Faculty Stories

New Book by Dr. Rolf Nolasco Offers Unique Look at Queer Identity Anchored as God’s Beloved

Dr. Rolf Nolasco

The latest book from Dr. Rolf Nolasco, professor of pastoral theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, offers a unique look at what it means for queer people to locate and anchor their identity as a beloved child of God. God’s Beloved Queer: Identity, Spirituality, and Practice draws from a wide range of disciplines—pastoral theology, spirituality, counseling psychology, affective neuroscience, anthropology—to offer a more nuanced description of what it means for queer folks to be sacred icons of God like everyone else. It also explores with penetrating detail the inner psychological and spiritual terrain of queer lives, along with spiritual practices that will help support their flourishing.

God’s Beloved Queer: Identity, Spirituality, and Practice is published by Wipf & Stock and is available at the publisher’s website and Amazon. To learn more about Nolasco’s new book, be sure to check out his interview below.

What is unique about the book?

The book offers a nuanced description of what it means to locate one’s queer identity on God who calls us Beloved. Sustained attention is given to the psychological and spiritual lives of queer folks and their quest to pattern their desires after the gratuitous and non-rivalrous love of God who also desires and supports our flourishing. It also offers psycho-spiritual practices that will help nourish and sustain this bestowed identity.

Who is the intended audience of the book?

Primarily, it is written specifically for Gay Christians who still have this lingering sense of their sacred worth and have held onto their faith without fail, regardless of how they have been treated or what others have said about them because of their sexuality. May this be a source of encouragement as they continue on the journey. Secondarily, I hope that this book will also find its way into the hands of those who genuinely want to understand our interior and complex lives.

What approach have you taken to write this book?

The book is deeply personal and interdisciplinary at the same time. I am acutely aware of how varied the queer experience is and that I am only peering into a variation, albeit from a uniquely personal, professional, social, and religious matrix that has been home for me all these many years. As well, I have drawn from the disciplines of theology, spirituality, psychology, anthropology, and brain studies to help describe and represent a particular kind of queer experience or subjectivity.

How does the book extend the conversation?

Our denomination, The United Methodist Church, has once again legislated and enforced social and religious mechanism of exclusion against the LGBTQIA+ community. This book is a show of resistance against this victimage mechanism first by affirming the sacred worth of each queer person by virtue of being image- bearers of God. Secondly, using some sort of “hermeneutics of retrieval,” I have offered a queer reading of key theological concepts to reveal the inherent sacred violence at play in the traditional normative discourse on matters queer. I owe much of these interpretive moves to René Girard and James Alison.

In a few words, what would you say to the queer community reading this?

I wrote a poem and it goes like this:

Yes, you are loved as you are!
And your love is as pure and genuine and true as the love of another! So, let us celebrate this love
Love that mirrors the consummate love of Christ
A victimless, gratuitous, and creative love
That declares with such delightful cheer that
You are, without a doubt
God’s Beloved Queer!

Dr. Rolf Nolasco is professor of pastoral theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He is an experienced professor, trained in pastoral and counseling psychology, mindfulness and contemplative spirituality, and affective neuroscience. Nolasco is also a psychotherapist, published author, and has vast experience in cross cultural communications from living and working across the world within varying social and cultural backgrounds. In addition to God’s Beloved Queer, he is the author of The Contemplative Counselor: A Way of Being (Fortress Press, 2011) and Compassionate Presence: A Radical Response to Human Suffering (Cascade Books, 2016). Nolasco is also currently working on a new book, Depression, Dark Night of the Soul, and Joy (Cascade Books, 2021).

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, a graduate school of theology related to The United Methodist Church, was founded in 1853. Located on the campus of Northwestern University, the seminary serves more than 450 students from various denominations and cultural backgrounds, fostering an atmosphere of ecumenical interaction. Garrett-Evangelical creates bold leaders through master of divinity, master of arts, master of theological studies, doctor of philosophy, and doctor of ministry degrees. Its 4,500 living alumni serve church and society around the world.