Item description for The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology (Moral Traditions) by Todd A. Salzman & Michael G. Lawler...
Two principles capture the essence of the official Catholic position on the morality of sexuality: first, that any human genital act must occur within the framework of heterosexual marriage; second, each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life. In this comprehensive overview of Catholicism and sexuality, theologians Todd A. Salzman and Michael G. Lawler examine and challenge these principles. Remaining firmly within the Catholic tradition, they contend that the church is being inconsistent in its teaching by adopting a dynamic, historically conscious anthropology and worldview on social ethics and the interpretation of scripture while adopting a static, classicist anthropology and worldview on sexual ethics.
While some documents from Vatican II, like "Gaudium et spes" ("the marital act promotes self-giving by which spouses enrich each other"), gave hope for a renewed understanding of sexuality, the church has not carried out the full implications of this approach. In short, say Salzman and Lawler: emphasize relationships, not acts, and recognize Christianity's historically and culturally conditioned understanding of human sexuality. "The Sexual Person" draws historically, methodologically, and anthropologically from the best of Catholic tradition and provides a context for current theological debates between traditionalists and revisionists regarding marriage, cohabitation, homosexuality, reproductive technologies, and what it means to be human. This daring and potentially revolutionary book will be sure to provoke constructive dialogue among theologians, and between theologians and the Magisterium.
Citations And Professional Reviews The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology (Moral Traditions) by Todd A. Salzman & Michael G. Lawler has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
Chronicle of Higher Education - 09/12/2008 page 21
Choice - 01/01/2009
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Studio: Georgetown University Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9" Width: 6.1" Height: 1" Weight: 1.3 lbs.
Release Date May 21, 2008
Publisher Georgetown University Press
ISBN 1589012070 ISBN13 9781589012073
Availability 0 units.
More About Todd A. Salzman & Michael G. Lawler
Todd A. Salzman is a professor of Catholic theology at Creighton University. He is the author of several books, and is coeditor of "Marriage in the Catholic Tradition."
Michael G. Lawler is Amelia and Emil Graff Professor Emeritus of Catholic Theology at Creighton University. He is the author of several books, including" Marriage and the Catholic Church: Disputed Questions." Together they are the authors of the award-winning "The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology."
Todd A. Salzman has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology (Moral Traditions)?
Proportionalist/Psuedo-Dualist Catholic Ethics Feb 3, 2010
I learned a ton from this book although I disagree with the authors on most points of practical morality. I appreciate their efforts, their rigor, and their good will. In principal, I agree with them a great deal except for in the following areas:
1. Proportionalism - Proportionalist ideas are the bedrock of their reasoning. For the authors, the intention and consequences of an act are paramount and they give little credence to an action's objective moral orientation.
2. Postmodern Anthropology - because they focus so much on the historicity and subjectivity of humans, they minimize the universality of human nature. Given, historicity and subjectivity are extremely important, but these authors emphasize it to such an extent that they end up concluding that (beyond basic moral principals) specific moral norms are almost entirely relative to one's historical context. Consequently they end up dismissing much of the biblical and theological tradition on human sexuality.
3. Pseudo - Dualist Anthropology The authors criticize John Paul II's anthropology because they claim it focuses too narrowly on the physical/biological aspects of the person and ignores the spiritual aspects. Instead, they propose a "holistic" understanding of the person, which includes affective, relational, emotional, psychological, social, and other spiritual elements, that (functionally) trumps biological and physical concerns. What they fail to realize is that John Paul's anthropology includes all of these levels and sees them all as intimately integrated along with one's physicality while their own anthropology emphasizes some personal aspects to the exclusion of the physical. John Paul is not a physicalist, he simply sees all of these aspects of the person as important. This includes the physical (which they do not seem to value as tied to all these other aspects of the person). Thus they misconclude that John Paul is emphasizing physicality over and against the other aspects. In the end, John Paul's understanding is much more holistic because these authors fail to express a well-integrated unity of body of soul where the physical aspects are intimately tied to the spiritual aspects.
On a positive note, its review of the History of sexual thought and theology in the Church is commendable (though clearly biased and revisionist in places, especially when positing ulterior motives for certain magisterial declarations without). I learned a lot.
Moreover, their critique of some traditionalist Catholic teaching (act-centered morality, physicalism,) is well thought through and acute. However, they end up throwing out John Paul II's theology with the bath water.
Also, its evaluation of the person and the various non-physical aspects of sexuality is quite beautiful. Unfortunately, they believe much of this to be in contrast with John Paul II's teaching when in fact, he is in agreement with them on much of it. I think a thorough understanding of his work would have aided them in the writing of these sections.
Finally, its arguments for homosexuality call for careful consideration. Their conclusion that the Church "teaches badly" on this topic is well made. While I ultimately stand by the Church's teaching as correct, I agree that it is not a truth clearly or well taught. Anyone claiming to do so should read their critique to test their mettle.
So while this book is commendable on a number of levels, ultimately it fails to accurately assess modern Catholic Sexual Ethics. Specifically, it's critique of John Paul II's Theology of the Body presents a straw man argument against a "classicalist" physicalism that John Paul rejects. In the end, their "holistic" understanding of the human persons results in a pseudo-dualism which fails to 1) take the body seriously and 2) see all physical and spiritual aspects of the person as integrated.
Anyone interested in John Paul II's teaching on Theology of the BodyMan and Woman He Created Them: A Theology Of The Body should not take this book's assessment as accurate. The Theology of the Body is a beautiful, modern, life-changing understanding of sexuality. Read it and judge for yourself, especially "Love & Responsibility." Love and Responsibility
thoughtful and thought-provoking book Apr 7, 2009
This particular book deserves thoughtful grace. All books do, really, but one which takes such work to research and complete, particularly in our time of trolls and angels, merits reviews rather than common scolds.
This is a book I found to be interesting to read for what it says its purpose is, rather than flying at it to harp about what it is not. There are covered in this book direct experiences of men and women married and otherwise, and these bring excellent insights into issues that may remain behind a glass darkly for those not married... not engaged in these ways. I thought the authors offered insightful ideas in clearly written non-preachy, non-screechy language.
There is a heart to this book. Though some read what supports their tiny front porch only, others read for exploring other rooms of a huge House that has room for all of good will. I'd say this book belongs to the larger House.
The only aspect of the book that was not immediately clear to me was the word 'anthropology' in the title. But, then I read several pages more than once, and understood this to mean not just an effort to collect data which the antiquated Kinsey studies did, but to bring back into focus a history that has oft been ignored, purposely suppressed, or written about by those who have no direct knowledge.
I'd say the authors have brought fresh overview to a long and tangled subject that has often been purposely subverted by those seeming interested in a punitive ideology used to blast others, rather than in learning, inquiring, offering the heart's and mind's ideas to others. And sitting with. Seeing. Talking with others. Learning.
I found the book fascinating and recommend it to any who wish to see what two current scholars think and see in the huge vista of human sexuality and Catholicism.
Salzman and Lawler explain it all to you Apr 4, 2009
Here is an old tale of a man who flourished in this world and practiced what he thought was virtuous, loving behavior:
Luk 16:19 "There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. Luk 16:20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, Luk 16:21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. Luk 16:22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; Luk 16:23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom. Luk 16:24 And he called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Laz'arus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.' Luk 16:25 But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. Luk 16:26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.' Luk 16:27 And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house, Luk 16:28 for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.' Luk 16:29 But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.' Luk 16:30 And he said, 'No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' Luk 16:31 He said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.'"
It is obvious that the authors of this revisionist tract have not listened to Moses and the Prophets. Nor were they impressed by Christ rising from the dead. The authors think that their eyes have been opened and they have become like God knowing good and evil.
An Argument for Sanity & Critical Intelligence in Sexual Ethics Sep 14, 2008
For too long a time the sexual ethics of Catholic authors substituted sexual anxiety and submission to authorities for critical intelligence, serious scholarship, candor, & compassion. In recent years a quiet revolution has been taking place in publications by Christine Gudorf, Patricia Beattie Jung, Mark Jordan, Margaret Farley, and James Alison, among others. Now Todd Salzman & Michael Lawler have written a carefully researched, cogently argued, frank, and revisionary study in the Catholic understanding of sexual desire, love-making, birth regulation, premarital sex, and homosexuality. A brave, intelligent, and thoughtful contribution.