#WBC5 Sexual Outlaw, Erotic Mystic – The Weiser Book Club for December

I knew a little about Ida Craddock, had read excerpts of her work (mostly on the excellent OTO run site idacraddock.com) but  until recently, had not spent any extended amount of time in her company.

Now – having just finished Sexual Outlaw, Erotic Mystic I feel as though I have been fully immersed in a mind outside my own. The material written by Ida Craddock and reproduced in this volume had me riveted – not only because of its explicit and (still to some extent) shocking nature, but because of its inherent scholarship and the clarity and agility of its argument.  I found myself  writing out questions in the margins, only to have them fully answered in the paragraphs that followed. I can think of no other circumstance in my reading life when that has happened more than once. It happened three times while I was reading Heavenly Bridegrooms. The end result is that, although I may not agree with Craddock’s assertions,  I am fully convinced of the soundness of her mind and the “truth” of her argument.

Regarding the book itself, what makes it different – and in this particular case, more satisfying (my opinion) – than a traditional biography is that relatively few pages are devoted to the details of the subject’s life. We learn the important facts, but are spared speculation and poetic elaboration.  Don’t get me wrong – I love lyricism as much as anyone – but here, in the case of this book and this subject, what does and should take priority is Ida Craddock’s work itself. The focus of this volume is the fierce intellectual and spiritual life of a woman who lived (and died) for the rightness her vocation. For a woman of Craddock’s intensity and integrity,  it is, one imagines, the kind of biography that she herself would have chosen.

I realize that I am rambling a little bit here – my notes on Sexual Outlaw, Erotic Mystic are extensive and wide ranging. I really don’t know where to start – except to say that what fascinated me most about Craddock’s writing was the relationship between fantastic diary entries (full of ecstatic detail), and her scholarly published writing (especially Heavenly Bridegrooms).

Do you think that the details of Ida’s personal relationship with Soph advance or undermine her theories regarding Borderland relations and/or sexual well-being?

So let’s take it from here, friendly readers! What did you think of Vere Chappell’s Sexual Outlaw, Erotic Mystic and the wicked and wonderful Ida Craddock?

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