The Silence of Sodom: Homosexuality in Modern Catholicism

Mark D. Jordan

Published by University of Chicago Press, 2000
ISBN 10: 0226410412 / ISBN 13: 9780226410418
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Synopsis: The past decade has seen homosexual scandals in the Catholic Church becoming ever more visible, and the Vatican's directives on homosexuality becoming ever more forceful, begging the question Mark 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.

"[Jordan] has offered glimpses, anecdotal stories, and scholarly observations that are a whole greater than the sum of its parts. . . . If homosexuality is the guest that refuses to leave the table, Jordan has at least shed light on why that is and in the process made the whole issue, including a conflicted Catholic Church, a little more understandable."—Larry B. Stammer, Los Angeles Times

"[Jordan] knows how to present a case, and with apparently effortless clarity he demonstrates the church's double bind and how it affects Vatican rhetoric, the training of priests, and ecclesiastical protectiveness toward an army of closet cases. . . . [T]his book will interest readers of every faith."—Daniel Blue,
Lambda Book Report
A 2000 Lambda Literary Award Finalist

Review: The Silence of Sodom by Mark D. Jordan, a professor of theology at Emory University, is a smart, graceful, important book about homosexuality and modern Catholicism. It transcends discussion of sexual identity and contends that theology cannot, fundamentally, be argued--it must be lived. "Serious moral theology cannot be principally the framing and manipulation of quasi-legal propositions. It must begin and end in the discovery of particular lives under grace." Consequently, Jordan writes, "lesbian and gay lives will have to become audible to the church, readable within it, before their graces can be discerned and described." The way for gay lives to become audible in the church, Jordan argues, is to demonstrate an intimate relationship between "'homosexuality' and holiness--that is, human fullness." To demonstrate that relationship, gay people must rethink their notions of identity by questioning the descriptive power of terms such as gay and homosexual, and perhaps even abandoning such terms.

Gay Catholics, Jordan says, "should feel contrition for having pretended to have a sexual identity, when what we had were desires, memories, and loves. To be good homosexuals is, for Catholic men, to conspire with our old persecutors in a sin against ourselves. The homosexual is only the sodomite in approved drag." Abstruse jargon, sloppy thinking, and excessive pride are common pitfalls for writers who address simultaneously the subjects of Christianity and homosexuality. Jordan avoids all of these dangers. In plain language, with humility, he gently insists that readers join him in learning how to talk about sexuality and physical pleasure in a way that amounts to talking about Christian love. --Michael Joseph Gross

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Title: The Silence of Sodom: Homosexuality in ...
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: 2000
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Used: Good

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