Submitted by jeff on Sat, 05/16/2009 - 10:48
by John J. McNeill, (Lethe Press; ISBN: 978-1-59021-042-0; $20.00)
Reviewed by Jeff Stone, Dignity/New York
To many of us in DignityUSA, John McNeill is a familiar and beloved figure. Yet because he is so well-known to us, it is possible to lose sight of the vast scope of the achievements and gifts of this prophet in our own land. In 1970, John published the first theological articles defending homosexuality from a Catholic perspective, which became the basis for Dignity’s original Statement of Position and Purpose. In 1972, he cofounded Dignity/New York. In 1976, he published the groundbreaking book The Church and the Homosexual, which brought his subject into the international spotlight for the first time. Over the next two decades, John followed with Taking a Chance on God; Freedom, Glorious Freedom and his autobiography, Both Feet Firmly Planted in Midair.
As a Jesuit priest and psychotherapist, John counseled hundreds of LGBT Catholics and others. As a workshop and retreat leader, he reached thousands more around the world. In addition to many other honors, he received DignityUSA’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997.
A featured speaker at every Dignity national convention except one (when he was briefly silenced by the Vatican), John will be with us in San Francisco to introduce his new book, Sex as God Intended: A Reflection on Human Sexuality as Play. In it, John offers fresh, joyous, and challenging insights into a subject of intense interest to each of us, while expanding on the major theological and psychological themes he has developed over a lifetime. In addition, twelve of John’s distinguished fellow theologians, writers, and activists — including Sr. Jeannine Gramick, Daniel Helminiak, Mary Hunt, and Mark Jordan — present their own insightful and provocative reflections on his work and life in a festschrift of essays.
John poses a central question at the beginning of Sex as God Intended: “Christian revelation, as it came from Jesus, was one of the most sex-positive and body-positive religions in the history of the world. How, then, in just a few centuries did it become such a body- and sex-negative religion and remain so to this day?”