Thursday, June 19, 2014

Religious Erotica

by Annabeth Leong

I'm religious. As in, I believe in God, I attend church regularly, and I have a shrine to Mary in my home. I pray, I have religious dreams, and my religion plays a role in my sense of morality. I particularly believe in my religious obligation to help the people around me and to share my belongings and resources with those who have less. Religion is a deep, important part of my identity.

I also have a complicated, insistent sense of my sexuality. I've explored my sexuality in many ways, including some that violate societal taboos. I write about sex because it fascinates me and turns me on, and because I believe in combating shame, supporting a variety of gender expressions and groupings, and enjoying the bodies we've got. Sexuality is a deep, important part of my identity.

In negotiating the terrain of sex and spirituality, I do what I always do with deep, important parts of my identity—I write about them. Religion is a major theme in my erotica, and I'm proud of the various ways I've explored it. I want to give a few examples because I don't think these issues are simple or one-sided.

1. Acknowledging Common Compromises

What I most often see is erotica, about characters who aren't religious at all and have no moral issues with sex, opposed to inspirational romance, about characters who are waiting for marriage. I'm really interested in subverting this because it doesn't reflect the reality I've observed at all. I know very few religious people who actually waited until marriage (I certainly didn't). And yet, many people who fornicate remain religious for other reasons (again, this is me).

The Ellora's Cave Branded line—which requires sexually active characters to be married to each other—was dubbed "inspirational erotica" by some and mocked for that. On the other hand, I think this is an interesting step toward putting sex and religion together, and I love acknowledging that sex and romance don't end when a couple gets married. I've written for this line (Get Laid) and am proud of that work.

Really, though, I like to go farther than that and write about characters who are living with the contradictions. In Run for Your Love, a book I wrote about the zombie apocalypse, my characters are practicing Roman Catholics. The Church also play an important role in providing for the people hurt by the chaos in the world. My characters sincerely believe in their religion and try to follow its morals (for example, the hero, Zach, is a pacifist because of his interpretation of Christianity). They're also fornicating. They discuss this and decide that it's not a priority for them to worry about that. I'm really proud of these characters and that scene as a true reflection of what I've seen and admire in life, but it was very uncomfortable to write. I know tons of Catholics who don't do exactly what the Church tells them to do, and yet I so rarely see that portrayed.

2. Portraying What Is Possible

I'm really excited about a story I have forthcoming from Storm Moon Press called "Never Not a Priest" (It will be in an anthology called Devout). It's about a gay priest whose life is changed by the legalization of same-sex marriage in his state. This isn't a character who dismisses worries about fornication—he believes in and wants to experience the sanctity of marriage, but has been suffering because he's been shut out of choosing it. A major issue in this story is the repair of the relationship he's been in, which has been damaged by being kept secret.

This is sort of the flip side to what I said above. It's possible to choose to ignore certain pronouncements of church and/or state, but what if you don't want to? I frequently see liberals suggesting that queer people suffering discrimination in the south should just move, but this is an inhuman demand. It's not a solution to order people to leave their homes and families (and the Human Rights Campaign recently made a very poignant video to this effect, interviewing many Southern queer people about why they don't want to leave). Similarly, people are sometimes told that they should just stop being religious.

I'm not willing to give up on religion. Changes have happened. For example, there is a general acceptance of divorce that was really not present just 50 years ago. The Anglican Church has torn itself apart dealing with issues including ordination of women and same-sex marriage, and I respect that struggle. I want to help it, not abandon it. That's my political motivation behind "Never Not a Priest"—I wanted to present a positive view of religion becoming more inclusive. I believe in the importance of showing visions of possibility.

3. Reveling in Transgression

I'd be a huge liar if I failed to acknowledge the enormous thrill of doing what I'm not supposed to do. Part of the fun of sexual exploration lies in being naughty, and religion can really juice that. I've done a lot of kinky things that play with this fact. I've put on Catholic schoolgirl skirts and played Christian wife and all the rest. It's hot. I do think that, as a person who sincerely believes in this religion, I get more excitement out of fucking with it than a nonbeliever would. I could participate in a kinky scene that screwed with, say, Hindu mores, but I doubt I'd get the full-body fear and pleasure effect of blasphemy from doing so. Also, I think I'd be uncomfortable with doing this. Since Christianity is my religion, for better and for worse, I feel okay about criticizing it or toying with it in a way that I don't when it comes to the religions of others.

As far as heresy and transgression, my magnum opus is "The Miracles of Dorothea of Andrine," which is forthcoming from Forbidden Fiction. I filled this story with authentic detail about how the Roman Catholic Church historically conducted investigations into miracles and potential beatification, and then I accompanied that with an equal helping of kinky acts (lactation fetish, self-penetration with large dildos, blasphemous phrases translated into Latin, etc). The main character is a bishop who thinks this is all terribly dirty—until he just can't resist participating.

While this story is mostly about transgression, I also adapted many authentic Marian prayers into celebrations of the divine feminine. By the end of the story, the characters have set up a heretical branch of the Church that changes the role of the Holy Mother to something much more sex-positive than what exists in mainstream Roman Catholicism. I generally can't help myself from including some of my political views, even when I'm out to be naughty.

4. Mining a Rich Tradition of Story


The recent story I'm most technically proud of is "The Good Brother," published in the Coming Together: By the Book series (sales benefit Darkness to Light, an organization working to end child sexual abuse). This is a contemporary retelling of the story of the rape of Tamar, and it's an exploration of the aftereffects of rape and incest (including more incest).

I'll never forget the first time I encountered the original story in the Book of Kings. I was pretty young, and I was generally interested in being "good." People frequently extolled the virtues of daily Bible reading, particularly the value of the Bible as a set of instructions for living. Well, at this point, I'm pretty sure that you can't describe the Bible that way if you've actually read it. It's full of contradiction and mystifying stories and it's short on clear instructions. But I didn't know better yet, so I was trying to read it every day. I was a bookish kid, so after a while I encountered the rape of Tamar. That story disturbed me and wouldn't let me go.

But this is actually key to the value I do find in the Bible. The story of the rape of Tamar is ugly and confusing. It raises questions, and it shows injustice clearly. I've since been in church while it was being read aloud, and I enjoy the discomfort it produces. We need that discomfort. We need to talk about these brutal, terrible things. We need to talk about sex that isn't sexy, and also sex that is sexy when it feels as if it shouldn't be.

When I write with a rich tradition of story behind me (whether that's Greek myth or Biblical lore), I often get a resonant effect. I'm proud of the language in "The Good Brother," and I'm proud of the sense of doom that will kick in for readers who are familiar with the King David cycle (because they, for example, know what becomes of Absalom). I disturbed myself writing it, but sometimes I need to go to that place, and religion can help me get there.

***

I'll cut this post off here because I've already gone quite long. But I expect to write much more religious-themed erotica over the course of my career, and I hope I explore even more aspects of the territory.

Meanwhile, in real life, I'm also negotiating the territory. I'm functionally Roman Catholic, but I attend a church with more politically liberal policies because I can't stomach any less. I go straight from church to kinky weekend events. I choose to hear particular Biblical passages as coded references to BDSM. I judiciously ignore some things and speak up about others. I wear sky-high heels to church and secretly get off on it. I worship, and I accept my confusion, and I live with the contradictions and the resonances.

33 comments:

  1. Wow. I never would have guessed that you were a practicing Christian, Annabeth.That just adds depth to my already complicated picture of you.

    I agree that religion, and particularly the Judeo-Christian tradition, offers a rich set of opportunities for erotic story-telling. I just learned that my story "The First Stone" has been accepted to Cheyenne Blue's Forbidden Fruit antho. It's about a nun working in a woman's shelter who falls in lust with an ex-junkie prostitute. The primary conflicts in that tale rely heavily on the Church's prohibitions against sex. (I suspect I would have done a more convincing job, though, if I'd been raised Catholic.)

    I have a story idea that has been simmering in the back of my mind for a long time, where the female character is an observant Muslim who wears the hijab. I want to explore what that would be like - to be hidden from male eyes, and blamed for male lust. Of course, if I ever do write this, I'll never find a publisher!

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    1. Hi Lisabet. I was nervous about making this revelation since it was sounding like I was the only one...

      "The First Stone" sounds very cool--I'll definitely be picking up that antho.

      I like the idea of your hijab-wearing character. An interesting take on the hijab that you might like occurs in the fantasy novel, Alif the Unseen. One of the main characters chooses the hijab and her negotiation of that choice is nuanced and poignant (the author is a convert to Islam, and her portrayal of the religion is generally positive, though she, also, has to address contradiction and hypocrisy).

      If you do write this piece yourself, I think there's a bit of hope. I wonder if Alessia would expand By the Book to include this, since it's religiously themed? Also, Forbidden Fiction, which is publishing the Dorothea piece I was talking about, is afraid of nothing I've ever been able to find.

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  2. A touching, revealing and inspiring post. I admire your ability to reconcile the conflicts of traditional religion (Catholic, no less, yikes) and erotica. It shows that you have developed and maintained strong personal boundaries.(Is Joan of Arc your patron saint? ) The fact that you write under your own name is further testimony to the boldness of seeking a meaningful life in the spirit without surrendering your sexuality. The real God of mercy and love would say, "This is my daughter, in whom I am well pleased."

    With your permission, I'd like to repost this blog. I think it would be inspirational to other writers facing conflicts over erotica and religion.

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    1. Spencer, thanks so much for this comment. It means a great deal to me.

      I appreciate the praise, but I can't accept all of it—I don't use my real name. Annabeth is a pseudonym, and I'm actually worried about people at church connecting the dots. That's another complicated territory I'm negotiating, because I've made some decisions that have increased the likelihood that it will happen. So, yeah, I've got some contradiction going on.

      I'm actually a big fan of St. Cecilia because it's one of the stories that reads multiple ways to me. It gets told as a story of her defending her virginity, but she converts men left and right through a wonderful and alluring smell that they inhale upon entering her room. I've always thought this sounded hot.

      Please feel free to repost. If you do, I'd love for you to send me a link (perhaps on Twitter?)

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  3. Raised by atheists, my earliest exposure to Roman Catholics was my mother's family. She was 8th of 10 kids to Polish immigrants so old-school that my Busia never learned English. I would sit in her basement living area (quick Chicago joke: how do you take a census in a Polish neighborhood? Flood the basements!) and listen as the adults drank and traded dirty jokes. The filthiest ones came from the most devout among them, the ones who always repeated everything in church louder than everyone else. My parents discouraged me from going to church with any of them, but we still went to weddings where my aunts would lean over to almost yell into my ear, to ensure that I was getting exposed to God the right way. But those same aunts told the dirtiest anecdotes about life, that thrilled my early self with excitement, knowing that someday I'd be an adult and able to have my own retinue of sex stories and jokes.

    So it's not really odd to me that you're a Roman Catholic who writes erotica. You'd have fit right in, sitting in Busia's basement. Years later I became aware that not all Catholics were like Mom's family, but the best ones are! Deeply-held beliefs don't preclude enjoying the flesh we're living in at the moment. My relatives believed that since God knew their hearts, they would be forgiven for enjoying the bodies they'd been given to live in while on earth. To me, that's the sensible way to, "Render unto God what is God's, and render unto Caesar what is Caesar's." (misquoted, I'm sure, but you get the idea.)

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    1. Love the Polish joke, my wife is Polish so I can laugh without fear of the political correctness police seizing me. What a wonderful open view about God. I'm afraid I had the Catholic God of condemnation, guilt and shame. I say, wiping tears away, that to a Catholic of my heritage, "The Exorcist" was a documentary, that Satan waited and lurked to devour the souls of children who were powerless to resist. One mortal sin on your soul at the time of death could bar you from heaven for eternity. Everything under the 6th commandment and 9th commandments-especially erotica were mortal sins. I didn't see the movie until I was well into adulthood but couldn't sleep for days after, it brought back so much terror in the nights of my youth.
      And yes you have misquoted the famous verse but if you were raised atheist, how would you know?

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    2. Yeah, I was raised Polish Catholic too. The nuns would say, on one hand that one must be *aware* that something is a sin to be a sin. Then the bastards would give you a list of mortal sins. Like eating meat on friday, or missing mass n Sunday. Where do they get the nerve to do that to children. Talk about child abuse. Thanks for that sister. I'm just too bitter about what that religion did to me and my family to be objective. Not to mention the chaos religion plays around the world today who say the earth is 6,000 years old.

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    3. Fiona, I love your family anecdotes, thank you! I love the kind of religious person you're describing.

      Spencer, I recognize what you're talking about. I didn't want to write a whole book for this post, but there's a long story about how I left church and returned multiple times and flirted with various conversions and what have you, partially because of how scary I found the things you're talking about. I've had a lot of nightmares about religion in my life, for sure.

      Daddy, I don't know that anyone can be objective about religion, and I don't expect you to. Religious authorities say awful things (publicly or to individuals) all the time, and there's no excuse for that. It's amazing how many things are said that are scientifically and/or theologically unsound. It's also disturbing how often religious authorities say and do things in a spirit of cruelty and hate.

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  4. Hmmmm… What I take from this post is that the path to being a good Catholic writer is through religion's very nature--- hypocrisy and blasphemy. Sure, they make good themes for stories, but it doesn't hide the nature of blind faith in real life. The point is, as you say in your last paragraph, that deep-down, everybody adjusts and compromises so-called beliefs to suit themselves. Then they go out and proselytize and judge others.

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    1. There's truth here, but if I fully agreed, I'd be an atheist, too.

      I think the process of adjusting and compromising group beliefs for one's own use is an important part of being an individual in possession of one's own conscience (whether the group is a religion, a nation, or a bunch of friends hanging out). I don't view it as harshly as you seem to. Another complicated terrain to negotiate: Where do I allow a system of beliefs to challenge and change me, and where do I draw a barrier between it and myself? That's been a major part of my personal struggle with religion. Some people are proponents of adopting belief systems wholesale, but I don't think anyone has ever sincerely done so.

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    2. Daddy:
      I wonder how many recovering Catholics will be featured in the Blasphemy Anthology? We have a special place in the annals (anals?) of blasphemy.(hee hee) If we all bomb out maybe it should be a theme for ERWA.

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    3. Another anthology I'm looking forward to! Unfortunately, I didn't get a submission together for it. I did wonder a lot about what will read as blasphemy to people. In my experience, a lot of supposedly blasphemous things (such as taking the name of the Lord in vain) have little or no real impact in modern society. Other things that I truly find blasphemous, such as the assumption that a particular individual has experienced a particular outcome after death (confidently declaring that someone is in heaven or hell), seem sort of... specialized and unlikely to shock those that aren't deeply involved with (my brand of) religion. I'm really curious to see how the anthology's editors and contributors handle the topic.

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  5. Well, now you've done it, Annabeth :>) Now my hackles are up. Just read the SF Chronicle and saw where Salvatore Cordelione, Catholic archbishop of San Francisco, (arguably the most sexually tolerant of American cities), will be attending the March for Marriage in Washington tomorrow. He'll be joining other hate groups such as The Family Research Council in a desperate attempt to reverse history… Again. Also in attendance will be Tony Perkins, who complained about the highly acclaimed "It gets Better" series, among other things. There'll be the Rev. Bill Owens from the "Coalition of African-American Preachers who equates homosexuality with sex with animals. The Family Research Council has been exposed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Sex and spirituality can be worked out, if it weren't for obstacles like religions. Sure, the Islamics are having their shameful times now. Christians already accomplished their worst time after time throughout history

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    1. My hackles are up with you. I am doing my best under both my pseudonym and real name to speak for a different, better Christianity, but I can't deny that the far more visible version is the one you're describing. And, because of the way the power is organized, it means very little when I say or do something compared to what it means when the archbishop of San Francisco says or does something.

      And you might be letting Christian groups off easily at the end of your paragraph—I read an article recently about how Christian missions to Africa played a role in inciting violent homophobia in many African nations, and that's absolutely shameful.

      It's very difficult to figure out how to address this sort of thing without giving up religion (which is not an option for me). I am sure that I'm not doing enough. These actions don't represent what I believe in, but I've seen that used as an excuse, and I don't think it actually works as one.

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  6. The thing that really gets me is how blind all of those people are to their resemblance to the Taliban. They want their religious edicts written into law just like the Taliban want Sharia in all laws. They're bound to be disappointed because the world has gotten to be a much bigger and much more diversified place than their tiny philosophies will allow for. They remind me of Ghandi's words, "I love your Christ. It's your Christians I don't understand."

    I just added a picture to my personal Facebook page, where George Carlin is quoted as saying religion is like a pair of shoes. Find one that fits you and enjoy it. But don't expect everyone else to want to wear it also.

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    1. Yeah, Fiona. Cracks me up! We hear of the same states outlawing "Sharia" law wanting to teach creationism in the schools and embrace murdering abortion doctors. Religions legitimize all kinds of horror. Let's face it, Christ sounds like a pretty good guy, a hippie in fact. The only time he got angry was at the bankers. What a ripoff the Christians sure accomplished switching that one around.

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    2. Fiona, that's a fantastic George Carlin quote, and an excellent point about Christian fundamentalists and the Taliban.

      Aside from the many issues people have raised, I'm puzzled and disturbed that there is argument among Christians about whether people should help the poor. If there's one thing that's actually clear in the Bible, I think it's that Christ expected everyone to help the poor. And yet... The political party that's become identified with Christianity is the most likely to shout about people needing to suffer so they'll be "encouraged" to go work hard. I can't understand that, and I suppose that's a thing I'll proselytize about.

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    3. Annabeth:
      This is hardly the place for Bible study but a very big split happened in the first century church that is recorded in the book of Acts in Chapter 6 when the disciples decided that 'waiting on tables' was not the proper focus-it would be conversion (preaching the gospel). From that point forward the book of Acts and Christianity has focused on conversion. Keep in mind that what we know about the accepted bible was more or less dictated by Constantine who used it as a reason to subdue all foreigners ("In this sign, Conquer) I think Jesus wanted to get converts with unbelievers seeing how generous and caring his followers could be. Guess they got it wrong. But when you leave a bunch of men in charge what can you expect? Still if you read the book of Acts carefully you see that women had a prominent role in the early church. They were pushed out.

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    4. Various splinterings have introduced complications, as you describe.

      The church I attend is in a denomination that's famously averse to evangelism, to the point that there are lots of jokes about it. Where other denominations are continually sending out missionaries, in this denomination you're more likely to see an occasional lecture on how evangelism is a thing. The focus on conversion is certainly one of my least favorite things about Christianity, so I'm happy to be somewhere that makes it less of a focus.

      It's definitely true that women had a prominent role in the early church. Throughout the history of Catholicism, there have also been many prominent women (saints, nuns, abbesses). There have also always been individual women associated with individual churches who have a huge influence on daily operations—they're just usually unpaid or low-paid and lacking official power. So while I think it's true that women haven't been treated by the high levels of organization as valuable (they haven't been paid fairly for contributions or granted positions of equal power), I also want to recognize that they've participated anyway.

      I'm cautious of making jokes about groups of men. Despite admitting to a certain amount of hypocrisy in my original post, I do actually try to avoid hypocrisy. I'm careful of all kinds of traditional gender narratives, and the idea that groups of men are incompetent is included. I do think it's likely that homogenous groups of powerful, self-interested people can't be trusted, and that's what I think was going on with some of those early groups you're referring to. (I wouldn't normally make a big point out of this, but since I went at you so hard about generalizations about women, I really don't want to let this pass and consequently appear to be laughing along at a generalization about men).

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  7. I think you've said it all for me Daddy. Hypocrisy rules!

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    1. I appreciate you reading the post. I know the topic's not your cup of tea.

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  8. Hi everyone! Thanks so much for your comments. I've been out all day, and am working on replies now.

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    1. It sure has been a lively one! Thanks for the post, Annabeth. And, you've probably heard my rants here before. Not personal. I'm perhaps more bitter about religions than most.

      You said-
      My hackles are up with you. I am doing my best under both my pseudonym and real name to speak for a different, better Christianity, but I can't deny that the far more visible version is the one you're describing. And, because of the way the power is organized, it means very little when I say or do something compared to what it means when the archbishop of San Francisco says or does something.

      I get that, but with the kind of good works you have in mind, it sounds like even *you* think it will be an uphill road. I'd question Christianity as a starting point. It's like starting off in a hole for the high jump. But I do respect your trying to bring Christianity back to the teachings of Christ.

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    2. It certainly has been! And I understand that you haven't been personally attacking me. In my responses, I've been careful to avoid both personal attacks and common dismissive tactics, and I hope I've managed it. There are certainly plenty of reasons to object to Christianity, and arguing back about positives doesn't erase significant and important negatives.

      I think it is an uphill road. This is where the irrational part comes in for me. The reason I'm religious despite appreciating arguments against it comes down to a feeling of belief and connection that's very strong for me. The best comparison I've come up with is that it's like being born into a family full of all kinds of problems (abusive people, criminal behavior, and the rest). Some people make the decision to cut themselves off from that family, and I understand why. Others try to live with the contradictions, loving as they can, protecting themselves as they can, and speaking up where they can. When it comes to Christianity, the second group is the camp I fall into.

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  9. The new Pope, at least, has concern for the poor, much to the consternation of much of the rest of the church hierarchy. I'm an agnostic who subscribes to the teachings of Jesus, raised in a progressive New England church that still means a great deal to me (and I'm making some small effort to get there once in a while--it's over an hour away--with my Dad so that the next time I go it won't be for another funeral.)

    I don't think there's any long-established religion that hasn't succumbed to some extent to the "absolute power corrupts" paradigm. Religious hierarchies become hierarchies first and religious second. Well, maybe the Quakers. I'd say Buddhists, except for the tribalism that's causing violence in southeast Asia, but I don't think that has as much to do with religious hierarchy as with politics and the aforementioned tribalism.

    Coming in late here on borrowed wifi in the parking lot of a resort hotel, since I'm currently in the NH mountains with only sow dial-up at my cabin. My dad will be coming her later today riding with one of my brothers, which makes me realize that my father brought me up by example to feel a spiritual bond to nature as exemplified by the forests and mountains we both love.

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    1. Thanks for the visit, Sacchi! I'm heartened by the new Pope's concern for the poor, as I'm heartened that some religious people have organized Moral Mondays to protest outside state legislatures that are making laws that erode voting rights.

      I think you're right about the problems of power and establishment. I do admire the Quakers' commitment to social justice, personal conscience, etc—I've sometimes wished their rituals did it for me as far as religious practice.

      I hope you enjoy the visit with family! It's amazing how nature can feel so right.

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    2. I just saw today that our new, 'progressive' pope has come out against marijuana. Bet he's just lost Bill Maher as a fan!

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    3. Well maybe if the medical marijuana people will cut the pope in on commissions-like the bread makers did, he'd feel different. And then of course there is the long time church endorsement of the fish industry (in US). (Oh man I got into so much trouble once for asking the obvious question.)

      I'm sorry this didn't occur to me when doing the Blasphemy Anthology. I want a re-do. There is a lot of funny stuff to be mined from this. Imagine the Pope mobile festooned like NASCAR.

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    4. Lol, I debated when answering Sacchi whether I ought to add a caveat about how, while I am glad he is talking about helping the poor, I don't think he's lived up to the "progressive pope" idea by any stretch. Then I thought, well, we've had so much discussion of negative acts by authority figures, I'll give it a rest. Should have known you'd cover that, too, Daddy. :)

      Spencer, I had to laugh at that comment on the fish industry.

      As a more general comment, one of my worries for this topic was that anything I posted would turn into a referendum on the idea of being religious itself, which does seem to be what's happened. I'm really not interested in trying to convince people that being religious is good, desirable, or any similar thing, and I hope that's been clear. On the other side of the matter, it's not fun to face up to a grab bag of bad things that have been done/are being done/will likely continue to be done by official representatives of my religion in various places throughout human history, but I accept that this is one of the things I have to do if I'm choosing to remain religious and want to avoid deploying defensive nonsense. That said, I'll probably take a rest from further responses to those general sorts of issues, though I'll still check back and respond to comments about the specifics of my post (though probably with reduced frequency, as things seem to be dying down).

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  10. Annabeth:
    I really appreciate your sensitivity to this topic. The reason I write under a pen name is that I simply don't want to engage in the endless discussions with people who would want to save me from my ways of sin. I hope you didn't feel 'outed', I searched your bio and thought you wrote under your given name. My wife has asked me, if, now that I am published, I plan to come out. I don't. At my memorial service will be fine, poster size duplicates of the tawdry covers from my stories will give everyone something to talk about.

    Hang with the blasphemer another moment. My comments to Daddy only portend a return to a sorry tradition of the church. Playing a little loose, the College of Cardinals in Martin Luther's time was like the NFL. A guy paid Rome for a franchise to become a Cardinal, he got the take from all the churches in his region and had to send some to Rome. Can you say the M word?- Actually the Italians borrowed that structure from the Chinese.
    Now all that said. I give a pass to France which has tried earnestly to be secular and is often accused of being anti-Islam with their forbidding of religious apparel. Somewhere along the line they recognized the carnage that resulted from the close affiliation of church and state did more harm than good.

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    1. No worries—you'd only out me if you started using my real name in this context. :)

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  11. I'm heartened by this post, it shows the great variety of experience that brings people to this genre. I'm a Unitarian, but I like the fact that you;re a catholic. I'm also a fan of this new pope.

    Garce

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting! :)

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