Over at the Patheos Book Club, they’re talking about several interesting new titles — it’s always a good place to stop and explore books; like an actual, old-fashioned, store you can read excerpts while sipping coffee in your comfy chair.
I’m particularly interested in their November offerings, because they include titles by Patheos Catholic bloggers, Lisa Hendey (whose book, The Grace of Yes) will be featured in the second half of the month, so more on that, later) and Eve Tushnet, whose recently-released Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My Faith has just launched.
Since you can see part of my enthusiastic blurb on the cover, let me give you the whole thing:
“By turns hilarious, thoughtful, constructive, and searingly honest, Gay and Catholic is a must-read for anyone who believes the terms are mutually exclusive, for anyone who thinks seriously about Catholicism and the pastoral care of the homosexual person, for anyone who thinks they’ve already figured it all out. Eve Tushnet has written a humane, brave, and groundbreaking book that demolishes assumptions. If you think you know what she is going to say, you don’t. So you need to read this.”
Okay. You’re not surprised, right? For some of you, I am “the Mamabear of the New Homophiles”, so I would predictably recommend the book, yes? Sure. So, in that case read what Professor Robert P. George, who is most assuredly not a Mamabear — or a Papabear — has to say about it:
“I recommend Eve Tushnet’s new book, not because I agree with everything in it—I don’t—but because I learned a lot from it. I believe others will learn from it, too. Unlike just about everyone else who writes on issues of sexuality, morality, and marriage, Eve is impossible to classify. She’s a devout Catholic, but scarcely qualifies as a “conservative.” She self-identifies as “gay,” but most others who identify themselves in that way will not find themselves sympathizing with her ideas and arguments. Still, few have thought as deeply or as creatively as has she about same-sex attraction and its existential significance for persons who experience it. Readers across the spectrum will be informed and challenged by her reflections.”
Yeah, this is one reason why I love Eve; you can’t just toss a label on her and negate, her unless you are comfortable with being both unfair and rather willfully ignorant.
Nobody puts Baby in a corner, and nobody puts Tushnet into an easy niche, either. She literally defies them.
I like what Marcel LeJeune over at Mary’s Aggies has to say about how the book deepened his commitment and relationship to Christ Jesus — which is what is at the heart of this book:
Tushnet teaches that being gay and Catholic doesn’t always have to be about what you are giving up. In fact, is is much more about what can be gained in a relationship with Jesus and His Church. In Fact, we all have to give something up to follow our Lord… I really want to be someone who loves like our God does — extravagantly. Someone who isn’t afraid to speak truth, but to be bold in reaching out to those who are hurting. Someone who can hold the goodness of Catholicism in one hand and balance it with the understanding that all people are part of God’s plan to teach me how to love.
Bingo. Nailed it. Gay and Catholic is not an apologia for being gay; it is not a you’ll-take-my-gayness-and-like-it aggression directed at Rome. Rather, the book is a most engaging, thoughtful and completely open plea to look beyond the culture wars and the easy labeling — Addict! Queer! Christianist! God-Botherer! — that enables and encourages so much hatred, and thus puts all of ours souls at risk.
It is an invitation, actually, to explore the fullness of love found in following Christ’s example of service, friendship and yes, sacrificial love, and to thereby draw ever-closer to Jesus. It insists that we cannot enter into this sort of service without a willingness to see the person before us at any particular moment as, first and foremost, a person — a singular, created creature and fellow-being with whom we are meant to to explore the exquisite, somewhat frightening depths of agape love.
We pay lip service to it all, but barely understand that agape is not a secondary or tertiary love — a notion of love meant for those whose vocation is not to religion or marriage — it is, rather, the basic component to all the love — utterly foundational. Grasping that as poorly as we do, no wonder marriages are foundering and human relationships are breaking apart.
I really can’t stress enough how vital Gay and Catholic is to our times, particularly for people of faith. Before us loom inexorable, unavoidable confrontations with an often-cowardly society promulgating “progress” based on ironic deconstruction — a society that understands little about real rights and even less about real love. I believe reading this book, engaging in real, good-faith conversation on its ideas and, finally, looking past all of the social dross (the noisy sturm and drang), to connect with Christ Jesus and obediently serve his call — right down to its deepest mysteries — is what will bring his cohesion and healing to our fallen world.