Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"In Quiet Desperation"

I was killing time at Deseret Book the other day.  I had been flipping through some of the books on love languages when another book nearby caught my eye, called In Quiet Desperation.  Ironically, it grabbed my attention because there was an attractive man on the cover.  I picked it up and read some of the cover material and the blurb on the back.  To my horror and embarrassment, it was about the struggle of same-gender attraction among Church members.  I quickly put it back before anyone could see that I picked it up, fearful that one of my neighbors or friends might walk by.

But a few minutes later, I stole over to the bookcase again, grabbed it quickly, and found a corner of the store to start reading.  I read almost half the book that day before I got feeling guilty for not buying the book and I decided to leave.  I went home, bought it through the anonymity of Amazon.com, and waited for it to arrive.  After a few days, I gave the book to a friend who I knew needed it, so I ended up buying a copy from Deseret Book anyway, so I don't feel too bad about reading it there, haha.

In Quiet Desperation is told in two parts.  The first is written by Fred and Marilyn Matis, parents of Stuart Matis who since his death in 2000 has become a poster boy for California's pro-gay rights group.  In their section of the book, Stuart's parents talk about how their son's suicide was not a political statement about homosexuality; instead it was a plea that Mormons strive to understand and reach out to members of the Church and community who struggle or succumb to same-gender attraction.  Their section of the book is touching and powerful, and many of the emotions they attribute to Stuart I have felt very personally as well.

I'm still working on Part II, written by Ty Mansfield.  In this section, he describes his own struggle with same-gender attraction and the road he has walked because of it.  Again, many of his feelings and questions square away with my own.

One of the things I really love about the book so far is the peace and calm that Brother and Sister Matis and Brother Mansfield express.  Sister Matis writes poignantly of an experience she and her husband had in the temple just a few days before her son's suicide: "When we were together in the celestial room, Fred drew me into a quiet corner where we could be alone.  He described what had happened. We held hands, said a prayer together, and turned Stuart over to Heavenly Father."  What a blessing to their family that just days before Stuart's death, the Lord was with them and prepared them for what was to come...

This is a wonderful book.  The strength and faith it has given me so far has been wonderful.  I've wept while reading it (which is a fun phenomenon to explain to your roommates) and it has brought me to my knees in prayers of supplication and hope.  Even some of the discussion about suicide is clarifying; although suicide has never been an option for me, it's affirming to see how Stuart's family reconciles it with the teachings of the Church.  It reminds me of the catharsis I and many others seek with same-gender attraction.

I've thought about buying copies for my parents and siblings and I'd like my mom to read it in her book club sometime.  It's a book I recommend with no reservations to anyone, as I think that everyone could benefit from the expressions of faith it conveys, as well as the understanding about the struggle that it furthers.

1 comment:

  1. I have heard of this book. I think my mom read it and really liked it. I want to read it now.


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