The Monk and the Skeptic: Dialogues on Sex, Faith, and Religion

Frank Browning. Soft Skull (PGW, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-61902-183-9
NPR correspondent Browning (A Queer Geography) presents an idiosyncratic examination of reconciling Catholic faith with same-sex desire. Structured loosely around conversations with a sexually active priest, he meanders into brief discussions of ecclesiastical history, the writings of Augustine and Aquinas, and autobiographical experiences. Browning, the self-described skeptic of the title, admits to not being able to understand the priest Peter's ability to balance his erotic life and his clerical life. The work does not offer clear solutions to the tensions of sexuality and religion. Rather, the conversations provide insights into how one man attempts to live a conflicted life. The discussions of Catholic history, doctrine, and practice only skim the surface, though they do provide avenues for further exploration. Perhaps most useful is the model the book offers of individuals coming together for dialogue, despite entrenched differences. Browning never comes to agree with his monk, but he also grants readers an opportunity to build sympathy for Peter's situation. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/23/2013
Release date: 10/01/2013
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