CELIBATE PASSION by Janie Gustafson


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Rhapsodic radical visions of a new Christian sexuality by a starry-eyed, but hip, young nun. Sister (Ms.?) Gustafson rejects the cast-iron repressiveness of old-fashioned virginity in favor of ""erotic celibate intimacy."" The eros she has in mind is not libidinal, much less coital, but a transcendent kind of love that passes through the physical to ""more embracing forms of relationship and freedom."" Celibacy is likewise reinterpreted to mean the essential solitariness at the heart of every individual, married or not, the personal dimension that can't be ""given away, exhausted, or comprehended."" Celibates, in other words, can be sexually active as long as their activity culminates in selfless agape. Many readers will doubtless take this as a fishy attempt to get around the vow of chastity, but Gustafson sees herself as an enlightened traditionalist (citing such couples as Saints Jerome and Paula, Francis of Assisi and Clare, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, etc.) rather than a revolutionary. She may not have thought out the implications of her views, but she seems perfectly--and passionately--sincere. She writes with a rapturous naivetÉ, at times disarming, at times just silly. A fresh new voice, untrained but interesting.

Pub Date: May 17th, 1978
Publisher: Harper & Row