Author Name: Antony Barone Kolenc
Contribution to Image and Likeness: “Purple Hearts”
Bio: Antony Barone Kolenc has authored several published short stories, as well as an inspirational youth historical fiction trilogy, The Chronicles of Xan (OakTara 2013). He is a professor at Florida Coastal School of Law, where he teaches Constitutional Law. He writes a legal column for homeschooling families in Practical Homeschooling Magazine, and speaks at legal, writing, and home education events. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps after 21 years of service. His professional writings focus on constitutional law and military policy. Find Tony on Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon.
About “Purple Hearts”
How did you find yourself inspired to write this/these piece(s)?
Family and friends in my life have been directly impacted by this sensitive issue. As an Air Force JAG, I also saw first-hand the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy at work and am quite familiar with it. When thinking about an original story about the Theology of the Body, this topic immediately came to mind.
What drew you to writing about Theology of the Body in this way?
When I heard about the Image and Likeness anthology, I knew that I wanted to be part of it. The Theology of the Body is perhaps the least understood and most attacked area of moral theology today. I also wanted to make a contribution that would be original and approach the topic from an unexpected direction. Now more than ever, the issue of same-sex attraction (i.e., LGBTQ) has dominated the conversation in both political and religious circles. How could the anthology fully address TOB without also viewing it through the LGBTQ lens?
There is a lot of nonfiction out there on TOB, but the amount of fiction and poetry on the subject is certainly on the rise. What is it, do you think, about fiction and poetry that lend themselves to illustrating the tenets of the Theology of the Body?
Fiction and poetry allow us to tap into the universal themes that animate the Theology of the Body and make it real to people where they live and breathe. While some find theology lessons and academic exercises beyond comprehension, all of us can relate to stories about the human condition.
Some TOB stories and poems can be evangelization tools, and some can be messages of encouragement to those of us doing the evangelizing. Which do you think yours is, and why do you think that’s valuable to its audience?
I think “Purple Hearts” can be both. Without being preachy, it evangelizes by illustrating the difficult issues with which gay and lesbian Christians must grapple to live out their faith in a confused and often-lonely world. At the same time, it can be an encouragement to those who are called to speak to the world on the sensitive issue of same-sex attraction. It provides them an interesting and helpful tool—a frame of reference in the form of a story—from which to start a conversation with a willing listener.
In “Purple Hearts,” you gave us a story that demonstrates the Theology of the Body as it applies to same-sex attraction, but you did so without using a single Catholic character–and you did so quite well, if you ask me. What do you think it shows to readers to have a TOB-themed story that’s perhaps not overtly Catholic?
As the Catholic Church has emphasized, especially since Vatican II, the ecumenical movement is key to working toward the unity of the Body of Christ for which Jesus prayed prior to his death. The great moral issues of our time—abortion, euthanasia, chastity—are areas of common ground where Christians of all denominations can stand together and grow closer in unity. If a story from a Catholic author about an Evangelical Christian character can assist in that endeavor, I will be truly thankful.
What’s another story or poem in this anthology that spoke to you? What in particular in that piece reached out to you?
I did read and enjoy Jerry Webster’s poem, “Thou.” As a father of five children, married to a wonderful woman who has put up with a lot of “me,” Jerry’s poem struck a chord with me by the grace and sincerity with which he captured the love of husband and wife as they walk through life together.