An acclaimed gay intellectual and journalist’s musings on the state of and interrelationship among Christianity, Judaism and Islam in the post-9/11 digital age.
In this collection of essays, Rodriguez stylishly delves into the meaning of life, death, sexuality and the printed word in the 21st century by examining his own Christian faith. The events of 9/11 awakened him to the fact that the God he worshipped as a Catholic was “the same desert God [to which] the terrorists prayed.” He went to Jerusalem to experience the “ecology” of the place that gave rise to not only Christianity, but also Judaism and Islam. In the emptiness of the desert, the printed word came to have sacred status for all three religions. What partially distinguished them were notions of paradise. “For Jews,” he writes, “Eden was pre-desert [and] [f]or Christians and Muslims, paradise…[was] post-desert.” Rodriguez transforms his insights into lenses through which he views not only himself and the gay community to which he belongs, but also American culture. A friend’s Easter Sunday death from AIDS in the Las Vegas desert becomes an occasion to ponder the campy neon paradise the city represents. A beloved female friend he refers to only as “Darling” becomes the focal point for witty meditations on how Rodriguez’s own place as a homosexual in both the church and society depends on female empowerment, or lack thereof. The death of newspapers becomes a way for the author to reflect on the rise of technology. In this new “enlarging, unstable [and] ethereal” world, the former weightiness of words has been replaced by a disturbing relativism. Like newspapers, sacred texts such as the Bible, Torah and Quran become little more than objects stripped of meaning.
With compassion and profundity of vision, Rodriguez offers a compelling view of modern spirituality that is as multifaceted as it is provocative.