scholars have been slow to examine exactly how and when it became a
central aspect of the religious life. In this book, a revision of his
2000 dissertation at the University of Utrecht, Albrecht Diem sets out
to discuss the ways that sexuality and chastity were considered in the
Latin West, primarily in the fifth and sixth centuries, and how
monasticism came to embrace chastity. That he personally does not
consider this a valid development is indicated by his dedication of the
book to the "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence," which he characterizes as
a group of gays, lesbians, and transsexuals who live communally,
following something like the Benedictine Rule, but without imposing
chastity, and who have dedicated themselves to overcoming religious
fanaticism and sexual intolerance."
I read with astonishment the first paragraph of Bouchard’s review of Albrecht’s Das monastische Experiment: Die rolle der Keuschheit bei der Entstehung des westlichen Klosterwesens. Her inference that Albrecht did not believe that chastity was a ‘valid development’ because he dedicates his book to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is unacceptable and inappropriate. Did Bouchard contact Albrecht on why he dedicated his book to the Sisters? My first thought was why is his dedication the topic of her first paragraph in a review of his book? My second thought was what impact this had on her and her review. If anything, it may show bias that ultimately affects not only the review but more importantly, in the current heated atmosphere of religious politics, book sales. I do not think that a dedication should in any way direct how a book should be read or interpreted. I dedicated my dissertation to my partner Doug because he was there every step of the way and supported me and our trans-Pacific move so I could do my dissertation in Australia—it had absolutely nothing to do with the topic of my dissertation at all (Augustine and the Manichaeans). I hope that in the future the editors of BMR would weed out comments like that since they have absolutely nothing to do with the review of a book. If the author of a review thinks that they do, then BMR should find someone else to review the book.
I’ll let you know if I hear back from them.