As part of the process of creating this text, we’ve been reaching out to voices around the full spectrum of this conversation. In order to provide a greater degree of accountability and “checks and balances” in the writing, we’ve formally invited people from different backgrounds to join a review team that provides feedback, guidance and correctives. Drawing from liberal and conservative-leaning, religious and non-religious, openly gay-identifying and same-sex identifying and trangender individuals, this review team has improved the text in a number of important ways.
Members of the review team include: Patricia Wickman, Brandon Christensen, Christine Nelson-Gibby, Megan Allen, Brooke Van Alfen, Jodie Palmer, Casherie Bright & Ann Pack. Special thanks to Brooke, Jodie & Cash, in particular, for especially comprehensive and in-depth feedback.
Below are some bio’s for members of the review team, to get a glimpse of their lives and motivation to support this project.
Brooke Van Alfen has a professional background in health education, sociology, and English as a Second Language, as well as coaching volleyball and track for over ten years. She’s matched that time in parenting years and found both to be simultaneously intensely rewarding and exhausting. She doesn’t like being labeled, and would prefer just to be known as a compassionate – and sometimes funny – human being, but she realizes those are labels too. The facts are that she leans progressively, is a feminist, and an advocate for human rights. She cares what sometimes feels like too much, about everything and everyone, and that’s why heartfelt, honest, improving-the-world kind of discussions matter to her. She truly wants the best for all living things. She was raised in the same conservative community as author Jacob Hess, but has fundamentally different opinions, so she disagrees in the nicest, brutally honest sort of ways. Her passion comes from knowing and witnessing what it feels and looks like to not fit in, to not be heard, to be abused, and to be told one is lesser than another. She feels strongly about giving a voice to the voiceless. Thus, her contribution to this project is to help all sides find a more balanced representation, and to ensure that the discussion is rich with perspective. She feels that sharing space with others is a beautiful gift that makes life meaningful and allows her to grow, improve, and be opened up. She resides with her exceptional family of five in lovely Southern California.
Jodie Palmer is a true blue, down to the core, fiber of her being Mormon. And, despite the unpopular label in her faith, she is a true blue, down to the core, fiber of her being lesbian. She courts the impossible marriage between the two, while also navigating her decade-plus mixed orientation marriage (MOM) with her husband. The manaja twa of faith, sexuality and chosen partner has at times vacillated between ecstasy and suicidality, yet she pursues the elusive “and.” She loves being an Aries because it gives her permission to always be right. She is trying very hard to make friends with uncertainty and discomfort, but they keep demanding she stop being so controlling. Her passion is building things–humans, companies, communities, causes, and tree houses. She thinks random acts of kindness, curiosity, and belly laughs are super sexy. The contribution she most wishes to offer in building the Kingdom of God is to spread empathy and dialogue as the universal guides to navigating conflict without loosing connection. She also thinks a lot about what it will be like to be 90 and look over her life. She will be proud, if in the end, she was an instrument of peace, a champion of beauty, a believer in the power of love, and that she went with kindness.
THANK YOU for the contribution you have all made in helping this book articulate these issues with greater nuance, depth and complexity!
Since we consider our book an evolving work-in-progress, we envision the text continuing to change as we learn more – and gather additional feedback. Our review team will also continue expanding as more people become interested in contributing as formal members of our “diverse-and-disagreeing review team.”