My Almost Certainly Real Imaginary Jesus (Paperback)
Kelly Barth, like many American kids, went to Sunday school, sang songs about Zaccheas, and was tucked in with bedtime prayers. A typical Christian kid, that is, until she developed a searingly deep crush on another little girl playing afterhours in church, and more importantly, until Jesus—a tiny, imaginary Jesus, one that stays “safely tucked behind the baseboard or the petals of a peony”—became her invisible friend and constant companion. Heartbreakingly honest and hilarious, My Almost Certainly Real Imaginary Jesus shows just how easy it can be to fall headlong into fundamentalism, venturing into the very heart of enemy territory and the church’s false promises of altar calls and sexual cures. In the spirit of Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies, this debut memoir is plainspoken, speaking with candor and insight. Barth particularly addresses the disconnect between the radical and very human Jesus of history and the church’s supernatural savior. She asks the question to all in the closet—both closet Christians and closet homosexuals: Which is more difficult, admitting to being Christian or admitting to being gay? An answer is found in her own hard-won journey, a hopeful answer that is an “attempt to leave a record of the early signs of the turning and softening of a collective heart.” Giving voice to many who have searched for sanctuary in a church that has largely rejected them, this story pauses at the threshold of one of a growing number of churches which, in opening the door to her and other homosexuals, welcome Jesus back inside as well.
About the Author
Kelly Barth was a fiction fellow in the University of Montana’s creative writing program and has received fellowships from the Missouri Arts Council and the Kansas Arts Commission. Her work has been published in anthologies and literary journals, most recently Coal City Review and Muse & Stone. She lives in a very small house with her partner Lisa Grossman in Lawrence, Kansas. My Almost Certainly Real Imaginary Jesus is her first book.
“My Almost Certainly Real Imaginary Jesus is a beautiful memoir of a young Christian woman’s determined but hopeless battle with her sexuality, and Barth’s narration is wise, honest, and frequently hilarious. Her struggle and triumph, so engagingly rendered, should resonate with anyone who has taken the long way to thoughtful self-reliance.”
“Funny. Poignant. Heartbreaking. Barth takes us through a world of religious dogma that can be harsh and frightening and emerges into a Christian spirituality we recognize—one of love and tolerance and wisdom. Her nuanced story will be exotic to those of us who have never personally experienced evangelical religion, even as its central humanity remains deeply familiar.”—Sharman Apt Russell, Standing in the Light: My Life as a Pantheist
“Kelly Barth’s heartfelt, funny, and wrenching book is testimony to Jesus’ steadfast love. Her faith, tested and tried, looks beyond the failings of religion to claim that love for all.”
—Sara Miles, author of Take This Bread and Jesus Freak