Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Betweem These Walls by John Herrick - Top Personal Favorite Past Five Years! Watch for Author Discussion Tomorrow!

One of the important issues in my life has been the church...My mother made sure we were all there every time the door opened. But as I grew up and became more aware of the surrounding world, especially in recent years, the second most important issue to me is sexuality and its blatant use to see anything and everything, while human trafficking has become rampant.

John Herrick is the first author I've read that has taken these two important issues in today's world and created a powerful, realistic, and somewhat devastating look and, yet, a book that will allow each reader to enter into the setting he's created and follow the life of one young man. But there was no way that this book did not become more than the story itself. Readers, including me, will enter into the story. No matter what issues you may have had with these two topics--religion and sexuality in your own life, you will find the emotional and intellectual review to be transferable to your own life. This must-read novel will so involve readers, if they allow it to be more than just another story, that it may, at least, give you the awareness that you are not alone. There are others that are confused, afraid, full of guilt...and filled with secrets...

Has the Little Brown Church Disappeared?

Between These Walls

By John Herrick

Meet Hunter Carlisle. He is a Christian. He is the man next door. He's Gay...

Hunter was a Christian and believed in saving sex for marriage. He held to the concept as a core component of his faith. And it wasn't pious showmanship; he believed positive results would follow if he saved himself for another, giving himself to another as a gift. The concept served as an anchor for his heart.

But in light of his personal struggle with attraction--or lack thereof--to women, the concept of saving sex for marriage had also proven convenient. Not that Hunter had planned it as such; it had merely worked out that way. But it had brought him refuge over the years. By its nature, waiting revolved around time, and this particular wait afforded him an abundance of time to find his way out of his struggle.
Hunter had never looked at his struggle as
perversion. He had always thought of perversion
as the result of a long road of intentional,
specific actions--a series of desired choices,
things people welcomed into their lives. Yet
Hunter's battle felt nothing like a choice, and
he certainly never considered it welcome.
In fact, Hunter's feelings had little if anything,
to do with any type of sexual encounter. Rather,
it felt more like a need for acceptance, a desire
for companionship with someone who could
understand him.
Hunter had realized before his teens that his feelings were different. But he also felt different within his family. His older brother and his father were both totally into sports. Hunter became active too, but was it a choice to become closer to his father. In any event, when he decided to start dating girls, he made it easy for himself by closing off a relationship before it got too intense. 

By the time the book begins, Hunter is 26, working as a sales rep, and dating Kara. Both being Christian, they have decided to not have sex before marriage. We learn his story through black flashes of parts of his early years.

Lately, however, his sales have plummeted and he's begun to worry about his job. One of the reasons may very well be that he's begun to consider the men with whom he's doing business, checking them out, wondering if they are gay, be ashamed for even thinking what he was thinking... Maybe he just wasn't keeping him mind where it belonged... Maybe that's why he was let go by his company...

Kara, his girlfriend, is also a sales rep but she travels all over the world and they really don't see each other often. Hunter was an individual who didn't trust. His life had been full of secrets most of his life. When he was hurt by his father's favoritism, he held that pain and sometimes anger inside. As he did with all those feelings that came with his attraction.

Hunter's becoming a Christian was the most important event in his life. He was no longer alone. He was loved. He knew God in a personal relationship.

But he was not "fixed" as some people are--you know, no longer smoking or drinking, etc. His secret feelings did not change as he'd hoped. Maybe later?

He started attending church and a men's bible study... Unfortunately, the walls appeared there in that small room. Discussing interpersonal relationships was bound to occur, but when snide remarks regarding homosexuality were thrown out, with no value judgments following, he began to feel the pain and fear. 

If he could not be free of guilt and shame within the Church environment, where could he be safe, where could he find counsel?
Sometimes, when Hunter sat in the midst of a group of people, he wondered if he was the only person who struggled that way. Surely someone else understood. Surely he'd crossed paths with another individual who wrestled the same way and Hunter hadn't known it about him. Or, at least, Hunter hoped so.
Not that he wished his inner torment on anybody else. He just craved someone who could understand.
As the group continued its discussion, Hunter looked around and wondered if anyone else in this room faced what he did. Oh, what he would give to find out, but he wouldn't dare ask! Even if they dealt with the same thing, he knew they would deny it rather than face public embarrassment. That would leave Hunter humiliated with nothing gained. If anything, other guys went overboard in their efforts to quash mere speculation about their sexuality. Hunter could play that masculine game with the best of them, yet he wondered why they placed the game in the first place. It made everything harder for the people who fakes it...
"Okay, I'm just going to say this," said a young guy named Ross..."The whole lust thing--I don't know, it's a major challenge for guys."
Hunter's ears perked up.
"I guess it's okay to admit that here," continued the college student. "I've done okay so far, but a lot of the girls out there--well, they're just as bad about it as the guys are, you know?"
Lust for women. One one hand, Hunter admired the guy's honesty. On the other hand, Hunter wished that were his own admission. The guys could relate to it and provide encouragement. Hunter watched it unfold: the caring words, the you-can-do-it pats on the back...
"it could be worse," Joe chimed in with a chuckle. "I mean, at least you're not gay, right?"
Hunter seized control of his facial muscles before his eyes could react. He felt his arm and leg muscles tighten as he fought to maintain his composure, the way he did any time a conversation in his vicinity turned to homosexuality, jokes or otherwise.
...Ross's face warmed to a shade of pink as he emitted a nervous laugh. "Yea, you're right about that. No worries there.
Joe wouldn't say those things if he knew what it's like to deal with it, thought Hunter.

It was Ellen, a long-time friend of Hunter, with whom he did share to some extent, that suggested that he try massage therapy and went on to praise the benefit she received in release of tension. Finally Hunter was desperate enough to try it...still no job, an unwillingness to discuss it with Kara. He also didn't feel safe to seek counsel at church--once he had heard somebody sharing what surely was confidential within the church to another member. How can you feel safe with anybody?

Physically, Hunter knew he was in depression and decided to try massage therapy, not even thinking that Ellen's therapist was male... Hunter had just met Gabe Hellman...

As always, I'm stopping short of getting beyond a general overview... There is one key point though that I found important. Hunter and Gabe were no different in their emotional interactions than in any other human relationship. There was the first nervous awareness, the slight, probably accidental touch that still meant so much, and which always led to wondering whether it had been done on purpose, with the pleasure that thought brought forth. Readers will enjoy reading about the connection that each of us has experienced at one time or another in their life. The only difference was the sex of the two participants. As an aside, I found it sad that, when entering searches for the above picture, I was immediately referred to gay sites, with no pictures from the general search. What that tells me is that the stereotype relationship between two men probably is sexual and general pictures such as you can easily find between a man and woman are numerous and readily available. Making assumptions about people is ingrained in our society...

No wonder Hunter and many others keep their thoughts and desires secret. Consider if you would, along with me, that the church generally condemns homosexuality without hesitation, except for a select few... Now consider a pregnant woman who needs help, but doesn't feel she can turn to the church because she has "sinned." What about one of a couple, both of whom are married to somebody else, who couldn't possibly share what has occurred with their pastor... I know that one time I wanted to talk with my pastor--can't remember what about now. What I remember was that a woman on the church board would have to be present. Out goes the confidentiality of pastor-member interaction.

Some churches have become so insular that visitors often immediately feel the tension of being an outsider. I left my last church for that reason. What makes Christians so insensitive to how they may affect the emotional stability of others... This is one of the most important aspects of Herrick's novel...inserting the inner reality of what is found in many of today's churches...

John Herrick's book blasts readers with an unexpected ending. Unfortunately, it wasn't surprising... Learn empathy from Hunter and Gabe... Learn sympathy to those who are out there seeking help and counsel just like Hunter and Gabe... Consider what your own feelings are about Hunter and Gabe and ask, "What would Jesus Say to them?"

Read this book to help you find your way to an answer that only you and God can discover together. Get it...Now...


A self-described "broken Christian," John Herrick battled depression since childhood. In that context, however, he developed intuition for themes of spiritual journey and the human heart.

Herrick graduated from the University of Missouri—Columbia. Rejected for every writing position he sought, he turned to information technology and fund development, where he cultivated analytical and project management skills that helped shape his novel-writing process. He seized unpaid opportunities writing radio commercial copy and ghostwriting for two nationally syndicated radio preachers.

The Akron Beacon Journal hailed Herrick's From the Dead as "a solid debut novel." Published in 2010, it became an Amazon bestseller. The Landing, a semifinalist in the inaugural Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, followed.

Herrick's nonfiction book 8 Reasons Your Life Matters introduced him to new readers worldwide. The free e-book surpassed 100,000 downloads and hit #1 on Amazon's Motivational Self-Help and Christian Inspiration bestseller lists. Reader response prompted a trade paperback.

His latest novel, Between These Walls, returns readers to Hudson, Ohio, to which he introduced them in From the Dead. Herrick admits his journey felt disconnected. "It was a challenge but also a growth process," he acknowledges. "But in retrospect, I can see God's fingerprints all over it."

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