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Facing the Music: My Story by Jennifer Knapp

Facing the Music: My Story

by Jennifer Knapp

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Way back when (about fifteen years ago), I used to be a devout evangelical Christian. Or, at least, I really tried hard to be. It involved suppressing a lot of my true self - my sexuality, my thoughts, my opinions, etc - but, for a short (but quite intense) season in my life, that was what I thought was The One Way. And that is when I found Jennifer Knapp's music. I really liked it - CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) was really coming to the forefront, and Jennifer's style was edgier than the other female artists available to me at the time (Amy Grant, Twila Paris, etc). I actually caught her in concert once when she was touring with Third Day (one of my favorite CCM groups).

And then, of course, the false tower that I had built came crashing down around me. I left my church, left my faith, and wandered around in an emotional wasteland for years.

I didn't notice that Jennifer Knapp had seemingly disappeared at around this time too; I, myself, had disappeared from the Christianity landscape, and I left everything from it behind, including my CDs, intending to divorce that part of my life from the new life that I was creating.

Funny, reading this book, all I could think about is that Jennifer and I went through a very similar struggle at almost the same time. It was almost like I could have written parts of this book myself (not the "I'm a former Christian rock star" parts).

This book really made me look back at my own struggles in Christianity. It wasn't exactly a fun experience, and dredging up those old memories weren't, either. However, I was glad to discover that, for the most part, I have let go of all of those issues that used to enrage and depress me about how everything ended for me. And Jennifer relates that well - she, too, was treated terribly by Christians. Even to this day, if you look at an article talking about her, you'll find commentators on the article, filled with vitriol and disguising it as "concern for her soul," trashing Jennifer. There are people who still insist that, even though they have never known her and likely never will, that they "know" that she was never saved, or her faith was always a lie, or that she is an unrepentant backslider.

Kudos to Jennifer for finally coming out and being true to herself. And she still has a vestige of her faith to cling to, it seems. I wish her much success on the new leg of her music career; in fact, I have the urge to pick up her newest CD and see if I love her music as much as I did back then, but for different reasons now, obviously.

I would have given a lot to have this book when I was losing my own faith. I think her journey can be used on many different levels - hope and comfort for those who are gay, a catalyst for change for those who are too focused on judging others to make themselves feel better, and a spotlight on Christians who insist that "love the sinner but hate the sin" actually works (here's a hint: all it does is cause people to turn away from the hatred that they dress up as "tough love").

Two minor complaints (if they are even that) about the book: the title is generic and could be so much better - I would think something like "Martyrs and Thieves," "The Way I Am," or some other phrase from one of her songs would be much more eye-catching. And, two, I would have loved to learn if she ever reconciled with her father, who shaped her life a great deal but apparently was okay with letting her drift away once she was an adult. Even Jennifer admits that her father chose his new wife over her, which is painful to read. Meanwhile, Jennifer's mother plays a much bigger role in her life as Jennifer becomes an adult, it seems. ( )
  schatzi | Oct 25, 2014 |
Reading the story of Jennifer Knapp gives the reader an inside out view on the harm fellow Christians do towards LBGT people. Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) is positioned as parallel universe to regular, secular music. Its clean cut subculture stresses purity and perfect role models, a standard difficult to reach or maintain without going through the motions or falling out of human grace. It was what Jennifer Knapp after a difficult youth, a remarkable musical upbringing and discovery of her muse and a sudden rise as Christian rock chick caused her to call it her quits in 2002 after successful albums and an intensive tour schedule. Once off the radar there were gossips about forced withdrawal, a sinful life as single possible cause.
In Facing the Music Knapp tells her is her story of finding Jesus in the midst of a wild youth of navigating school heavily influenced of alcohol and promiscuity. Her years of celibacy and devotion to sing Jesus songs, getting signed by TobyMac's Gotee Records, the condemnation of her appearance at the Lilith Fair concerts, her discovery of being gay and avoidance of having to disclose her sexual orientation to her roadie, even to close friends and mentors. She found herself babysitting (both professionally as practically) to the then 17 years old Katy Hudson, pushed to the Christian music scene by her parents. Knapp quit CCM and promised never to play and sing anymore. Jennifer's travels through the US and Europe led her ultimately to Australia, where she and her partner Karen settled, still trying not to be recognized as that Jennifer Knapp.
Step by step she learned to accept herself and to value her talents. Inspired by both a local pastor and the 2008 hit I Kissed a Girl by Katy Perry (yes, the same Katy Hudson, who took another stage name and sent quite a different message than during her CCM years nearly a decade before as teenager), she took a bold step and started writing music again. IN 2009, she returned to Nashville again in preparation of what would become the Letting Go album. A public coming out to both Christian and secular press was planned. The resulting storm of reactions was no surprise, but did harm Knapp's well-being again. Years of absence and silence, reluctance to ever visit a church again and yet a faith that was so strong, that Knapp was convinced that she couldn't relinquish that part of her personality just as being lesbian. Despite the theologically sound arguments, traditions and convictions, she maintains she is both gay and a Christian. A human being looking for love and to give love away. Knapp's journey's for which she is responsible is not over. She gave up once, but can't imagine doing it again. Her latest album Set Me Free testifies to that. An inspiring memoir that made me feel ashamed and yet again willing to choose to love my neighbor. ( )
  hjvanderklis | Oct 15, 2014 |
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Jennifer Knapp's meteoric rise in the Christian music industry ended abruptly when she walked away and came out publicly as a lesbian. This is her story--of coming to Christ, of building a career, of admitting who she is, and of how her faith remained strong through it all.… (more)

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