From a collection of essays, articles and talks from Australia and abroad, "Seduced by Grace"is a story of faith woven from crystallised snapshots of author, Michael B. Kelly's life. They chart years of spiritual maturation coming to befriend the truth and giftedness of his life and using his voice to respond to the call of Christ to speak up for the marginalised. And he speaks so eloquently.
Kelly tackles the big questions faced by gay Catholics today: "Can I be healthy, joyous, loving and free as gay and as Catholic?… Is there a way forward? What is the challenge of the future?"
In struggling to answer these and many more questions he observes "…a time honoured tradition of returning to the roots of the Christian experience — to the Gospels — and engage in the prayerful process, practised in every age, of reading in them my own journey of faith and of discerning in them the call of God for me today."[Kelly,"Seduced by Grace", p 27]
Raw honesty from a gay Christian activist...
I first encountered Michael B. Kelly when he was a fellow contributor to the (soon to be reorganised) CathNewsDiscussion Board where his wisdom and intelligence earned him great respect from the members of that early discussion community. His deep sense of the spiritual shone through every post, even when he came under attack— actually, most especially when he came under attack. What shocked me was not that he found himself more and more under attack by an increasing number of new discussion board members for the views he held, but simply by virtue of the fact that he was gay. The fact that what he was often talking about was in fact Catholic teaching apparently had nothing to do with the matter. He was gay and therefore not worthy of being heard,full stop. I'd never encountered anything like it.
I'd never encountered such mindless vitriol in the name of religion firsthand before, and was forever impressed by Michael's patient and respectful replies; never fighting back or resorting to ad hominum, and always urging the poster back to the topic at hand. He exemplified his words by his behaviour towards others and, since actions have always spoken louder than words, he 'walked the talk'.
Michael's actions are still speaking loud and clear; he is someone who has always been prepared to lay everything on the line — and he does it again in every line of this book.
No passive read…
Michael B. Kelly's raw honesty moved and challenged me to see the Christ he sees. I also found some of his honesty scandalous, but even the shocking parts challenged me to actually think about these things, often for the first time. This is no passive read, I can assure you!
Love what he writes, or hate it; one can't remain unmoved by what he has to say. His questions are our questions, and he challenges us to have the courage to ask them and to genuinely enter into the struggle for the answers.
By the time I'd finished reading I was convinced that every family with a gay* member should read this book — but I soon corrected that to everyone — full stop! Michael has something very important to say and we do ourselves and society a disservice if we don't give him a hearing.As Catholics, we pay lip-service to any ideas of 'compassion, sensitivity and respect' if we don't at the very least enter into a dialogue with gay people — which includes truly listening to them — and Michael B Kelly is certainly a worthy spokesperson.
As a woman I don't pretend to understand what it must be fully like to inhabit the body and psyche of a man, yet I love men, and particularly my husband and my own son. As a heterosexual I likewise find it extremely difficult to personally understand what it must be like to inhabit the psyche of someone who is sexually attracted to others of their own sex.It's almost like me trying to imagine what it must be like to have been born black. In the music industry I have worked with many people who are gay, and some of them have become close friends.
Michael's voice is a prophetic one. It enables us to better understand what it must be like to feel imprisoned as one of the sectors of society who are discriminated against and maligned because of the life circumstances they were borne into and have very little control over. Michael Bernard Kelly is a man who carries himself with great dignity and, in a very real sense, provides leadership not only to gays but to other sectors in society who are discriminated against and maligned unjustly.
*In the forward to the book Michael acknowledges that there are a variety of terms used to describe those with an homosexual orientation, as well as the fact that there are variety of types of sexual orientation —but for purposes of brevity he (and I) simply uses the term 'gay'.
What are your thoughts on this commentary?