I just finished reading for review The Bloomsbury Reader in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality, edited by Donald L. Boisvert and Carly Daniel-Hughes. Targeting an undergraduate audience, the text explores ways that religion, gender, and sexuality intersect and interact in a variety of religious traditions.
The book’s essays traverse a wide sampling of religious inheritance including indigenous traditions, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and various Asian religions. The topics examined range from the culture of male love in Japanese Buddhism to various themes of love in Haitian Voodoo, from sexual desire in Beguine communities to Gandhi’s experiments in sexual chastity, and from the passion of St. Pelagius to the transgender performance characteristic of the Hijra identity in India. Among other things, the book offers a wide array of interpretations regarding how sexuality emerges in particular traditions and contexts. One is left with a feeling that nearly anything goes depending on which set of rules or religious mores a particular group of people follow. The variations presented in each chapter related to the interpretation of sexuality’s embeddedness in spiritual expression problematize the notion of the “normal” emerging in sexual desire and expression. Continue reading “Sexuality and Spirituality: Convergence or Alienation? by Stephanie Arel”