Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism
This is a magnificent book, and deserves a very wide readership.
Selmys' prose is a work of art and a model of clarity. The book sweeps
you along with novel-like readability and is happily free of technical
blather. It's most obvious merit is that it thinks outside the usual
box of culture wars rhetoric. The book was clearly written to appeal to
both the pro and anti-sides of the gay debate. There's no language loud
with fight; the tone is disarmingly pacific. Of the picking out of
great passages, and the wearing out of highlighters, there is no end.
Perhaps the highest praise you can give a book - that you give up
underlining as futile since you're underlining everything - can be
given this one. It performs the most interesting blend of genres I've
ever seen: an autobiographic narrative that alone would have been worth
buying the book for crops up amid compelling commentary on sex,
history, psychology, the mainstream media, and Christianity. Almost by
way of an afterthought, there drops from Selmys' pen the first really
well-written and luminous exposition of Pope John Paul II's Theology of
the Body in the English language, putting us further in her debt. For
these, and for the book's lavish aesthetic merits, let it be reckoned
unto her as righteousness.
Melinda Selmys promises us, in the subtitle of
this book, 'An Intimate
Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism', and she delivers on that
promise most admirably. Like St. Augustine of old, she weaves the
experiences of her own life into penetratingly deep insight into human
nature and sexuality. I am a bit in awe of the manner in which she lays
her soul bare, in order to speak deep truth to her readers.
Taken at face value, this is a book about homosexuality, from a
Catholic perspective, and it is certainly that, as Selmys gives us a
look at homosexuality 'from the inside', out of her own experience of
having been a partnered lesbian for several years, interwoven with the
story of her painstaking conversion to Catholicism (which is one of the
more brutally intellectually-honest 'conversion stories' I've
encountered). But there is so much more here than just that, as her
very agile and probing mind wanders over a vast range of what it means
to be human, the nature of our relationships with others, sexuality,
and on and on.
Because of where she has been in her life, her mind is remarkably
(to borrow Dr. Johnson's phrase) 'free of cant'. She readily pierces
ideological bubbles on both sides of the 'Cultural Divide'. In the
present cultural climate in which 'Gays' and 'Christians' are
all-too-eager to demonize each other into non-human abstractions,
Selmys calmly points out the fatuities propounded by both sides, and
encourages her readers to see things more clearly as they really are,
on a human level.
The late pope's Theology of the Body, and the personalist
philosophy out of which it grew, are all through this book, even if
they are not at the forefront. The manner in which she is able to
portray the fundamental 'human-ness' of same-sex-attracted persons, and
to place homosexuality in a full context of human fallen-ness (not
essentially different from other manifestations of human fallen-ness,
including my own), has the clear ring of deep truth.
On top of all this, Melinda Selmys is an exceptionally talented
writer, with whom I would love to share a cup of coffee (or several)
over some animated philosophical conversation. This is an excellent
book, full of deep insight and truth.
Sexual Authenticity by Melinda Selmys is so much more than just
Christian book about homosexuality. Drawing on both her personal
experiences and extensive research of homosexuality and Catholicism,
the author's comprehensive approach not only reveals an understanding
that is much more profound than one often encounters today, but also
provides a wealth of information on many related issues such as love,
marriage, family, society, temptation, repentance and religious
conversion. There is something in this book for everybody, whether gay,
straight, atheist, religious, some combination or none of the above.
In this book you will not find any of the stereotypical homophobia
or legalism that Christians are often accused of. Sexuality is not
boiled down to a set of behaviours dictated by feelings and "Thou
shalt..." or "Thou shalt not..." statements. What you will find is a
thorough yet concise explanation of sexuality as a gift from God and
how it fits into a Christian worldview, told in the context of how one
woman discovered it after years of trying to fight against it.
While there are many good resources out there on Christianity and
sexuality, Sexual Authenticity combines a deep personal understanding
with a rich abundance of information in 235 enjoyable pages. I highly
recommend this book to everyone.
Just Another Catholic Mom