Thursday, September 16, 2010

Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven: Women, Sexuality, and the Catholic Church; Dirty words on bathroom walls!

Eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven: Women, Sexuality and the Catholic ChurchEunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven: Women, Sexuality and the Catholic Church by Uta Ranke-Heinemann

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book has been on our bookshelves for eons, and I finally picked it up and plowed my way through it until I began scanning sections toward the end.

It's a densely written tome--obviously very well researched and detailed. I already knew all too well that the Roman Catholic tradition is anti-sex, anti-women, and anti-contraception. Here's what I didn't know:

--Augustine (one of the fathers of the Catholic tradition of sex and woman hating) was married and also had several lovers before he became an avowed sex hater.

--Our eldest son must have been conceived on a Sunday, because he has epilepsy. (Yes, that's what can happen if you have sex at the wrong time.)

--Not only are Sundays forbidden for sex, but also when a woman is menstruating, during Lent, 20 days before Christmas, yada, yada, yada.

--The only time it's not a sin to have sex is to procreate (already knew that) or when one's partner demands it.

--Until modern times, not only were women not supposed to approach the altar, but they were also not supposed to even sing in the choir.

This is what I did know:

"All in all, considering the repression, defamation, and demonization of women, the whole of church history adds up to one long arbitrary, narrow-minded masculine depotism over the female sex. And this despotism continues today, uninterrupted...The male church has never understood that the reality of the church is based on the shared humanity of man and woman."

Throughout the book, Ranke-Heinemann gives us a dense history of the Catholic church and its hatred for wome and sexuality. I find it mind-boggling to ponder why the Catholic church is so completely obsessed with sex and how evil it is. And how much of this attitude remains to this day. This book certainly did not give me any more fondness for the Catholic church!

I initially gave this 2 stars, but after reading that New York's Cardinal O'Connor who, without reading it, likened it to "scrawling dirty words about the church on bathroom walls," I've upgraded it to 3 stars! This is a necessary piece of work--although it needs to be updated and the writing made a bit more readable.

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