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A Mystic In Our Midst

by Jim Smith

I was asked by Marianne Duddy-Burke to invite long-time Dignity member Joe Gentilini to be a guest on a Queer Catholic Faith webshow. I obliged, having no knowledge of this guy or his selection of his journal entries he organized into a book. In advance of the QCF webshow, I bought the book, and when it arrived, I cracked it open to read because this is what an interviewer does when an author is guest. Call it due diligence.

I was blown away. Inside the cover of “Hounded By God: A Gay Man’s Journey To Self-Acceptance, Love, and Relationship” is an intense understanding of the most fundamental mysteries of our faith. A visceral embrace of the incarnation of God in our bodies and in our spousal relationships. An intense knowledge of the reality of the cross in our lives. And a celebration of resurrection when it sparks and takes flame in the everyday.

As far as I know, this man from the middle of Ohio never pursued a theology degree, but the tremendous work he’s done listening, listening, listening to the nudgings of a compassionate God, praying his deep struggles and victories, and then putting into eloquent words what arises to his conscious heart, it all makes for a memoir any of us should read.

I’m grateful to Joe for the discipline and passion that drew him over the course of 40 plus years to put his sacred journey into words. I’m grateful for his brutal honesty, whether it be about life in the home in which he grew up, at the bathhouse, or on the living room loveseat he shares with his spouse, Leo. His story calls us to no less than a deeply lived unity with God, with self, and with others. Thank you, Joe.

You can purchase Joe’s book on his website, www.josephgentilini.com, or find his book on amazon.com