Monday, August 20, 2007

Book Review: the Silence We Keep

This book, subtitled "A Nun's view of the Catholic Priest Scandal" is an all-out attack on the Catholic Church. The basis thesis around which the book is built is that the reason the the current priest scandal is that the horrible patriarchial church has forced celibacy on this group of men who accept it (or more precisely prentend to accept it) in return for the power, both sacramental and personal, of the priesthood. The author begins by saying that the early church was home-based, and all believers were equal, and there was no ordained priesthood. That, she says, came later, about 100 A.C.E. (why can't a nun say A.D.?) I realize this is a book for public consumption, and not a scholarly journal article, but it would have been nice if she had quoted scripture or some other early Church writings that support her beliefs, but what we get instead is page after page of what strikes me as revisionsist history--or church history somewhat similar to that of the independent fundamentalist churches. Bascially in her version of history, all early Christian believers were equal with each other, with no hierarchy. The first pope reigned about A.D. 400. By 100, those evil males were remaking the church into the patriarcy of society. Then Augustine came around and his repressive sexual teachings have colored Catholic belief since then. Between Augustine and the desire to keep the Church from having to support the priests' families, celibacy, understood as the absence of marriage and/or sexual activity was imposed on priests as a condition of their privilege but because it wasn't freely chosen it is honored more in the breach.

The funny thing is though, she says that for women religious (nuns) celibacy is freeing. Nuns, she states, generally freely choose celibacy and don't long for sex. They channel that energy into other things.

She goes through the same old tired arguments about the Dark Ages and the Inquisition and concludes that the priesthood as we know it must come to an end and the priesthood of all believers will be restored. At least Jack Chick proclaims himself to be anti-Catholic. I'm not sure why she still claims to be Catholic. Anyway, the book is now on my Bookmooch and Swaptree lists.

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