Sunday, January 12, 2014

Imago dei

Imago dei 
Sexual Authenticity: More Reflections by Melinda Selmys 
by John Demetry

In sync with The Advocate magazine’s “Man of the Year” (Pope Francis), Melinda Selmys shakes up the discourse of identity politics and the Culture Wars. With her sequel to Sexual Authenticity, subtitled More Reflections, Selmys deconstructs her own personal evolution as the preeminent voice on reconciling Catholicism and gay identity.

As that description suggests, the book’s style is remarkably postmodern.

With More Reflections, Selmys recontextualizes her superb articles, essays and blog entries. She ties them together with self-reflective narration that makes this collection consistently fresh, no mere rehash—and an essential reclaiming of her own signification from the uses of Culture Warriors. As a whole, it reveals an expansive, openhearted understanding of Catholic theology, of classical-to-postmodern philosophy, and of Queer Theory.

The breakdown of the distinct sexualities of a succession of “gay” Roman emperors is worth the price of admission alone!

Yet, Selmys applies postmodern, deconstructive, Queer methodologies to bolster the most radical proposition—embedded in the yearning core of postmodernism—about the nature of identity in the history of the world. Man is made in the image of God and redeemed by the “perfect gift” of the Word made flesh.

Consequently, More Reflections points the way toward developing three Catholic approaches to queerness:

1) Relate to the queer-identified individual as made in the image of God (“Even when I was seeking it [Beauty and Truth] imperfectly I was seeking it with tremendous good will.”)

2) Develop radical methods of evangelization to gay folk (“Instead of trying to reorient homosexual desire toward heterosexual desire, it is possible to simply bypass heterosexuality and move directly towards Goodness, Beauty, Truth.”)

3) Appropriate those elements of gay culture/art/experience that lend themselves to the universal uses of worship (“All men are by nature designed to desire one flesh union with Christ, to be espoused to the Divine Bridegroom. All sexual attraction is merely a sign which points towards this.”) 

Summarize the Selmys stance thus: “Truth told without affective love is not true.” Simply put, it represents a profoundly Catholic understanding of sexual morality: that it is not generated by a repressive subservience to Law but by the gratuitous economy of self-giving Love, by fidelity to the Trinity and Creation and man’s true nature.

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