To Cardinal William J. Levada:
I wish to submit my book for consideration of condemnation by Your Eminence’s Vatican office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.
I was inspired to take this step upon learning that the office censured a book written by Sister Margaret A. Farley, R.S.M., Ph.D., “Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics.” The office did so on the grounds that, among other crimes, Sister Farley writes that there are moral and theological justifications for masturbation and same-sex marriage.
As Your Eminence knows, this censure by the Congregation in Rome of a treatise written by an American nun has caused a stir here in the U.S. Her book, which had been languishing for years in obscurity, has become an overnight best-seller. Currently “Just Love” is not far behind “Shades of Grey” on Amazon.com despite the fact that it isn’t available in any e-book format and can be purchased only as an expensive paperback. And that’s at the discount price.
In addition, my local bookstore is selling copies of “Just Love” so fast the clerks stopped stacking it beside “Weight Loss Boss” and “Game of Thrones” boxed sets and instead keep copies in plain brown wrappers near the cash register.
Clearly censure by the Congregation of this nun’s book has resulted in the kind of sales and red-hot publicity we writers can only dream of.
You see, most of us writers are having a tough time of it these days. The book publishing business is changing so fast we’ve all but given up on it and are turning to self-publishing. But because of on-demand digital printing and e-books, everyone and his brother and sister (clerical or lay) can now get their books published. This is transforming an already crowded literary field into a mob scene.
We writers are also now expected, even by traditional publishers and agents, to advertise our books at our own expense, arrange for our own interviews, and provide local book clubs with free copies. We are told to mine publicity via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads, blogs, and so on. For social media misfits such as myself (I have no Facebook or Twitter accounts and I’m still figuring out Tumblr), this can be especially frustrating.
Yet these efforts pale in comparison to the media reach possessed by Your Eminence’s office. After all, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith has been in existence since the mid-sixteenth century, when it was more colloquially known as the Inquisition.
Therefore I am eager to submit my book, a fictional thriller with a religious motif (which alone can evoke literary objections) for consideration of the Congregation’s censure.
Although I am a lapsed Catholic, as an author I should qualify because I am the proud niece of a nun who does not lecture anyone about birth control, masturbation, and homosexuality. Now retired and elderly, my aunt instead spent her last years of activity establishing two schools for the poor in Romania.
In addition, one character in my novel is a nun who battles archconservative archbishops. Other characters explain how there were women bishops in the earliest years of the faith, and that during the Dark and Middle Ages abbesses of certain convents ruled over local priests and bishops, a situation so anathema to some male clerics that they fought successfully to suppress nuns’ rights and powers. By writing about these historic facts I have, most likely, already aroused the Congregation’s suspicions. Personally, I urge it to move into high Inquisitional gear.
Should Your Eminence decide that my book must indeed be censured, which will inevitably result in it becoming a bestseller, I will, in gratitude, start attending mass at the Catholic church nearest my home. Perhaps I should point out that its parishioners include a few gay couples and that the priest and other parishioners don’t seem to have a problem with this. If this situation moves Your Eminence to censure the lot of them too, they will probably join me in singing a hymn of thanks.