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Sexuality and the Sacred: Sources for Theological Reflection, 2nd edn

M. M. Ellison and K. B. Douglas, eds.

Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010. Pp.xxii, 439. Pb.

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Reviewed by Jenny Gaffin, Parkstone, Poole in Modern Believing Jan 2012.


S. J. Hunt, ed.

Farnham and Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2010. Pp.xxviii, 508. Hb.

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Reviewed by Adrian Thatcher, University of Plymouth in Modern Believing Jan 2012.

The Service of My Love: The Celebration and Blessing of Civil Partnerships: A Pastoral and Liturgical Handbook

J. E. Cotter

Aberdaron: Cairns Publications, 2009. Pp. xii, 114. Hb.

Details / buy from: Cairns Publications

Reviewed by Nicola Slee, The Queen's Foundation, Birmingham in Modern Believing Jul 2011.

A Theology of Women's Priesthood

A. M. Green

London: SPCK, 2009. Pp. vi, 186. Pb.

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Reviewed by Jean Mayland, Hexham in Modern Believing Oct 2010.


Marcella Althaus-Reid and Lisa Isherwood

London: SCM Press, 2009. Pp. viii, 204. Pb.

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Reviewed by Jenny Gaffin, Parkstone, Poole in Modern Believing Apr 2010.

Jewish/Christian/Queer: Crossroads and Identities

Frederick Roden (ed.)

Farnham and Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, 2009. Pp. xviii, 249. Hb.

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Reviewed by Jenny Gaffin, Parkstone, Poole in Modern Believing Apr 2010.

An Acceptable Sacrifice? Homosexuality and the Church

Duncan Dormer and Jeremy Morris (eds.)

London: SPCK, 2007. Pp. 179.

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Controversy about same-sex relationships within the Anglican Communion rumbles on. The stakes are undoubtedly high and serious informed discussion of the issues is rare. This collection of essays by nine Cambridge theologians is a contribution to that absent debate, attempting an honest exploration of some of the key difficulties posed for the Church by the question of homosexuality. Through a traditionally Anglican emphasis on the role of scripture, tradition and reason, they exemplify a way of doing theology in the face of profound difference that is scholarly, generous and accessible.

Alien Sex: The Body and Desire in Cinema and Theology

Gerard Loughlin

Wiley-Blackwell, 2003. Paperback, 336 pages.

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Gerard Loughlin is one of the leading theologians working at the interface between religion and contemporary culture. In this exceptional work, he uses cinema and the films it shows to think about the church and the visions of desire it displays.

  • Discusses various films, including the Alien quartet, Christopher Nolan's Memento, Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange, Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth and Derek Jarman's The Garden.
  • Draws on a wide range of authors, both ancient and modern, religious and secular, from Plato to Levinas, from Karl Barth and Hans Urs von Balthasar to Andr Bazin and Leo Bersani.
  • Uses cinema to think about the church as an ecclesiacinema, and films to think about sexual desire as erotic dispossession, as a way into the life of God.
  • Written from a radically orthodox Christian perspective, at once both Catholic and critical.

Sex and Uncertainty in the Body of Christ: Intersex Conditions and Christian Theology

Susannah Cornwall

Equinox, 15 Sep 2010. Paperback, 192 pages.

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The book explores the theological implications of physical intersex conditions and their medical treatment. Christian theology has valued the integrity of the body and the goodness of God reflected in creation, but has also set much store by the complementarity of "normal" male and female physiology. However, a deconstruction or querying of male and female as essential or all-embracing human categories changes conceptions of legitimate bodiliness and of what it means for human sex to reflect God. Theologies which value incarnation and bodiliness must speak with stigmatized or marginal bodies too: the Body of Christ is comprised of human members, and each member changes the Body's definition of itself as well as being defined by it.

Dear Sir or Madam: A Journey from Female to Male

Mark Rees

Mallard, 2nd Revised edition, 2009. Paperback: 275 pages.

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This is the true story of Mark, formerly Brenda, who decided to have major surgery, mastectomy, hysterectomy and phalloplasty, to become a man. It describes his early wishes to change sex, and his struggles, both personal, social and legal, to gain acceptance.

Just Cohabiting? The Church, Sex and Getting Married

Duncan James Dormor

Darton, Longman & Todd, 2004. Paperback: 136 pages.

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An extract was printed in Signs of the Times, April 2004.

Face to Face: Gay and Lesbian Clergy on Holiness and Life Together

Jeffrey Heskins

SCM Press, 2005. Paperback: 208 pages.

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This book addresses the issues discussed at the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops and primates in 1998 in a reflective, discursive manner, and looks to recommending by example, different ways of holy living for gay and lesbian couples. It includes contributions from gay and lesbian individuals living their lives in the Church today.

The Anglican Communion and Homosexuality

Phil Groves

SPCK Publishing, 2008. Paperback: 352 pages.

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This book includes items from all parts of the world, from individuals and groups, to give a spectrum of views under 8 different chapter headings. Background information on homosexuality, advice on the process of dialogue and case studies are included.

Some sections are available on the Anglican Communion website.

Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics

Margaret A. Farley

Continuum, 2006. Hardcover: 336 pages.

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An excellent work by a leading Roman Catholic feminist and ethicist. This is a compassionate, very readable, Christian book, and a comprehensive introduction to Christian sexual ethics.

Other Voices, Other Worlds

Terry Brown

Darton, Longman & Todd, 2006. Paperback: 256 pages.

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Leading Anglican writers from around the world challenge the assumption that the communion is split between a liberal 'north' and an orthodox 'south'. A major contribution to the discussion of the homosexuality issue in the lead-up to Lambeth 2008.

Queer Theology: Rethinking the Western Body

Gerard Loughlin (ed.)

WileyBlackwell, 2007. Paperback: 368 pages.

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Queer Theology makes an important contribution to public debate about Christianity and sex. This remarkable collection reconceptualizes the body and its desires, enlarging the meaningfulness of Christian sexuality for the good of the Church. By divinizing desire, it radicalizes 'queer theory' and its deconstruction of sexual and gender identities; and it invokes a complex social space in which transcendent Eros frees us from the fear of our differences.

The History of Sexuality: The Will to Know

Michel Foucault, Robert Hurley (Translator)

Penguin, new edition, 1998. Paperback: 176 pages.

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Why has there been such an explosion of discussion about sex in the west since the 17th century? Here, one of France's greatest intellectuals explores the evolving social, economic and political forces that have shaped our attitudes to sex. In a book that is at once controversial and seductive, Foucault describes how we are in the process of making a science of sex which is devoted to the analysis of desire rather than the increase of pleasure.

The History of Sexuality: The Use of Pleasure

Michel Foucault, Robert Hurley (Translator)

Penguin, 2nd edition, 1998. Paperback: 304 pages.

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This book offers an account of the emergence of Christianity from the Ancient World. Here Foucault describes the stranger byways of Greek medicine (with its advice on the healthiest season for sex as well as on exercise and diet), the permitted ways of courting young boys, and the economists' ideas about the role of women. The book abounds in insights into the differences - and the continuities - between the Ancient, Christian and Modern worlds. But Foucault does far more than merely recreate a vanished era when sex was not a major moral issue (only Plato, like Saint Paul, saw puritanical restraint as the way of wisdom), but makes us rethink all our own assumptions about sex.

The History of Sexuality: The Care of the Self

Michel Foucault, Robert Hurley (Translator)

Penguin, 3rd edition, 1997. Paperback: 288 pages.

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The third volume of Foucault's history of sexuality. A sociologist and historian of ideas, Foucault's other works include Madness and Civilization, The Archaeology of Knowledge, The Birth of the Clinic and Discipline and Punish.

Memories of Bliss: God, Sex and Us

Jo Ind

SCM Press, 2003. Paperback: 176 pages.

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Written by the author of Fat is a Spiritual Issue, this book aims to show how, in the author's words, we can 'live our sexualities well'. By looking at how we should treat each other in the light of Jesus' command that we should love our neighbours as ourselves, Ind is able to relate the human experience of sex to our ultimate knowledge of God. Ind acknowledges that, while there are many ways of being sexual, the memories, yearnings and fantasies of human beings, in all their diversity, reflect the multi-dimensionality of the creator and his works.

Rethinking Families

Fiona Williams

Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2004. Paperback: 96 pages.

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Rethinking Families sets out the main trends - the increase in the number of working mothers, in cohabitation and divorce, in single and step parenthood, in people living on their own or in more open same-sex relationships - within the context of ethnic and cultural diversity and an ageing society. What, it asks, are the effects of these changes and what are the implications for future social policy?

Invented Moralities

Jeffrey Weeks

Columbia University Press, 1997. Paperback: 210 pages.

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Working from what he calls a radical humanist perspective, Weeks (sociology, South Bank U., London) examines sexual mores in these confusing times from AIDS to the politics of diversity to controversial topics such as sadomasochism, rape, and abortion rights.

Modernity and Self-identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age

Anthony Giddens

Polity Press, 1991. Paperback: 264 pages.

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This major study develops a new account of modernity and its relation to the self. Building upon the ideas set out in The Consequences of Modernity, Giddens argues that 'high' or 'late' modernity is a post traditional order characterised by a developed institutional reflexivity. In the current period, the globalising tendencies of modern institutions are accompanied by a transformation of day-to-day social life having profound implications for personal activities.

People of Passion: What the Churches Teach About Sex

Elizabeth Stuart and Adrian Thatcher

Continuum - Mowbray, 1997. Paperback: 308 pages.

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For people who need to keep in touch with contemporary developments in Christian teaching about issues concerning sex and sexuality.

Marriage After Modernity: Christian Marriage in Postmodern Times

Adrian Thatcher

New York University Press, 1999. Paperback: 329 pages.

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Offering new hope for Christian marriage at a time of social and theological change. Marriage after Modernity reaffirms the status of marriage as a Christian sacrament, though accepts some forms of premarital cohabitation and discusses contraception, divorce and same-sex marriages.

Telling Sexual Stories: Power, Change and Social Worlds

Ken Plummer

Routledge, 1994. Paperback: 256 pages.

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This book explores the rites of a sexual story-telling culture and examines the nature of these newly emerging narratives and the socio-historical conditions that have given rise to them.

Being Human: A Christian Understanding of Personhood Illustrated with Reference to Power, Money, Sex and Time

Doctrine Commission of the Church of England

Church House Publishing, 2003. Paperback: 160 pages.

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Being Human is a report from the Doctrine Commission. It addresses the fundamental questions of what it is to be a human being today. We live in a world in which issues of power, money, sex and time press upon us from all sides. Yet rarely does the Church seem to address these matters in ways that are theologically grounded and that relate to our practical, day-to-day concerns. The Commission took as their starting point the Wisdom books of the Old Testament and the books of Luke and Acts in the New Testament. Engaging also with classical Christian teaching and contemporary thought, Being Human offers wisdom for our day. The reader is encouraged to do three things: to reflect upon the Scriptures and upon a proper 'wisdom' for our changing culture; to adopt attitudes which are consistent with Christian believing; to make choices in the light of what the Christian gospel has to say about these issues.

Heterosexuality in Question

Stevi Jackson

Sage Publications, 1999. Paperback: 224 pages.

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With heterosexuality currently being examined more rigorously than ever before, this accessible and engaging book charts the development of feminist and sociological theorizing on sexuality and the emergence of a radical critique of heterosexuality. Stevi Jackson reviews a range of important theoretical and substantive issues, and she demonstrates an important shift in feminist thinking from an emphasis on male dominance within heterosexual relations to a critical perspective on heterosexuality itself. Her book will be relevant to scholars and students in the fields of women's studies, lesbian and gay studies and the sociology of sexuality.

The Body's Grace: 10th Michael Harding Memorial Address

Rowan Williams

Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement, 2002. Paperback: 12 pages.

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The Queer God

Marcella Althaus-Reid

Routledge, 2003. Paperback: 192 pages.

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The Queer God is about radical sexuality, poverty, criticism of heterosexual orthodoxy and theology. In chapters on salsa and theology, deviant theologians, queering hermeneutics, Sade and holiness, it seeks to liberate God from the closet of traditional Christian thought and embrace His part in the lives of gays and lesbians worldwide.

Regarding Children: New Respect for Childhood and Families

Herbert Anderson and Susan Johnson

Westminster/John Knox Press, 1994. Paperback: 144 pages.

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Discusses child rearing, identifies children's needs, and outlines the support church and society should provide.

The Child in Christian Thought and Practice

Marcia Bunge (ed.)

William B Eerdmans, 2001. Paperback: 513 pages.

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A survey of Christian writings about children covers 2,000 years of history and literature and features a wide variety of theologians commenting on the subject.

"A fine volume of positive critical essays by historical theologians on children - the best around by far but it takes a lot of reading!"

Family: Christian Social Perspective

Lisa Sowle Cahill

Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2000. Paperback: 188 pages.

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"Excellent revisionary and inclusive Roman Catholic work on families."

Seeing Children, Seeing God

Pamela D. Couture

Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2000. Paperback: 144 pages.

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"Excellent theological work on children and poverty."

Gays and the Future of Anglicanism: Responses to the Windsor Report

Andrew Linzey and Richard Kirker (eds.)

O Books, 2005. Paperback: 420 pages.

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The Anglican Communion stands at a crossroads. Some want Anglicanism to be exclusive of gays, especially gay priests and bishops. The Windsor Report is seen as the means of achieving this by centralising the Anglican Communion, and bringing wayward provinces, like ECUSA, to heel.

In this collection of essays, distinguished academics from the UK and the US offer lively, thoughtful and scholarly critiques of the Windsor Report.