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A Thorn in the Flesh

How Gay Sexuality is Changing the Episcopal Church

Caroline J. Addington Hall

A Thorn in the Flesh: How Gay Sexuality is Changing the Episcopal Church tells the story of how homosexuality has been used to further conservative political agendas, both here and abroad. It describes how African and Asian churches have been drawn into a conflict that began in the United States in the Episcopal Church, and raises vital questions of whether people with different understandings of authority and truth can live in harmony.

This provocative book is not a history of the movement for gay inclusion, nor a history of the movement for a new, conservative Anglican church in the Americas. Instead, it is a comparison of the conservative and the liberal parts of the church. There are those, such as the Church of England, who have conservative theological orientation and are most likely to oppose fully including gays and lesbians in the church. Hall, also, explores the rapid changes that have happened in Western society in the past fifty years that have led to the acceptance of same-sex marriage and homosexuality. This change has not come easily and even after nearly four decades, gay marriage remains a politically divisive issue in the United States and England.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 306Size: 6 1/2 x 9 3/8
978-1-4422-1994-6 • Hardback • March 2013 • $44.00 • (£29.95)
978-1-4422-1996-0 • eBook • March 2013 • $43.99 • (£29.95)
Rev. Caroline Addington Hall is priest-in-charge of an Episcopal parish in California and vice-president of Inter-Anglican Affairs for Integrity, an organization that works for the full inclusion of gay and lesbian Episcopalians, and a frequent contributor to the blog Walking with Integrity. Hall and her spouse were among the first gay couples married in California when marriage became legal for same-sex couples in 2008.
1: The American Right’s Love affair with Homosexuality
14: Where Now is Authority?

Appendix: For the Bible Tells Me So
Hall, an Episcopal priest, presents the history of the struggle for full inclusion and ordination of gays and lesbians in her denomination. Although firmly on the pro-gay side of the rift, she evenhandedly presents the viewpoints of both factions. She opens with two brief chapters offering reasons why homosexuality has become such a key political issue. She then turns to a history of the gay and lesbian debate in Episcopalianism from the late 1950s to the present, and Episcopalian responses to key historical moments, such as the AIDS crisis. Although her focus is on the United States, she deftly explains how the debate has spread and influenced the larger Anglican Communion. In particular, her unraveling of the American roots of the anti-gay bill in Uganda provides crucial analysis of how the debate affects those far beyond North America. Using individuals to shape the story makes even the lengthy discussions of ecclesiastical politics engaging. Her work provides an excellent introduction to the current schisms in Anglicanism, both within the U.S. church and internationally.
Publishers Weekly

This is an intriguing read, a page-turner for those following the wider issue of gender policy in the Episcopal Church. . . .This is an important . . . read.
Anglican and Episcopal History

This is Episcopal history at its best and a compelling story that needs to be told. Hall narrates with intelligence and accuracy the past 50 years of prejudice and pride. Her wide vision encompasses the critical intersections of shifts in religion, politics and contemporary cultural awareness about homosexuality.
Fredrica Harris Thompsett

For over fifty years, the Episcopal Church has struggled to appreciate faithfulness and holiness among LGBT Christians. Caroline Addington Hall has given us a richly informative account of this disturbing, provocative, and inspiring strand of our history. Reading this book is good background for those who would continue to move the Anglican Communion forward.
Reverend Canon Marilyn McCord Adams, formerly Regius Professor of Divinity, Oxford

The Anglican upheaval over homosexuality has found its historian. Caroline Addington Hall does not disclaim her own perspective on the debate, no credible commentator can as the earth still trembles with change, but she tells both sides of the story with remarkable and thorough care. A Thorn in the Flesh will be the benchmark against which later works on this subject will be measured.
Rev. Harry Knox, president and CEO, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice