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Book Reviews: Christian with a Twist

Christian with a Twist
Reflections on Scripture That Are a Bit More Inclusive, a Bit More Relevant, and With a Bit of a Bite

by William Gaston
$19.95 each, $14.95 each for six or more copies.

These reflections are a remarkable collection, borne out of the life experience and deep faith of a remarkable man. Bill Gaston has been writing these reflections weekly, based on the Sunday lectionary readings. They have been published in the Sunday bulletin newsletter at the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, D.C. for over three years now. As such, they have edified, challenged, startled, enlightened, and sometimes annoyed the hundreds of people who come through the doors of that amazing church. Very often Bill's reflections have caused members, friends, and visitors to MCC DC to think more deeply, reflect more honestly, and stretch more boldly in their faith journey.

But Bill Gaston is remarkable for more than just these weekly reflections. He has been living with liver cancer for over twelve years, since September 1991, a remarkably long time, the medical experts will tell you. He has lost a cherished partner to HIV/AIDS. He has worked as a school teacher and a librarian. He is a gay man, of course, and he is a Christian. But as Bill tells us in his title for this collection, he is a "Christian with a Twist!"

His sexual orientation, his life history, his having loved and lost a wonderful man to AIDS, and his long struggle with cancer all have helped inform these reflections. But most of all, these reflections are grounded in Bill's great Christian faith, in his return to the faith from a period in the spiritual wilderness, and in the church, MCC DC, that encouraged him, enabled him, empowered him, and welcomed him back to faith in Christ Jesus.

On January 22, 2004, just five months before this writing, Bill entered hospice care at the Washington Hospice (4200 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Fourth Floor, Washington, DC 20016, 202/362-7572). Chi Rho Press first heard from Bill about his desire to publish his book of reflections in February, 2004. Needless to say, given his health and his status as a hospice patient, there was some urgency to move this project along quickly and expeditiously. We have never succeeded in getting a book from manuscript to print in such a short time!

As a result, there may be some things we missed a glaring grammatical error, the odd typo, a misspelling or two. We hope you will forgive any of these errors that might exist (and I hope they are few!). And we hope you will understand that the exigencies of getting this book into print outweighed our usual ponderous, glacial slowness, and what I hope our readers see as our customary careful attention to detail.

Chi Rho Press wants to acknowledge the preliminary work of Janice Okita and Pam Johnson on this manuscript. Their work made our work a great deal easier! We also want to thank the visionary generosity of the Rev. Dr. Candace R. Shultis, pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, DC, for being the first publisher of these reflections. We thank the good people at Washington Hospice for keeping our brother Bill relatively free of pain and in good spirits these last five months. We thank again Craig Arnold, artist extraordinaire, for once again gracing a Chi Rho Press book with his artwork, this time in the line drawings of Bible and mirror in the headers on these pages. And of course, we thank Bill Gaston, for his generosity, his wisdom, his wit, his patience, and his confidence in the ministry of Chi Rho Press.

I am confident that you will agree that this book of reflections is a work of mighty faith, great skill, and surprising good sense. It is also a very enjoyable read. So please break open the wonders and delights of this "Christian with a Twist." Read them all in one sitting, one a day, even one a week. Perhaps you might want to have some lemonade and ginger snaps in Bill's honor as you read. I guarantee that you will be blessed.

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