See the first five parts of this ongoing discussion and you are invited to leave your ideas in the comments or submit via email: DaveSwindlePJM AT gmail dot.com
Dr. Helen Smith: Would You Want a Wife This Clueless About Sex and Your Emotions?
Dr. Helen Smith: A Classic Example of White Knighting
Francis W. Porretto: Some Thoughts on Sex and the Bonded Couple
I very much appreciate your contribution to the discussion about sex and marriage yesterday. As I made explicit in my answer to Dr. Helen Smith’s reply, I think these disagreements about marriage and sex are really expressions of more fundamental philosophical and religious conflicts. These comments of yours in particular jumped out, indicating that our worldviews start from very different places as I already knew from these years of enjoying your great comments and occasional pieces. Emphases mine:
Male orgasm — his spasmodic release of tension and seminal fluid — is not the reason a decent man cherishes his lover’s body and access to it. That there are a fair number of “indecent” men roaming about need not cloud the central issue.
Indeed, a mature, self-assured man, properly reared and past the urgings of adolescence, is less concerned with his own physical pleasure than with bringing pleasure to her. Her desire for his desire, with all that follows from that, gives him what he most wants: the opportunity to bring her pleasure, even if he gets little or none for himself. This has often been dismissed as merely a form of politeness, but in fact it’s the source of his greatest sexual fulfillment and, apart from progeny, his principal reason for wanting her to want him.
Yes, there are men so self-absorbed that a woman’s sexual desire is merely an opening through which to seek their own fulfillment, including the evanescent and essentially trivial pleasure of orgasm. Yes, there are men who never bother to learn “what she likes.” But in any decent society these will be a minority.
I’ve written over the years about my ideological shift from Nation-style progressivism to Tea Party conservatism. I’m not the person today that I was a decade ago at 20, in the middle of my undergraduate days when I expanded my studies from English to political science. Amongst the many shifts that I’ve made gradually over the years as life experiences and new philosophical influences chipped away at the ideology I was indoctrinated in from K-12 through college, one of the most fundamental has been my change in understanding human nature. It’s a change from what Victor Davis Hanson has described as the “therapeutic view” to the “tragic view.”
When I was a progressive who supported big government programs and a dovish foreign policy it was because I naively assumed that most human beings wanted the same things, were decent people at heart, and could be trusted not to deceive others. Multiculturalism taught that all cultures were equal and all religions expressed the same basic, universal moral values. Anytime someone did something wrong it was because they were ignorant or mentally unbalanced in a way that was distorting their perception of consensus reality. Sure, occasionally nature would make a mistake and burp out serial killers, child molesters, or Hitlers but in general such people were aberrations. Thus it was possible — and necessary — and moral to move forward with trying to reason our way to a perfect, peaceful world by convincing everyone else what was best for them to do.
But I don’t believe that at all anymore. Now I believe the exact opposite. The state of nature from which humanity escaped is chaos, cruelty, hatred and selfishness. More people in the world are evil than good, more of the cultures in the world will die through suicide rather survive. It’s more normal for humans to worship death than for them to pursue eternal life. And the pimp-prostitute, promiscuous, polygamous sexual culture is more natural and universal than monogamous marriage. The absolute nuclear family that powers American prosperity is an aberration that we take for granted — see James C. Bennett and Michael Lotus’s amazing America 3.0 for more on this. And in failing to understand and defend this culture today it’s slipping away.
I have a few questions for you, Dave. What if the man does all of the things you suggest such as put her in the mood, goes through all of the rituals etc. you suggest and then ends up with nothing? Then what? The man should then continue in a sexless marriage? Bask in the glow of his “self-control” as he wonders where the sex went? According to you, he alone (the loser!) is to blame. It takes two to tango, if you blame him alone for their lack of sex, you see women as having no responsibility and no agency in sex. Isn’t this a little sexist?
In framing the question this way, you’re kind of understating the degree of our disagreement. What I advocate for in my post goes far deeper than just rituals and more foreplay. I put the philosophy embedded in Shmuley Boteach’s three books on Jewish mysticism and Biblical marriage on the table. It’s not that this is just some magic trick that will result in more sex, it’s that I’m advocating that both husband and wife together choose to embrace a religious attitude toward sex and marriage instead of being secularists.
A sexless marriage is not an actual problem — it’s just one outward symptom of a deeper disease. In focusing on fixing sexlessness in a marriage we miss the source of what’s driving it. In any marriage — apart from where physical illness prevents partners from performing — when either husband or wife all of a sudden isn’t interested in sex the reason is so obvious and simple it seems silly to point it out: something else exists that is more important to them than their marriage. They have found a new idol and their devotion to it will destroy their lives as a result. They are engaged in self-sacrifice in service to their new deity.
Yesterday, Dr. Helen blogged about a viral story of a husband who compiled a spreadsheet of every time his wife turned down his requests for sex (24/27 over 7 weeks) and who responded by posting it on the internet: “Would You Want a Wife This Clueless About Sex and Your Emotions?“:
And she seriously wonders why the guy is mad? She has sex three times in seven weeks and he has probably been angry and boiling for some time before that. Why is she posting their problems on Reddit? She mentions his immature behavior; is hers any better? She says he wouldn’t talk to her about the chart etc., so maybe during this quiet time, she should stop and think about her behavior.
But more importantly, the husband should reflect on his marriage and ask himself a few questions. So far, there are no kids. If she lets her job interfere with her sex life, what about the kids? Will he have an eighteen year chart of excuses and pain? If kids are involved and he wants to get out of the marriage then, he is going to have a much harder time. Perhaps he simply needs some quiet time to reflect on what to do, whether this is going to work in the long run and why his wife would turn to strangers on the internet and post his chart on a Reddit site instead of sitting back and giving him some breathing room. This does not reflect well on how things will go for him in the future if they stay married.
What do you think?
I’m actually going to take the wife’s side in this dispute. I have absolutely ZERO SYMPATHY WHATSOEVER for this loser. Why?
Because it’s not a wife’s responsibility to be her husband’s happy whore, eagerly providing him with his orgasms on demand.
Dissatisfied husbands, want to know the secret to having sex with your wife whenever you want? It is not your wife’s responsibility to be ready to go on command, it’s YOUR responsibility to know your wife so well that you are capable of seducing her anytime. When you want to have sex with her you don’t ask her, you put her in the mood yourself. It’s really that simple: know you wife well enough so you can push the right buttons, say the right things, and create an environment where sex just naturally happens.
Unfortunately, that’s more work than most men are used to for getting orgasms. Twenty or thirty minutes of close attention, massage, and foreplay first? Taking the effort to really get to know your wife’s unique preferences and turn-ons? Learning how to read her moods? That’s effort — and energy.
4. Y Tu Mama Tambien on August 19, 2014
Special features of note:
- Two new pieces on the making of the film, featuring interviews, recorded at the time of production and in 2014, with actors Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna, and Maribel Verdú; Alfonso Cuarón; cowriter Carlos Cuarón; and Lubezki
- New interview with philosopher Slavoj Žižek about the film’s social and political aspects
This 2002 coming-of-age comedy-drama from Mexico was one of my favorites during my high school and college years working at an art house movie theatre. It starts with the American Pie premise but infuses it with amazing, artistic photography and then deeper insights about life and death, philosophy, friendships, and relationships. Looks like it’s on Netflix streaming… I should probably give it a re-watch…
And what’s the deal with this trendy neo-Marxist, postmodernist “philosopher” Slavoj Žižek showing up all over the place? His documentary The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology is also on Netflix and while I’ve tried watching it a few times I have yet to succeed in completing it… So silly and boring, but, alas, rising in influence and popularity in the culture such that he’s probably in need of a dissection soon in list form…
I’m so sorry for your troubles this week. I hope this list can help. Here’s some streaming sunshine with potential to provoke more positive moods via a variety of genres.
20. New Girl
I was very shocked at just how effective, funny and likable this sitcom was. Starring Zooey Deschanel as a perky, klutzy young woman moving in with three guys, the show has a sense of lightness and Deschanel is immensely sympathetic and entertaining. I don’t really watch sitcoms these days, but New Girl is done so well and is so consistently funny episode-to-episode that it’s worth checking out.
10. The Romulans
What exactly do the Romulans have that justifies their defining quality, their arrogance? They’re among the most boring species in all of Trek, the kind of evil twin to the Vulcans, known for their deceitful and warlike nature.
Their only redeeming feature seems to be how cool and genuinely intimidating their warbird ships are:
17. The ArcLight movie theater at the Galleria.
Where: 15301 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks, CA
Our theater attendance tended to drop the last few years as my wife’s graduate school workload increased, but when we really wanted to see something projected well and make a nice date of a movie this was our preferred indulgence.
Is the first Bond movie with Roger Moore the best one in which he starred? Was it all downhill from here? I tend to think so. Moore took over the series from Sean Connery with this fun 1973 spy thriller set in New Orleans and featuring a blaxploitation and Black Panther-inspired villains. My friend Chris Queen included the theme song on his list of best Bond songs in 2012:
Paul and Linda McCartney banged out a unique title tune for 1973’s Live And Let Die. While previous 007 themes fell into more of an easy listening vein, “Live And Let Die” blends bracing rock and intense orchestration by Beatles producer George Martin, who scored the film.
According to The Billboard Book Of Number Two Singles, Wings almost missed out on the chance to record it, and subsequently the producers almost missed out on the song itself. Martin recalled that when he played the Wings track for producers Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli, they complimented Martin on the song and asked who should record it.
The producers suggested future disco diva Thelma Houston, and otherwise insisted that a black woman perform the song because of the film’s New Orleans setting. Martin and McCartney held firm that there would be no song if Wings couldn’t perform it. Looking back nearly 40 years later, it’s hard to imagine anyone but McCartney belting those immortal words, “Live And Let Die.”
Did the Bond films just get too silly with Moore? Are they better when there’s more of a balance between tough spy action and the occasional jokes and clever gadgets?
I suppose in one sense, Netflix serves the same purpose as Facebook: perpetual high school reunion and never-ending nostalgia fests, reminders of a time before adulthood and the weight of responsibilities.
Nowadays when I go back and watch some film that was fun or memorable from childhood or adolescence I tend to see it more from the parents’ perspective, relating to those characters, rather than the kids. I wonder how Honey, I Shrunk the Kids will hold up when rewatching it. Rather than experiencing it as a child wandering through the grass and inner-tubing in a cheerio, I’ll consider it as the father searching for his lost children…
Over at the PJ Tatler last week I unveiled my newest e-book size, giant list post: “30 Books For Defeating Valerie Jarrett’s Cult of Political Criminals.”
I organized the list into eight different sections by either theme or author, the second to last being a subject I’ve been preoccupied with perhaps more than all the others the past few years: “5 on cults, idol worship, and the origins of religion.” Here are numbers 21 through 25. I intend to eventually do a much longer, more in depth list devoted specifically to this subject. What other books do you think I should include? I’m now taking suggestions… Also related from earlier this month for those looking for more: ”Is God a Noun or a Verb? 6 Great Books Introducing Jewish Mysticism”
21. and 22. Idolatry and Representation: The Philosophy of Franz Rosenzweig Reconsidered by Leora Batnitzky and The Star of Redemption by Franz Rosenzweig
From PJ Media columnist David P. Goldman‘s articles and books I’ve developed a fascination with Jewish philosopher Franz Rosenzweig. This book provides accessible insight into a core component of his thought very much of relevance to those wanting to better understand and overcome the powerful personality cults dominating America today. Leora Batnitzky focuses the discussion of Rosenzweig on idolatry, the primitive religious practice Judaism evolved against. For Rosenzweig idolatry is not based in the images or in the “foreign” customs of competing religions. It’s based in an incorrect apprehension of how to worship. Rosenzweig argues that the postmodernist, Nietzchean, truth-is-relative philosopher engages in the same practice as the ancient idolaters, self-worship, from page 47:
Once I finish reading Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed this year it’ll be time to focus on The Star of Redemption. As Goldman’s first essay book demonstrates, Rosenzweig’s ideas provide piercing analysis of our culture today…
10. Amish Mafia
I think it’s with Amish Mafia that the “reality TV” trend jumped the shark. It was at this point that premises for shows had to start becoming so outlandish and ridiculous that viewers could no longer be expected to put up with the charade that they’re watching something “real.” With Amish Mafia the show has to be upfront about the fact that the footage is all actually “reenactments.” It’s the TV version of non-alcoholic beer.
The show’s amusing novelty — hearing the Pennsylvania Dutch spoken by some Amish subtitled and saying thuggish things — wears off quick.
When someone is threatened by a murderous dictator it’s usually not something to cheer and laugh about. Unless it’s my generation’s funniest actor-filmmaker being intimidated in response to a satirical film about the tyrant’s assassination.
When one of the world’s most evil men declares your work “an act of war” you’re doing something right. The Verge reported:
The government of North Korea today issued an unsurprisingly harsh statement about Seth Rogen’s upcoming film, The Interview, denouncing the action-comedy as an “act of war.” In the movie, Rogen and James Franco star as two journalists who, after scoring an interview with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, are ordered by the CIA to assassinate him. In a statement published by the state-run KCNA news agency, a foreign ministry spokesman characterized Rogen as a “gangster filmmaker” and called upon the US to block the film, according to a report from the AFP.
“The act of making and screening such a movie that portrays an attack on our top leadership… is a most wanton act of terror and act of war, and is absolutely intolerable,” the spokesman said, adding that the US would face a “resolute and merciless response” if it fails to ban the film, which is slated for release later this year.
Rogen was born in 1982 and is 32 now — making him 2 years older than me and part of my generational cohort of those born 1981-1985, which I argued in this article here should best be understood as stuck between generations, the Millennial-Xer Blend. (Those born 1976-1980 are Millennial-leaning Gen-Xers. Those born 1986-1990 are X-er leaning Millennials. I think it’s only those born in ’71-’75 and ’91-’95 who tend to most embody the peer personality traits associated with the Generation X and Millennial stereotypes.)
So I’m a fan. I think Rogen’s consistently funny and now that he’s expanded into screenwriting and directing he’s shining. He has real potential to be our generation’s Woody Allen, minus all the narcissistic and creepy stuff. (Rogen doesn’t seem to be particularly self-obsessed and most of his films have a moral core amidst the skillful vulgarity.)
Here’s how I’d rank his 10 best so far. We’ll have to wait until October 10 to find out where The Interview ranks among them…
It appears like I’m not the only one exploring the animated innovations of the 1930s for inspirations today. The Daily Dot featured this fascinating write-up of a new video game coming this year for X-Box:
The devil and hell setting reminds me of this early entry in the Silly Symphony series, “Hell’s Bells,” animated by Ub Iwerks:
I think where the deepest lasting imprint of the hellfire stuff remains in the Disney cultural consciousness is as the notorious ending of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride at DisneyLand, a perpetual mystery to all children who pass through it:
At the end of the ride when you get to hell the room noticeably heats up. I bet it’s just a matter of time before home video games get to the point where they’re shifting the physical environments the players are in to match with the on-screen action…
From 1929 through 1939 the Walt Disney studio released 75 short cartoons in the Silly Symphony series. Starting in March I began watching and featuring them all at PJ Lifestyle to learn more about the culture, history, and technology of the period. It’s really neat to see how the series evolved from beginning to end as Disney utilized it as a kind of experimental laboratory for testing new ideas that would later make it into the feature films. Fantasia – which has become one of my absolute favorite films in recent years, I’ll often have it on in the background while writing — can be understood as the ultimate Silly Symphony. So many of the themes and techniques developed over the decade would find their greatest expression there (a subject that I’ll write about more soon.)
I’ve scheduled the last two Silly Symphony cartoons for tomorrow and Friday. Now that I’ve seen them all I’ll be organizing them into a few lists and collections to highlight the good, the bad, the ugly, and the fascinating. And starting on Monday the PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon feature will take a break from Disney and turn to another company and its standard bearer: Fleischer studios and Betty Boop.
But to start, so others can start to see the fascinating pattern of advancement over the decade, here’s a collection of the 7 Silly Symphony cartoons that won Oscars, along with some remarks on each.
via Kotaku, hat tip to Ash
Dennis Prager’s column of course hit close to home today: “Pope Francis: Pets Can’t Replace Children“:
Pope Francis said something so important last week that it will either be widely ignored or widely disparaged.
The pope criticized “these marriages, in which the spouses do not want children, in which the spouses want to remain without fertility. This culture of well-being … convinced us: It’s better not to have children! It’s better! You can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside; you can be carefree. It might be better — more comfortable — to have a dog, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the dog.”
He is right. More than ever before, young men and women in most affluent Western countries (and Russia) have decided not to have children. Instead, many shower love and attention on dogs and cats. Ask many young women — married or single — if they have any children, and if they do not, you are likely to be told, “I have two cats” or “I have two dogs.” There are authors whose book jacket photo shows them with their dog or cat.
In much of the West, animals are the new children.
My wife and I are of course guilty as charged. But there’s another way to look at it too.
Not that pets have to necessarily be a permanent substitute for children, but rather, a kind of kids-training wheels. My friend and colleague Rhonda Robinson suggested this to me years ago when we were first beginning our collaborations. Rhonda’s a super-mom with 10 (it’s 10, right, Rhonda?) kids and I don’t recall how many grand-kids so far and she’s just full of wisdom and life observations.
And she very much got it right, here. Our Siberian Husky Maura turned five this year (easy to remember since she’s the same age as our marriage.) Over the years Maura has been a strong factor in shifting me from the “kind of maybe want to be a parent” to the “YES. Need to be a dad” mindset.
I just don’t think there’s a rush. Better to wait until after the war is won before starting a family. Today is akin to 1938 and I’d rather wait until 1951 or so and would be more than content to adopt…
He’s wearing a t-shirt of himself, at a Guns ‘n’ Roses concert, via Instagram:
Defamer points out that his face is in the pose of the infamous online “troll” image:
I’m just going to pull this up every time I need to laugh out loud. He’s trolling the world.
Or is this just a paid publicity stunt and totally inauthentic? (But still entertaining…)
I’ll publish your piece on Sunday and provide you with an answer to your question “Why Was Jesus Born Jewish?“ Perhaps I’ll just reprint this email.
“Now, will someone who practices Judaism PLEASE “have an opinion on this” and answer my question?”
There are different kinds of Judaism. Whether you talk to a reform Jew, a conservative Jew, a progressive Jew, or an orthodox Jew you’ll get a different answer. The reason is because all define the word “God” differently.
I generally don’t classify myself primarily as a Jew but the fact is I am one of a particularly marginalized, misunderstood variety — a mystical Jew. Kabbalah and mystical practices derived from the Torah are the foundation of my occultism — as they are in all “right hand” mystical and occult practices. (It’s only the “left hand” that are engaged in Paganism, earth-worship, demon-worship, sex-worship, and the various practices of the ancient Canaanite fertility cults.)
Your question is a non sequitur for Jews for a number for reasons. Jesus was not “born Jewish” because Jewishness is not a race/ethnicity like being French, American, Spanish, etc. It’s a religion and moral value system. When a baby is born they are Jewish only in the sense that their parents plan to raise them in the Jewish value system, not that they are somehow inherently Jewish in their blood. Jesus wasn’t “born Jewish,” he was raised Jewish. People can become or stop being Jewish whenever they want.
Your questions about why did God do this or that:
Do you believe God made Jesus a Jew just for the heck of it?
Like do you believe God made you a Jew just for the heck of it?
I certainly do not believe God made me a Jew just for the heck of it.
These questions change depending on how one chooses to understand and define God. By this, I mean this question: most of the time when you think about God, is God a noun or a verb? Is God a thing or is God an action? Is God a guy up in the clouds making stuff happen, or Is God a process of change and transformation? I take the position of Exodus 3:14.
Central to Jewish mysticism is the idea that God is transcendent – a verb – and as Maimonides argues in The Guide of the Perplexed, all references to God as a thing or a person or a father in the Torah are just metaphors and parables hinting at a transcendent reality beyond our comprehension. So these questions only make sense within a Christian theology that anthropomorphizes God into a person. Hence why you get “no opinion” from Jews. They don’t believe that God operates the way you do.
P.S. Five other book recommendations. These have been some of my biggest influences on why I describe myself as “Pagan Soul, Christian Heart, Jewish Mind, Secular Spirit” and strive to syncretize religious traditions:
1. Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism by Douglas Rushkoff
Page 31: “Maimonides understood that any fixed conception of God must also be a form of idolatry.”
In part my loss of interest in much that is called “pop” came from overexposure and, I suppose, disappointed hopes.
I’d done some interesting work, even post Abstracts, including writing and recording for motion pictures. But even at the time, entering my twenties, so much pop music seemed shallow. In its stead I focused on two things: A return to my early love of classical music, particularly the symphonies of Beethoven and the keyboard works of Bach — these to satisfy the mind — and a turning towards roots music, be it in the form of Delta blues or the more modern Chicago variety — these to satisfy the spirit.
To this day most “pop” music strikes me as very teenagy. So much so that I have trouble understanding how any adult can find it of interest.
Of late I have again started to listen to music once classified as “pop,” but it is from the days when such music was aimed, not a teenagers, but at adults. Music of the Gershwins, for instance, and that of Cole Porter.
And this is, I think, the difference. Today everything in the “arts” seems to be aimed at children.
I was never a huge bubblegum pop music consumer — my tastes ran more toward the “despite all my rage/I’m still just a rat in a cage” Smashing Pumpkins school of adolescent angst. But I do think there is a place for upbeat, fun, simpleminded music: when exercising. I’ve come to appreciate Bach, Mozart, and innovative jazz in recent years but I don’t think it was ever meant to accompany running.
These are some of the tracks that are in my regular rotation for when Maura and I do our morning runs at sunrise. (Note: I make a point to turn the music off at 6:07 when The Morning Answer starts on AM 870 here in Los Angeles. Listening to Ben Shapiro and Elisha Krauss fighting against the inane, narcissistic arguments of their so-called liberal co-host Brian Whitman is also good for inspiring the energy of a teenager first thing in the morning…)
This week Walter Hudson joined the pop culture debate and expressed his concerns about DC’s attempt to catch up with Marvel on the movie front, concluding in “DC Vs. Marvel: Why This DC Fanboy Believes Marvel Already Won“:
After Man of Steel’s 143 minute run time, I’m left with little idea of who any of these people are or why I should care. The project rarely stops for breath, has scant humor, and takes itself far too seriously. The Nolan narrative style, skipping back and forth through time, works better when utilized by Nolan himself than by the frantic and unfocused Zack Snyder.
If that’s how we’re going to get introduced to all these characters, to Batman and Wonder Woman and Cyborg, than I fear a Justice League adventure will never be as fun as The Avengers. And that’s sad. Because it easily could be. DC has a rich history to draw from with decades of stories to mine and refresh. These characters deserve the same focused, nuanced, yet lighthearted treatment that Marvel Studios has given its mightiest heroes.
Hannah Sternberg also joined the discussion, declaring her allegiances in the pop culture debate to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly as superior franchises to Star Trek and Star Wars in her post “The Bible of Buffy“:
I’m going to bounce this one back to the committee. Dave, Walter, other PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island writers, — did Joss Whedon change your life, or simply stunt it?
Perhaps this wasn’t the answer that Hannah was anticipating but Whedon’s impact on my life is very different from hers. I never “got into” Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, or Serenity. While recognizing their significance to geek culture and respecting the fact that Whedon operates at a level of sophistication well above most creators in the sci-fi/fantasy world, it was another of the writer-director’s works that resonated with me.
Back in January of 2013 I published “10 Secret Reasons Why The Avengers Is the Best Superhero Film.” In the piece — which I’ve decided to republish today — I argued that the movie’s success came from its ability to reinvent classic mythological themes and archetypes.
What do you think? Is The Avengers as good as I claim it is? Should it stand as a model for those aspiring to make big, bold, profitable, mainstream popular culture infused with good values? Would DC striving for a Justice League film end up just a pale imitation of what Whedon already mastered?
Monday’s PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates! writing prompt was: “Star Trek, Star Wars, Both, or Neither?”
I had my list of “7 New Year’s Resolutions for 2014 I Invite You to Burgle From Me Bilbo-Style” in mind when starting this discussion. I still appreciate Star Trek and Star Wars, but nowhere near to the level I did as a child and teenager. The all-consuming, quasi-religious experience of fandom in both franchises is what I had in mind when writing my third resolution:
Why is it today if someone goes home after work and spends 2 hours watching TV we think of them as normal but if they spend 2 hours studying the Bible, praying, and meditating we regard them as a kook?
The term that I’ve come up with for the religion that I used to practice without even knowing it: pop culture polytheism. For so much of my life I devoted myself to the details of TV shows, movies, books, and all manner of pop culture and political celebrities. No more. Today in America fascination with culture isn’t just a hobby — it’s an all-encompassing obsession. I’m done with it. Our popular culture needs to be mocked and trashed much more and with greater intensity. There’s nothing in it that’s sacred.
My wife does a better job of translating Huskyese than me but I’ll attempt to offer approximations of what Maura seems to be saying in each of the videos…
April 27, 2014:
1. “I love you.”
From Sunday at PJ Lifestyle, Susan L.M. Goldberg responded to my opening in this series with “Religion, Politics & Screaming at the Internet” and concluded thoughtfully:
Why aren’t these women loving these men the way they ought to be loving themselves, with respect and honor?
Perhaps that question is the answer to the many you pose about righteousness in America’s religious and political spheres. When we succumb to idols of any kind we become altruistic in our worship, disrespecting ourselves as much as those with whom we interact. Walter and I do agree on the concept that faith is, first and foremost, a relationship with God that is as mutually satisfying as a marriage. When we lose that context to religious, political, or pop culture opinion, we are forced to become ascetics, because no matter how hard you believe, nor how ardently you defend, you will never win the full favor, attention, or love of the idol you worship. It is a thing, an idea, a person so far removed from you that you are forced to be nothing more than its conquered slave. That is the way Ryan the Preacher treated Lisa, and she responded the way any slave would: “…all I wanted was to be wanted.”
An excerpt from page 23:
Dear Lisa and Susan,
I think among the many accomplishments of Finding Mr. Righteous is its portrayal of Chris the Atheist. The passage from page 23 above highlights a number of intertwined phenomena – a sadomasochistic sexual nature, atheist theology, an inability to control emotions, substance abuse, idolizing women’s bodies, and so often the critical piece at root, the lack of a father figure and the corresponding failure to grow up in a nuclear family. In another passage from the book Chris’s destructive tendencies are made more explicit as he discusses the self-inflicted scars on his arms.
Reading these passages reminded me of my own secular dating time during my undergraduate years – a period I don’t like to dredge out from the memory banks all that often because it’s just still too shameful and embarrassing. The experience from this passage isn’t that uncommon and it shouldn’t necessarily be understood as exclusively a men’s issue. (I certainly don’t believe that men are just innately violent.) It goes the other way too. I dated a number of secular, progressive, and feminist women in college who in some ways resembled Chris. Gender isn’t the issue — beliefs, ideology, and the experiences underlying them are what make people hurt one another.
Some of the women I dated would shift the foreplay into one disturbing realm or another, either incorporating pain and degradation into how they treated me or requesting I act that way toward them. Never was it just “for fun” or “to be kinky” or to “spice things up”– always behind these outward expressions some inner emotional wounds ached, unhealed by a spiritual practice.
Or rather, as it turns out, the sex and the pain was their substitute for a religion. Throughout the story of Chris we see one attempt after another to find something to distract from the unresolved demons inside him. The twin cocktail of sex and violence at the same time, heated up by alcohol and Dionysian emotion, is among the most effective throughout history for annihilating the pain of being an individual. There’s a name for this practice beyond just “atheism” and in my research I think Camille Paglia defines it best in her many books of essays, criticism, and literary analysis, summarized in the lead essay in Vamps and Tramps: A Pagan Theory of Sexuality. From page 45:
“Men who kill the women they love have reverted to Pagan cult. She whom a man cannot live without had become a goddess, an avatar of his half-divinized, half-demonized mother, a magic fountain of cosmic creativity.”
So the position I take: Chris was just being a normal, secular teenage boy, the way mother nature created him. This is just how nature operates…