Father Chris Sieb

(creator: Michael Schiefelbein)

Michael Schiefelbein
Father Chris Sieb is approaching forty. He had known he was gay since his teenage years in the seminary in Kansas City, after which he had studied theology in Rome and had been ordained by the Pope himself. He had been a faithful priest for 16 years, and was now managing St John's Diocesan Center in Kansas City (which was on the premises of the old high school seminary that Chris himself had attended and which had been converted to become administrative offices and a retreat centre). But over the years he had increasingly "resented my lonely, celibate life in a church increasingly hostile to those it considered disordered. I fantasized about sharing my life with another man - before it was too late."

Dr Michael E Schiefelbein (date of birth?) spent ten years studying for the priesthood, but eventually graduated from the University of Maryland with a doctorate in English. He spent 15 years teaching writing and literature at the Christian Brothers University in Memphis, becoming professor of literature and languages there, and was then ordained as a minister of the United Church of Christ, becoming pastor of College Avenue Congregational Church in Modesto, California where he now lives. He is also the author of a series of novels featuring gay vampires.

Body and Blood (2007)
Body and Blood tells how, as a sixteen-year-old Catholic seminarian, Chris Sieb had had a deep crush on fellow student Jack Canston. Now, twenty-five years after parting ways, Jack has transfered to the Kansas City diocese where he once again encounters Chris - now Father Sieb - a devoted priest and closeted gay man. The
two of them rekindle their boyhood yearnings, beginning a secret relationship.

Their "romance" however, is abruptly shaken when another closeted priest in the diocese, a former classmate of the two, dies suddenly, an apparent suicide. Shortly thereafter a letter arrives at the archbishop's office claiming that more was going on than anyone ever expected. The Archbishop sends Chris to look around the dead man's rectory so as to spot "anything incriminating." Not that he finds anything beyond a couple of gay magazines.

As his secret affair continues, Chris begins to realize there is something horribly wrong with Jack, some dark secret he's withholding, one somehow connected to their deceased classmate - and that the threat it represents is closer than he could ever guess. Now his one chance to survive lies in finally uncovering the truth.

This is an uncompromising story about homosexual relationships that is very sexually explicit and is likely to appeal most to fellow gays, particularly those with a Roman Catholic background. Readers who are less keen on sweaty odors, dick sucking and sodomy, may find it all distinctly unappealing.The author waxes indignant about the church's condemnation of homosexuals, and, in the words of one old priest, insists that "My forty years in the priesthood tell me that at least a quarter of my brothers are homosexual - maybe the number is much larger." And Father Chris himself insists that "fifty per cent of the clergy in every diocese -- bishops included" have had "a wet dream about another man ... God made us the way we are .... We are not evil."

A bit belatedly, Chris has to make up his mind whether he "could have it both ways; safe in the priesthood and safe in Jack's arms." But first he has to discover why Jack is so disturbed and so violent, so he breaks into the archbishop's private files to try and discover Jack's secret. But then he discovers that Jack is also having a sexual relationship with a handsome young man, and, this being that sort of novel, it is not long before Chris is having sex with the young man too. The result is that he soon finds himself being blackmailed.

When Chris, despite all his years as an "excellent pastor and administrator", wants to persuade Jack to leave the priesthood with him, he seems to be behaving more like an impetuous teenager than a mature middle-aged man. It seems to have taken him a very long time to realise that, if he leaves the church, he can "be a free man tomorrow. I can be as gay as I want." But his story is hardly an inspiring one. There is no mention of AIDS, and it all sounds a bit like wishful thinking.

There is little biographical information about the author on the web, but see the farewell note to him on the Christian Brothers University site.

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Body and Blood cover
There is an emphasis throughout on gay love-making, so the book seems most likely to appeal to gay priests, of whom,we are told, there is an amazingly large number.