Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Since My Last Confession by Scott Pomfret
Reviewed by Alan Chin
When a devout Catholic, porn-writing, sodomite lawyer fights to protect the Massachusetts same-sex marriage laws, he finds that his main adversary is the same Roman Catholic Church he loves and supports with fervor. As the battle intensifies, Pomfret reveals the church hierarchy’s gross hypocrisy, homophobia, rabid anti-gay political agenda, and the fear it instills in gay priests. Not surprisingly, this ugly side of the Church forces Pomfret to scrutinize his own beliefs, and to justify, or not, his continued support of a church that openly and actively discriminates against him.
Pomfret -- best known for the steamy, gay, pornographic novels that he co-authors with his partner Scott Whittier -- paints a funny yet ominous picture of the political power struggle going on in the church hierarchy, an underground gay movement organized by homo priest, and a church in transition (although transitioning to what is still a question).
This memoir is a serious romp, a humorous and intelligent look at the Roman Catholic Church under a magnifying glass, and an interesting look at one man’s attempt to justify his spiritual longings. I seldom laughed out loud, but I found something interesting and humorous on nearly every page. It made me laugh, it made me angry, it made me scrutinize my own beliefs.
Being a Zen Buddhist (which means I don’t believe in a God), I know little about the Catholic Church, and of Christianity in general. I suspect that Catholics will find this memoir much funnier than I, yet I found it an absorbing study of the Church’s teaching and workings. I especially liked the helpful, tongue-in-cheek sidebars that enlightened me on such topics as how to detect a gay Catholic, three easy steps to being excommunicated, and the ten commandments of reading gay porn.
I also was impressed Pomfret’s interpretations of church doctrines, including the following prayer which I found to be very Zen-like:
I don’t know what I want from You, God, if I want anything at all. I don’t want to beseech You, or thank You, or seek Your forgiveness or others’ salvation. I just want to stand naked before You, choked with wonder, uttering a prayer as joyful, guttural, sorrowful, agonizing, and inarticulate as an orgasm.
The one question that kept nagging me throughout this book, like a catchy jingle in my head that I can’t remember the name of, is how a gay man can justify supporting a church that actively discriminates against gay people. To me, that is equally as absurd as gay people supporting the Bush administration (and if you read this book, you’ll notice some not-so-surprising similarities between the two.) It was a question Pomfret asked himself and attempted to answer in the last few chapters, but I found his answer lacking, considering there are many alternatives for spiritual growth that don’t discriminate against anyone.
Mahatma Gandhi once said: “The various religions are like different roads converging on the same point. What difference does it make if we follow different routes, provided we arrive at the same destination.” But I, for one, disagree. I think that any church that actively discriminates against any portion of the population, including its own followers, impedes the whole human race from attainting that glorious destination.
But by all means, pick up a copy and judge for yourself. You won’t be sorry you did.