William J. Cataldi, aka pup is a Christian Taoist, gay, male, Leatherman who lives in Chelsea, New York City. All of these facts heavily influence the nature of the book. Stories are offered, oftentimes with explicit sexual content, to illustrate and to bring to life important and subtle concepts. This book is for anyone who can tolerate explicit sexual descriptions.
Sex and God and Other Essays explores the bipolar tension of base and high aspects of human life. The author discusses animal earthliness-Godly gravitas, lust-romance, resentment-acceptance, pain-pleasure, and a host of other bipolar tensions in twenty-five essays, four short stories and one poem. He seeks to show that a good human life embraces its wholeness, encompassing everything from the animal depths of its libido to the spiritual crest of its soul. In the process, he reaches surprising conclusions on a variety of topics—social, political, philosophical, literary, psychological, and spiritual.
“. . . the blood and gore of life are as inextricable from human life as they are from animal life. After all—and this is of crucial importance—human beings are animals.”
“In the new world, homosexuals must never forget: We live by permission only—by heterosexual permission.”
— Mutual Resentment and Acceptance
“‘. . . I’m sick of being momma’s good little boy. I’m sick of virtue, and honesty, and goodness, and honor, and high sentiment, and intellect, and endlessly striving to live up to the impossible dreams. I just want to be a piece of human garbage. . . .’”
—Humanity’s Fatal Flaw
“ God forgave the boy, instantaneously, when Christ died on the cross.”
—The Doctrine of Voices
“He sent Bill some long letters in which he described graduating high school in Ithaca, New York, at seventeen and telling his folks he was gay. His parents were devout Christians, so they promptly kicked him out of the house.”
—A Man Is a Beautiful Thing
“Love is not primarily about affiliation, fondness, eagerness to please, eagerness to protect, romance, yearning, desire, lust, pleasure, or anything else people have ascribed to it. Love is knowledge. Anything that can be said about a particular love is a function of the lover’s knowledge of the beloved.”
—The Death of Christ
(4-Star) Self-Publishing Reviews
By SPR on July 6, 2018
Sex and God and Other Essays is a curious collection of writing that sticks long after closing the book. Some of the subjects are so outrageous and so taboo, that at times it’s hard to believe they have been written. But thankfully, Cataldi has, given the instant impression of a brave author.
Considering the background of the writer, which he explains in the prologue in detail, the work is shaded with a whole other quality. A gay-Christian-Taoist-Leatherman who doesn’t agree with vegetarians? That’s about as niche a viewpoint you’ll ever get.
Never once does it feel thoughts are disingenuous, and there is never a sense that he is trying to provoke. His points of view are solid and grounded in libertarian principles. Refreshingly, he does not moan or blame. And for a gay man, his views on marriage and sexuality are not the usual suspects. He believes that life is suffering, and that one must struggle through in any way possible. There is also a tender understanding of love that permeates the book: how past relationships define a person for who they are today, and, more often than not, can make one all the better for it.
In between essays, the inserted short stories seem slightly out of place. Although they fit in the context of this book as a presentation of Cataldi’s mind, the prose is too similar to the non-fiction pieces. To read the book is to sit across the table from the author, engaging in honest and sincere conversation. So when this is disrupted by fiction, it’s as if a scene from a musical is taking place, with people randomly bursting into song, with the stories taking the reader out of the flow. It would have been better to split the book into two sections, nonfiction, and fiction – or indeed, two slimmer books – as opposed to the scattered method chosen.
There are some contentious points. For example, mixing metaphors and science can feel as if the argument has swum a little too far out, and is wading through material that requires a level of expertise that, Cataldi even admits himself, is not there. The upside is that the author tackles them with open naivety. He puts himself in the position of the ‘ignorant everyday-man’ which can be inspiringly malleable. But opinion is not fact, and this is a thin line often crossed in such works, for better or worse.
This book does however stand as a bastion of free speech. Cataldi has delved into not only unpopular issues, but off-putting ones with such gusto and honesty that any reader with an open mind will come away feeling that they understand the world a little more.
It is said that nowadays it is punk to think conservatively, it is alternative to be religious. Cataldi is a testament to that. There cannot be any other book in existence today that deals with the heady cocktail of Christianity, Leathersexuality, and philosophical theory. A reader journey’s from homosexual fiction to criticism of Communism? This has to be a must-read for anyone, especially those looking to discover a path into alternative thinking.
(5-Star) Highly recommended!
By Ryan Sullivan on November 22, 2015
I recently finished reading “Sex and God,” and was impressed not only with the range and talent of this writer, but with the depth of thinking in every essay and the fresh and striking ideas I encountered. The author’s passionate examination of the high and low in our nature, and his conviction that an appreciation for both is crucial to our spiritual progress, is compelling enough from the start. But while the book examines suffering and pain in great detail in some parts (and the necessity of pain and suffering), ultimately this struck me as a positive and hopeful book–one born out of compassion for people and a love of listening to others, and a concern for the pursuit of happiness and a better life. Another fun surprise: even aside from the intriguing philosophical essays (which encourage constant dialogue with the reader’s own ideas and beliefs), the short stories are also tremendous, with characters and plots unlike any I’ve encountered before (which is saying something, considering I’m a professional editor who reads hundreds of works of fiction and nonfiction a year).
(5-Star) A Perfect Blend
By Michael Mitchell (Illustrator Artist) on February 9, 2017
This is the perfect combination of a stimulating beach read and a thoughtful, challenging philosophy text. Several of the essays in this book left me examining the author's perspective and re-examining my own. I was especially altered by the binary tensions of right and wrong explored in the volumn's final essay, "The Death of Christ". I suspect that most Western minds would find Cataldi's rationals disorienting. I found them liberating. As for his short stories, they are uniformly engaging. I found myself consuming only a few pages at a time to make the tales last longer. I miss some of it's characters still. This is the mark of a book that get's a second reading. And perhaps a third!