Queer is more than you think, says Cassidy Hall, or perhaps, it is not at all what you think. Or, if you haven’t thought much about queerness until now, Hall’s book will serve as an introduction, offering how queerness as a way of life pairs perfectly with contemplative living.

After an introduction to what contemplation is, with quotations from Barbara A. Holmes, James Finley, and the ancient philosopher Plotinus, Hall asks: “What would happen if we queered contemplation?”

And that is what the book is about. Queering silence, queering mysticism, queering the monastery, queering ritual, and queering the true self are also investigated here.

In brief, “I’ve come to learn that contemplation makes me more queer — more curious, wild, weird, fierce, free, embodied, and present.” This doesn’t mean that contemplative living makes someone queer sexually, but that queerness is about more than sexuality. Hall writes: “My queerness — in terms of both my sexuality and strangeness — has given my contemplative life more spaciousness, permission, eroticism, and wonder. My queerness and my contemplative life have become a union of joy, pleasure, and infinite possibility.”

She writes also about her “break up” with Thomas Merton, the Catholic monk about whom Hall has written in the past; he’s also been the subject of her filmmaking. She says, “I believe it’s finally time to acknowledge that my long obsession with the words and wisdom of Thomas Merton and other status-quo contemplatives crowded out other voices and perspectives, other roots of depth, preventing me from hearing them fully — starting with my own.”

Pages on erotic embodiment and touch, embracing the liminal and “liminality’s queer relationship with mysticism,” and becoming “queerly attentive” (see the excerpt accompanying this review) will enlighten many readers to understand their being (or, “be-ing,” as Hall refers to it more than once) in fresh ways.