Sexy Priests - collars, cassocks and ... !
- Created: Saturday, 13 June 2015 15:23
- Written by Tim Bairstow
People often ask me about the Society of the Incarnation where "The Shadow of Your Wings" is set and which also features in "Cloven Tongues" too. Usually, they want to know where it actually is ... not that it would actually be called that, of course, but on which real place is it actually based? I ought to tell them, really, the place would get loads of visitors thumbing through copies of the book and looking for the parts of the buildings where their favourite bits of the action took place: "Is this where Jonas finally gets in to Felix's pants?" or "Can we go in to the vaults under the church and look at the tombs, please? Oh, is this Felix's room where that old priest used to stalk him?"
I have to confess, though, that the Society of the Incarnation owes bits to a lot of different places and a lot to my fevered imagination. Like most places in novels that aren't explicitly a real place, it is an amalgam of all sorts of stuff real and imagined that came together to provide the suitably 'Gothic' background to the story that I wanted. Similarly with the people - they're fictitious though, as with every character, little bits of a lot of people that you know get rolled up in to a composite character that actually develops in ways that you didn't imagine it would as you write.
The other question is: what is it with you and priests and sex? Do you find priests sexy?
Well, let's face it most of them aren't although the Vatican's clergy calendar rounded up some specimens that would have every self-respecting homosexual getting more than a little hot under the collar (dog or otherwise) in the right circumstances! It's more to do with the 'pressure cooker' environment that the church creates around sexuality. I mean, take a fundamental and ultimately undeniable human urge (i.e. not merely sex alone but the desire for love too) and then forbid its expression, or even the search to find an expression for it. You then stick people together in places and circumstances where temptation is massive and outlet is theoretically nil and ... boom! The lid will at some point blow of the pressure cooker!
That's what creates the sexual tension in "Shadow" in particular. It's the forbidden nature of it all. Part of the attraction of the sexy young clerics in the Vatican's outrageously homo-erotic calendar is that they are dressed in a way that says: "Hands Off" but there's so much else about them that it screaming out: "come here!!!" That's how the church operates its all: "you want it but you can't have it! You really, really want it don't you? But you can't have it! No, never! But you still really, really want it don't you?"
Of course this creates damage too and "Shadow" doesn't back away from that. It damages those who try to live that way and they, in their turn, especially when they are in places of authority, power and trust such as being a priest, damage those around them with a variety of abuses ranging from petty spite all the way up to full-blown sexual predation. Such a fundamental denial of what it means to be human inevitably produces humans who are, in one way or another, warped. Auto-castration was one of the less well known but quite prevalent acts of early Christian communities ... saints lopping their balls off because their balls just wouldn't leave them alone. It's a hatred of the body that is shot through Christian traditional moral teaching and that the modern church would do well to finally jettison once and for all.
But ... are priests sexy? Not all of them, of course, but ... generically ... are they? I have to say yes but, I confess, that this may well be a case of going back to the dreaded Curse of The Thorn Birds ... damn that Cardinal de Bricassart!
Sigh - it's the scarlet robe that gets you every time!
But, snooty about it as let late Colleen McCullough might have been, she did create the template for what I mean. A man like other men yet seized with a desire to serve God but obsessed with the woman that he loved and the need to be with her.
It's a potent story - gay or straight - and endlessly fascinating in the telling and re-telling of the multi-faceted, multi-layered, rich, poignant and tragic lives that our sexy priests feel compelled to live.
They are a rich seam for fiction if nothing else.
If you're interested in the religious life (i.e. monasteries such as The Society of the Incarnation) within the Anglican Church then just search "Anglican Religious Communities" and links to all the houses that still exist are gathered in to one place for you to browse at. But, remember, if you think this will be a place away from temptation, you will be very wrong: there it sits, quietly, biding its time, gathering its power and planning its next lethal move on you!