The Serpent and the Dove: Celibacy in Literature and Life

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007 - Literary Criticism - 262 pages
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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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The serpent and the dove: celibacy in literature and life

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The modern Catholic church has no more careful observer than Sipe (www.richardsipe.comSex, Priests, and Power and Celibacy in Crisis. This book continues to deepen Sipe's thoughtful and at times angry ... Read full review



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About the author (2007)

A. W. Richard Sipe is a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor who earlier spent 18 years as a Benedictine monk and priest. He was trained specifically to deal with the mental health problems of Roman Catholic Priests. In the process of training and therapy, he conducted a 25-year ethnographic study of the celibate/sexual behavior of that population. His study, published in 1990, is now considered a classic. Sipe is known internationally and has participated in 12 documentaries on celibacy and priest sexual abuse aired by HBO, BBC, and other networks in the United States, United Kingdom, and France. He has been widely interviewed by media including CNN, ABC, NBC, CNBC, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, People magazine, Newsweek and USA Today.

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