Dear Reverend Lou Sheldon

A love letter, of sorts

More astonishing is that all involved go into the meeting without clenched fists or protest banners, listening, engaging the "other" behind the rhetoric. What a gift to sit across from someone you've called your enemy, sharing your hurt peacefully with them, giving them a chance to respond and share the ways you've hurt them as well.

That moment is the selling point to me, Lou, and it made me write this love letter, of sorts, to you. In the last two chapters, Minkowitz takes an often unflattering look at her own misogyny and the way her excursion into S-M has hurt her relationships with others. Don't skip this section, Lou. What we have here is something quite precious: a person looking for grace in life, who knows the often painful, quasi-religious steps, solace and hell required to capture it.

It's no coincidence that Minkowitz follows up her S-M soul-searching with a visit to Total Woman ministries—where women shop together, dress up, apply makeup, pray and engage in "feminine" things as a way to get closer to themselves. That search for a blending between opposites, between black and white—so far from, but also so much a part of, Queer Nation meetings or lesbian backroom wrangling—is the recurring theme throughout this amazing book.

In the end, Minkowitz's journey is a remarkable one, filled with loving moments and an appreciation of religious feeling and human communion. While hardly a convert by book's end, her last words on the subject are delicate, graceful and filled with great beauty.

What about it, Lou? Can we talk? Can you trust me?

It's not just a tidy way to end a book review, it's a chance to start over.

Ferocious Romance: What My Encounters with the Right Taught Me About Sex, God and Fury by Donna Minkowitz; The Free Press. 175 pages. $24 hardcover.

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