Tuesday, 4 August 2009

JORDAN: The Silence of Sodom

Jordan, Mark D.
The Silence of Sodom
Homosexuality in Modern Catholicism
University of Chicago Press, 2000

322 pages
Catholic, Catholic Church, homosexuality, gay male
This is one I immensely enjoyed reading. It is scholarly, but also immensely readable and indeed fun, even if it has a serious message. It is one I expect to re-read and dip into frequently, and have no hesitation in recommending.
QTC strong recommendation
From the back cover:
"The past decade has seen homosexual scandals in the Catholic Church becoming ever more visible as the Vatican's directives on homosexuality become ever more forceful, begging the question Mark D. Jordan tries to answer here: how can the Catholic Church be at once so homophobic and so homoerotic? His analysis is a keen and readable study of the tangled relationship between male homosexuality and modern Catholism."
"Jordan gives readers with open minds a better appreciation of the intrinsic homosexual fixation, as well as homoerotic imagination, of the Roman Catholic church. His scholarship deserves serious consideration by faithful Catholics in America."
- Chuck Colbert, National Catholic Reporter
"Jordan knows how to present a case, and with apparently effortless clarity he demonstrates the church's double bind and how it afffects Vatican rhetoric, the training of priests, and ecclesiastical protectiveness toward an array of closet cases......this book will interest readers of every faith."
- Daniel Blue, Lambda Book Report
(See also the Wild Reed, "Officially homophobic, intensely homoerotic".)
Reviews on-line:

Contents / Synopsis


The Pope
Converts: Imagination, Bureaucracy,

In this introductory chapter the author imagines a scenario in which the Pope unexpectedly realises the wrong that has been done by the Church to homosexuals over centuries, and decides to correct this wrong. He (the Holy Father) then asks “What is required for the thorough correction of the teachings?” In the rest of the chapter, Jordan attempts to answer this question, and outlines the plan of the book.


In the first full section, Jordan examines “the church’s bureaucratic speech about sexual morality”. His thesis here is that there is little point in attempting to ‘argue’ about, or demonstrate the error of, Catholic sexual teaching.instad, we shuld analyse the rhetorical style. This is because that style is not about rational argument, but about a kind of rhetorical bullying – substituting repetition from assumed authority in place of reasoned debate.

Teaching by Threatening

Bureaucratic Morals


In his second section, Jordan looks beyond the words of the Church on male homosexuality, and looks instead at the actual practice of the Church – which presents a very different picture. In doing so, he finds that “in its institutional arrangements, in fragments of history, and in unspoken but widely known features of clerical culture” lies an “enormous churchly science of male homoeroticism, a long institutional experimentation with it.”

Living Inside

Memoirs of Priestly Sodomy

Reproducing “Father”

Clerical Camp


In his final section, Jordan considers strategies for hope for gay Catholics in the Church now. What, he asks, are the real choices open to them while they wai for the Church “to begin articulating mature teachings about their lives?”

Reiteration, or the Pleasures of Obedience

Repentance, or Schools for New Speech


Works Cited


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