The debut memoir of an out lesbian who seeks to become an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) recounts the unexpected way that she was called to God.
“If anyone tells you they have ‘the answer,’ run in the opposite direction,” Tuttle advises her daughter at one point in this memoir after an unpleasant experience involving members of the Unification Church. It’s an unexpected sentiment in a book about one woman’s call to the ministry, but none better describes Tuttle’s unconventional life path. The author was raised as an “army brat” by religious parents with a keen sense of justice. In 1969, she became pregnant and rushed into a doomed marriage. Her time supporting her actor husband exposed her to new people and ideas. Soon, she discovered feminism and, after a chance encounter with Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon’s 1972 book, Lesbian/Woman, her true sexuality. For some, being a single, lesbian mother raising a daughter in the 1960s and ’70s would have been challenge enough, but after a bad breakup and a period of deep prayer, Tuttle also had an overwhelming religious epiphany. She hoped to serve the Presbyterian Church as an ordained minister, but her status as an out lesbian meant that she would face challenges at every turn. As an author, Tuttle is charming and self-effacing, and she approaches her story in the same manner in which she lobbied for herself within the Presbyterian Church—with patience and reason. Her passion for God and her certainty of purpose come across as sincere, and she effectively shares her sense of excitement throughout, even when describing the hatching of some praying mantises or the personality of an old building’s architecture. Much of the book is about exposing prejudices; in the case of the church, she asserts that financial motivations, under the guise of “tradition,” have impeded her ordainment. Her discussion of injustice is also broad in scope, citing such things as her experiences with racism as a young girl and her sexual assault during a breast examination.
A charismatic storyteller shares a life lived against the grain.