Miami Dade College Professor's Book Explores Sexual Relationships In Context Of The Church
The Sundial Book Club's January title "Jesus Boy" is a coming-of-age story about a teenage boy, Elwyn Parker, who is a piano prodigy and devout Christian. In the book, Parker finds himself entangled in a taboo relationship with an older woman in the church. Most of the story takes place in Opa-locka at a church.
The book's author, Miami Dade College professor Preston Allen, says his book is an exploration of faith and that it is somewhat autobrographical. He joined Sundial to talk about how Jesus Boy explores the idea of cultivating relationships within the church.
WLRN: How would you describe "Jesus Boy"? What is this story?
ALLEN: I would have to say that it is star-crossed lovers, forbidden love, a coming of age story and an exploration of faith. Like how faith can sometimes prevent us from being human and at other times it increases or enhances our humanity. You realize that faith is out there not to separate, but to unite and to reveal.
I was young when I started it so I had no idea how the relationship between people worked beyond the sexual level. So I think I had to grow up to get an understanding of the relationship beyond the carnal. I never lost the carnal in the book which enhanced it. I think because I had that [sexual] connection between the two characters that completely pulls them together.
I want to know who Elwyn Parker is. Who is he?
He's basically King David in the Bible. A very talented, very intelligent man who loves the Lord but he's weak. Wait, not weak. He's human. And I think that speaks to us all because we have the things that we love and they often separate us.
Let's talk about Sister Morrison and her relationship with Elwyn. He's a young man. He's 16. She's in her 40s. What is this relationship between them?
That's the way it happens in church sometimes. You will feel something for someone that's quite natural but inappropriate and it sort of happens in our society where people who should not be together are drawn to each other. We got Romeo and Juliet... So it should be an appropriate relationship right? Except you have the age thing.
Is it a loving relationship or is it manipulation?
Again, we don't know. As the author I would leave that question to the reader. I have my own ideas on it. It's a troubling question. As a teacher and a scholar, I would take the side of manipulation but as an author I'm not so sure...We have to explore that.