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Alien Sex: The Body and Desire in Cinema and Theology Paperback – February 13, 2004

4 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Editorial Reviews


"Absolutely brilliant." Stanley Hauerwas, Duke University

Alien Sex is part of Blackwell’s Challenges in Contemporary Theology series, a series that has produced some of the most creative theological thinking in recent years. Loughlin’s book is no exception… Loughlin’s innovative method of dealing with his material is in line with the theological approach taken but also connects with the cinematic perspective. His subject matter, however, covers a wider range of interests than film and theology and delves into the realms of art history and literature. … Loughlin’s Alien Sex is an extremely interesting and important work.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion

"Alien Sex presents Gerard Loughlin's incarnational theology in a compelling mantle of film theory... The book's three parts... display continual jump cuts between film texts, theology, and philosophy with dizzying effect, but Loughlin keeps readers from potential frustration through fascinating readings of a wide array of films... he works wonders with eclectic and appropriate juxtapositions of theological and scriptural texts." Journal of Religion

"Alien Sex refuses, without coyness, to be quite the book promised by its subtitle. It is the more dazzling for the refusal... Alien Sex is rather an exercise in writing about incarnation under the present regime of mass images. It inter-cuts traditional Christian discourses with selections from recent films in hopes of recognizing holy bodies... Loughlin's book is not theology and film; it is theology after film - theology simply and splendidly... The final effect - despite and because of its brilliance - raises questions." Studies in Christian Ethics

“It is frankly difficult to see how a book with a title like this could fail to be interesting and Loughlin does not disappoint… [It is] difficult to imagine anyone other than Loughlin bringing together Christian tradition and pop culture in such a provocative and endlessly inventive way… Loughlin’s work is an important revisionary reading of the role of sexuality in both theological tradition and secular modernity… I would nominate this brilliant synthesis of theology, film and cultural theory as my book of the year within the field [of religion].” The Year’s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory (2005)

"Loughlin envisages a complete remodelling of traditional Christian ideas on the place and importance of sexual activity in life... Loughlin's subject will increasingly preoccupy intellectually, socially and morally adventurous Christians, and there will be changes in the Church's attitudes to sex in the decades to come." Times Literary Supplement

Book Description

Gerard Loughlin is one of the leading theologians working at the interface between religion and contemporary culture. In this exceptional work, he uses cinema and the films it shows to think about the church and the visions of desire it displa.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (February 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631211802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631211808
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,342,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By M. Chait on May 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
I first encountered a portion of this book in the controversial Radical Orthodoxy: A New Theology produced by Routledge (titled "Erotics: God's Sex"). There are some interesting essays in that volume, but Loughlin's was simultaneously one of the most accessible and one of the most provocative. Any theologian who can start a theological piece by pointing to the prurient preoccupations of Georges Bataille and then plausibly bring the trajectory around full circle to champion the Trinitarian eros of Dante's Commedia is a creative theologian, if nothing else.

Bringing together his Radical Orthodox sensibilities, his Roman Catholic insistence on Incarnational faith and the sacramentality of creation (including desire and the flesh), and his interests in queer theory, Loughlin conducts the reader through this seemingly disparate triad of interests - God, sex, and the movies - and helps the reader to see the pulsing, luminous desire for the Other that flows through each of them. His commentaries on films such as The Exorcist, A Clockwork Orange, and Alien are interspersed with reflections on philosophers and theologians from Augustine and Gregory of Nyssa to Roland Barthes and Slavoj Zizek.

If you read this book in public, you might want to find a cover for it. But the forbidden desires of Alien Sex are well worth the transgression. In an age when the Church and theology are often bifurcated into the same stale antinomies between fundamentalist and liberal, right-wing and left-wing, Loughlin offers an unwaveringly Trinitarian vision of reality that simultaneously challenges the patriarchy and heteronormativity of the institutional church. If you're tired of the repugnant imperial theology of much of the Christian Right but leery of the cavalier attitude toward orthodox dogma of much of the Christian Left, Loughlin's radically orthodox theology of desire might be a refreshing respite.
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