The Unhealed Wound: The Church, the Priesthood, and the Question of Sexualityby Eugene C. Kennedy
The Unhealed Wound is a penetrating and insightful study of the unresolved conflicts Catholics face regarding their sexuality and their spiritualityconflicts which become greater/i>
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A psychologist, former priest, and one of the leading thinkers in Catholicism today addresses one of the most compelling yet undiscussed issues in the Church: human sexuality.
The Unhealed Wound is a penetrating and insightful study of the unresolved conflicts Catholics face regarding their sexuality and their spiritualityconflicts which become greater as they continue to go unaddressed within the Church. With an unflinching eye, Eugene Kennedy astutely yet respectfully takes to task a church that condemns birth control, marriage for priests, and sex outside of marriage, and he examines its formidable hierarchy, challenging clerics who uphold papal edicts unthinkingly.
Articulately postulating the human need not only to understand but celebrate our own sexuality, The Unhealed Wound will no doubt engender both controversy and heating dialogue amongst Catholics.
About the Author:
Eugene Kennedy is a former priest and psychologist, and the award-winning author of several books and a column for the Religious News Service, distributed by the New York Times syndicate. He lives with his wife in Chicago, Illinois, and Naples, Florida.
"With a masterful blend of poetic and decisive articulation, Kennedy fearlessly and insightfully exposes the many symptoms of the sexual wound." -Chicago Tribune
"Persuasively arguing that all aspects of our God-endowed human nature should be celebrated, Kennedy urges the institutional church to move beyond bureaucratic stasis to reestablish a healthy pastoral dialogue regarding all aspects of human sexuality." -Booklist
"I know of no recent book on the Church that deserves a wider readership than Eugene Kennedy's The Unhealed Wound. It celebrates the reality of the Church as Mystery, but also exposes and examines the pain caused to so many by the Church as bureaucracy or institution." -Rev. Richard P. McBrien, author of Lives of the Popes
"The Unhealed Wound will be a source of healing and liberation." -National Catholic Reporter
"This valuable and needed book shows that doctrine has psychological roots and consequences, and that what is often considered as merely an ecclesiastical fear of sex can become, in fact, an attack on love, which is at the heart of the Christian religion." -Garry Wills, author of Papal Sin
- St. Martin's Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- First Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 5.60(w) x 8.64(h) x 0.87(d)
Read an Excerpt
OVERTURE: TRISTAN'S WOUND
* * *
It is the twenty-second day of the last November before the New Year 2000. A light mist casts a sheen on Manhattan's streets, veils the Metropolitan Opera House, and blurs the lights of limousines and taxis delivering guests hungry to see and hear Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. At the end of its first New York performance 113 years before, according to a newspaper of the era, "before the clapping (and screaming) began, the audience sat hypnotized for minutes `silent and motionless in their places as though drunk or in a transport.'"
Women "swooned when ... Tristan tore the bandages from his wound" to rise from his delirium and greet life again in the return of Isolde and to die in her armsas Wagner himself wished to die, in the embrace of his mistress, Mathilde. The epic liebesnacht (the love night) and the liebestod (the love death) were said to "have shattered inhibitions [of women] inculcated by Gilded Age decorum." With its "erotic maelstrom of ... love music," one critic reflects, Wagner's version of the Tristan legend "had changed people's lives."
Do the men and women hurrying toward their places expect their lives to be changed by what, in 1886, the New York Tribune referred to as the "tumultuous lava current" of the opera? It is less by chance than by a summons from the millennial, love-straitened times that Tristan and Isolde are to sing once more of their "love-death" to New Yorkers who know that in the century just ending, a sexual revolution has been won but something about love has also been lost. They almost certainly feel within themselves the poisoned wound of Tristan, the gash that lies at the heart of this legend and a dozen kindred myths.
Do these people, so unremarkably human in their desires beneath their designer labels, long for love that is not given by half? And would they, in the fundament of their beings, surrender the right always to choose, and instead be themselves chosen, even imprisoned, by a grand consuming passion and suffer the intense erotic wound of a great love? Are they less sexually restless than the patrons a century earlier, or are they more anxious to meet their Tristan or their Isolde and be swept away by a transcendent love that makes even death sweet?
Enter Wagner's Tristan and enter a myth for the postmodern world, in which the wound symbolizes the still-unhealed division between God and his universe, heaven and earth, and spirit and fleshthat injury that seeds men and women, as Joseph Campbell says, with "longing, irresolution, loneliness and lust." Does the opera intensify fin de siècle ambivalence about the dangerous glory of love that demands a total surrender of the self to another? Do the audience members bear within themselves their own sexual wounds, hoping to tear away their bandages, as Tristan pulls them from his own wound to be healed by, and perhaps to die of, love?
If this is the theme of this titanic psychodrama, Tristan is but one of the great mythical figures who, like all of us, bear a wound that needs healing. Wounds are found everywhere in ancient legends, in those of Sir Gawain and that of the Fisher King, who found ease only in his boat on the water, and in the spell-casting castrate Clinschor, who was himself wounded as he wounded the king. The Grail King in the Parzival of von Eschenbach waits for someone to speak the words of healing for a wound so severe that he can neither sit nor stand nor lie down with comfort. The wounds are almost always the samethese great male figures are wounded sexually, by spears thrust through their genitals, and await healing that comes, as we shall see, not from magic or miracles but from responses so simple in their human sympathy or so powerful in their human love that they astound us still.
Excerpted from THE UNHEALED WOUND by EUGENE KENNEDY. Copyright © 2001 by Eugene Kennedy. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
What People are Saying About This
I know of no recent book on the Church that deserves a wider readership than Eugene's Kennedy's The Unhealed Wound. It celebrates the reality of the Church as mystery (i.e., a faith-community imbued with the hidden presence of God, as the late Pope Paul VI put it), but also exposes and examines the pain caused to so many by the Church as bureaucracy or institution. The book is sure to challenge and anger some, but it will even more surely liberate thousands of others from confusion, misunderstanding, and especially the burden of false guilt. Even as it exposes the syndrome of denial at the Church's official levels, it strikes a powerfully affirming chord for so many.
Garry Wills, author of Papal Sin
I have not so much read The Unhealed Wound as meditated my way through it. Eugene Kennedy has looked directly at the true condition of our beloved, beleaguered church, with brave lucidity.
Meet the Author
Eugene Kennedy is an award-winning author, syndicated columnist, and professor emeritus of psychology at Loyola University of America. He and his wife, Sara Charles, M.D., live in Chicago
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