Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Oh, the Hubris!

Sean Dailey wrote yesterday about what he called — quite rightly, in all possibility — "the most clueless sentence of the last decade", which appeared in an article in the current issue of Newsweek, titled "Sexual Masters of the Universe":

The article, by a fellow named Andrew Romano, is about Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Masters & Johnson of Sexual Revolution fame, using a new biography of the pair, Masters of Sex by Thomas Maier, as a springboard.

Anyway, early in the article, Romano drops this bomb, "As the story of Masters and Johnson makes clear, rescuing sex from the ancient mists of myth, mystery and religiosity left America a happier and healthier place."

Oh, the hubris!

Contrast that last sentence with this excerpt from an article that appeared in an article in First Things last year:

When I’ve taken retreats to Catholic monasteries, I’ve been aware of how surprisingly, and even frighteningly, erotic they seem. The Trappists of Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, worship in an exquisitely beautiful place: high white walls, cold stone floors, a slit in the side of the main sanctuary like a split in the universe through which the reserved sacrament is always visible. The great stone altar is big enough to sacrifice Isaac on. Candles flicker on the bronze face of Our Lady during Compline, and dozens of men chant the Salve Regina before the abbot dismisses with a flick of his wrist and a sprinkling of holy water. Pure desire for God could be wrung from the place like a wet towel. And one can begin to see how sex with another person could be given up for desire for God or made better by mutual longing for God.

There are treasures here with which we can become reacquainted to combat pornography, if we dare. And we may not: Moderns flinch when St. Bernard of Clairveaux seeks to progress up Jesus’ body, kissing his way up to his lips; when Bernini sculpts St. Theresa in the posture of orgasm; when ancient Christians stripped and spit and had their faces hissed at in exorcism before submerging, nude, to be born again.

One commenter, the sui generis Blog Nerd, noted:

Eros, demasked, has once again fled. And now we are left with a religion slowly divested of its blood and guts.

It is no coincidence that the sensual opulence of our Churches started to disappear at the same time as the sexual revolution gathered its strength. The advent of casual contraceptive sex dissipated us. And we lost that longing ache for union in proper order.

When the uninitiated glimpse the erotics of religious ardor in traditional Catholicism they mistake it for "repressed sexuality" -- they couldn't be more wrong if they tried.

Quite so.

I remember hearing Scott Hahn give a talk a few years ago on the Church's teachings about sex. He pointed out that it's not enough to speak of sex as "good"; after all, that puts it at merely the same level as Campbell's soup. Neither is it enough to speak of sex as "great", for that puts it at merely the same level as Frosted Flakes.

Nay, so much more than "good" or "great", sex is holy, because by it and it alone, husband and wife express complete and total self-sacrificing, self-donating mutual love in a way that uniquely allows human beings to reflect the inner life of God.

If one believes sex to be anything less, he gets it hopelessly wrong.

1 comment:

Nod said...

That's why the Church smiles on good sex, because it's holy!