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Monthly Archives: November 2007

Reflections on Good Sex

The essays in the compilation Good Sex: Feminist Perspectives from the World’s Religions include the views of several Jewish and Christian feminist scholars. Though not all of the authors identify as lesbian, they share similar views and concerns. It is interesting to note that in many ways their unity is found more in their shared gender identity than in their sexual preferences. This is the first feature of these essays that I found striking: there is no analogous "masculist" movement nor a shared set of concerns among gay and straight men that would provide an overarching backdrop in a male-oriented conversation. However, as I reflect on this a possible explanation appears to be that women, whether gay or straight, are able to identify with each other’s oppression within our framework of power dynamics. Straight men, who most often occupy the position of privilege in our society, are less apt to identify with the oppression faced by gay men, as to do so could result in a loss of privilege.

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Church Reform in the 11th Century

The eleventh century saw a wave of reformers in the papacy that sought to effect changes in the way that ecclesial authority was realized. A series of popes including Leo IX, Gregory VII and Calixtus II worked to reform the election of church authority by stamping out simony (the practice of buying church offices) and enforcing celibacy for all priests (eliminating heirs to whom power could be passed down). In addition to these reforms, the church sought to establish itself as a separate spiritual authority superior to that of various European monarchs. At the zenith of papal authority, Innocent III enjoyed authority that extended over many of the secular rulers of Europe.

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Reflections on The Invention of Sodomy

In The Invention of Sodomy Mark Jordan traces the roots of the term Sodomy from its first appearance in the Middle Ages through a complex evolution witnessed in various religious texts over three centuries. Jordan begins his work by asserting that "the category ‘Sodomy’ [is] problematic no matter where or how it is used" (6). Based on the context provided by each of the texts selected, we find quickly that the meaning of the word Sodomy varies widely.

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National Flavors in the Christianization of Europe

As the Christian faith spread throughout Europe its message was received by many disparate tribes. These various groups found identity in ethnic distinctions of shared language and culture. While often serving as barriers or diplomatic challenges, these differences sometimes played key roles in how the gospel was received and spread among a people. The Saxon Gospel provides one such example.

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