Form and Content
Faith, Sex, Mystery: A Memoir is divided into five chapters plus a brief but significant introduction. In it, Richard Gilman traces the growth and decline of his religious life from a childhood in a home which was Jewish only in its ethnicity to baptism and active membership in the Roman Catholic church to his present position as a nonparticipatory theist. The first chapter is the longest, 82 out of the 253 pages.
Gilman is originally attracted to Roman Catholicism by its intellectual structure, especially its appearance in the great literature of the world. Etienne Gilson’s The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy: The Gifford Lectures, 1931-1932 (1936) seems to give him an intellectual framework with which to comprehend the world, especially those problems that are to shape his life and this narrative: sexuality and death. Ruth, a beautiful and mysterious older woman, a convert like himself, serves as his spiritual mother, and the first chapter ends with the breakup of his marriage and a trip to Colorado Springs, culminating in his baptism. In the second chapter, Gilman’s religious honeymoon, he learns the fascinating ceremonies and ritual of his new faith and deals with his intrusive sexuality in a trip to New Orleans. In the third chapter, he returns to New York City and tries to renew his marriage. The new Catholic magazine Jubilee gives him both a community of coreligionists and the job he desperately needs that will use his...
(The entire section is 531 words.)