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Reasonable and Holy: Engaging Same-Sexuality Paperback – March 1, 2009
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About the Author
Tobias Stanislas Haller is vicar of Saint James Episcopal Church, Fordham, in New York City.
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Tobias Haller presents this book as a resource for the Anglican "listening process" on same-sexuality, and quite a gift it is. If your parish church is divided about these issues, or living in a tenuous don't-ask-don't-tell truce, this little book is organized for meaningful, adult spiritual education and discussion. If you don't think your parish is ready for a full series of classes, consider a seminar based on chapter 12, "Heirs of the Promise," with a couple of copies of this book available in the church lending library. Fr. Haller's scholarly approach to the usual questions and oft-quoted scripture won't fail to inform even the most radical on both sides of the same-sexuality debate.
As other reviewers have noted, this book isn't an easy read, even if you are familiar with the arguments and and modern biblical scholarship. The text is thoroughly readable - and the humor quite lovely - but you will stop to ponder many, many issues. And best of all, you will probably stop and think about the LGBT people in your life, and how they can be blessed and loved by God and the Christian community.
Now that you have the thoughtful comments, I'll add this pithy aside: if you support the LGBT community, Fr. Haller has provided you with a lot of well-researched information to combat biblical literalism and pull-quoting. You can even support one argument by citing the venerable Augustine of Hippo!
Liberals and conservatives seem to talk past each other. He carefully builds a coherent conservative position that is defensible. He begins by clarifying, examining and interrogating the concept of complementarity. He discerns between purpose versus the ends of marriage. He examines the traditional and a more appropriate way of understanding procreation within marriage.
Fr. Haller interrogates the concept of "abomination" and what constitutes "porneia." He also convincingly shows that liberals do not "cherry pick" but that the foundational law is the one by which all other laws are judged. Haller reminds us that the purpose of scripture is to save; not to close people from the Gospel.
His strongest chapter is his chapter on Jesus, where he wonders What Would Jesus Do. Here he is completely convincing. On page 139 he offers a powerful paraphrase of Jesus' commands. His last chapter would be useful enough to offer those who still can't understand the progressive position.
There are some meta issues that would be beyond his scope. There are deep issues of semantics and linguistic taxonomies which most people do not address; further there isn't much of a discussion of homosexuality as a symbol. Nor is there much of a discussion of how we got to begin discussing this issue. That said, the book accomplishes its task: to offer a coherent theological justification for seeking God's work in our inevitable acceptance of those who have desires not traditionally seen by the church.