Thursday, 25 March 2010
Editorial Review - Kirkus Reviews Copyright (c) VNU Business Media, Inc.
A densely documented study of societal attitudes toward homosexuality through the ages and across the cultural spectrum. To supply insight into prehistoric practices, Greenberg begins with homosexuality in tribal societies. In various Pacific Island tribes, for instance, prepubescent boys are placed under the aegis of an older male for manhood-training--which includes a ritualized pederastic relationship until the younger male marries. Throughout the world, a number of tribal societies regard nonritualized homosexuality for men and, occasionally, for women with considerable tolerance. The widespread homosexuality in ancient Greece and Rome may, says Greenberg, have evolved from earlier rituals. The Christian era was characterized by official hostility to all nonprocreative sex, with horrendous penalties (castration, stoning, immolation) for homosexual acts. Such penalties were rarely invoked, and large medieval and Renaissance cities contained sizable male homosexual undergrounds. With Protestantism and the Industrial Age, attitudes hardened as a burgeoning middle class saw nonconformity as a threat to their values, children, and societal stability. Gay liberation has now produced a backlash triggered by the sudden visibility of homosexuals, with the AIDS crisis further ammunition against deviation. Every page here bristles with information: Greenberg cites over 2,300 books and articles. Although he relies on no original sources, he has assembled and interpreted well a mass of fascinating material.
Monday, 8 March 2010
Spiritual direction is one of the best -kept secrets of the Catholic Church. This is unfortunate- the process needs to be better known and used. This is how Jesuit theologian James L'Empereur describes it:
the process in which a Christian accompanies others for an extended period of time for the process of clarifying the psychological and religious issues in the directee so that they may move toward deeper union with God and contribute to ministry within the Christian community.
I have unexpectedly been able to borrow L'Empereur's "Spiritual Direction and the Gay Person", which I would now like to prescribe to all my readers as required reading, with a 3 hour examination at the end of the course. I began reading last evening, and have been devouring it with enthusiasm. I am now about half way through, and not yet ready to offer a full and balanced assessment. (That will come later). Still, every page has important insights that I want to share or explore further. As an appetizer before the main course to follow, I offer some snippets today:
Here are the opening sentences:
Homosexuality is one of God's most significant gifts to humanity. To be gay or lesbian is to have received a special blessing from God. to be gay or lesbian is to have received a special blessing from God. All humans receive their own special graces from their creator, but god has chosen some to be gay and lesbian as a way of revealing something about Godself that heterosexuals do not.
This is a startling, unexpected beginning, but of course he goes on to explain and fully substantiate it, in a chapter that had me engrossed, and anxious to explore also all his references and sources (a task, I fear, which may be well beyond me.) Elsewhere, he makes another startling claim: he calls the gay state a "charism", exactly comparable to the charism of celibacy embraced by Catholic clergy. Both are charisms granted to just a few, from which the wider church can learn. Here I was reminded of an observation in one of our Soho Mass homilies, that if "homosexuality" is an environmental threat because it cannot lead to procreation, so is celibacy.) The key manner in which we who are gay or lesbian can teach the wider Church is in the manner of our sexuality, which is not exclusively about genital contact (in complete contradiction to the popular stereotypes), nor is it based in patriarchal patterns of domination and submission.
Saturday, 6 March 2010
Thursday, 4 March 2010
A History of Homosexuality
“A global history of the lives of gay men and women from the earliest civilizations to the present day.”
Homosexuality ahs always been present in society. William Naphy’s book dramatically highlights the positive attitudes of bygone generations and cultures, as opposed to nineteenth century views of the “disease” of homosexuality.
There has long been an assumption in the West that views on sex and sexuality are basically similar worldwide. This has never been the case. Many ancient cultures actively promoted same-sex relationships as an integral part of adolescence or even worship. The rise of Judeo-Christian views forced homosexuality “underground”, leading to Henry VIII’s 1535 ban on homosexuality and Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment for sodomy.
Born to Be Gay takes a radical look at homosexuality from Bacchanalian orgies to “Gay Pride”.
Before Sodom and Gomorrah
”Joined in Life, Joined in Death”
The Birth of Homophobia
”They Must Be Put to Death”
Classical Civilizations and the Birth of Christianity
”Every Woman’s Husband and Every Man’s Wife”
”The Amir Wants to See What I Look Like When I’m Sodomised”
Spreading Christian Values
”Because the White People Thought it was Evil”
”They Had Grown From Childhood in Their Own Natural Way”.
Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past
New American Library 1989
Lesbian and Gay History