“Holy Sex”

13 07 2009

holysex

A review of this topic from the Remnant Newspaper. Here is a quote:

In a video available on his website, West expresses sympathy for Katy Perry, the rock star whose lesbian-tinged hit “I Kissed a Girl” represents, according to him, an example of how rock music explores themes “from the depths of the human heart…” whereas “saccharine Christian music” is “afraid to go there.” West contends that because Perry was “raised in a Christian home” in a “repressive Christian atmosphere” in which “her parents forbade her to listen to anything but Christian music,” she just had to turn to rock and roll to express how “deeply wounded” she is. West admits he is “only guessing” about Perry’s “repressive” upbringing, but this does not prevent him from calumniating her parents on the World Wide Web.

To appreciate how “deeply wounded” poor Katy is, West suggests watching her video on YouTube in which she is “in bed with one guy, thinking about this other guy” or another video in which “she is cutting herself with this knife, blood is all over her cleavage.” We must not condemn this sort of thing mindlessly, he insists, but rather try to understand its meaning concerning the wounding of Perry’s soul by her Puritanical upbringing. “I am sick and tired of this Puritanical BS that passes for Christianity!” he declares to his worldwide audience.

And this is the man who peddles the product called “John Paul II’s Theology of the Body”® to audiences filled with impressionable young Catholics. Have good Catholics completely lost their minds? Even if there were bona fide Catholic doctrine to be found in the “theology of the body,” could the situation in the Church have become so parlous that we would have to learn it from an oversexed man-child with a dirty mouth?

The article also talks about the book above, that was pointed out to me by AG.

You can read all of the article, though it gets into a lot of “trad-pious” speak. What fascinates me is the theology of the body as the sexualization of the white, Catholic, suburban body. Hey, it’s not like the white suburban Catholics (i.e. the somewhat educated audience for this stuff) are the ones having the babies; basic lessons in demographics tell us that. No one speaks of the plague of “puritanical” approaches to sex among blacks and Latinos. If anything, some people would prefer us to “keep it in the pants”, though the media would find it bad for business. No, the people who evidently need the lesson in the “holiness of sex” are those poor, sexually repressed folks in the suburbs shackled to their idea of the white (female) body as the vessel of sexual propriety. (I think this is the subconscious undertone of American cultural discourse.) Other bodies haven’t had that problem, apparently.

I don’t really have a problem with church pundits talking about what gets us to Heaven and what doesn’t. I do have a problem with them saying what is “legitimately human” and what isn’t. If you decide you have absolutely nothing to do and actually watch the Christopher West video referred to above, Mr. West spends the entire video creating an imaginary scenario in his mind of Ms. Perry being a deeply wounded human being. I can only conjecture what Ms. Perry would say to him in return, but I don’t think it helpful to call her “deeply wounded”. We then go from talk of sin to talk of pathology, and that is very dangerous territory to traverse. I do think it is helpful to say that someone is sinning, though I don’t want to turn this into one of those posts.

One thing that disturbs me is that advocates of the theology of the body will start saying that people who don’t follow the Catholic Church’s views of sex don’t really know how to love, or are deeply wounded on the inside, or don’t know the authentic meaning of their bodies. Such pop theological bullshit doesn’t convince anyone. We shouldn’t be in the business of telling people what they should and shouldn’t feel. We are in the business of passing on the Law that God has given us.

The sooner we realize that it is ridiculous to look to the Church for “the real meaning of sex”, the better.


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18 responses

19 07 2009
Arturo Vasquez

Non sequitur.

Okay, I take that back, the true meaning of sex: to make babies. Next question.

If you just come on this blog to practice your heckling skills and not actually form a feasilble argument, then expect droll pithy answers in return. I won’t waste my time trying to entertain you, and there are plenty of blogs where you can get your fix of a bunch of “conservative Catholics” slapping each other on the back over how clever and hip they are. This is not one of them.

19 07 2009
triunepieces

The sooner we realize that it is ridiculous to look to the Church for “the real meaning of sex”, the better.

And then, by its corollary, the true meaning of virginity and celibacy.

15 07 2009
The Shepherd

Good point

15 07 2009
Adrian

There is a big difference there. Folk Catholicism involves a process of constant supplication, negotiation and at times cajolement with spiritual advocates, authorities and saintly interecessors (often) for practical ends. Modern American Catholicism, both in its liberal and conservative forms, involves a much more academic approach of discerning philosophical truths, life-lessons and political positions from Church teachings, the Bible, William F. Buckley and other authorities.

15 07 2009
15 07 2009
Arturo Vasquez

Funny, a common theme of the cult to Santa Muerte in Mexico is to not die “una muerte fea”: that is, an ugly death by violence or other irregularity; generally the prayer of thugs, drug dealers, and the police. Does that count?

14 07 2009
The Shepherd

You criticize mainstream American Catholicism for being strictly utilitarian in various ways. However folk Catholicism ,which you seem far more amenable too, can be seen to be very concerned with more practical everyday issues i.e finding the right saint or prayers which can help you in a situation. This lofty preparation for death doesn’t seem to be the focus.

14 07 2009
Rick

Perhaps that’s West’s take on things, but the Church has never said if you follow God’s law and the Church’s “party line” you will be more successful.

And what is the “party line”? That we follow Church teaching? And what’s wrong with that?

14 07 2009
random Orthodox chick

“All things work out for good for those who love Him.” It’s easy for some to forget that ‘good’ means heaven.

14 07 2009
Leah

Religion in the modern world is framed in very utilitarian ways; one should be religious because it makes you “a better person,” which is usually defined as not committing the big three crimes (murder, rape, theft), keeping your lawn neat, holding down a job, and raising a socially acceptable number of children who will do the same. The truth of the matter of course, is that it is possible to be a “good person” without religion. But the point of religion was never to be a “good person” to begin with, but to go to heaven, reach nirvana, or some other such metaphysical goal. So the culture war fights over religion seem to be missing the point, because they argue over the superficial aspects of the issue, not over whether any particular religion is true. This is why I find fears of an imminent “theocracy” among some secularists rather amusing. How is an American theocracy supposed to be established with the Religious Right can’t even decide on adult versus child baptism?

14 07 2009
Sam Urfer

Recently an old friend of mine (an atheist) asked me if I was “satisfied” with my conversion to Catholicism. The question seemed a bit off to me, because Lord knows becoming Catholic hasn’t contributed to my life being *happier* or more materially pleasant. It’s put a wedge between me and my family, and many friends. Life is still full of problems and heartaches.

What has happened is that I have access to the Sacraments.

“Satisfaction” or “success” are representative of a bad frame of mind when it comes to religion, whether it’s Name-It-And-Claim-It televangelists or the pages of First Things.

14 07 2009
Adrian

It’s Christianity as a Scientific Formula of Salvation and The Good Life for Special and Gifted People, not Christianity the crutch of the lame and the succor of lousy sinners and people desperate for miracles — a country club full of smart, intelligent and successful go-getters with can-do attitudes and excellent sex lives, not a halfway house full of pious grandmothers, stupid people, cranks, perverts, thieves and bishops with secret lovers, i.e., historical Christianity.

14 07 2009
Manuel

This last comment of yours really tied it all for me. The last posts on this subject were over my head but now I see what you are saying. Following Christ, the Gospel and obeying the Church is far more likely to get us ridiculed and killed than rich and successful. “Blessed are you when they persecute you” It doesn’t get any clearer than that for me.

14 07 2009
Arturo Vasquez

After writing this, I realized another aspect of the question that I really haven’t touched upon yet. The reason all of this stuff gets up my nose is that it is all based on a profoundly foul lie. The premise is if you follow God’s law, and if you follow the Church’s party line, you will be a more successful person even by worldly standards. The Church has the answer, just as for Protestants, “the Good Book” has the answers, or for agnostics, the twelve step program has the answer. That is “cultural pop Calvinism”, though I don’t even think it can even be called that anymore. It’s a technocratic faith: follow the Pope’s rules, and you’ll have better sex. Follow the Church’s plan, and society will be better. Following the Gospel’s injunctions is the only way to be “truly happy”. And so on and so forth.

Here we see realized eschatology yet again (hey, I think it’s catchy). Everything is going to work out for the best if only we live out God’s plan for our lives; the Kingdom of God is among us, if only we “get with the program”. But the Gospel doesn’t promise that, and neither does any other ancient spiritual system. Philosophy and religion are both preparations for death, not efficient methods to “get results”.

The other side of this then, when I speak of pathology instead of sin, is that what is “normal” is completely sinless, while what is not normal is not only depraved, but ontologically flawed. That of course is the pitfall of any strict “natural law” system; some people become “sick”, and others “normal”. That is not really a Christian attitude; it is an American evangelical Protestant attitude. Following the commandments of God is not going to make your life more successful, nor is it going to make you happy in the earthly sense. The Cross would not be the Cross any other way.

13 07 2009
ochlophobist

So now you people have an infallible pope and infallibe orgasms? Which is the higher measure of truth?

13 07 2009
Rick

“I do have a problem with them saying what is “legitimately human” and what isn’t.”

How on earth can one divide how to “get to heaven” from what is “legitimately human”?

13 07 2009
Lee Hamilton

“We are in the business of passing on the Law that God has given us….The sooner we realize that it is ridiculous to look to the Church for “the real meaning of sex”, the better. ”

Amen!

13 07 2009
Sophia Marsden

Middle/upper class white people do have sex you know. They just cover up the consequences (usually immorally) because they believe that not having a magazine cover home/career/family = failure at life.

Also I am making a banal stereotype which is not actually true. Most middle class white people I know are hippies.

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