By Vexen Crabtree 2002 Dec 07
Religions have tended to represent patriarchal norms, enforcing a straight heterosexuality at the expense of any other sexual expressions. This primal instinct, arising from both sexuality and power relations, becomes institutionalized into the religions produced by primitive societies (and minds). Most traditional religions have happened to ritualize and dogmatize practices that tend to place heterosexual males in charge of women, families, religious communities, societies and governments. Although the direct influence of religion in secular society has receded from the government level, residues of its effects remain entrenched in some areas of law.
This form of dominance ends up stigmatizing those who do fit into the scheme, notably, strong females and non-heterosexuals such as homosexuals. Modern religions have broken this mould. Wicca is an example of a religion which has redeemed the idea of powerful females, but unfortunately, it codified in its rituals and theory many elements that consider a male-female combination to be balanced and correct. It started out that Gerald Gardner, one of the founders of Wicca, and one of the first Wiccan periodicals, The Wiccan, both expressed anti-homosexual tendencies. I tell this story in a fuller form in "The Peacock vs. the Ostrich - Religious Behaviour and Sexuality" (2008). Thankfully this barrier was never strong, and, there is today no anti-homosexual movement in Wicca; its practitioners are wholly embracing of consensual sexuality in general. Another religion that has reached this pinnacle is Satanism. What they have in common is a modernity and non-monotheism, something which the rest of the opinions on this page lack.
There are trends within bits of all the monotheistic religions mentioned here towards tolerance, but, for example with the Anglican church, such changes are causing serious fissures in the internal cohesion of the Church. These are issues that have been accepted by secular society and there are no large organisations devoted to non-tolerance that are not religious in nature.
The church had its hand in making homosexuality illegal, and campaigned strongly against its de-illegalisation in the Homosexual Law Reform Act 19676. This public and active oppression continued heavily throughout the 70s and 80s (before which homosexuality was simply illegal, and very much taboo) and even in the 90s this attitude continued, with strong, rich and well supported organized Christian groups defeating several attempts by the Government to accomplish equal gay age of consent, gay rights and gay marriage. The most surprising element of all this is the failure of the otherwise liberal and tolerant Church of England to support gay communities.
A few other modern cases I've stumbled across:
2012 Apr the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales (CESEW) wrote to all secondary schools, urging them to promote an anti-marriage-equality petition and to tell the children at their schools to sign it. Even though investigations by public prosecutors found that any school that followed these instructions broke the law, Catholic authorities continue to engage in such anti-equality activism.7
2012 Feb: "Catholic schools in Lancashire gave out a booklet, Pure Manhood: How to become the man God wants you to be to pupils"17.
Despite the existence of some gay priests, the Christian hierarchy has been particularly intolerant of visible homosexuality. Gays have faced frequent condemnations, anti political campaigns and vitriolic statements from Christian organisations. Christian Churches consistently and strongly opposed gay rights, even (and especially effectively) the liberal Church of England has done so. They opposed and ejected known homosexuals from its ranks, clergy and offices; would not allow homosexual rights committees to meet on Church property and considered AIDS to be God's revenge on homosexuals. American and South African fundamentalists still re-iterate this point of view however, now, most Christians consider it immoral and very inconsiderate and misguided to do so. Despite the oppression of homosexuals, that the public began to consider a wrongdoing on behalf of the Church, in the late 20th century there were known homosexual sympathizers within the Church and many of its priests and bishops (much) later came out as having been homosexual all along, others of having knowingly ordained homosexuals. The fear of exposure prevented these people from supporting the gay rights movement, which is itself testimony to the fearsome anti-gay agenda of the higher-up Christian communities. These would have also been the more powerful, older and more conservative Christians.
Every decade Anglican bishops from around the world meet at the Lambeth Conference. Homosexuality (and certainly) sexuality, has always been a hot topic there. The president of the pontifical council for promoting christian unity, who is an official from the Catholic church called Walter Cardinal Kasper said that "homosexuality is a disordered behaviour that must be condemned" and said that anti-homosexual teachings are traditional because they are the teachings handed down by Jesus. He told the Anglican Communion to issue a "clear declaration" that homosexuality must be condemned, and warned that the Anglican's slightly-more-tolerant approach on homosexuality and women had caused serious compromises between Anglican and Catholic branches of Christiandom.18
There are groups within Christianity that are concerned with the Human Rights of sexuality, however such groups are much quieter and less numerous than those that oppose any element of tolerance towards gay people. Such groups are drowned out by the larger, more numerous and better funded anti-gay Church groups. Despite the decline of established churches in the West, fundamentalist groups that are offensively anti-gay are still growing numerically, although some liberal Churches may accept homosexuality it is likely that the most zealous Christian groups will still be of the anti- kind for the foreseeable future.
In the USA I believe that the situation is different, and the liberal Churches have acted towards homosexual rights even when public opinion was against this. In Europe, the opposite was true, society in general softened to the idea of open and accepted homosexuality long before the Churches did, except in heavily religious countries such as Greece where homosexuality is still illegal.
A strange contradiction and confusion exists within Christianity. Its general stance on sexuality is highly restrictive, and celibacy is enforced for priests and bishops in many denominations. Christian churches claim the right to educate others on the moralities of sexual behaviour. Yet, sexual abuse in Christian workplaces and paedophilia is rife within Christendom, and homosexuality abounds in the priesthood at a higher rate than in the general population. Politically and socially, Christian organisations have campaigned heavily against any form of gay rights, and have opposed the very idea of the tolerance of homosexuals. In 2002, the UK Government (again) pushed for greater equality for gays under the law, and (again) the principal opposition groups were Christian1. Since then, civil partnerships have been created that allow gay marriage in everything but name. A small minority of Christian institutions support gay marriage, but in history entire regions once did so.
Doctrine clashes with reality. Many parts of Christian scripture are ignored nowadays; take for example the extensive dietary laws laid down in the Hebrew scriptures. This 'old' testament, it is said by many, is now irrelevant and Christians no longer have to observe many of its laws. The anti-homosexual versus come from the same place. The creeping re-interpretation of Scripture to fit in with the known facts of the world is the only way Christianity can survive, but when it comes to homosexuality a strange obstinence emerges. It is about time that Christian authorities applied their own much-haunted 'moral high ground' to its own reality, and formally ceased the continued irrational dislike of homosexuality.
“When [...] is the Church going to have the courage to celebrate the creativity of its homosexual members, who are more discriminated against than black people or women? For those gay people who wish to be ordained there is only one way to get through the initial interviews, and that is the humiliating one of keeping their sexuality concealed. [...] It is painfully easy to remain in the closet ever afterwards, thinking that at some future date there will be an opportunity to come clean, only the day never comes. The Church, of course, encourages this silence. A description of a nervous breakdown, Jim Cotter's book Brainsquall, reveals what a terrible price gay clergy have been required to pay for such a double standard. [...]
Sometimes it seems as if the Church is almost the only body left which cannot deal with homosexuality. It is possible to get elected for Parliament as an openly gay man or woman, possible to be made a cabinet minister, possible for many eminent people to be quite straightforward about living with another man or woman. [...]
Change, of course, is inevitable. Just as the change of the status of women in society pushed the hand of the Church to ordain women; just as the change of the status of black people in Britain makes it imperative that they are seen as full members of the Church with their own distinctive contribution; just as the change in marital habits makes churches accepting of second marriages, so change in this field too is inevitable. Maybe not this year or next year, but before too long, the Church is going to have to get up its nerve (and it is not in a bold frame of mind) and accord homosexuals full status within the Church, because, like blacks or women, they are increasingly refusing the meek and silent status enforced upon them.”
We have mostly been talking about mainstream Christian denominations so far, but the same hostile attitudes obtain in sects, too. Both Mormons3 and the fundamentalist scripturalists, the Jehovah's Witnesses, both maintain an anti-anything-involving-gay-tolerance stance.
There are large numbers of gay priests but the majority of them are not like secular gays who find solace in their identity. Christian theories of human sexuality and the practice of celibacy among priests have meant that a lack of sexual development curses many priests with an abnormal and underdeveloped sexuality. Many do not consider themselves gay, hide it, deny it, but still practice it. Some even deny that homosexual acts are homosexual simply because they themselves, they say, are not homosexual and do not have homosexual tendencies. It is doublethink, to use George Orwell's term4.
“Generally, 30% of U.S. priests (estimates established from all sources) are either involved in homosexual relationships, have a conflict about periodic sexual activity, feel compelled toward homosexual involvements, identify themselves as homosexual, or at least have serious questions about their sexual orientation or differentiation. Approximately half of these men act out sexually with others.
[For example] A group of priests who gathered to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of their entrance into their religious order were sharing stories about their novitiate experience. One of the men confided that the novice master had a 2-year sexual relationship with him. The news came as a shock to most of his classmates, who considered the master the epitome of all of the virtues for which their religious order stood. But two other members of the group then confided that the superior was also sexually involved with them during the same period. Each one thought he was the only one so involved.
An interesting subgroup of priests is marked by their fear of being homosexual. These men are conscientious and would identify themselves as gay if they could only resolve their internal conflict. But they cannot. They might have had no adult homosexual experience and are relying on their memories of childhood or adolescent sexual play with friends or family. Some have experimented with both sexes briefly in adult life. They are not caught in preadolescent development. They are more like the college student who fearfully asks, "Am I normal?". [...] Many men fear the idea that they may be homosexual. Others are so homophobic that they cannot tolerate the idea of being close to or friendly with a homosexual person.”
The Yale historian John Boswell notes that historical gay ceremonies carried out by the church in previous centuries were in the same fashion as heterosexual ones.
“For nearly two centuries after Christianity had become the state religion, Christian emperors in Eastern cities not only tolerated but actually taxed gay prostitution. In 7th century Visigoth Spain, a series of six national church councils refused to support the ruler's legislation against homogenital acts. By the 9th century almost every area in Christian Europe had local law codes, including detailed sections on sexual offenses; none outside of Spain forbade homogenital acts. By the High Middle Ages, a gay subculture thrived, as in Greco-Roman times. A body of gay literature was standard discussion material at courses in the medieval universities where clerics were educated.
Opposition to homosexuality, as in Augustine and Chrysostom, rested on reasons unacceptable today: "natural-law" arguments based on beliefs about supposed sexual practices among hares, hyenas, and weasels; a philosophical Stoicism that was suspicious of any sexual enjoyment; a sexism that saw a degrading effeminacy in being the receptive partner in sex. All-out Christian opposition to homosexuality arose at a time when medieval society first began to oppress many minority groups: Jews, heretics, the poor, usurers. A campaign to stir up support for the Crusades by vilifying the Muslims with charges of homosexual rape also played a part in Christian Europe's change of attitude toward gay and lesbian sex.”
"Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality" by John Boswell (1980)
The author lists the original texts and English translations of a number of religious ceremonies: Office of Same-sex Union, (and similar names), 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th & 16th century translations, Greece Office of Same-sex Union, 11th century Christian church in Greece. The Order for Uniting Two Men, 11-12 century, Old Church Slavonic Office of Same-Gender Union, 12th century Italio-Greek. An Order for the Uniting of Two Men [or Two Women], 14th century Serbian Slavonic Order of Celebrating the Union of Two Men, prior to 18th century, Serbian Slavonic.
Christianity has always contained a mix of pro- and anti- homosexual elements. Periods of oppression of homosexuals and celebration of love, homosexual or not, have came and went. Finally, same-sex marriage is not only found in early Christianity - it has existed quite freely in other cultures and civilizations. For example a four thousand year old Tomb belonging to gay married couple Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep exists in Saqqara, Egypt.
It doesn't matter whether Christians "agree" with being gay or not, the actions of Christians who believe otherwise causes hate. I believe this is hypocrisy, or ignorance.
Tolerance towards sinners was one of Jesus' most controversial teachings, as was his preaching that those who consider themselves better than others (the Jewish religious rulers) should humble themselves and consider themselves worse. Christians should, like the good samaritan, help minorities attain equal rights even if those people don't have the same beliefs. Equality in law, of marriage and anti-discrimination should be the prime rules of the Christian who loves his neighbour, and although there are gay-friendly Christian groups, they are sadly underwhelmed by the anti-gay Christian community.
Islam is probably the most rigidly and inhumanly anti-homosexual in its practices of all the world religions. The verses from the Koran condemning homosexuality are much clearer than those that the Christians use. In all Muslim countries and all areas where the Islamic Sharia law is enforced homosexuality is strictly illegal. All of Islam fits within the area of Christianity that we call "fundamentalist" with regards to sexuality. The debates in Islam about homosexuality are not about whether it is acceptable, but merely about how severe the punishment should be. So although there are liberal and strict elements within Islam with concern to homosexuality even the liberal opinion is the lesser of two evils.
“Islamists deny human rights to gays. An attempt by the United Nations to include gay people in anti-discrimination measures is being derailed by a coalition of Islamic countries. UN sources said that Pakistan, Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia were doing everything in their power to stop the resolution. They hope to delay the vote long enough to kill it off entirely. Secretary of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association in Britain, George Broadhead, commented that all Muslim countries outlawed homosexuality, and the penalties for those convicted ranged from prison, flogging, execution by a variety of perverted methods – such as throwing the victim off a cliff or pushing a stone wall on to them. "The record of these countries on human rights in general is bad enough, but when it comes to gay human rights, they are disgusting."”
Very few individuals speak up for homosexuality, although there is an international Muslim gay rights group, they are widely detested within Muslim countries, and opposed and campaigned against by Muslim groups in Western countries.
“According to a pamphlet produced by Al-Fatiha, there is a consensus among Islamic scholars that all humans are naturally heterosexual. Homosexuality is seen by scholars to be a sinful and perverted deviation from the norm. All Islamic schools of thought and jurisprudence consider gay acts to be unlawful. They differ in terms of penalty: The Hanafite school (currently seen mainly in South and Eastern Asia) teaches that no physical punishment is warranted. The Hanabalites, (widely followed in the Arab world) teach that severe punishment is warranted. The Sha'fischool of thought (also seen in the Arab world) requires a minimum of 4 adult male witnesses before a person can be found guilty of a homosexual act.
Al-Fatiha estimates that 4,000 homosexuals have been executed in Iran since their revolution in 1979. 10 public executions of homosexuals have been performed in Afghanistan by the Taliban army.”
Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance9
The OCRT also repeat statements from Western Islamic groups citing their opinions on homosexuality, and universally Muslims state that they consider homosexuality to be wrong.
“Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi of the ISNA [Islamic Society of North America] said: "Homosexuality is a moral disorder. It is a moral disease, a sin and corruption... No person is born homosexual, just like no one is born a thief, a liar or murderer. People acquire these evil habits due to a lack of proper guidance and education."”
Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance9
Islam, however, is inconsistent and illogical. It simultaneously states that all homosexuality is a moral evil, a corruption... yet it also holds that the animals of the world have submitted themselves completely to Allah. Yet, in nearly all animal species we witness homosexual behavior. This must mean that it is permissible by Allah to be gay, and that animals who have submitted completely to Allah can therefore also be gay. Islamic tradition is wrong to condemn homosexuality as an evil, and in denying that homosexuality is natural they are ignoring the facts of the world, it is an ignorant religious belief equal to that of the Christians during the Dark Ages: Where truth is suppressed because it threatens tradition and the corrupt powers of organized religious leaders.
If those who submit to Allah are sincere, they must recognize Allah's will: And such a will creates homosexuality, including homosexual people and homosexual animals, and it is not therefore the Muslims' prerogative to question this or condemn it.
Example Scripture: The Story of Lot in the Qur'an: 19
In the 7th sura (chapter) of the Qur'an Lot is mentioned briefly and the prime concern is pointing out the immorality of homosexuality. Homosexuality in all the tellings of the story in the Qur'an is "the worst sin", "never committed before" (7:80, 29:28)! Lot's people "practise their lusts on men instead of women". Such homosexuality is sinful transgression, and for this, Lot's people are destroyed in Qur'an 7:84. None of Lot's other behaviour is mentioned, because the Qur'an describes Lot as a prophet (Qur'an 26:161), sent to Sodom and Gomorrah, and therefore cannot be sinful. The Qur'an's solution to the atrocious acts committed by them is simply not to mention them!
Of the major monotheistic religions, Judaism has the healthiest attitude towards sex, aside from a few superstitious laws surrounding blood.
“There is no suggestion in Judaism that the celibate life is specially holy. [Sex is] the most intimate and enjoyable way of deepening a relationship. [...] A man who has no wife is doomed to an existence without joy, without blessing, without experiencing life's true goodness, without Torah, without protection and without peace.”
However, religious Judaism does not accept homosexuality. It is easily ready that homosexuality is condemned in the Torah, although, many argue that this is not clear-cut. Some Reform Jews do wrestle with issues around homosexuality but in general, like other tradition-orientated religions, Judaism (both the religion and the culture) has lapsed behind modern society's endorsement of equaity and liberty.
Having said that, it looks like organized Judaism is generally more sensible and calm about the issues of homosexuality, so perhaps it's not that they haven't faced it, but that it really doesn't have an impact on Judaism because it is inherently more tolerant of sexuality. The following quote is about a Jewish Liberal movement that supports homosexuality so the comment is no doubt biased, but it looks good anyway:
“The Liberal movement has become the first Jewish body in the UK to sanction blessings for gay and lesbian couples in synagogue, according to today’s Jewish Chronicle. Rabbi Frank Dabba Smith, chair of the Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues’ rabbinic conference, said that there had been "no deep divisions" over the policy.”
On the other hand, Jewish forces of bigotry are still active:
Three world religions (first Judaism, then Christianityand then Islam) accepted parts of the Jewish Scriptures as canon. The Christians call them the "Old" testament. There is a lot of hype about the Biblical condemnations of Homosexuality, and much of this concentrates on comments in the book of Leviticus. There are six quotations taken from the Bible that can be used against Homosexuality, and five of them are down to translation or biased errors. Jesus Christ always promoted Love over Hate and in this respect he overrode the Jewish Scriptures. In all the texts we have Jesus Christ is never quoted or implied to have spoken about sexualities. However it is a common view that the Bible condemns Homosexuality because of the way that some Christian denominations appear to be overly homophobic. The firing of gay workers normally attracts press attention.
It is in Leviticus that the text can be found that can be translated as being anti-gay, but the correctness of the translations used is being questioned. A word that is being used is "abomination" as a translation for the word that in the Bible means "taboo", or "unritualistic". Some Bibles use the word "detestable", it depends on which Bible you own as to how accurate the translation is.
Christians hold that the laws within Leviticus are no longer valid because we are "no longer under the old covenant". The vast majority of the seemingly pointless rules (no clothes made of mixed cloths, no buttons...) are ignored and considered replaced by the New Testament. But despite there not being a single sentence from the new testament that condemns a homosexual act as worse than a heterosexual one, the laws or comments on homosexuality are excluded from this invalidity.
“Why don't fundamentalists organize protests and picket seafood restaurants, oyster bars, church barbecue suppers, all grocery stores, barber shops, tattoo parlours, and stores that sell suits and dresses made of mixed wool, cotton, polyester, and other materials?
All of these products and services are abominations in Leviticus. When have you heard a preacher condemn the demonic abomination of garments that are made of mixed fabrics?”
I have documented many of the places in the world where tolerance and equality have been victorious over traditional cultures and religions:
“Prejudices against homosexuality were not always encoded into law, however. In the time before the dark ages, European communities were variously accepting of gay marriage. But the Christian age of faith saw violent intolerance sweep the continent as certain types of marriage were made illegal and transformed into social taboos. People could only marry if it fit the Christian prejudices of what marriage should be. Islam arose also, and held to similar monotheistic patriarchal norms. Thankfully, since the enlightenment, much of the religious damage to marriage has been undone and in many countries adults are free to marry whom they choose. Starting with Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands the 90s saw the beginning of the gay rights movements victories over established prejudice in an increasing number of developed countries. There is not a single case in all these victories where there have not been multiple large and mainstream Christian groups running campaigns to prevent equal rights for gays. The Catholic Church and the vast majority of Christian denominations continue to battle at local and European levels to repeal those rights already attained. The Catholic Church has gained some ground in 1997 in exempting itself from some European gay rights conventions, and the Church of England has also succeeded in partially exempting itself from UK employment anti-discrimination laws with regards to homosexuality. The traditional churches were wrong about slavery and anti-black racism, and that they are also wrong on homosexuality... eventually, when enough of their youth have grown up within gay-tolerant society, the Churches will change to embrace homosexuals equality as they did to embrace abolitionism and race equality.”
The inheritability of homosexuality (i.e., its genetic basis) is a card that most think to be good in the fight against intolerance. As we demonstrate its biological basis, religionists may admit that homosexuality is part of god's plan for humans, the same as it is for animals, and therefore decrease their prejudice. But much of the homophobia within the church is not rational, it is emotional. Rather than follow the general conservative line on genetic engineering (don't do it)12, some make an exception when it comes to homosexuality. When superstition and prejudice are combined in the same emotional turmoil, it is no surprise to hear such paradoxical arguments.
“Early in 2007, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary raised the possibility of a genetic or other biological cause of homosexuality and urged conservative Christians to consider using biotechnology to eradicate the condition.”
“Homosexuality is thoroughly natural. It occurs in a massive range of animal species, including humans, so appears to be part of the genetic makeup of life in general. The colourful and varied ways that wild animal species find to express intentional sexuality with other is surprising and sometimes ingenious, like the male dolphins who penetrate each other's blowholes. Biological causes of homosexuality have been found in Human beings. All this points to the fact that homosexuality is a part of the design of nature. If nature was designed by God, then watching Bonobo Apes for a while is convincing proof that God certainly does not mind gay sex!”
Abrahamic religions have contributed to the most negative and destructive attitudes towards sexual issues, especially homosexuality. Christian and Islamic groups are the most vocal assailants on any legal or societal moves towards tolerance and equality. The liberal wings of some of these religions have adapted to the wide (European) acceptance of homosexuality. Many traditional religions reject the scientific, medical and psychological knowledge that we have gained about sexuality and regard homosexuality as "unnatural", a "choice" or a "moral evil". These religions are themselves immoral and evil in their attitude, causing hatred, bigotry, violence and oppression in the name of God. Homosexual communities have become accustomed to the ranting of religious fundamentalists and traditionalists, and this causes a strong anti-religious resentment amongst them.
In the wider religious scene things are much healthier. Eastern history has produced less of the out-and-out violence against homosexuality. New religious movements and Earth religions are largely accepting of homosexuality, as these religions are more in touch with the natural world. Although there are Pagans, Satanists, Wiccans, etc, who do not like homosexuality very few make hateful statement such as those made by Muslim and Christian authorities. Although Judaism does not accept homosexuality in theory, Jews have not made many such hateful comments, but partially this may be because Judaism has not yet fully faced the issues although liberal Jewish groups match liberal Christianity in their tolerance.
To help eradicate discrimination against gays and lesbians, consider joining the following groups:
Or browse their websites and pick up addresses and details of MPs and organisations that you can lobby by writing letters, signing petitions or emailing, and get details of current events, in order to help prevent irrational discrimination.
By Vexen Crabtree 2002 Dec 07
Last Updated: 2012 Nov 26
The Koran. Translation by N. J. Dawood. Penguin Classics edition published by Penguin Group Ltd, London, UK. First published 1956, quotes taken from 1999 edition.
Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality (1980). New Ed edition Published University of Chicago Press, 1981.
"Sex and Sexuality in Satanism, the Religion of the Flesh" (2002). Accessed 2013 Jan 17.
"Marriage: Its Diversity and Character" (2004). Accessed 2013 Jan 17.
"Homosexuality in Animals and Humans" (2005). Accessed 2013 Jan 17.
"The Peacock vs. the Ostrich - Religious Behaviour and Sexuality" (2008). Accessed 2013 Jan 17.
Green, Ronald M.
Babies by Design: The Ethics of Genetic Choice (2007). Yale University Press.
Pilkington, C. M.
Teach Yourself Judaism (1995). Published by Hodder Headline PLC.
Cults: Secret Sects and Radical Religions (2007). Hardback. Published by Carlton Books.
Sex, Priests and Power: Anatomy of a Crisis (1995). Hardback. Published by BunnerMazel Inc., New York, USA. A.W. Richard Sipe is a retired Roman Catholic Priest. Lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Chair of the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Sexual Trauma Institution, Minnesota, USA. (Biblio detail correct as of 1995). The Amazon link points to a modern book by Sipe on the same topic as the one referenced here.