Click here for a video recording of this CLGS John E. Boswell Lecture
Queer Bodies: Colliding, Expanding, Flourishing
Professor Rolf Nolasco
The 15th Annual CLGS John E. Boswell Lecture
Recorded on Thursday, 21 April 2022
Tagging queer bodies as intrinsically disordered, unholy, and perverse collides with the intimate knowing that this body, this queer flesh with all its erotic desires—bodily, psychological, and social—is good. Pronounced as good, indeed very good, our queer body expands as it makes room for and sacralizes creaturely difference or multiplicity. This primal gesture of radical hospitality and solidarity instantiates vividly a trait of the Queer God, whose image we bear and seek to radiate. Enfleshing or incarnating God in and through the quotidian queer life disrupts and de-links us from soul-sucking discourse and grafts us back into our deepest calling and desire to flourish in every queer(ed) way possible.
Rolf Nolasco, Jr. is the Rueben P. Job Professor of Spiritual Formation and Pastoral Theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He has graduate degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary and Boston University.
He is the author of The Contemplative Counselor: A Way of Being (Fortress Press 2011), Compassionate Presence: A Radical Response to Human Suffering (Cascade Books 2016), and God’s Beloved Queer: Identity, Spirituality, and Practice (Wipf & Stock, 2019).
The CLGS John E. Boswell Lecture
Praised and critiqued, lauded and contested — John Boswell’s scholarship continues to provoke questions, inspire new academic work and in many ways set the bar high for LGBT religious scholarship. In February, 2006, CLGS brought together some of the leading voices in both academic and activist circles to consider the legacy of Boswell’s scholarship and the path it continues to chart for so much work that still needs to be done. CLGS was pleased to make that conference the occasion for establishing a special endowment fund to honor John Boswell’s life and scholarship by creating the annual CLGS John E. Boswell Lecture, which brings leading scholars in LGBTQ religious studies to the PSR campus each spring semester
In 1980 John Boswell published a book that historian of sexuality Michel Foucault called “a truly groundbreaking work.” Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century charted bold territory in both historical and religious scholarship, setting a new benchmark of academic excellence for gay and lesbian studies. Equally significant, if not more controversial, was his 1993 book, Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, in which he tried to show historical precedence for the religious blessing of same-sex relationships.
In 1975 Dr. Boswell joined the Yale University faculty as an assistant professor after studying at the College of William and Mary and Harvard University. In 1990 he was named the A. Whitney Griswold Professor of History at Yale where he later served a two-year term as the chair of the history department. In 1987 he also helped organize the Lesbian and Gay Studies Center at Yale.
Martin Duberman, founder of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the City University of New York, considered Dr. Boswell “one of the major innovative figures in gay and lesbian scholarship. John was very brave and pioneering. And very brilliant.”
Although John Boswell died from AIDS-related illnesses in 1994, his trail-blazing efforts in historical scholarship continue to shape and inspire academic, activist and faith communities of all traditions. The annual John E. Boswell Lecture honors that pioneering legacy.
Click here for a list of past CLGS Boswell Lecturers.