The Silence of Sodom: Homosexuality in Modern Catholicism / Edition 1

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A 2000 Lambda Literary Award Finalist
"What Jordan accomplishes is nothing less than brilliant. . . *"

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 Catholicism.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Jordan, author of the prize-winning The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology and professor of religion at Emory University, argues that the culture of Catholicism and gay culture have much in common. Analyzing Catholic documents on homosexuality, Jordan determines that the Church is often vague and imprecise, its rhetoric designed to confuse readers. Despite the Church's teachings that homosexual sex is a sin, says Jordan, Catholicism is shot through with homoeroticism -- the musical, incense-filled Catholic liturgy attracts gay men, and gay men's "coming out" is not dissimilar from Catholic seminarians' demonstration of a priesthood call. Even the Eucharist is drawn into this analysis: according to Jordan, male Catholics eating the perfect body of a perfect man is a homoerotic act, too, and the "priest without faith who celebrates Mass" recalls "a hustler having sex with his client." This treatise is provocative, but not convincing. Jordan's modest claim at the beginning of the book -- that the Catholic Church needs to honestly recognize its many gay Catholics, some of whom occupy positions of leadership -- is compelling. However, his suggestion that Catholicism and homosexuality are somehow inherently bound up with one another because the stereotypical gay man's fixation with fine clothes is reminiscent of priests' suiting up in vestments reads more like a Saturday Night Live skit than a serious effort to reshape Catholic discussions about sexuality.
Library Journal
Jordan (religion, Emory Univ.; The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology) considers the conceptualization of male homosexuality within the context of the contemporary Catholic church. The first of the three sections seeks to "analyze the rhetoric of the church's bureaucratic speech about sexual morality" by examining Declaration Regarding Certain Questions of Sexual Ethics (1971) and Letter to all Catholic Bishops on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons (1986). Jordan then investigates the hypocrisy and secrecy that surrounds clerical homosexuality. Finally, he dreams of ways to ameliorate the present situation, focusing on various approaches, such as those by organizations like Metropolitan Community Church and Dignity. The self-conscious sentences and fragmentary nature of the text, modeled on Walter Benjamin's The Arcades Project, are not completely successful at teasing out the complicated nuances of this controversial subject. Recommended for collections specializing in religion and Gay Lesbian Task Force issues.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226410432
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2002
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 342
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark D. Jordan is the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Religion at Emory University. He is the author of The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology and Blessing Same-Sex Marriage: The Perils of Queer Romance and the Confusions of Christian Marriage, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Table of Contents

1. The Pope Converts: imafination, Bureaucracy, Silence
2. Teaching by Threatening
3. Bureaucratic Morals
4. Living Inside
5. Memoirs of Priestly Sodomy
6. Reproducing "Father"
7. Clerical Camp
8. Reiteration, or The Pleasures of Obedience
9. Repentence, or Schools for New Speech
Works Cited

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