Sunday Sermon (August 24, 2008)

¡Hola! Everybody…
I won’t be surprised if someone reports me today… I’m simply dumbfounded. Here we are in the 21st century and there are still people out here (men and women) who fear nudity and sex? Almost 100 years ago, people were all upset because women chose (at a great price, I might add) to show more than ankles in public. “It’s the end times!” the religious fanatics yelped. Yeah right! SMDH…

Today’s blog photo depicts former Bush staffer, John Ashcroft, speaking in front of the statue, Spirit of Justice. In case you’re not aware, Ashcroft’s major claim to fame before Bush was that he lost an election… to a dead man! (I’m not kidding.) Ashcroft eventually spent quite a sum of money to cover the statue’s breast. My question to is what was more obscene the statue or expenditure of money at a time when a child was probably dying of hunger in these United States?

I have written versions of the following post, but apparently, people need to see it again.

* * *

-=[ The Consequences of Sexual Repression ]=-
“Repression is not morality.”
— Anonymous

From birth we are taught to be ashamed of and fearful of sex – all of us to some degree are repressed ma’fuccas! Even those of us who claim to have been sexually “free” in the past, use language to describe that experience that leaves me wondering. In many cases, it’s a past in which remorse and “youthful indiscretion” plays a prominent role. This isn’t the language of sexual freedom, it’s repression personified. People make the error that sexual repression equates to less sexual activity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Repression is a way to push things out of our conscious awareness where they then gain total control over our actions.

I have traveled to many places and I have never come up against the sheer depth of sexual hang-ups that I confront in this society. We fear, loathe, and at the same time crave sex.

I have previously written about the two-thousand year Christian campaign against sex. Add to that the three centuries of Puritanism and – welcome to America. Eroticism is considered an outlaw energy in this culture. I don’t know exactly why – maybe it’s a reminder of the Goddess, or because of the sheer power of this energy, or maybe it’s because it made sense thousands of years ago. Whatever the reason, Eros is taboo and our society spends huge sums of its precious resources every minute of every year to undermine, co-opt, channel, manipulate, ridicule, and distort it.

And we all pay a price for this.

The consequence when a religion fails to recognize our basic human need for pleasure and uses its power to influence what is considered normal in order to repress our God-given right for nurturing and sensual and erotic pleasure is violence. When we reduce sex to the mechanical interlocking of sexual organs and ignore the vital sustenance we can draw from the sexual rainbow of playful, loving, and intimate union, we distort our human nature.

Numerous studies of child abuse, for example, indicate that parents who abuse their children were often deprived of physical affection during childhood, and as adults experience extremely unsatisfying sexual relationships. Studies of child-rearing practices across cultures, and evidence of neurological damage in anti social humans demonstrate that deprivation of bodily pleasure during infancy and adolescence and the repression of pleasure promote adult violence. A case in point is the U.S.: compared to other industrialized democracies, we have some of the most repressive legal sanctions against sexuality and yet we have the highest sexual crime rates. That’s a fact, not a belief.

Patriarchal religions (i.e., Christianity, Judaism, and Muslim) that emphasize a high God who actively punish deviations in human behavior commonly endorse anti-women, anti-sex and anti-pleasure value systems. As part of their anti-sexual values, these religions promote negative attitudes about the physical nurturance of infants and children. They also severely punish adolescents and adults who engage in erotic pleasures considered outside the norm.

Deprivation of body pleasure throughout life – but especially during the formative periods of infancy, childhood, and adolescence – is very closely related to the amount of warfare and violence in a society. conversely, societies that promote nurturing in child-rearing, that are comfortable with the body and with sexuality and pleasure, produce adults who have little sexual dysfunction, who promote gender and social equality, and a society that does not glorify slavery or war.

There is a strong argument for the notioin that failure to celebrate the pleasures of the Divine presence in our erotic lives creates the compulsion to conquer and achieve pleasure elsewhere. One can see a clear causal link between patriarchal (Father-like) religions that deny the nurturance we draw from erotic pleasure and the anti-sex, anti-pleasure belief systems of religious fundamentalism and fascism.

Religious fundamentalism of any type relies on literal interpretations of texts by males who determine what rules guide human behavior and spell out punishments for those who deviate from those rules. Fundamentalism thrives when individuals become terrified of thinking outside cultural norms. For me, fundamentalism is patriarchy gone mad, fascism is the ultimate expression of father-dominance. Within this framework, moralizing and condemnation become more important than celebration and play. Self-centeredness and a preoccupation with power and laws become a substitute for adventure, pleasure, wonder, and a living spiritual ritual.

The repression of the erotic and pleasure makes for strange bedfellows. One only has to look at the Christian rationalization of slavery during this country’s shameful period. Christians used the bible to justify slavery, foe example. Want more proof? You can look at the early Christian support for Hitler who agreed on his attacks on contraception, pornography, and sexual permissiveness. Even more recently, Christians have supported neo-fascist attacks on gay bars, sex shops, abortion clinics and houses of prostitutions the world over!

But there is a change coming on and it terrifies many people around the world. There are fundamentalist forces clamoring for a return to the “good old times.” You know the good old times: the times when women were little better than property, where people of color “knew their place,” and gays were kept in the closet.

There is a culture war in full effect in these United States and there are those who want to drag us back to the Dark Ages where dialogues about sexual identity and alternatives to sexual monogamy didn’t exist. Fortunately, we can’t go back — as much as these ignoramuses would like. We are in what the famous anthropologist Margaret Meade called a prefigurative stage. All the myths and symbols that gave meaning and direction to our culture have lost much of their significance (and with good reason), and we are only beginning to create a new cosmology, a culture that respects sex, pleasure, and sensuality, new myths and icons that provide relevant models for a new consciousness of ourselves and of the earth.

The other option, to cling to an outmoded book full of outdated myths, is to choose to destroy ourselves.

Love,

Eddie

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