Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Book Review - "Sexual Authenticity - An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism" by Melinda Selmys

This is the beginning of a new project for me.  I am reviewing books for a Catholic media outlet, called The Catholic Company, so, occasionally, you will see Book Reviews pop-up here.  To find out more about the book reviewed, please follow the link attached to the cover picture.

"Sexual Authenticity - An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism" - Melinda Selmys

I have to admit: this was a tough book to read.  Beautifully researched and written from a first person perspective, in "Sexual Authenticity- An Intimate Reflection on Homosexuality and Catholicism", author Melinda Selmys does not flinch from being as honest as she can about the interior life of a gay teenager/twentysomething.

Selmys, a journalist, lived a lesbian lifestyle for several years through her high school and college years, eventually finding her way to the Catholic Church through a friend.  She explores the fabric of her personal life in such detail that it is sometimes hard to take in and I had to walk away from it a couple of times. She does not shrink from getting her licks in to society for their part in forming these kids, either. She addresses the relativist societal norms which have given rise to this burgeoning segment of the population.  Because Selmys is a woman and is speaking from personal experience, most of what she covers in the first half of the book is directly related to the women's movement, but as you move forward, she takes apart the entire gay movement, brick-by-brick, using facts and figures of their very own to dismantle their claims. 

It's hard to see what you do in black and white and realize that you are part of the problem, not the solution.  Selmys lets the reader know that passing judgment and shunning people who are struggling to find their authentic sexuality is not the way to win souls.  As Catholics, we should never shrink from speaking the truth, but speaking the truth in love is a delicate line on which to balance.  Her frankness in discussing the shortcomings of Catholics and Christians in dealing with the question of homosexuality was disturbing to me because I found myself in some of these paragraphs and had to re-read several pages.  But, far from leaving the reader hanging, Selmys gives several concrete suggestions for how to address these issues with observant Catholics and people who have fallen away, as well; specifically, in her discussion of the "Theology of the Body".  It really helps put sexuality into perspective with regard to the Faith. This is especially crucial if a child or loved one is struggling to find their sexual identity and you are trying to guide them. 

After I read the book, my 16-year-old daughter, who has been struggling with the Church's stance on homosexuality, read it. She got a bit bogged down in the rhetoric, but we discussed questions as they arose.  All in all, she thought the book answered her questions. 

I wouldn't recommend it for kids younger than about 17 because it can be a bit complex for someone who is not reading at the college level.  And if you are easily offended by blunt language, this may not be the book for you.   It's a tough read, but very worth it for someone who's got questions.

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