Facing the Music: My Story by Jennifer Knapp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
BOOK DESCRIPTION: Jennifer Knapp’s meteoric rise in the Christian music industry ended abruptly when she walked away and came out publicly as a lesbian. This is her story—of coming to Christ, of building a career, of admitting who she is, and of how her faith remained strong through it all.
At the top of her career in the Christian music industry, Jennifer Knapp quit. A few years later, she publicly revealed she is gay. A media frenzy ensued, and many of her former fans were angry with what they saw as turning her back on God. But through it all, she held on to the truth that had guided her from the beginning.
In this memoir, she finally tells her story: of her troubled childhood, the love of music that pulled her through, her dramatic conversion to Christianity, her rise to stardom, her abrupt departure from Christian Contemporary Music, her years of trying to come to terms with her sexual orientation, and her return to music and Nashville in 2010, when she came out publicly for the first time. She also talks about the importance of her faith, and despite the many who claim she can no longer call herself a believer, she maintains that she is both gay and a Christian.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Today, she performs and tours extensively and actively engages in advocacy work alongside religious communities and leaders that seek to create an open and affirming spiritual home for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people of faith.
MY THOUGHTS: I am one of those fans that wondered where Jennifer went when she fell off the map years ago, seemingly in the height of her success. Reading the behind-the-scenes account of how she was suffering, how her music was really a reflection of the struggles she was facing, reminded me of how often we put famous people in a super-human category.
In Facing the Music, Jennifer paints the picture of a childhood scarred by her parents' separation. After a young-adult conversion, the world of Christianity became her focus. She found therapeutic solace in her music, and her passion and talent soon developed into a career in the contemporary Christian genre. But on this journey where what should have been developing was a relationship with God, instead, she was sorting through a set of rules and legalism that left her empty and confused. On top of that, she was burning out from all the stress of touring and recording, but those within the industry ignored her pleas for help.
When she began to question her sexual orientation, those Christian friends who should have come along beside her and walked through this with her weren't available. She no longer fit into the picture of what she'd been taught a Godly person must be.
This book left me feeling very sad. Sad that she isn't the only person struggling alone. Sad that we, as Christians, have dropped the ball at meeting people where they are. Sad that a person's worth is measured so inaccurately within our spiritual family. Sad that we value what the superficial over the real. And sad for the damage all these things did to Jennifer Knapp.
We expect that in the world, there will be trouble. There will be divorces and children excluded and painful traumas to live through. However, somewhere in my mind, I view all Christians as a sort of collective family that together, form a tower of security, a place where we can open up and find help and comfort. When we fail at that, the suffering is infinitely worse and God's name is so badly misrepresented.
Judging Miss Knapp for the choices she has made and the road she has chosen is beyond the scope of this book review, but I will say that I pray she finds real peace and healing. I would recommend you read this book if you step out into the real world at all, because I think it's important that we understand the real feelings of the people behind the LGBT label.
**I was provided an arc of this book by netgalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.