Author: A. W. Richard Sipe
Series: Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality
Publisher: Praeger (October 30, 2007)
Richard Sipe, himself a former monk and priest, has made a lifelong venture of determining the reality and meaning of religious celibacy. Even an adequate operational definition of religious celibacy, he says, has been avoided by Catholic hierarchy and scholars to preserve the celibate myth. Having spent 25 years conducting a study of celibacy and sexual behavior in Roman Catholic priests, Sipe concluded that at any one time no more than 50 percent of priests were practicing celibacy. To more fully understand what celibacy is, how it is practiced, the affect it has on the humanness of men of women, and the social effects it presents, Sipe says we can use the approach presented in this book. Specifically, we can analyze historic men who presented themselves or were perceived as living examples of celibacy and also focus on the most profound truths of celibacy found in literary accounts.
Psychology, religion, and literary criticism interface and are woven together in this book with minimal jargon. The Serpent and the Dove was written in the hope of exciting honest analysis of the essence of religious celibacy and to foster a recrudescence of authentic sexual vigor with all of its evolutionary potential. Human sexuality is not going away; nor is it irrelevant to the wellbeing, progress and happiness of the human community, says Sipe. And the practice of genuine celibacy is not going to disappear either. No question, the Catholic Church needs profound reformation. But in all my work I have chosen not to throw any babies out with the horrendously dirty ‘holy water’ the church continues to treasure and disseminate. Here, as in all my work, I try to foster dialogue between religion and science, such as literary criticism. The Catholic Church (and religion) is at a Copernican Moment when it has to cede to science the nature of sexuality. The Serpent and the Dove is one more work among Sipe’s many books and articles making the need for that clear.
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