As children, we are all taught what our parents and society determine to be “the truth.” In this interview, Dr. Joe Wenke discusses his new book “Papal Bull” and how he came to see what he’d been taught in a different light.
When asked why he wrote “Papal Bull: An Ex-Catholic Calls Out the Catholic Church,” Wenke said, “I had to. In fact, I started writing it soon as I finished writing ‘You Got to Be Kidding! A Radical Satire of the Bible.’ Both books came very quickly, so they were obviously in me for a long time and just needed to come out. As the subtitle suggests, I wanted to call out the Catholic Church on a host of issues, including the ordination of women, women’s reproductive rights, sexual morality, homosexuality—the list goes on. My approach is satire, and the audience is really anyone inside or outside the church with an open mind and a sense of humor. The point is simply to raise consciousness. I think that’s always the first step in effecting change.”
Wenke remembers his strict upbringing well. He also recalls an event that made him realize he wanted more than the church was offering. He said, “I awakened one day to the fact that I was a sexual being and was promptly informed by the church that enjoying sex—actually even taking momentary pleasure in a sexual thought–was a mortal sin and could send me to hell. Well, that certainly didn’t make sense, and so it may ironically have been the church’s repressive teaching on sexual morality that set me on the path toward freedom of thought.”
“Papal Bull” is Wenke’s second satire, which raises the question of does he always use humor to make his point? “Humor is very powerful,” he said. “It produces an involuntary response called laughter, so it’s certainly capable of defusing controversial issues. I mean it is hard to laugh and be angry at the same time. On the other hand, humor can be the detonating device. It can explode myths, expose hypocrisy, wreak havoc with convention. So humor can work both ways. It’s about creation and destruction. I love that.”
So, what’s next for Wenke? He said, “Fortunately writing has been a pleasure of late, and it’s kept me pretty busy. I have two more books coming out in the next month or so. I’m reissuing Mailer’s America, which is my study of Norman Mailer’s work, and I’m publishing a novel called ‘The Talk Show.’ I’ve also begun work on a new project called The Human Agenda: Conversations about Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, which will live as both a series of videotaped conversations on YouTube and a book that will be out some time next year.”
For more information about Dr. Joe Wenke, visit his website at joewenke.org.