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Queer FaithReading Promiscuity and Race in the Secular Love Tradition$
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Melissa E. Sanchez

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479871872

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479871872.001.0001

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The Queerness of Christian Faith

The Queerness of Christian Faith

(p.23) 1 The Queerness of Christian Faith
Queer Faith

Melissa E. Sanchez

NYU Press

This chapter analyzes the theological roots of secular understandings of erotic temporality and fidelity. It begins with a discussion of Saint Paul’s Epistles, in which the radical humiliation that manifests divine love is necessarily beyond human capacity. It then turns to Saint Augustine’s conviction that the divided human will renders confession incomplete and conversion provisional. Based on the premise that as a human creature he can always change, Augustine’s depiction of faith as a result of miraculous passion is cause for optimism as well as anxiety about who he will be in the future. Salvation for Augustine inheres in the consequent realization that professions of faith are in fact ambivalent prayers for it. Finally, this chapter traces the centrality of Pauline and Augustinian theology to the structure of fidelity in Francesco Petrarch’s secular love lyrics, which limn in excruciating detail the mille rivolte—the thousand turns, revolts, and returns—of his competing attachments to Laura, God, and his own worldly ambition. These poems confront a fragmented self incapable of the conviction and fidelity to which it desperately aspires but does not entirely want.

Keywords:   Saint Paul, Saint Augustine, Francesco Petrarch, faith, conversion, prayer, confession, secular love, lyric poetry

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