‘Ultimately, as the theme that emerges is about being true to yourself, ‘A Life of Unlearning’ should be compulsory reading for every man, woman and child in Australia, whether gay or straight, young or old, religious or non-religious.’
Gary Fishlock Editor of SX Magazine part of the Gay News Network
In this well written autobiography, Anthony Venn-Brown takes the reader on a remarkable journey ……. a heartfelt story of someone attempting to reconcile two disparate, but equally powerful, elements of his life – his sexuality and his faith. Anthony wonderfully invokes growing up in Sydney in the nineteen fifties and his prose really rings true for a first time author. As our exploration of who we truly are always affects those closest to us, and it is their pain that echoes through this book. Through it all, however, we come to see the essential nature of ‘character,’ despite the dramatic changes of scenery along the way.'
'A Life of Unlearning is still, in the 21st century, a shocking and much-needed work…….it’s an extraordinary life story, and ultimately a positive one.
Greg Spearritt Sea of Faith in Australia
'Anthony’s book is well-written, a ‘must-read’ for all (adult – though some may disagree with that) Christians, especially Christian leaders. It’s confronting, occasionally (appropriately) explicit, irenic, sad, honest, and well-researched. There’s a commendable integrity about his approach.' Read full review here
Rev Dr Rowland Croucher, John Mark Ministries
'Anthony shares his life with us with all the colour that a story-telling evangelist can capture. The honesty of his story is compelling. His story faces the hard issues, HIV/AIDS, Suicide, Sexual Assault, Relationships, Marriage, Parenting, Domestic Violence, Loneliness, Guilt, Shame, Rejection, Love and Sex. He has nothing to hide and it is refreshing. I recommend this book as a non-threatening way to understand and process the issues of sexuality and spirituality; however, I can’t say you may not experience discomfort as the honesty in these pages invites you to be honest in your own life. Read it if you dare.'
Dr Wendell Rosevear - O.A.M., M.B.,B.S., Dip. RACOG., FRACGP.,
'Despite his background in church leadership and Bible study, the author does not assail readers with a revised understanding of the scriptures generally thought to address sexuality. Instead, he simply tells his story, doing so with breath-taking honesty and self-exposure. It is reminiscent of some of the brutal bio-sketches found in Scripture and comes alive by virtue of not being uni-dimensional, idealised or sanitised.
Some will be confronted by images contained in the story, a story of the tragic-heroic struggle of a talented church leader and preacher trying desperately to harmonise his Christian calling and religious understanding with the deep realisation that he was gay. Even today, despite a growing body of research highlighting the innateness of sexuality, many church-going people hold judgmental attitudes towards gay and lesbian believers. Bigotry is part of the problem, but the larger problem is ignorance. Too many neglect to investigate a topic that they are convinced was resolved nearly three and a half thousand years ago, by the writer of Leviticus.
As Anthony notes towards the end of his book, “There are two types of people in the world: those who are asleep and those who are awake; those who are aware and conscious and those who live in a state of unknowing. It’s time Christians woke up.'
David Potter. Lecturer and General Studies Convenor. Avondale Seventh Day Adventist College.
'The title is just superb, challenging our puerile assumptions as to what it really means to be a Christian, indeed what it means to be a person of integrity at all. As well as being very hard to put down, this excellent autobiographical spiritual journey will be of interest to anybody who wants to learn more about the nature of their faith and how it can impact our life. In this book, hope is found through being honest and truthful - and learning what it means to live a life of integrity - rather than pretending to keep up an illusion of holy living, according to the demands and expectations of many church-going folk. I can hardly recommend this book too highly. If you allow the honesty of the author to challenge you, it will change your life - for the better.'
I've read many books about coming out and on the theme of the conflict with sexuality and faith. Venn-Brown presents a work that rings an authentic tone as he unearths the pain of living a closeted life. He does so without self-indulgence or bitterness. His words brim with hope, humor and integrity. As he unfolds the complexity of being a Christian who also happens to be gay, he reveals the many horrors we can inflict upon ourselves in attempts to submerge parts of our personalities. He also models the courageous process of starting anew while remaining faithful to the people and beliefs at our core. I highly recommend this book.