First, thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Second, I wanted to like the book. As a queer person raised in the religious South, I was all in and interested to see what was going to happen in the electronic pages.
It just wasn't what it promised or presented itself as-- not really. There were moments that seemed to contradict each other, certain word choices/ phrasings that made me wince. It definitely provoked some thought in me, only some of it positive or productive thinking. Perhaps the biggest issue here was it seemed under-developed/ not fully fleshed out. There felt like there should be more. That might just be me.
I don't regret reading it though. 3/5
Kesller starts off by saying he’s not much of a writer, but he feels his story should be told. He’s right on the first count. This felt like reading a Wikipedia page or a Masters dissertation. It would have been more interesting if he’d just focused on his own story instead of just inserting a Bible verse and then inserting how other people have discovered that verse has been misinterpreted.
Broke the Bread, Spilled the Tea is well researched deep dive into scripture and how it pertains to the modern Queer Experience. The book is broken down into several sections, beginning with the context of who the author is and his background with Christianity and his struggles with it as a child and as a young man. He then provides a historical context to the Church as a whole, beginning with ancient times and proceeding the modern era. He then does a fantastic analysis of the bible as a concept and who and what God is, historically and personally.
My favorite part is “The Gay Bashers.” Here, Kesller breaks down the major verses in the bible that are used to invalidate queer identity and justify queer bashing, to put it bluntly. Each verse is put into a historical context and a literary context, meaning we also examine the verses around the inflammatory passage to see that many of these have been cherrypicked to prove a specific argument, rather than a legitimate analysis of the passage itself. At the end of each of these analyses, Kesller provides a bite sized summary, which explains the popular interpretation of the passage that has been used to justify hate versus Kesller’s interpretation of the meaning of the passage.
He also dives into historical parallels in which other passages of the Bible have been used to justify horrible things, in particular those stance that have since fallen out of favor and been abandoned by the Church.
This was a great read as a queer person who doesn’t quite know where they stand with their faith.
Easily one of my favorite nonfiction books of this year. I wish I had this when I was younger. It would have saved a lot of tears and frustration. I know 1000% that in this heavily-Christian region I'm in our patrons will need this book for the same reasons. The notes I took, the screenshots I saved, the bookmarks I created... I would simply hand this book to someone instead of reciting passages from it (though I do very much appreciate the summaries at the ends of each chapter--bite-sized reference pages for rebuttals).
I'm really glad this book exists and I cannot recommend it to everyone enough, not just Christians and not just the LGBTQ+ community. I mean everyone. It's very in-depth for how short it is and it takes every weaponized passage of the bible bit by bit with historical context and with the parts left out when these claims are made. The research and passion that went in to writing this is much appreciated. This book isn't an attack, it's a statement of facts and a passing of the olive branch. This book can do some healing and that's why I say everyone should take a look at it.
What an insightful and validating read! This book felt more like a research paper or thesis than a novel, but I enjoyed it all the same. It was clear the author took great pride in their research and understanding of the content they were trying to disprove or affirm. The content was easy to read and the author did a fantastic job of breaking things down in terms that anyone could understand.
I recommend this read to all who struggle with their faith and how it aligns with their sexuality. I recommend it to all believers who’ve taken the Bible word for word and out of context, causing the necessity for a book like this.I recommend it for all faithful servants of the Lord who want to truly live His will.
In this well-researched book, Mitchell Kesller breaks down Bible passages often used to harm and provides well-presented alternative interpretations backed by facts to give insight into organized religion’s often hurtful views towards the LGBTQ+ community. Though I’m not religious, I have heard many of these verses used against members of the LGBTQ+ community and enjoyed learning some historical facts and context to provide more insight.
As a Buddhist Queer, I was not sure which way this book will take me but I'm especially surprised with the way it carried itelf. A lot of important discussions are brought up and the author uses concise and clear language but full of love to explain things in a way that brings me joy because Queer people's religious theories are always criticized, even when they logically make sense and I'm crossing my fingers hoping that this is one of that books that won't provoke blind outrage and instead compromise and tolerance.
Trigger Warnings: Homophobia, church, christianity
Broke the bread, Spilled the tea is a non fiction/memoir exploration of the relationship between the church and queers.
This type of book and this author’s challenge to Christianity is one of my favorite things. The author provides an analysis of verses that are often used against our community. I love that but I know that most Christians don’t so this book is very brave. For those not in the church, I think a lot of this memoir will resonate with anyone who struggled with acceptance from their family. Overall, a great book.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC digital copy. I was not compensated for this review and all opinions are my own.
I am an LGBTQ+ ally who aims to support all those who need a voice. I believe this book is much needed for anyone dealing with religious judgment. From my experience, far too many in the gay community are left to choose between living their authentic selves or living the way their religious family expects.
While this was not the book for me, I firmly believe in its purpose and hope it finds its intended audience.
4 stars and my respect to the author.
“I remember spending so much time hating myself because of what I had been taught growing up.”
“Broke the Bread, Spilled the Tea” by Mitchell Kesller offers answers and peace of mind to those who are torn between being who they want to be or staying true to their beliefs. It is a historical tour, where most of the book focuses on denying certain concepts of homosexuality and other controversial issues (such as abortion, women's rights, etc)
Why do I say it is a (religious) historical tour? Because in this book to 'deny' concepts of religion, we must get into it, this was an essential tool for the true understanding of "what god is really like" and how initial messages can change over time due to mistranslation, misused words, and even human wickedness.
Does it works? Does it bring calm to those who believe that being part of the LGBT community is bad in the eyes of God? Absolutely. I was really surprised how the author managed to explain (and practically gut) the verses. Not only did he show us the context of the events, but he also talked about bad translations. It was all very interesting and I found myself sharing certain opinions with the author as well, although in my opinion towards the end the book strayed a bit from the LGBT community.
“As in the Middle Ages, we show blind faith to the leaders who claim to know the truth.”
“The biggest issue we find throughout humanity’s history is our ability to take something so holy and transform it into a destructive force.”
Conclusion: Not only do you see the concept of homosexuality and whether it's okay or not, you can also read about the separation of church from state and that was captivating as well. Unfortunately, it is too late for me to heal my experience with the church, God and Christianity itself. But if there's someone there who really needs to be reassured, then you have to read this. It won't fix everything but it will bring peace.
What hits the most is how he (Mitchell) admits that they weaponize the words of God. To keep us under control, to create a perfect society free of sins. But is there such a society?
Even though I no longer belong to any kind of religious group, there were so many things that resonated with me that I felt like a child scared of God again. Scared of something I didn't know if it hated me or if it would send me to hell. Damn, certainly Broke the Bread, Spilled the tea manages to communicate with everyone, not just Christians.
Broke the Bread, Spilled the Tea by Mitchell Kesller is an insightful look at the church as an institution and the LGBTQ+ community. It's a harder book to review as it is primarily a memoir and secondly a dive into the interpretation of scripture. The memoir portion of this book is moving. As a queer person who has gone through deconstruction herself, I could easily empathize with the author and his journey to self-love and acceptance despite the church making him feel otherwise. As for the arguments the author makes for homosexuality and the scripture, I feel some points were very strong and others less so and are easily picked apart based on translation. I no longer identify with the Christian faith but I do like his take on the church as an institution vs the church as a community.
What a wonderful summary of how much the Bible does NOT say on homosexuality. I greatly appreciate Kesller’s research and citations and his encouragement to study more on your own. I also really like the part where he talks about other times the Bible has been cherry-picked or otherwise misinterpreted. The fact that he explained his own past and how it relates to the subject is nice because it clearly shows this is a man who wanted to do this research and was willing to be found wrong. The bite-sized summations are logical and concise and it’s altogether a wonderful book on love.
Every review I've seen so far for this book is very comprehensive so I'll keep mine short.
I often had the impression that the author was going in a great direction and then he would just switch to another idea. There were even a few instances in which he contradicted what he earlier stated. Many of the discussions were great, but I wish they would go even deeper. At the same time, I don't agree with and cannot get on board with all of his arguments, but that is unavoidable.
All in all, this is an accessible book, and I strongly encourage reading it through a critical lens.
I really enjoyed this read! As a member of the LGBT community, and a end of life care provider, I struggle with where faith fits in my life. I am sharing this with my friends and family
Voting this one for title of the year. The book itself is a kind, generous, loving, enlightening of homophobia and Christianity, the damage it has done and the cultural biases and ignorance behind it. I was a young lesbian in a convent school in the sixties and the messages were terrifying. Now I know my God loves me but when we see the heartbreaking teenage LGBTQ suicide rate, added to the brutality of social media, and right wing propaganda many young people have internalized the homophobia in their lives and can’t. Let’s make this a banned school book to get the word out there, or maybe Biden could send it out with the next Covid tests.
I found this book to be pretty triggering, relating to my own upbringing. It's not something I would enjoy reading again.
I always hesitate to review a memoir because who am I to decide how worthy someone’s own story is of being told or read? So from the perspective of reading this as a memoir, I think it’s always good to have another queer Christian voice in the room. However, the theology in the book is, in my view, not entirely sound. I struggled to connect some of Kesller’s points and I don’t know that all of the conclusions are well-explained (or well-founded, to be frank). So take this one with a grain of salt, read it for Kesller’s story of grace and self-love, but perhaps don’t look too closely at the scholarship.
An exhaustive review of the biblical texts which have been used to condemn homosexuality. Although a lay person, the author has dived deeply into the language and contexts of weaponized scriptures, and found the love of God shining through them all. The nature of God is to love us all.
As a personal note, it is hard for me to read such a kind book about God while I have to mentally ‘translate’ the exclusive male language used for referring to God, in whose image we are made: neither male nor female.
I didn't enjoy this as much as I was going to... This might be the perfect book for the right person, but that person was not me.
I read this and I got something out of it, but I really didn't have the background knowledge or understanding of the Bible to really understand it. Maybe I would have done better reading it in print or via audiobook, but I really struggled with this and didn't enjoy my reading experience. Luckily it was short and did manage to finish. I do think there are MANY people who would benefit from this book and who would enjoy it (or who need it), but it wasn't for me.
I still might buy it because it seems like it could be a good little reference source for when I hear people using these verses out in the wild.