Alien Sex: The Body and Desire in Cinema and Theology

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Wiley, 2004 - Performing Arts - 306 pages
2 Reviews
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.


In the figure of the alien, Loughlin finds a metaphor for that which is both most feared and desired: the body and its cravings. Secular culture follows St Augustine in thinking sex an alien force within the body. But the ancient church also found in sex the presence of a yet stranger desire that secularity forgets: the divine eros that is always other to us even as it draws us into its embrace. In God we find that which is both infinitely alien and intimate to ourselves.

Alien Sex explores the Christian tradition of 'sacred eroticism' – from Gregory of Nyssa to Hans Urs von Balthasar. Through a close reading of such films as The Devils, Breaking the Waves and Derek Jarman’s The Garden, Loughlin shows how Christianity calls us to view sexuality from the perspective of heaven, not in order to escape the body but to encounter it more intensively. Through desire of the body we regain paradise.

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Review: Alien Sex: The Body and Desire in Cinema and Theology (Challenges in Contemporary Theology)

User Review  - Erica - Goodreads

Incredible take on theological cinematography and how it relates to issues of body and space. Read full review

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About the author (2004)

Gerard Loughlin is Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. He is a founding co-editor of the journal Theology & Sexuality.

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