily two camps of people — followers of Dr Brown who’ve posted positive reviews — even if they didn’t read it, and enemies of his who’ve posted 1-star reviews, also whether they’ve read it or not.  

Well, I’m an acquaintance and fan, but this was not an easy book to finish.

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