Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Books Can Bring Change

If you’ve never gotten around to reading Deidre Knight’s Butterfly Tattoo, click the cover and go download it. Or, better yet, BUY THE PAPERBACK HERE. I have both, and often loan the latter. Most of my friends and family have not gotten into amazon lending (or even digital reading) just yet. I purchased this book, which came out a few years ago, for a friend last Christmas. Reading the author's tweets today reminded me that I owed her a thanks. Because this book, when it came out, struck me immediately as not simply "great," but IMPORTANT.

It's beautifully written in that it's simple-- not complicated or over-done. It's a story about love, redemption, and change. It's a story about a man who loves his daughter, who lost his lover, who finds love again. It's a story about family; about what family means. It's a beautiful, warm, sometimes sad story. It's a lovely book. It also has a hero who happens to be bisexual, and a heroine who happens to be a survivor.

Though more attention was paid, upon release, to the former, I identified very powerfully with the heroine, too. I felt Knight did an amazing job of telling their story without ever becoming preachy. It felt natural. It felt right. And it was about time.

One of the perils of being a conservative is, I'm sure, the same for many liberals. Others want us to walk a party-line, and it's not a party you'll enjoy. No little umbrellas in the drinks. Seriously, though... a few people I have met and liked via political avenues seem, to me at least, to be lovely, but socially tangled folk. One such acquaintance, whom I will call Sally, was a dyed-in-the-wool homophobe. Oddly, she always seemed fond of another friend who is a gay republican. But her hate-speak would not be tempered, and her tolerance would not budge. It left me confused and somewhat hurt. I knew she was not stupid. She rarely bothered to make any argument for her position.

Along came Butterfly Tattoo, which I wrapped and gave her for Christmas last year. I inscribed it with a simple message asking her to leave her assumptions and preconceived notions on a shelf before reading. And heard nothing more for a few months. In February our mutual friend married his partner of 15 years. “Sally” sent a lovely gift.


In March we had lunch, and she told me quietly that she’d been doing a great deal of soul-searching.  She had read “that book” I’d given her. It led her to read other things. It led her to have a talk with our mutual friend. And others. And…

Today “Sally” openly states that she disagrees with her church on its position regarding gay rights. She advocates for gay marriage. At a recent meeting for RNC volunteers she joined me in openly pushing for a party that leaves the preaching to the churches.

Books matter. Books change us. Books are catalysts for growth. Today I offer up a prayer of thanks to Deidre Knight and ask anyone searching for a great read to pick up that book… or any of her titles… as a way of saying THANKS.

I wonder how many hearts this book opened? I only know of the one, but I am absolutely CERTAIN there were many more.

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