Acts of Faith, Acts of Love: Gay Catholic Autobiographies as Sacred Texts

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9780826415455: Acts of Faith, Acts of Love: Gay Catholic Autobiographies as Sacred Texts

It is widely admitted that Roman Catholic teaching on homosexuality is schizophrenic: morally rigorous but pastorally progressive. Dominican theologian Gareth Moore says the problem stems from the church's focus on 'acts' rather than 'relationships'. Since Vatican II and the Stonewall Riot, there has been an outpouring of lesbian and gay Catholic autobiographies - some book-length, others in the form of essays or even embedded in novels. These autobiographical 'acts', argues McGinley, can provide the subjectivity-thick description that is sorely lacking in the Church's understanding of gay people. In Acts of Faith, Acts of Love, McGinley explores the overlap of religious and sexual identities in the stories gay men write about themselves. The autobiographical writings of 40 gay Catholics (or once Catholics) are analysed. Among the better known are Rafael Campo, Philip Gambone, Andrew Holleran, Fenton Johnson, David Kopay, J. D. McClatchy, Brian Naught, John McNeill, Richard Plante, Richard Rodriquez, Andrew Sullivan, and Jose Zuniga. The work is both literary and theological on the premise that experience constitutes one of the four sources of theological reflection, along with scripture, tradition, and reason.

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Review:

Our Newspapers and churches are filled with questions about gay rights, same-sex marriage and gay / lesbian adoption. What we may miss is the human face of the debate. In this regard McGinley has done a great service, assembling and analyzing forty gay Catholic autobiographies. Some experts are funny, others heartbreaking; all attempt to save lives. They are all acts of courage and sacred texts because they save not only the author but other gay Catholics for whom following the church teaching leads not to virtue but to pathology. One feels gratitude by the insights revealed by the collected autobiographies and the thematic analysis of them. Even those of us who thought we understood the gay dilemma will learn about it in greater depth. If this work stirs in others the kind of empathy for our common humanity that it did in me then change has already begun. Kathy Coffey, Human Development Magazine, 2004

About the Author:

Dugan McKinley, who teaches religious studies at Temple University, considers himself a 'highly committed Catholic'. He has worked throughout his adult life as music director and liturgist in a number of Roman Catholic parishes.

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