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Sex and the Soul
« on: September 28, 2010, 02:53:20 AM »
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The Faith & Reason Book Club goes to college this week. Haroon Moghul looks at Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance and Religion on America's College Campuses by Donna Freitas from Oxford University Press.

Freitas is assistant professor of religion at Boston University and Moghul knows his college students, too. He's studying at Columbia University for his doctorate in Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures, and serves as director of public relations for the Islamic Center at New York University. He writes:

Freitas takes us to college to find out how American students balance sexuality with faith. Basically, they don't.

    She starts with a curious trend: Teenagers usually follow their parents' religious preferences until college. Then, students shift to an uncertain and lonely spirituality, which doesn't give them the resources to deal with demeaning sexual practices. Young women come off worst: They're expected to conform to pornographic masculine fantasies ("Office CEOs and Secretary Ho's" parties), but also achieve academic success and self-confidence.

    Freitas wants colleges -- and adults -- to show some backbone. Teachers must be mentors, helping students develop a spirituality that responsibly talks about sex and the soul. She's at her best when she takes us into the minds of the bright college kids who fast open up to her.

    But while she points to many real dangers, I was left wondering how her recommended solutions could be realized. For example, how can secular universities appeal to the real student preference for spirituality without turning some students off, or even away?


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