Open Friday With Dick and Max

Long-time readers know I dislike censoring practices in media, including banning commenters on blogs or deleting posts. I will mention that one of Max’s he said/he said screeds went into the trash a little while ago. He knows why: don’t bring Bible quotes off-topic into a subject other people may find otherwise edifying. He has his own blog for that.

Dick brought a more personal message that I saved here before deleting from the thread, with some comments:

Todd: You must not believe that God wrote and inspired every jot and tittle of the word of God. you say it in your own words by saying it in you own meaning, changing the truth for a lie as you show you ignorance.

God certainly didn’t write it in English, even the new King James English. Max also falls into the trap of fundamentalism, which I see as a symptom not of Christian loyalty but more a product of the Enlightenment.

My sister married a Catholic who was an only child, a mommies boy. He never saw his Father and Mother hug or kiss or hug. My sister saw affection in our family; we were always hugging each other as a family. She needed that. Her husband didn’t. after two children he cut her off. NOTHING. My sister cried to my mother. Her mother told her to ask the priest on what to do? She did and guess what He told her to do. Go have yourself a fling on Saturday night.

So the lesson here is that some Catholics are gravely imperfect. They don’t represent Christianity, nor their tradition very well. Don’t marry them. Don’t listen to their advice.

Dick, however, comes to this blog and comments frequently in spells. He knows I am a Catholic. I have to ask the questions openly: why do you bother? What brought you here? Don’t you find lower-hanging fruit in the real world more enticing for your brand of persuasion?

If my brother in law would have been taught about all enjoyment is all right in the marriage Bed, the preist would not have told her it was all right to fornicate .

Thing is, none of us were there to listen to this counsel. Dick admits he heard it second- or third-hand. When we hear what amounts to gossip, we can concede that “have a fling” was what was heard. It might not have been what was said.

There is no restriction in the marriage bed for Born again couples, who have the nature of God and all things would be done out of AGAPE LOVE. I never said cutting or anything like that was all right.

Unfortunately, a lot of Christian men have taken this passage and used it to abrogate other passages that advise tenderness, respect, and putting oneself second to the beloved. Men who labelled themselves Christian have raped their wives, and done worse, and justified themselves. These men are no better than idolaters and self-worshippers, having left Christ and his grace far, far behind.

The Bible I have no problem with. It is the intemperate and ignorant interpretations of it that bother me.

Over to the commentariat; I’m out of this one.

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Amoris Laetitia 157: Balance

amoris laetitia memeTo conclude this subsection, a warning to balance concerns previously discussed–dignity, enslavement, and such–with the expression of human vulnerability, as well as an expression of that virtue, gratitude. Let’s read:

157. All the same, the rejection of distortions of sexuality and eroticism should never lead us to a disparagement or neglect of sexuality and eros in themselves. The ideal of marriage cannot be seen purely as generous donation and self-sacrifice, where each spouse renounces all personal needs and seeks only the other’s good without concern for personal satisfaction. We need to remember that authentic love also needs to be able to receive the other, to accept one’s own vulnerability and needs, and to welcome with sincere and joyful gratitude the physical expressions of love found in a caress, an embrace, a kiss and sexual union.

Our previous pope is cited well, rejecting a duality that would segregate sexual expression to a different place, at the cost of our dignity

Benedict XVI stated this very clearly: “Should man aspire to be pure spirit and to reject the flesh as pertaining to his animal nature alone, then spirit and body would both lose their dignity”.(Deus Caritas Est  5) For this reason, “man cannot live by oblative, descending love alone. He cannot always give, he must also receive. Anyone who wishes to give love must also receive love as a gift”.(Deus Caritas Est  7)

And a final “on the other hand” from Pope Francis:

Still, we must never forget that our human equilibrium is fragile; there is a part of us that resists real human growth, and any moment it can unleash the most primitive and selfish tendencies.

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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To Trek In Wonder

enterprise-dIt’s a fiftieth anniversary of going to places where no one has gone before.

The Star Trek franchise, or at least the best parts of it, are praised for taking science fiction and using it as a means to tell good stories. All of the series, and maybe even a movie or two, touch on issues that humans (and other thinking beings) wrestle with. Beings and issues are transported into a recognizable future. When the writing and acting is good, viewers can place themselves in the story, imagine the setting and the conflict, and wonder, “What would I do, if I were in their boots?”

I hear the newest Star Trek tv show will take place about ten years before James Kirk got his command of the Enterprise–and eight years or so after Captain Pike encountered the Talosians. Mistake, I think.

Star Trek gets praised for the principle of IDIC, infinite diversity in infinite combinations. Mixed race crews, favorable portrayal of most aliens are hallmarks. Praise is certainly deserved there, though a lot of media looks like Star Trek these days. My sense is that the people who run Star Trek today don’t have a big grasp on the infinite.

Tackling important issues is also done a lot of tv. A lot of people forget that a lot of other television in the late 60s and 70s was also into “relevance.” The Enterprise flew in the same fleet as detective, hospital, and law shows–even a number of sit-coms.

Various writers have complained about Gene Roddenberry’s various directives. Harlan Ellison was bothered that he couldn’t write drug dealers into the Enterprise. But he still penned a fabulous episode. Non-interference, a preference for settling disputes without violence, etc.: these are not obstacles, but merely a spur for a writer’s creativity.

I found myself reflecting on the various output of Star Trek over fifty years. The original show may have been eclipsed in some ways by better acting (Next Generation), amazing special effects (the recent movies), and a consistently high standard of writing (DS9). But it still lands very high in our tribal Trek memory because of one thing: wonder.

It was a wonder to jump ahead three centuries in 1966 and explore a galaxy opened up for twentieth-century humanoids. It was against a wonder to jump ahead eighty-some years for a new Enterprise in 1987. There is a reason these two shows stand out for most fans, and why the other tv spinoffs did not do as well. Least well-received was the most recent series named for the ship. While the story of the founding of the UFP and the voyages of the first Enterprise are interesting enough, they don’t exactly inspire wonder in the way that going to the future does.

I hope I’m wrong (because I’d like to see a really excellent Star Trek on tv) but I suspect that the new series will come off as a mediocre sibling to the others. Why? Because it–and the creators–can’t get past the 24th century.

I suspect that people will still be making Star Trek media fifty years from now. The next ground-breaking show–if there will be one–will set itself beyond the “known” eras of the 2200s-2300s. Obviously, the current braintrust of Star Trek thinks otherwise. And maybe there are enough fans who do too.

Call me a complainer (“Are we there yet?!”), but I just want to go where no one has gone before.

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Amoris Laetitia 156: On Sexual Submission

amoris laetitia memeWe continue on the note of the sexual relationship between a couple:

156. Every form of sexual submission must be clearly rejected. This includes all improper interpretations of the passage in the Letter to the Ephesians where Paul tells women to “be subject to your husbands” (Eph 5:22). This passage mirrors the cultural categories of the time, but our concern is not with its cultural matrix but with the revealed message that it conveys. As Saint John Paul II wisely observed: “Love excludes every kind of subjection whereby the wife might become a servant or a slave of the husband… The community or unity which they should establish through marriage is constituted by a reciprocal donation of self, which is also a mutual subjection”.(Catechesis (11 August 1982), 4)

St John Paul rejected the notion of one-way subjection. Is he just a modernist? Many of those who cite verse 22 miss verse 21:

Hence Paul goes on to say that “husbands should love their wives as their own bodies” (Eph 5:28). The biblical text is actually concerned with encouraging everyone to overcome a complacent individualism and to be constantly mindful of others: “Be subject to one another” (Eph 5:21). In marriage, this reciprocal “submission” takes on a special meaning, and is seen as a freely chosen mutual belonging marked by fidelity, respect and care. Sexuality is inseparably at the service of this conjugal friendship, for it is meant to aid the fulfilment of the other.

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 155: Sex and Dignity

amoris laetitia memeMore citations on the Theology of the Body from early in John Paul II’s pontificate. What do you make of his definition of “insatiability,” and a subsequent loss of dignity? Let’s read, then if you wish, comment:

155. Saint John Paul II very subtly warned that a couple can be “threatened by insatiability” (Catechesis (18 June 1980), 5). In other words, while called to an increasingly profound union, they can risk effacing their differences and the rightful distance between the two. For each possesses his or her own proper and inalienable dignity. When reciprocal belonging turns into domination, “the structure of communion in interpersonal relations is essentially changed”. (Ibid., 6) It is part of the mentality of domination that those who dominate end up negating their own dignity. (Cf. Catechesis (30 July 1980), 1) Ultimately, they no longer “identify themselves subjectively with their own body”, (Catechesis (8 April 1981), 3) because they take away its deepest meaning. They end up using sex as form of escapism and renounce the beauty of conjugal union.

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 154: Imposing One’s Will Through Sex

amoris laetitia memeRape is out, according to Humanae Vitae, among other sources:

154. We also know that, within marriage itself, sex can become a source of suffering and manipulation. Hence it must be clearly reaffirmed that “a conjugal act imposed on one’s spouse without regard to his or her condition, or personal and reasonable wishes in the matter, is no true act of love, and therefore offends the moral order in its particular application to the intimate relationship of husband and wife”.(Humanae Vitae 13)

A humanist perspective:

The acts proper to the sexual union of husband and wife correspond to the nature of sexuality as
willed by God when they take place in “a manner which is truly human”.(Gaudium et Spes 49)

And biblical:

Saint Paul insists: “Let no one transgress and wrong his brother or sister in this matter” (1 Th 4:6). Even though Paul was writing in the context of a patriarchal culture in which women were considered completely subordinate to men, he nonetheless taught that sex must involve communication between the spouses: he brings up the possibility of postponing sexual relations for a period, but “by agreement” (1 Cor 7:5).

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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Amoris Laetitia 153: Violence and Manipulation

amoris laetitia memeThis titled topic above will concern us today and for the four sections (to 157) that follow:

153. On the basis of this positive vision of sexuality, we can approach the entire subject with a healthy realism. It is, after all, a fact that sex often becomes depersonalized and unhealthy; as a result, “it becomes the occasion and instrument for self-assertion and the selfish satisfaction of personal desires and instincts”.(Evangelium Vitae  23)

What of the situation in which partners seem satisfied with a mutual selfishness? That seems commonly portrayed in various media. In the thinking of St John Paul and Pope Francis: missed opportunity for deeper communication. Sinful in the eyes of some. I suspect the current pope would see it as a missed opportunity for grace.

Pope Francis identifies some modern attitudes toward sex as being in line with consumerism, waste, and other indulgences of the day:

In our own day, sexuality risks being poisoned by the mentality of “use and discard”. The body of the other is often viewed as an object to be used as long as it offers satisfaction, and rejected once it is no longer appealing.

Including abuse:

Can we really ignore or overlook the continuing forms of domination, arrogance, abuse, sexual perversion and violence that are the product of a warped understanding of sexuality? Or the fact that the dignity of others and our human vocation to love thus end up being less important than an obscure need to “find oneself”?

Remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

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