Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Sex: Is It Really Narcissary?

Back to the John Paul biography we've been discussing over the last couple of weeks. I finished it awhile ago, but have been reflipping and reflecting through it in order to dwell upon some of the things that stood out -- or in -- for me.

Everyone seems to agree that his Theology of the Body is his most important written work, although it is apparently too difficult for most lay people to understand (I've only just begun it), and its message may take decades to filter down into common understanding (if indeed it ever does). It is the perfect example -- America's founders being another -- of how the most conservative doctrine is the most revolutionary, and vice versa.

Indeed, the whole Judeo-Christian stream is an ongoing revolution, a declaration of independence from physics, chemistry, and necessity.

Of course, the doctrine will first have to seep into the priesthood before the laity, and this may pose its own barrier, because I don't see how someone could appreciate the doctrine in all its fullness if one isn't entirely secure both in one's celibacy and one's sexuality.

For variety of reasons, this is a tall order. It's one thing for a priest to discuss sexuality if it is considered a vaguely negative thing, or some kind of compromise with one's animal nature. It is quite another to regard it not only as an unambiguous good, but the most important human icon of the interior of ultimate reality.

Again, in order for a priest to appreciate the latter, he must simultaneously become more aware of the "sacrifice" entailed in his own celibacy, and this requires a level of psychological and spiritual maturity that seems almost unreasonable. Which I suppose is the point. No one could accomplish it if, first, they didn't have the vocation to do so, and second, without the enlistment of the Holy Spirit.

It reminds me of a more general principle of maturity, and one that can be determinative in the evolution of a culture. I refer to the envy barrier, a subject I have posted about on more than one occasion.

In short, in order for a modern free economy to succeed, individuals must tolerate their "natural" envy of the successful, of those people who acquire more. In psychospiritually primitive cultures -- in which I would include the left -- envy is not tolerated, but instead, indulged, which by no means results in the betterment of the envier in any material sense.

Rather, by appropriating from the envied, it diminishes the psychological pain of envying the successful or more affluent person. This is why, as I mentioned in Sunday's post, leftism is similar to Islamism, in the sense that both are "fantasy ideologies" unconsciously built for emotional comfort, not economic speed.

It doesn't matter that class warfare can only result in less wealth and affluence for everyone. That is not its purpose. Rather, the purpose is again peace of mind, i.e., freedom from persecutory envy. Hence the obsession with "equality," which is just a euphemism for the appeasement of envy.

And importantly, the same principle applies to wealthy leftists, those "limousine liberals" who cannot tolerate being the object of envy. By appeasing envy in the manner of, say, the worthless Ted Kennedy, they are "off the hook," cleansed of the guilt produced by their projection of envy into the anonymous masses, the "little people." They are then free to be as greedy and selfish as usual, in an unconflicted manner. (The same applies to all those big-time polluters such as Al Gore or Thomas Friedman, who champion the dangers of "global warming.")

A fellow at NRO describes well the counterproductivity of indulging in envy in order to legitimize rasing taxes on high-income earners:

"As a result of lower tax rates on the top income earners, not only do they pay a much larger share of all taxes, but they pay much more taxes total -- and revenue to the government has increased. This is because lowering taxes on the rich creates more rich people and richer rich people. The federal government gets much more revenue if you impose a 40 percent tax on a large number of very wealthy millionaires than if you impose a 70 percent tax on a small number of less wealthy millionaires."

Common sense, really, but fantasy ideologies do not truck in common sense. Note that the church has a long history of being as ambivalent about capitalism as it was toward sexuality. No doubt both activities can give rise to dangerous and destructive vices, greed on the one hand, ungoverned lust on the other. But the point is not to deal with the impulse behind these through repression and denial, but to transcend them through integration at a higher level.

I would be the last person to apologize for capitalism stripped of any spiritual context. One of the more bizarre myths of the left is that corporations are somehow "conservative," when this is manifestly untrue. Indeed, there are more wealthy donors to the Democratic than Republican parties, and more small donors to the GOP.

Rather, corporations are motivated by profits. And one of the best ways to increase profits is to be seen by the public as "liberal," i.e., pro-racial quotas, pro-redefinition of marriage, pro-environmental dogma, and all the rest. If they thought the latter hurt profits, then they would change their PR. Capitalism in itself is always "revolutionary," in that it never ceases its "creative destruction." This is where the conservative liberal parts ways with the libertarian, in that we firmly reject the Randian idealization of Capitalist Man -- just as we reject the capitalist idealization of the randy man.

Now, one of the things I grappled with in the spiritual journey compressed into the pages of the bʘʘk was this ambivalence toward sexuality, not just in Christianity, but really, in every spiritual tradition. The so-called "sexual revolution" was an attempt to remove sexuality from any traditional spiritual context, which only resulted in an even bigger disaster(s) -- disease, promiscuity, an epidemic of out-of-wedlock births, abortion as birth control, devaluation of marriage and the family, the undermining of both masculine and feminine ideals, etc.

Are male-female relations any happier than they were fifty years ago? Please. The sexual revolution was a typical leftist attempt to solve an existential problem -- one that is intrinsic to the human condition -- by either pretending that it isn't a problem, or by regressing to a lower stage of psychological maturity in which it becomes a non-issue.

After all, animals are not conflicted about sex. But all human beings are. All normal men, for example, struggle with their heterosexual identity. I believe Muddy Waters speaks for us all in singing that:

My eyes keep me in trouble
Wants every woman I see
My eyes keep me in trouble
Wants every woman I see
You pretty women kill me
Just come on and get poor me....
I want women on my left, women on my right
Women all day, women all night
I want to love pretty women
That is a natural fact


It is indeed a "natural fact." And no different from the celibate priest, it requires supernatural assistance to transcend this state of nature. Obviously celibacy is "unnatural," as is male monogamy. The purpose of the institution of marriage is, on the one hand, to protect women from male sexual nature, and on the other, to protect men from male sexual nature.

Most of the victims of the mass de-civilizing of male sexual nature have been women, children, and Maureen Dowd. But when these children grow to adulthood, they continue to either auto-victimize or to victimize others (for example, most most social pathologies are directly linked to fatherlessness, and the majority of violent criminals grow up in fatherless homes).

So the civilizing of our sexual nature isn't just a personal issue, but one that touches on the very survival of culture. This is something that all cultures prior to ours recognized, often in some pretty kooky ways. But the kookiness is just a measure of the urgency and universality of the problem. When your house is on fire, you don't spend time meditating on the nature of fire.

Again, in my immersion in the various spiritual traditions, I repeatedly discovered less-than-satisfactory -- indeed, what I would call immature -- doctrines of sexuality. More to the point, they all conflicted with my psychoanalytic understanding of the subject, which I was not prepared to abandon. Therefore, someone was wrong.

The psychoanalytic understanding of sexuality is embedded in a developmental model. Various models differ in their details, but all versions center on what is called the separation-individuation process, or the move from immature dependence to mature dependence and autonomy (notice the oxymoron i.e., dependence and autonomy).

Virtually all human capacities can be located along this developmental spectrum, from cognition, to morality, to sexuality, and to to self-control and self-image. In their gut, most people recognize that, say, pedophilia is "wrong," but why is it wrong? NAMBLA members obviously don't believe it is wrong; indeed, a bunch of homosexual activists managed to publish a paper a few year ago in a prestigious journal, arguing that sex with children isn't necessarily such a bad thing.

A quick google search reveals that there is a book that lays out the argument that "sex is not harmful to children," and that it is only the ignorance of the "religious right" that unjustly denies them the opportunity to have sex with adults. (She has apparently since qualified some of her weirder statements, but it is clear that her overall ideology is rotten to the core and not susceptible to redemption; in any event, this book was picked at random -- there are others.)

Although a five year-old is no less human than a 40 year-old, the modes of their humanness differ. Indeed, the five year old would not be an occasion for "natural" hope and joy if we didn't know that he embodied a developmental telos that will guide him to mature manhood.

Think of the mentally retarded person who has the developmental maturity of a child. They are still human, of course, but something is missing. What is missing is the attainment of a certain "end" of development, not fundamentally different than any other organ that fails to achieve its purpose.

Now, in my view, the attainment of human maturity is not culturally conditioned, but real. It is not something we invent, but something that is given. And clearly, it is not, and could never be, given by "nature." As John Hiatt sang, this crazy thing called love Don't come from you and me / It comes from up above. He continues:

Before the laws of God and the laws of man
I take you for my wife,
To love, honour, cherish and obey,
Now, I didn't have no plans to live
This kind of life, no
It just worked out that way


I too shall continue. Tomorrow.

***

Well worth your time. Whittle understands trollkind's predictable playbook, even if they don't. Indeed, one of our most persistent and dogmatic wieners is an unapologetic Frankfurter:

29 Comments:

Blogger Jewel said...

I want to thank you for getting me into John Paul's life and works. These topics are difficult and spiritually deep for me. Only because it requires me to put aside pictures and look beyond the words. Truly a difficult exercise for a spiritual couch potato like myself.

7/05/2011 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Like I said, he was a true "spiritual athlete," in the manner of the early fathers.

7/05/2011 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"Sex: Is It Really Narcissary?"

Ok, you had me at... well... um... ok, back to reading the next sentence.

7/05/2011 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger Mizz E said...

In a related post today from the Anchoress on envy (selfishness in the context of s.e.x.), I picked up this from a commenter:

“Catholic doctrine and discipline may be walls; but they are the walls of a playground. Christianity is the only frame which has preserved the pleasure of Paganism. We might fancy some children playing on the flat grassy top of some tall island in the sea. So long as there was a wall round the cliff’s edge they could fling themselves into every frantic game and make the place the noisiest of nurseries. But the walls were knocked down, leaving the naked peril of the precipice. They did not fall over; but when their friends returned to them they were all huddled in terror in the centre of the island; and their song had ceased.”
- G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Chapter 9

7/05/2011 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

What a great way to put it. In psychological development, boundaries are critical. Suffice it to say that children may complain about but secretly crave them, and fail to thrive without them.

7/05/2011 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

File under True vs. False Slack....

7/05/2011 09:24:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Thanks for the Firewall link. I hadn't watched that one yet. I agree that there needs to be more Conservative entertainment out there, but I wonder if overtly labeling everything as being "for Conservatives" - not only with Declaration Entertainment but with many endeavors such as Breitbart's various Bigs and with Vanderleun's Right Network - doesn't undermine the whole purpose of transforming the culture. It should be for everyone. That is how you reach people.

Re. The post, there's much food for thought; needs chewing first, for me anyway.

7/05/2011 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I agree: how about just good entertainment.

7/05/2011 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

In other words, any great art will by definition have a "conservative" message, in the sense that it will illuminate an archetype.

7/05/2011 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Indeed, one of the reasons leftist art is so lame is its soul-killing didacticism. Wouldn't want to imitate that model.

7/05/2011 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Gandalin said...

Dear Bob,

Delighted -and grateful- that you are tackling the subject of sex and sexuality. This is one area in which our culture has gone off the rails, and continues to go off the rails, in ways that are, if I am not mistaken, more or less unprecedented in recorded history.

Gandalin

7/05/2011 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"It doesn't matter that class warfare can only result in less wealth and affluence for everyone. That is not its purpose. Rather, the purpose is again peace of mind, i.e., freedom from persecutory envy. Hence the obsession with "equality," which is just a euphemism for the appeasement of envy."

This fills a number of pigeon holes for otherwise unexplainable actions. Of course the tenured can easily justify such things by reference to modernist misosophy, but the urge is there in peoples that have never been touched by wackedemia, where does it come from? The 'Tall Poppy Syndrome' doesn't quite cut it for me, at least not as a starting point, I don't think negative motivations, cutting people down to size, really initiate and sustain anything longterm, do they?

But "Rather, the purpose is again peace of mind, i.e., freedom from persecutory envy." seems more plausable. Not to stray too close to our darwinista trolls, but I could see that as an evolutionary plus, a 'taking care of the Joneses' norm of seeing to it that no one hogs what's left of the evenings kill, seeing to it that everyone gets their fair share?

Goes a bit towards weaving in some loose threads.

Sure would be nice if the evolutionists practiced evolution and tried evolving past the stone age mind set though. But... then of course "Back to the Pleistocene!" is a Green rallying cry....

7/05/2011 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"I would be the last person to apologize for capitalism stripped of any spiritual context. One of the more bizarre myths of the left is that corporations are somehow "conservative," when this is manifestly untrue. Indeed, there are more wealthy donors to the Democratic than Republican parties, and more small donors to the GOP."

There's been a quote going around attributed to Mussolini: "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.", which fits with that pretty well - it doesn't really sound like ol' Benito (unless the translator was the early 20th Century BBC), but it does nail the progressive and fascist ideal of merging Corporate (in the old guild like sense, and the modern business sense) and govt interests into a more proregressive 'third way' (and of course it enfuriates the trolls, which is a plus).

"This is where the conservative liberal parts ways with the libertarian, in that we firmly reject the Randian idealization of Capitalist Man -- just as we reject the capitalist idealization of the randy man."

Lol, the nailgun is humming along today.

7/05/2011 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Are male-female relations any happier than they were fifty years ago? Please. The sexual revolution was a typical leftist attempt to solve an existential problem -- one that is intrinsic to the human condition -- by either pretending that it isn't a problem, or by regressing to a lower stage of psychological maturity in which it becomes a non-issue."

Yep. For further reference, see Rousseau's 'identification' of the fall of his idealized Natural Man into the corruption of dastardly civilization, via monogamy and private property. No doubt it also made it easier for him to not marry his significant other, send their five infants to certain death and smooth over his hobby of exposing himself at ladies windows at night... but maybe that was purely coincidental.

7/05/2011 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"Indeed, a quick google search reveals that there is a book that lays out the argument that "sex is not harmful to children," and that it is only the ignorance of the "religious right" that unjustly denies them the opportunity to have sex with adults. (She has apparently since qualified some of her weirder statements, but it is clear that her overall ideology is rotten to the core and not susceptible to redemption; in any event, this book was picked at random -- there are others.)"

I can say from experience that sex with children is very destructive.
Not only to the child's childhood and developement but perhaps even moreso (or just as much...destruction, afterall knows no bounds) when he or she becomes an adult.

I would be lying if I said it wasn't still...a struggle...however,
the only reason I'm alive today is because of His grace.

As Bob mentioned recently, about how to deal with mind parasites, the only cure is to stay in the Light.

Very difficult to do at times but the Light is always there when one realizes (perhaps for the upteenth time) that the particularly nasty mind parasite that is imposed on a child through lust will always lead to destruction.

7/05/2011 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

As for leftists constantly screeching about greed like a psychotic banshee:

Their envy is proof of their own greed.
In fact, leftist greed goes beyond natural greed because their greed destroys wealth, whereas the greed of some...some capitalists will still produce wealth and jobs, not only for those who are greedy but for their employees.

Of course, this doesn't in any way excuse the greed of some capitalists because it's still wrong, but it does highlight how much more destructive leftist greed is in comparison.

7/05/2011 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger Jewel said...

I have a book, written in 1990 by Frank Schaeffer, the son of Francis Schaeffer that covered a Christian perspective of the arts. I'm brushing it off and reading it again. If you are interested, the title is href="http://www.amazon.com/Sham-Pearls-Real-Swine-Age-/dp/1561210897/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1309903591&sr=8-1">"Sham Pearls for Real Swine. Beyond the Cultural Dark Age. A Quest for Renaissance"

7/05/2011 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger John Lien said...

Capitalism doesn't seem to work without Judeo-Christian underpinnings like loving your neighbor as yourself. Recent instances like Chinese poisoned milk, dogfood, kid's jewlery come to mind.

However, to contradict myself, we had a period around the turn of the 20th century where many of our companies did horrible things which led to the creation of the FDA.

Maybe it is a matter of how much and how often such instances of cheating occur.

Good capitalism =f(Christian morals) as a monotonically increasing function?

Oh, and to further contradict myself there is Japan. A decent, non-Christian, capitalist society.

Anybody want to help dig me out of this hole I just dug for myself?

7/05/2011 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

I once had to explain to my son that God's safety boundaries are solid, but much farther out than he supposed. I think that when we returned from Mexico and mission work, he was frightened of the boundary-less environment of the U.S. He was more uptight than ever we could have projected onto him. He saw our relaxed liberty and freaked out spiritually, huddling himself far from the edges.

Thanks MizzE, so much for posting that quote. He loves Chesterton and I shall pass it along. It's an "apple of gold in a basin of silver."

7/05/2011 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

This is an excellent Bobservation:

"Obviously celibacy is "unnatural," as is male monogamy."

7/05/2011 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

Joan said,

"..he was frightened of the boundary-less environment of the U.S."

Of course you mean in things vertical. Because there are no less than 3 layers of safety contraptions keeping me from hurting myself with my own riding lawn mower.

7/05/2011 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

@Rick: Heh.

;)

7/05/2011 05:41:00 PM  
Blogger chris m said...

"Theology of the Body" is the awesome.

I'm chanting to my husband (because I'm in a very good mood, at the moment): "This time next year, Dr. Bob, will be Catholic.... ....

Whooo Hoooo!

Chris M aka sehoy

:D

7/05/2011 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Of course, the doctrine will first have to seep into the priesthood before the laity, and this may pose its own barrier, because I don't see how someone could appreciate the doctrine in all its fullness if one isn't entirely secure both in one's celibacy and one's sexuality.

Apropos, I think it was Sal who mentioned Corapi this weekend; sadly, it sounds as though he has failed in this particular endeavor. Which is bad enough for him and the people with whom he was directly involved, but given his popularity the harm done reaches ever so much farther.

7/05/2011 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Are male-female relations any happier than they were fifty years ago? Please. The sexual revolution was a typical leftist attempt to solve an existential problem -- one that is intrinsic to the human condition -- by either pretending that it isn't a problem, or by regressing to a lower stage of psychological maturity in which it becomes a non-issue.

Every once in a while, I follow a link (usually Dr. Helen or Instapundit) into the Pick-Up Artist community. It doesn't take much reading there to see how true the above segment of the post is - how deeply unhappy men and women have become, and how simultaneously alienated from and starving for the opposite sex they are.

The PUAs do seem to have some interesting insights into the basic workings of male-female relationships, but the purpose of that understanding appears to be almost purely predatory; there is no sense of seeing the Other and seeking the sacred, but rather it is all about acquiring and controlling an object. For that matter, the same is true for many sites aimed at helping women find a man.

It is becoming increasingly rare to see anybody outside of Catholicism discussing sexuality in terms of the sacred. If anything, sexuality is becoming increasingly weaponized instead. To the Anchoress' point (from Mizz E's link), I wonder if there is any way at all to turn the tide back toward what it was meant to be?

7/05/2011 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Off topic, via Vanderleun, a beautiful quote on Mystery:

“The crucial difference between the Catholic and common uses of the word “mystery” lies here. When the term is applied to divine realities, the mystery involved is by definition without end. This is not to say (as nominalists, in contrast to Aquinas, seemed to want to say) that the things of God are permanently or radically incomprehensible and ineffable, but that they are endlessly comprehensible and expressible. Not darkness, but too much light is what we encounter here. That irritating conversation stopper, “it’s a mystery,” doesn’t mean that we have nothing further to say but that we can’t say enough about the matter in hand. The mysteries of faith are so far-reaching in their meaning and so breathtaking in their beauty that they possess a limitless—that is to say, literally an unending and inexhaustible—power to attract and transform the minds and hearts, the individual and communal lives, in which they are pondered, digested, and, ultimately, loved and adored.”

7/05/2011 08:34:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

John Lein said "Oh, and to further contradict myself there is Japan. A decent, non-Christian, capitalist society. Anybody want to help dig me out of this hole I just dug for myself?"

;-)

Heh, I think the problem comes in with using the term 'Capitalism'. It might be helpful to remember that the term was first popularized (not coined by, but brought into common usage) by none other than Karl Marx, as a useful term for dispensing with the then current, and proper, term, the Free Market. The term 'Capitalism' is so easily tossed around without any glaring conflict, and being so associated with every dark connotation of 'Money' (root of all evil, etc), it serves nicely to lump total opposites, and all points in between, into single stew of slurs.

What the usage of the term really winds up being in most peoples minds, is a reference to any system where financial transactions are allowed.

To put that in contrast, could you really, with a straight face, refer to the Communist Peoples Republic of China... as a Free Market? True it does allow financial transactions to occur on a large scale, but are those operating within that system free to make their own choices about what to manufacture? Sell? Hire? At what wages? Hours? Are they free from having to pay protection to political and crime (difference? There? Not much) figures? Massive regulation? And so on.

A Free Market? Hardly.

And Japan, though several orders of magnitude better than China, also cannot be called a Free Market, either legally, or culturally. Even aside from the huge govt intervention present in their economy, business is done largely under palpable restrictions of who you know, who you are, who feels they can or should 'properly' let it be known that they know you and do business with you.

China may be riding high now, but I wouldn't bank on their remaining so high for so long, for many of the same reasons that Japan's economy (once thought to be buying and economically enslaving America... anyone remember the 1980's? Remember the movie 'Red Sun'? Lol), and many more. They are going to crash, and crash hard... whether their military will be established enough to temporarily compensate for that is the real question.

But anyway, back to your problem, it was the philosophy of Natural Law, which slowly grew from the time of Homer, through Cicero that forms the early foundations for the Free Market - but even at their height, the Greco-Roman worldview could not acheive a Free Market... not without the addition of Christianity and it's revolutionary insight that the individual, every individual, is worthwhile and all souls being equal in value. That idea, watered and tended so well, through Aquinas and up through Locke, etc, developed into the realization that each person, by their nature as human beings, had Rights and that none of those rights could be secured unless Property Rights were held sacrosanct.

That system has only been developed in the West. Hong Kong was one of the last hold outs of the view, which has been fading rapidly since the departure of British Rule.

So while other cultures may abound with markets where widespread financial transactions are permitted, they are not examples of Free Markets. More free than they had before, sure (China, btw, in centuries past, came the closest of any non-western society to developing a Free Market... but without that key ingredient, the value of the Individual, it quickly faltered and petered out), but they cannot properly be called Free Markets.

They can be called Capitalist by the tenured till the cows come home... being moonbats, whadya expect?

7/05/2011 09:38:00 PM  
Blogger C A W said...

Your contention that the Pope is a psychologically healthy human being disturbs me, since I found your blog through our mutual interest in Lloyd deMause's work. How you can admire Reagan is also beyond me.

I quote from an article on the Pope:

"Pope John Paul II whipped himself with a belt, even on vacation, and slept on the floor as acts of penitence and to bring him closer to Christian perfection, according to a new book by the Polish prelate spearheading his sainthood case."

Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35079187/ns/world_news-europe/?GT1=43001

7/23/2011 04:42:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I'm going to guess that you don't know much about religion, and don't want to know, in which case this blog is not for you. Which is fine. I am not here to help those who don't want it.

7/23/2011 06:31:00 AM  

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