Saturday, April 13, 2019


Benedict XVI thinks he is our forever Pope although his name indicates he is the sixteenth man to be called Pope Benedict, and his version of the Roman Catholic Church is about two hundred years long, about as long as himself and his guiding generation.  Francis, by contrast, is first in many ways, renewed by innovation, but tries always to reach back to the man named Jesus who was believed to be the Christ.  

Since the morality of the Catholic church is fertility based, backed up with the miracle-base that was kept by early dissidents, one of the rules was to interdict generational change by preventing generations, children likely to seek renewal and change.  So they added the idea of celibacy.  If priests were true to their celibacy rule, there would not be proven descendants of them until the present understanding of the genome.  But now, even though the honorifics of family (father, son, child, mother, sister) are always used, these biological relationships can be proven.  Even if a woman's proximate sperm deliverer was a turkey baster, the origin of the man's input can be found out.

Religion and sex have always been entwined together just as the cerebral and the physical aspects of sex are bound together.  When I started seriously thinking about the ur-culture of religion and the ur-biology of sex, it was obvious that their relationship was barely separable.  That was in the days when the Revised Standard Edition of the Bible (1952) was published, said to be the first that could be read by an ordinary person.  The contraceptive pill, managed by an ordinary person, was made public in 1950.

"In the United States (US), the Comstock Law effectively prohibited public discussion and research about contraception. This was a controversial and outdated law, established in many US states since 1873, that defined obscenity and was enacted to control the sale and distribution of obscene materials. It essentially lumped talk about contraception with pornography. In Canada, under the 1892 Criminal Code, any discussion of birth control was illegal and in fact was considered obscene, “tending to corrupt morals.”

"The Catholic position on contraception was formally explained and expressed by Pope Paul VI's Humanae vitae in 1968."  It forbids all intervention except abstinence and the calendar."  Combined with the traditional access to alternatives, esp. for people with privileged positions, many knew of another evasion of fertility:  boys.

All of this law-making on either religious or fertility grounds mixed into obscenity and pornography.  Such phenomena were supported by the idea that the mind (the brain mind) was an exalted mysterious distinction that proved humans were better than animals because the mind constrained violence and undisciplined access to sex.  The division between what is mind and what is flesh has confused and distorted much of what developed later.

One strong and never quite submerged religious idea is that if a good God made everything, and if creations are often pretty much like their creators, then whatever is "natural," pre-existing before human interventions, must be holy, privileged and natural.  This is a dangerous idea in many ways, but it has been used to defend sex and blend it with the emotional force of love.  A story like "Brother Sun, Sister Moon" manages to pry heterosexual attachment away from prohibitions and take it into the realm of "feeling," though no one really understood "the wisdom of the body" until we recently became able to recognize that form of thought physically with exquisitely focused instruments.  This brought body and mind together.  But the impact on fertility-based morality has not been worked out yet.  

Category-preserving morality is with us now as we almost freak out from the disappearance of insects and frogs, and the attachment-driven hopeless attempt to preserve charismatic species, large or small, mammal or reptile, even landscape or geo-anomaly.  This easily translates from the separation solutions of previous thought, the impossible idea that we are apart from the world and that our rational, scientific, ascetic drawing of lines can be used to save the planet.  Enjoyment, beauty, are forbidden as "feelings."  Even dangerously close to obscenities, encouragement to indulge.  

But all that is swept away by the mighty power of money.  A predatory monetary morality that measures everything by the dollar and by expansion can and may wipe this planet's surface free of life, thus violating both the religion-based and sex-based moralities.  The bottom line of morality is survival.  It time to wonder if it's possible to meld the two moralities of sex and religion into a counter force against owning everything.  Nothing and nobody is forever but it seems a little soon to create a wasteland.  (Benedict XVI is supposed to be retired and quiet, but he seems to feel that was too soon.)

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