Homosexuality, Religion, and Reviews

Sigh. Dear Readers, not sure how this will be interpreted but I am sure that since I’m wading in I accept that I might get a face full of blowback and, unlike the author of the moment, I will not engage in rhetoric guaranteed to fan the flames of what is at the moment a very small fire.

On June 7 Eric Shaw Quinn released a new book, The Prince’s Psalm. It is a new, and for some, a highly controversial interpretation, of the Biblical story of David and Jonathan of Israel. “1 Samuel 18:1 & 3: “And it came to pass… that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.”

David not only slew Goliath, he won the heart of Prince Jonathan, heir to the throne of Israel. They were star-crossed warrior lovers whose passionate affair changed history and gave rise to the nation of Israel, a legacy that has endured for 3,000 years. Their epic love story stands at the center of a religious tradition that shaped the world.

But Jonathan and David were also two men torn between duty and tradition, driven by their undeniably passionate and physical love for one another. Who were they beyond the historical facts given in the Bible? What were they like—as men? This modern-day novel tells the story of Israel’s first king and the man who captured his heart.”  -Amazon.

On June 10 there were two 5 star reviews, on June 13 two 1 star reviews appeared, one of which was by a very confused woman who ordered an ebook version by mistake. This one was subsequently removed for very valid reasons. The other was by a woman who seems to believe, amongst other things, that there were NO GAY characters in the Bible.

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Now, to me, this person probably won’t ever be caught reading a M/M romance and probably thinks no one in her circle of family, friends, and acquaintance is gay but she is not actively saying anyone not hetero should die in the fire of hell she just wants to, well, probably she’d like to believe there are no gay characters in real life either but right now as long as they aren’t two guys from the Bible stories she has been raised with she’ll be okay.

Bless her heart.

Now sometime on the 16th a number of reviews appeared and I’m guessing this might’ve been the first or one of the first.

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Is nothing sacred anymore? No, not a lot. I always saw that Bible verse as David dissing his wife for leaving and praising Jonathan for being his brother and staying with him but not maybe there is another way to look at it. But that is a discussion that I’m not having here and now.

This review seems to be, again, more about the challenge to a long held belief than about rabid anti-gay speech.

Also on the 16th we see nine 5 star reviews. Nine out seventeen, ten if you count the 1 star on the same day. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?. Wonder no more.

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Wow. Religious intolerance. Gay bashing. ISIS. But wait- it gets better.

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Religious terrorists.  Where have I seen this kind of inflammatory rhetoric before?

Screenshot (359)Oh yes,  Anne Rice, the woman who wants to know the name of every reviewer who doesn’t give her books a glowing review.

Let’s look at the third review which was posted on the 18th.

Okay, this reviewer has a definite bias but I can’t decide if he  abhors homosexuality because of his religious beliefs or if he’s just a homophobe using religion as an excuse.  I’m trying hard to see where terrorism rears its ugly head but honestly I don’t, while none of these three   are going to embrace a different view soon or at all, I do believe Quinn would have this kind of review even if he made Jonathan into Johanna or if he made David into Davina. When you reinvent any part of the Bible- watch out. Someone isn’t going to like it and they may call you names. You are toying with their religion, you have taken a cattle prod to their sacred cow.

Also on the 16th Quinn’s friend and Dinner Party co-host, Christopher Rice, posted this on FB:

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Sorry for the weird break but Christopher, like his mother, writes one long wall of text. In between the release of TPP and the 16th there was Orlando. Rice writes that this isn’t about “a handful of hateful book  reviews from people who haven’t read the book” but this post is attached to discussion of those reviews. So we will leave Orlando, hate crimes, and assault weapons out of this. This is about book reviews.

On the 16th a 1 star review, nine 5 star reviews, and two FB posts, one by Quinn and one by Rice appeared. Both Quinn and Rice have a right to feel as much anger, fear, and betrayal as they want. But if it is not about a handful of reviews, what is this?

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Note to Sarah MacDonald- Amazon frowns on you using other family member’s accounts to do this sort of thing. This sort of thing being a downvoting campaign. Because 3 reviews out of 17 tanks the book with a 4.3 out of 5 rating.

Yesterday Quinn posted this probably after the third 1 star went live:

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If this is about hate speech and hate crimes then there is no need to upvote those 5 star reviews. Has Quinn and Rice succeeded in making a difference? Are their posts shining a big old spotlight on homophobia?

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No. I did see a lot of “gonna downvote and report those haterz” and a lot  of  “gonna buy this book now” and “gonna give it 5 stars”. Let’s dwell on Laura’s insightful comment for a moment, yes, somewhere Quinn admits he is “trying to make a living” with this book as with his other work. And, hey, everyone has got to make a living. Let’s move on, sorry that my point is taking the long route.

There were a few comments from those who realize that you can’t expect universal acclaim when wielding that cattle prod.

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Can’t argue with Stacy, she got it right.

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He’s right, the target audience will see these reviews for what they are.

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And right again.

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Nope, because, Sabrina, you can deliberately or accidentally turn off the AVP symbol. And since you so conveniently brought that up, let’s look at these reviews.

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Author M J Rose writes that most helpful of all reviews, the one that could be posted to almost any book on anything and, look, no AVP.

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Screenshot (369)Four 5 star reviews without an AVP and one of them admits he hasn’t read the book. Are these not “fake” reviews? Or is that only reserved for 1 star reviews that might be written by conservative religious believers who might or might not have a problem with homosexuality? Where is the outrage for these reviews?

Oh, wait. I know the answer to this. Anne Rice has preached this gospel. Only 1 star reviews are fake. There is nothing wrong with a 5 star review if you haven’t read the book.

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Look familiar? I couldn’t find the ss with Rice saying a fake 5 star is acceptable because it doesn’t hurt the author. It’s on another laptop and inaccessible for now.

Look, reporting and downvoting will accomplish what?  Nothing, nothing at all. It won’t change anyone’s mind. It won’t promote any positive position.  There were a number of negative comments posted on those reviews, but only one that advanced an argument in favor of Quinn’s interpretation.

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I’m going to try to wrap this up now. I tried to see in those reviews what Quinn wanted me to see but I didn’t. I saw in Christopher Rice’s FB post the outrage, but not in Quinn’s numerous posts.  Instead I found the echo of Anne Rice’s complaints about 1 and 2 star reviews. I found the same lack of understanding that Amazon does not require you to read the book before you review it. I saw  the same thing we’ve all seen before, the rush to buy a book, down vote and report critical reviews, upvote the positive reviews and leave a review, any kind of review as long as it’s 5 stars because the author, the poor author, has found a new way to sell a few more copies of his book.

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