Saturday, June 9, 2012

Book Review

Eternal Victim/Eternal Victor by Donnie McClurkin

Making the case for victory


Book 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 lists of writings, particularly books, about homosexuality by African Americans are as rare a white tiger. And one by a black man who in the overcoming process is even rarer.  But the walls have begun to crumble with a dragonslaying book entitled Eternal Victim/Eternal Victor [Pnuema 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 internationally. 


     McClurkin is hailed more often as a "minister" of music by many because he so greatly differs in his delivery of song which he often interweaves with the preached word. Yes, I've heard him preach some of his songs and ignite revival in a matter of minutes!  It was Donnie who on his gold-selling "Live in London and More" album, rerecorded the sleeper "We fall down (but we get up)" by Bob Carlisle and transformed it into a phenomenon, notwithstanding it's 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 top of a mountain of success and accolade.  But it wasn't always that way. That's where the book comes in.


    Eternal Victim/Eternal Victor is not specifically about homosexuality, but because the author struggled with it, 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 it’s also empowering because Donnie McClukin is not some johnny-come-lately transplant, his music has grown to epitomize the heart and soul of true gospel music. His soaring and strong voice elicits images of an eagle flying as he glides through songs of faith.  It's tough because, especially in the black gospel music genre, its light and shine has been repeatedly dulled and sullied by homosexual scandals.  It's tough because it could hurt your "marketability" to be seen as controversial. Most black churchgoers know that homosexuality is pervasive in the ranks of the music ministry. Thus, the increasing popularity has created an air of intimidation for those who would question an "artist's" sexuality leanings. 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 a tough thing to do. But despite the risk factor, he has and continues to do so.


     In October 1998, in 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 to challenge the hurtful silence (read taboo) of the black church. He's given numerous interviews to black gospel magazines and media outlets, each time becoming more and more articulate about truth and freedom. The book seems then, a natural extension of what he has been sharing all along.


     In a measured voice, Eternal Victim/Eternal Victor demands the return of sanctity, holiness and standards to the church. It is a message to the church at large, but nonetheless holds critical personal notes for the black church. With the heart of the pastor he has become (Perfecting Faith Church), McClurkin soothes the wounds of others 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 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? Donnie McClurkin opened the doors a little wider and shined a flashlight into that terrible darkness. He told the truth and did not 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. There is a certain identification that must occur when sharing stories like these. Truth and honesty is a must. And Donnie delivers that in humble fashion.


    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 that a glorious right now life is waiting to be embraced.

    If you have not yet stumbled upon, heard of or picked up a copy of Eternal Victor/Eternal Victim, repent and go get it. Get it 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 Victor/Eternal Victim stands as an important voice in the African American church community and for all who know there's a better way to live than what's being lived. Hopefully, Donnie McClurkin won't have to stand alone for long as healing spreads through the body.


    Eternal Victor/Eternal Victor is available at most Christian bookstores and most online booksellers, as well as on 


Book reviewer DL Foster is an Atlanta based Pastor and author.





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