Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Critique of the Theology of the Body

I am not a fan of the so-called "theology of the body." I think it probably surprises the (neo)conservatives that most trads actually are not. It's not that we disagree with its ultimate conclusions regarding the concrete application of morality, but rather that the premises conceded in trying to arrive at those pre-determined conclusions in the personalist manner seem novel, and like they could (by becoming an orthodoxy themselves) ultimately actually undermine orthodoxy, reducing everything to sentimentality and the level of the experiential (but in a way whose claims don't necessarily hold up to experience!)

Though, I am "pastorally" sympathetic to the language of personalism; I think the language of experience and subjectivity and existential angst and all that is in many ways where we have to start with modern man. But, in itself it does not provide the objective framework into which experience is supposed to be situated and conformed by Reason (and faith). For that sort of objective rational theology, I think Scholasticism is much better; poetry is great, but it should not replace science. I think there is a lot to be said for deconstructing for people the premises underlying or implied by their own desires and values (in other words interrogating sexual desire, jealousy, romantic love, etc and making people consider "why?") but this can only be done on an individual basis; I do think everyone is seeking the Good in some confused manner and thus experience can be a starting point, but appealing to "universal" experiences to make "one" definitive argument in this manner seems misleading and dangerous.

Anyway, I've had various discussions in the past where I've critiqued theology of the body because of this. Usually those discussions surround the topic of the construct of sexual orientation. I think this is because TOTB often seems to winds up as something like "apotheosizing the construct of heterosexuality" (by which I mean the orientation, not the acts), and a very "vanilla" heterosexuality at that, given how it seems to attribute some sort of coherent "revelatory" value to the mere sensitive appetite and passions portrayed as "natural" instincts (when, in reality, the sensitive appetite is irrational in itself; at most it indicates "goodness" in only the most general sense). However, basing itself on an appeal to basically subjective emotional experience ultimately leads to a complete steamrolling of all non-conforming experiences and narratives, inasmuch as they threaten the notion of "universal" experiences on which its claims are based.

Whereas an "objective" system (like scholasticism) limits itself to defining and condemning specific acts (and the desires specifically therefore), as a system based on subjective experience, the theology of the body seems much more inclined to turn sexuality into a totalizing narrative and thus to expect everything touched by it (which is, as the catechism says, our entire affective life) to conform to a rigidly consistent "correct" paradigm (even though that's not how emotions work.) It's ironic given that one point of the personalist approach is supposed to be to escape the "rigid legalism" of scholastic ways of speaking; and yet it actually winds up much more totalizing, demanding a much more slavish conformity; it doesn't just tell you what to do and not to do, but why (on the emotional level, the level of personal affective motive) you should or shouldn't be doing it.

I've hinted at some of my misgivings about the language of the theology of the body and the premises and priorities it seems to concede. Specifically, the almost mystical spiritual value it gives to sex, this attitude presented of "learning about God through sex" has always struck me as highly untraditional and problematic. I also think the propensity I describe above to try to explain-away divergences from the "universal" experiences on which it claims to be based (usually by pathologizing) winds up creating whole new categories of sins and expectations that are never before found in tradition. 

Especially: in trying to appeal to experience to prove a morality, it winds up thus also telling people what even their experience of the world "should be"! It's like starting an argument by saying, "Everyone loves chocolate," having someone in the audience say, "I don't," and then defensively saying, "Well, you should! If you don't, you must be disordered or a monster" because you have confused your argument with the conclusions (the former being accidental, the latter being essential) it exists to prove in the first place, and thus reversed the causality between them, turning the experiential into the very foundation of the precept just because it's the foundation of your argument

Specifically, the format I've seen this argument take when discussing with people online essentially boils down to something that ultimately implies "Homosexual acts are wrong because they express having the wrong sort of experience!" rather than the truth, which is that the experiences would be problematic inasmuch, and only inasmuch, as they incline to acts immoral for objective reasons, but then non-problematic inasmuch as they don't. But, that's the sort of absurdity you wind up with when, in an attempt to "internalize" morality, you wind up ultimately placing the locus of virtue primarily in the "correct" temperament and disposition rather than the ordering of acts, with the passions judged only relative to those acts. 

The irony then becomes that, by conceding the liberal premise of this sort of individualistic romanticism as the essence of sexuality, by appealing to the modern idea that the moral nature of sexuality is one of expressing affection...you wind up having to "police" not just sex acts, but affection itself, in order to maintain the condemnation of the idea that anything personally meaningful or intimate goes. If you concede affection as the justification, but then don't want to admit all acts based on just affection, you can only sustain this by creating notions of right and wrong affection.

Anyway, recently on a thread on Vox Nova, the commenter Tumarion (who has commented around here before too) laid out a critique of TOTB that summarizes nicely many of the misgivings I have with it but have struggled to put into words. Check it out:

I haven’t read the primary sources—from the extracts I have read, they’re pretty much unreadable—but I have read commentary on the Theology of the Body (TOB) and have known people that were into it, and been involved in web discussions regarding it. 

Very simplistically, the idea is that our sexuality is a bodily manifestation of ourselves and that our behavior actualizes or reveals our souls, in a sense. To put it another way, sexuality is part of the “language” of the body. The language is not arbitrary, though—God has structured it in such a way that, if you will, it has a certain “grammar” and “vocabulary”. That is, sexuality is supposed to point towards certain basic concepts, if it’s “spoken” correctly. Sexuality is supposed to produce children (obviously). It is also an expression of one’s vulnerability and openness to another. 

In this regard, the “grammar” of sexuality is that it is supposed to be total self-giving to another, body, mind, and spirit, in a permanent way. It is a self-giving that must be open to life—children—since to hold back from this possibility would not be a total self-giving. This is where “sin” comes in. The sin in adultery, polygamy, casual sex, or contraception is that the grammar of the language of the body is violated. Sex with no intention of full self-giving is in effect lying with one’s own body. Sex is supposed to mean “I give myself fully to you, and only you, forever, and will to receive any children that may result, since that is a part of full self-giving.” Any sex that does not do this is a lie of the body, and thus morally unacceptable. E.g. adulterous sex is not full self-giving since another is involved. Homosexual sex is not full self-giving since there is no possibility of children. And so on. 

I hope this is a fair reading of TOB.

Now there is something to be said for this, I think. However, there are logical and practical problems. First there is the question of just where the “language of the body” comes from. It’s not necessarily self-evident that sexuality has the meaning that Pope John Paul II says it does. You could say—as he more or less does—that it has the meaning it has because God made it that way; but that comes off as the old natural law argument, which the Pope was clearly trying to avoid in his attempts to make a personalistic argument. After all, if you say it’s so because God said so, that’s not going to work for someone who disagrees in his beliefs about God. This is obviously why the Pope was more or less trying to ground sexual morality in something he seemed to see as pretty much self-evident if you looked at what sex was supposed to be. As I said, though, it doesn’t seem self-evident at all, especially in light of traditional forms of non-companionate marriage and the arguments about contraception.

Second, as it is actually taught, TOB often comes off as a kind of Hot Catholic Sex. It is promoted by saying that not only is the correct language of the body is the only moral way to have sex, but the only enjoyable way. There are tons of glowing prose about how periodic abstinence (NFP) makes a marriage better and opens up better lines of communication, how chastity for youth is not a burden but preparing for better sex with their ultimate spouse, and how the religious aspect of sex—the sharing of body, mind, and spirit—is the highest, and only true form. In short, TOB is often sold almost as a Christian tantra. Except when, as David points out, they’re railing against contraception. 

There is, further, IMO, a rather cultish, market-driven aspect about TOB advocates, which I’m not the first to have noted.

I think there are lots of problems here. One, it is a bit dishonest in that it de-emphasizes asceticism. In other words, it implies that if you follow TOB you’ll never be frustrated and will be perfectly sexually fulfilled if you just do it the TOB way. The implication is that NFP, for example, is not only not a burden, at times, but will make the sex when you have it so totally mind-blowing that only a philistine would fail to understand it. Two, the whole metaphysic involved—that somehow sex is a spiritual method or revelation integral to Christianity in and of itself—seems theologically suspect. 

Finally, I think it can have bad effects on real-world couples. I knew a couple once, well enough to have frank conversations, who were into TOB. There was this idea that sex, every single act, had to be perfectly self-giving, totally spiritual, and so on. In other words, a standard was put in place to which the actual sex could never measure up. The fact that the couple had very different sex drives and expectations didn’t help. Eventually, they divorced, and one ultimately left the Church altogether. I’m not saying TOB caused that; but it sure didn’t help, and I think it was a big factor. I’ve heard anecdotal tales of other couples who have experienced similar problems with TOB.

In short, while I think TOB was a noble attempt, I think it really is very much disconnected from sex as a lived experience, and I think it doesn’t really solve some of the philosophical problems involved with sexual morality. I certainly don’t recommend it.

Neither do I.

16 comments:

naturgesetz said...

From what I've read about TOB, it seems to me that the "Hot Catholic Sex" business is a caricature.* IOW, what Tumarion says up to "I hope this is a fair reading of TOB," seemed like a pretty good description of some of the central points. After that, however, he goes off into criticisms which don't apply to TOB as I've seen it described. So it strikes me a "straw man" argumentation. But even if there really are some people who actually have written the sorts of things Tumarion attributes to them, I don't see those notions as inherent parts of TOB as propounded by Bl. John Paul II. Such exaggerations may be grounds for criticizing the individual(s) who wrote them, but not for criticizing TOB itself.

*What I know of TOB comes initially from a presentation by Christopher West, from reading portions of some of his books, from reading some passages of an English translation of JPII's actual addresses, and from reading a book titled "Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body in Simple Language," an abbreviated paraphrase by Sam Torode published by Philokalia Books.

Fr John Abberton said...

I'm afraid, in spite of your presentation, that I find your own - and the quotation's - understanding of TOTB simplistic and lacking in spirituality. Of course you could reply that this is because I am celibate, but that would be a dishonest response. I think your own view of how it works in reality is "overblown". The liberation comes from the truth (TOTB is really just another way of expounding the truth). Where people become extreme or obsessed or misapply the teaching we have not a condemnation or negation of the teaching but a case of misunderstanding, immaturity or confusion.

A Sinner said...

"I find your own - and the quotation's - understanding of TOTB simplistic and lacking in spirituality"

To me, this is like talking about the "true meaning" of the Vatican II documents, as if there is some wonderful treasure there that everyone has simply misunderstood or misapplied that we must find.

In reality, a text or idea can be judged to a great extent by how it has been received.

So, for example, one can go on and on about "the actual documents" of Vatican II and the "real intent" all one wants, while warning everyone that the real problem was "just the false so-called 'Spirit of' Vatican II."

But this really doesn't hold up. Are we to believe that 4000 bishops somehow came together and (besides the difficulty in attributing a single "intent" to a collective group) then went back to their dioceses and somehow misapplied the very documents that THEY THEMSELVES wrote?

No, trying to separate that "attitudinal shift" from the documents themselves (not heresy, but written in a new-fangled "style" of speaking)...is simply futile.

Saying Vatican II was a valid council and didn't teach any heresy is one thing. Trying to salvage it as an "event," however, by artificially separating the "real Vatican II" from the cultural shift it historically was clearly part of (both as effect and further cause) is another issue, and simply intellectually dishonest.

A Sinner said...

I think likewise with ToTB. You can go on and on about the "true meaning" of theology of the body all you want. But I've been around the world of Catholic commentary and commenting online enough to know how it has been received and internalized by even the "religiously literate" conservative Catholics, and the problems Tumarion and I lay out are very real.

If there is a misunderstanding, it isn't primarily mine, but that of many a ToTB SUPPORTER whom I've had these discussions/debates with, which have almost all betrayed a homophobia and heterosexism following from the logic of ToTB.

This simply does not flow from the logic of a more patristic or scholastic treatment of sexual morality. The patristic especially was very suspicious even of MARITAL intercourse, and of sexuality generally, and found it unlikely that it could be carried out without at least some venial lust. This same traditional attitude would likely have seen even "heterosexuality" (as a construction of involuntary passions)...to be a sign of the loss of control of Reason over the flesh occasioned by the Fall, NOT some sort of "sign of the gratuitous spontaneity of the encounter with the embodied Other" or anything like that!

ToTB, on the other hand, sentimentally embraces sexual passion and affectivity. In itself, maybe this is healthy, maybe it isn't, but the concrete implication has been something like the affirmation, or at least "salvaging," of heterosexual concupiscence, but ONLY heterosexual concupiscence (with the implicit homophobia thus contained.)

This culminates, for example, in much of the ridiculously bigotted verbiage of the 2005 Seminary Instruction essentially hinting that homosexuality was to blame for the child-abuse crisis, and claiming that homosexuals cannot affectively relate to men and women properly, even as celibates(!), or as fathers (although many gay men have had biological children with women), in a way apparently so significant as to prohibit ordination. It is hard not to see a ToTB influenced view of sexual orientation here.

You can claim they don't represent "real ToTB" and I really can't argue with that. The notion of a "real ToTB" apart from how it has been widely received is largely meaningless to me.

But. If it is a meaningful distinction to you, then read this post as if it were titled, "A Critique of Theology of the Body...as it Seems to be Understood and Ideologically Deployed By Most Conservative Catholics Out There on the Internet as Part of Their Identity-Politics", because THAT's the TOTB I'm really addressing (and the only one that is having a practical effect on the mindsets of people in real life.)

Take what I've said, then, as a critique of the "spirit of TOTB" as it's played out in the real discourse as opposed to the "real TOTB." To me, trying to separate the "pure Idea" from the path it's taken in the actual cultural discourse in the Church...is largely a fool's errand.

Edmund said...

Theology of the medulla oblongata, theology of the colon!

(Sorry to be so bitter, but at a time when most Catholics had forgotten how many Sacraments there were and could no longer recite the Apostles' Creed, that the Successor of St Peter just wanted to sit around talking about his whacky theology of the naughty bits ought to tell you all you need to know.)

Brandon said...

I'm inclined to agree with Fr. John Abberton here, to the extent that I actually think this is clearly a case where there is mostly just a disparity between the source and various positions claiming to spring from it (a sort of Spirit of John Paul II thing). The original catechetical addresses are quite good, and simply explorations of how 'one flesh', fidelity of the heart, and sacramental bond are capable of playing out in experience. I think two things often tend to get lost, the fact that the original approach was phenomenological and scriptural. (1) The 'capable' is important; JPII was a phenomenologist, not an empiricist, and so was interested in what makes certain kinds of experience possible more than in the infinite varieties of particular experiences. Thus at its origin it's actually a rather abstract approach -- it deals with abstractions that come into particular experience (that's what phenomenologists do), but that can come into actual experience in many different ways. (2) The whole thing was originally an extended series of meditations on man and woman in Genesis, Christ's comments about adultery in the heart, and Pauline discussions of marriage, all of which are, of course, entirely reasonable things to discuss. I think the test for most TOB is whether these elements are still clearly discernible. I think it would be entirely right to say that whether these elements are discernible varies considerably; but I think there's a big danger of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Turmarion said...

This simply does not flow from the logic of a more patristic or scholastic treatment of sexual morality. The patristic especially was very suspicious even of MARITAL intercourse, and of sexuality generally, and found it unlikely that it could be carried out without at least some venial lust. This same traditional attitude would likely have seen even "heterosexuality" (as a construction of involuntary passions)...to be a sign of the loss of control of Reason over the flesh occasioned by the Fall, NOT some sort of "sign of the gratuitous spontaneity of the encounter with the embodied Other" or anything like that!

Maybe this is the heart of where A. Sinner and I disagree regarding contraception. Though he may not believe it on the basis of lengthy discussions we've had on the matter, I do view non-contraceptive sex as the ideal. Where I differ is that I tend to go along with the majority of the bishops of Paul VI's commission in conceding it as acceptable for married couples, for good reason, given the actual imperfection of human circumstances in the actual world.

Paul (the Apostle, not the Pope), seems to view marriage as a concession to the weakness of human nature (better to marry than to burn). The Fathers were a little more positive about marriage, but seemed to view even procreative sex as a concession to the need to reproduce the species.

In the 1800's, the letter to the French bishops telling them not to "trouble the consciences" of married couples who had intercoure in the barren parts of the woman's cycle (what we'd now call NFP) was in a sense a further concession, and, if you will, a develpment of doctrine. Sex was still a bit questionable, but now there was a relaxation from the suspicion of sex done without the likelihood of conception. Certainly, one can't imagine such a letter being sent in the time of St. Jerome!

In the 20th Century, even before Humanae Vitae, there was a further concession, in a sense, in that NFP moved from being a rather hush-hush concession (as with the letter to the French bishops) to something actively promoted. Then, finally, even some of the leading lights of the Church--Maritain, e.g.--believed that the Pill, was morally acceptable in that it mimicked the natural barren periods, and could thus be licit. The Church decided otherwise on this one.

However, I think that once you accept that logic that the Fathers might have been wrong in asserting that sex without intent to procreate, even if it's NFP, is morally illicit, it's hard to draw the line at contraception.

Now one might (as some Traditionalists do) argue that the Fathers were right, that all intercourse is at least venially sinful, and that even NFP is not OK, since sex should be intended only for procreation. I couild respect that view (though I disagreee with it), but it's more logical and consistent, in my view, than the NFP perspective; and certainly better than TOB.

Now A. Sinner doesn't agree with me regarding contraception, and I think we've beaten that to death before; but I think that maybe this gives a slightly greater perspective on the overall context. Maybe.

A Sinner said...

"Maybe this is the heart of where A. Sinner and I disagree regarding contraception."

No. Where we disagree is that I do not trust my own intellect (and significant cultural pressures) but rather submit to the doctrinal authority of the Church.

All the "apologetics" arguments are just icing that FOLLOWS from this basic posture towards what Faith IS and what membership in the Church means.

As such, such disagreements cannot be brushed off as friendly disagreements about rational "proofs," but in the end are fundamental enmities between those who are members of Christ's flock and those who are damned forever on account of their pride.

As you know, I for one look forward to roasting marshmellows over the screaming live-corpses of my friends and loved ones who have abandoned God and so gotten their deserts at last. (Though, of course, while they live I hope desperately that they come around and admit the Truth, on their knees wailing and grovelling before God in penitent submission).

Meaning in the universe comes at a TERRIBLE price: the breaking of the human Will.

God is going to crush us one way or another. If I were you, I'd just bend my neck and accept the yolk. It's sweet. Or, at least, you'd better smile and say that it is with all the gusto you can muster.

A Sinner said...

"for good reason, given the actual imperfection of human circumstances in the actual world."

Many things may not be held culpable, in the internal forum, for a variety of reasons, if you're trapped between a rock and a hard place, or are truly under some sort of moral duress.

However, for the most part, regular recreational sex among the married is NOT like that.

Even if it could be argued that it were, we don't change the "objective" ideal to fit the unideal world. Then it's a matter of figuring out how to get people holy enough that they can meet the ideal.

Are they necessarily culpable mortal sinners in the meantime? That's between them and God. But if they aren't, that's not a "good" thing because it indicates the lack of agency which (like in the "rape" discussions) is actually a tragic loss of moral freedom.

I'm very sympathetic with human weakness. However, that doesn't make weakness a good thing. People should work then to become strong. If people are not at that point, the standard is nevertheless one of striving towards a point where they CAN either have disciplined the flesh enough to not care about at least periodic abstinence and the effort involved there, or have abandoned themselves enough to Providence to accept any children that might come along.

People may have excuses if they aren't that strong yet. No one is denying this "oikonomic" idea. But the standard should always still be getting them to a place where they DON'T have any more excuses and don't WANT any excuses. Where weakness does not excuse because they are no longer weak.

"the letter to the French bishops telling them not to 'trouble the consciences' of married couples who had intercourse in the barren parts of the woman's cycle (what we'd now call NFP) was in a sense a further concession, and, if you will, a development of doctrine."

Except it wasn't, because the Church ALWAYS allowed the elderly to marry, ALWAYS allowed the sterile to marry, and ALWAYS allowed sex during pregnancy.

And, as we've discussed, Aquinas's only problem with sex during menstruation was that he thought conception COULD occur (but that the baby would be deformed, and thus that it was unjust to the potential child so conceived). Nothing to do with that period being infertile.

Furthermore, couples who couldn't handle further children were always allowed to simply abstain from sex if they mutually agreed to it.

So I don't see where the heck you think any development or concession fits in here. What's being conceded? Nothing new.

"However, I think that once you accept that logic that the Fathers might have been wrong in asserting that sex without intent to procreate, even if it's NFP, is morally illicit, it's hard to draw the line at contraception."

Except I'm not exactly sure where the Fathers insisted on an active intent to procreate give things like the John Chrysostom quote in the very Vox Nova post that sparked this thread. A quote that has parallels in many Fathers and theologians down through history, and all of which admit that actual procreation may not be possible for circumstantial reasons in all cases (such as the marriage of the elderly, sex during pregnancy, etc)

The Fathers most certainly would have held that actively frustrating procreation was immoral. That is worlds away from saying they insisted on an active positive procreative intent every time. They clearly didn't.

Furthermore, as I pointed out in another post in the past few months...if NFP is "essentially contraception," if it's "no different," then why don't all the contracepting people just use it? Oh, right. Because it IS different. Because there are some very significant structural differences in the practice (most especially, the fact that it avoids conception through ABSTINENCE!!!)

Turmarion said...

As you know, I for one look forward to roasting marshmellows over the screaming live-corpses of my friends and loved ones who have abandoned God and so gotten their deserts at last.

All I can say is, if cultivating such an attitude while worshipping a God who creates beings He supposedly loves only to "crush" them is what is necessitated by "submitting to the doctrinal authority of the Church" , then I happily describe myself as a "dissenter". Maybe I'll add to the flames and help your marshmallows toast faster.

Anyway, I think there's no point in opening the can of worms again--I shouldn't have said anything more. At least we can agree on TOB.

A Sinner said...

"All I can say is, if cultivating such an attitude"

But that's exactly it. You find the idea distasteful now. So did I at one point. But you could learn if you made the right choices. Enough attempts at reveling in the smoke and tears of the wicked, and it becomes palatable, and then exultant. Love becomes as eating styrofoam. Virtue is always an acquired taste.

"Maybe I'll add to the flames and help your marshmallows toast faster."

Oh, almost certainly. But, of course: look how defiantly you speak of it!

You act as if it makes God a tyrant who would be rightly defied. And yet, if everyone submitted...no one would have to suffer!

And yet it's like with the Fruit. The very threat of punishment attached to not submitting makes Willful humans yearn to buck it. The very existence of a Law makes them yearn to break it.

How perverse a thing a human being is.

God gave us reason to discern the beauty of the clear and obvious Truth.

And there is no Truth more beautiful, more clear, or more obvious...than watching forever the flesh melt off the face of one who (say) defended contraception, especially if they were one who, while on earth, we loved, earnestly desired the salvation of, and offered God's mercy.

If we are supposed to love and rejoice in offering them God's mercy in this life, as a testimony to how good that mercy is...how can we not love and rejoice at the thought of them begging forever for that mercy they were offered but declined (and, then, can never have)? Surely that too is a testimony to how good that mercy is.

This is wonderful humiliation of the damned: they wind up forever giving testimony to the goodness and desirability (by their lack of it) of that mercy which on earth they made a mockery and rejected so flippantly.

I don't want you or anyone to burn, Tumarion. But offering you an out now will make it that much sweeter later if you DON'T take it.

Turmarion said...

And there is no Truth more beautiful, more clear, or more obvious...than watching forever the flesh melt off the face of one who (say) defended contraception, especially if they were one who, while on earth, we loved, earnestly desired the salvation of, and offered God's mercy. If we are supposed to love and rejoice in offering them God's mercy in this life, as a testimony to how good that mercy is...how can we not love and rejoice at the thought of them begging forever for that mercy they were offered but declined (and, then, can never have)? This is wonderful humiliation of the damned: they wind up forever giving testimony to the goodness and desirability (by their lack of it) of that mercy which on earth they made a mockery and rejected so flippantly.

All I can say is that this is not reconizable to me as any kind of Christian attitude, and such a god is no God, but a demonic monster. If you're just saying things like this to yank my chain, then it's not funny and you have a sick sense of humor. If you are really, truly, honestly sincere about this perspective, then with no disrespect or ill-will intended, I think you have a really pathological spirituality and need to get some really solid spiritual direction (and if you already do have a director who is completely on board with this, then you need to find another).

In any case, you needn't bother to take issue with any of this--I have a pretty good idea what the response will be, and it's pointless to go over it all againl. All any of us can do is trust to God's mercy, and que será, será. I'll leave it at that.

A Sinner said...

Not Christian? Have you not read the Book of Revelations?

"Render to her as she also hath rendered to you; and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup wherein she hath mingled, mingle ye double unto her. As much as she hath glorified herself, and lived in delicacies, so much torment and sorrow give ye to her; because she saith in her heart: I sit a queen, and am no widow; and sorrow I shall not see [...] Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath judged your judgment on her."

REJOICE over her, thou heaven!!

"After these things I heard as it were the voice of much people in heaven, saying: Alleluia. Salvation, and glory, and power is to our God. For true and just are his judgments, who hath judged the great harlot which corrupted the earth with her fornication, and hath revenged the blood of his servants, at her hands. And again they said: Alleluia. And her smoke ascendeth for ever and ever. And the four and twenty ancients, and the four living creatures fell down and adored God that sitteth upon the throne, saying: Amen; Alleluia. And a voice came out from the throne, saying: Give praise to our God, all ye his servants; and you that fear him, little and great."

Alleluia! God's judgment is just! Alleluia! The smoke of her torments rises up forever! Alleluia! God has His vengeance! Alleluia! Rejoice you that FEAR Him! Maranatha!

Please, please, please, please reconsider Tumarion. Repent while there is still time! You act as if I'm horrible for saying these things, but I'm only trying to warn you and others.

We can all wax philosophical all day. My blog is a monument to such navel-gazing. But at the end of the day it's all dust. At the end of the day we can't let such headiness neuter the root sentiments of our spirituality which are terror and desire for vengeance. And God will have His vengeance!

Please! Do you not understand that, to the orthodox, the heretic is as bad a martyrer as any executioner. Look how Babylon's corruption of the earth by fornication is specifically equated with her martyring of the saints. And yet here you are promoting contraception as if you won't have to answer to God's Wrath for it? Do you think you sit a queen and are no widow and sorrow shall never see??

Do you know how horrible Hell is??

Here. This may be from the evangelical protestants, but it is a beautiful depiction of God's Justice. From ~7:00 to ~15:00 I find particularly triumphant:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=--l0M963b5A

Why wouldn't you want to be part of that triumph? Why would you want to throw it all away and suffer forever like that, totally deserving, just for the sake of defending people's lust???

It is incomprehensible to me. But trust that I'm mourning, truly mourning for your soul. But in the next life every tear will be wiped away, and there will be no more mourning but celebration.

How can I believe otherwise?? What sort of heaven would it be if I had to MOURN you (and my loved ones, etc) forever?? Surely that sadness must turn to happiness.

dominic1955 said...

St. Catherine of Sienna did say something about having a certain righteous joy in the damnation of even friends and family after the General Judgment, but I digress...

My own experiential problem with TOTB is also with the lived expression of it more than anything. Does it not go hand in hand with the crypto-evangelical Neo-Conservative cult within Catholicism? Has anyone else been around these folks of marrying age and listened to their blather? They think they have some sort of predestined, perfectCatholic soul mate out there that they will have glorious TOTB/NFP sex with in order to make the requisite 3.5 kids (don't want Tradvans popping up in NOworld...) and everything is going to be hunky-dory per omnia saecula saeculorum.

This neo-Con Catholic subculture is starting to sound a lot more like the world of moderate but cultural identity issue conservative evangelicals than Catholics.

Nominally Catholic said...

Fr. John, Turmarian and anyone else who holds that the Theology of the Body is somehow the most wonderful thing on earth. It is actually based on contemporary existentialist principles and is also seriously lacking in its philosophical credibility. While you may object that our dislike for JPII's TOB is not based on a Christian attitude, we point out that the TOB itself is not based on Christian principles. Please see my response in this blog post for more details.

Chapulín said...

Hello, I am currently in an internal debate with this whole TOB issue. While I've never felt drawn to learn it, I was recently married, and after making love with my wife, I feel that I should do more research into these issues. She and I read Casti Connubii by Pius XI while engaged, and we found it to be informative on the Church's traditional views on Marriage, Chastity in Marriage, Sex, and Family.

I think we can all agree that some of the propagators of TOB (i.e. West) are not the easiest to like or believe. While doing research I find that many who dislike TOB have more beef with its expositors and practitioners, namely West. This is not an indication of the goodness or a lack of it with regards to St. John Paul II's work. It would almost be like saying that you hate Mathematics because you hated your high school Math teacher, or even more seriously, many hate Christianity because of Christians. This, we know, isn't fair, but it still calls us to delve deeper into prayer and to know our faith.

One person mentioned how they took issue more with the people who talk about TOB as if it is some sort of Neo-Evangelical cult or something. Come on. It's called broken human nature. People hear what they want to hear. Are not Our Lord's sacred Words misspoken, formed, and shaped to fit whatever our broken selves desire them to mean. Having only been married for almost 2 months I can honestly say that I know very little about how to love my wife well. Our most intimate way of showing that love with our bodies is sex. When I have sex with her, and I climax before her, it does feel like something is missing. Granted, no one is perfect, but I can afford to learn some self-control to make the act more enjoyable and lasting, not for their sakes, but for the sake of my wife. In smaller instances I can choose to take out the garbage for her or cook for her or call her when I'm running errands to see if she needs anything, and I do these out of kindness and consideration towards her. Why would I not take this same consideration into our most intimate act?

To the author, please get rid of this whole referring to yourself as a "trad". It really takes credibility from your argument. We're sons and daughters of the Almighty God and members of His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church and the Lord prays to this day that we all be one. Let's stop forming little factions and nicknaming them. That is all.