Eternal Victim/Eternal Victor:
Making the Case for Victory
Review by DL Foster
Breaching the subject of homosexuality is a difficult task. Almost like pulling a tooth. Imagine that. Not that you're the one pulling the tooth-- you're the one in the seat of pain. For African Americans, it carries an even weightier taboo, mixed with generations of superstitions, assumptions and biblical warnings. The list of writings, particularly books, about homosexuality by African American authors are as rare as a white tiger. And one by a black man who's in the overcoming process is even rarer. But the walls have begun to crumble with a dragonslaying of a book entitled Eternal Victim/Eternal Victor (Pneuma Life Publishing, Lanham, Maryland) by Donnie McClurkin, his first literary effort.
Before we talk about the book, let us first look at its author and the significance of why he wrote it. Donnie McClurkin is without question one of the most anointed ministers to sing black gospel music in quite sometime. Since his early days with the New York Restoration Choir and the yearning strains of "Speak to my Heart", McClurkin has spiritually catapulted to the top of his field.
As a psalmist, he is in perpetual demand at major cross-cultural revivals, conferences and events across the nation and world.
McClurkin is hailed more often as a "minister" of music by many because he so greatly differs in his delivery of song which he so often infuses with the preached word.
I've heard him sing and preach some of his songs and ignite revival in a matter of minutes! It was Donnie who in his gold-selling "Live in London and More" collection, rerecorded the sleeper "We Fall Down (But we get up) by Bob Carlisle and transformed it into a phenomenon, notwithstanding its share of controversy among some African American church purists.
He even made splashes in the secular world with a song on the soundtrack of the popular animated movie The Prince of Egypt and a subsequent appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show. He has shared the stage with a veritable who's who of great names in gospel music.
Yes, Donnie McClurkin is standing on the top of a mountain of success and accolades. But it wasn't always that way. That's where the book comes in.
Eternal Victim/Eternal Victor is not specifically about overcoming homosexuality, but because the author struggled with homosexuality, it becomes the teeth of an otherwise captivatingly introspective book about overcoming adversity of all kinds. A book that undoubtedly some have prayed for and others are seething over.
Controversy always follows truth because of the forces which seek to extinguish its light. But McClurkin has been evolving as a powerful and credible witness for change from homosexuality. That's tough for a man of his profile. But its also empowering because Donnie McClurkin is not some johnny-come-lately transplant: his music has grown to epitomize the heart and soul of true gospel music.
His strong and soaring voice elicits images of eagles flying effortlessly as he glides through songs of faith. Its tough because in the black gospel music genre its light and shine has been repeatedly dulled and sullied by homosexual scandals. Its tough because taking such a stand could hurt Donnie's "marketability" to seen as too controversial.
Most black churchgoers know that homosexuality is pervasive in the ranks of music ministry. Thus, the increasing popularity has created an air of intimidation for those who would question an artist's sexuality. And so for McClurkin to step out of those shadows and speak to (possibly) some of the same people he has shared the spotlight with is indeed a tough thing. But despite the risks he has and continues to do so.
In October 1998, Charisma Magazine published a groundbreaking article entitled "Let's stop hiding from the pain." Written by associate editor Valerie Lowe, McClurkin joined in with other black men and women (including me) the challenge the hurtful silence (read taboo) of the black church. He's given numerous interviews to black gospel magazines and media outlets , each one becoming more and more articulate about truth and freedom.
The book seems then, to become a natural extension of what he has been doing all along.
In a measured voice, EVEV demands athe return of sanctity, holiness and standards to the church. It is a message the the church at large, but nonetheless holds critical personal notes for the black church. With the heart of a pastor (Perfecting Faith Church in Freeport, NY), McClurkin soothes the wounds of those damaged by life's adversities, but he also challenges them to shake off the clingy theology of victimology.
With chapter headings like "You were born for this!", "Get over it", "Break the cycle", "Try again", and "Do something about it!", he asserts that victimology is precisely what is preventing healing. Preach Donnie!
"Sympathy, to an eternal victim, is like a drug to which they develop an addiction. The more they get, the more they want."
He told FamilyChristian.net writer Ann Meyerling that he was influenced to write the book after "seeing people, young people especially, who are being totally decimated in their sexuality."
Why is this book so good for us? One reason is because Donnie McClurkin opened the doors a little wider and shined a flashlight into that terrible darkness. He told the truth and didn't make excuses for himself.
"The abnormal use of my sexuality continued until I came to realize that I was broken and that homosexuality was not God's intention...for my masculinity." he writes. That's the kind of solid, practical advice thousands of young men and women are not getting in churches today. The book has plenty of "transparent" moments, something critical I feel to the success of a book like this.
The book is intensely personal; you can almost feel the author sitting in a chair across from you saying, "Hey, you can make it out!" It carries the reader out of negative mindsets and shows them a glorious "right now" life waiting to be embraced.
If you have not stumbled upon, heard of or picked up a copy of this book, repent and go get it! Get if for that young black man who you know needs to drink this water of life. Get it for that young woman chasing after a man who's hurt and broken. Get it for your son or daughter. Get it for that pastor who needs to soak his message in compassion.
Until other books break through the surface, Donnie McClurkin's Eternal Victim/Eternal Victor stands as an important voice in the African American community for all who know there's a better way to live that whats being lived. Hopefully, Donnie won't have to stand alone for long as healing spreads through the Body.