A LOVE SUPREME

I am now blogging at a new blog: erdman31.com

If you post comments here at Theos Project, please know that I will respond and engage your thoughts in a timely manner.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cyber sex



The above video graphically illustrates contemporary internet porn statistics. I don't know for sure how accurate they are, neither do I know how one would measure these things without allowing for a generous margin for error. However, from surfing around it appears as though these stats are fairly consistent with other statistics.

I highlight the following:
12% of all internet websites are porn
25% of all searches are pornographic
Every second 28,258 are viewing porn
2.84 billion U.S. revenue from internet porn
89% of porn is produced by the U.S.

Also interesting is a discussion on the countries that ban porn. These are countries that commentators sometimes call "backward," "medieval," or "barbaric." Ironically enough, their ethical standards are significantly higher than more "civilized" countries.

To answer the first, most pressing question: Why would I post such an obscene video on a God-blog? Why promote porn and/or subject viewers to such a provocative show of skin?

This is the point: This kind of a video is no longer provocative or even obscene. This is tame, and commonplace. The above stats back it up. Porn is mainstream. Admittedly, if I knew that my parents monitored my blog on a regular basis I would probably not have posted the video. They raised me in a very conservative and isolated Christian environment.

Here are two statlines from familysafemedia.com:
53% of Promise Keeper men viewed pornography in last week
47% of Christians said pornography is a major problem in the home

Porn is the norm. It may be little talked about in many Christian circles, and as a result it is one of those things that I would argue most Christian men struggle with in secret. Ashamed of what happens in the dark.

Interestingly enough, this post comes on the heels of Jerry Falwell's death. Falwell represents the effort to win the culture back for righteousness. But this is a new and weird world. What other culture in the whole of human history has had such widespread access to pornography? All social groups, from the least to the greatest, have instant access to instant gratification. Anything you want, at your fingertips.

We have no template for this. There is no handbook.

I recently asked my high school small group what is wrong with cyber sex? After all, I argued in the form of the devil's advocate, one can experience sex these days with a cartoon image or anime video. So, what "wrong" has been committed? This is an ethical question. This is a moral question. What is the harm with virtual sexuality? Is it addiction? If so, then what if the "addictive line" is never crossed? Clearly the majority of men are into internet porn, and our society seems to be getting along allright. Or are we on the road to Sodom and Gomorrah?

From an ethical and moral perspective I think cyber porn necessitates a Christian exploring the effects of porn on the human being and upon the soul. This is a deep existential and spiritual questioning. The Law and the Prophets do not address virtual sins, but they must be discussed by the 21st century women and men of faith or it will continue to be a taboo issue that is part of a life of secret shame for the majority of church goers.

And what about the non-believing culture? Here the issue isn't even one of shame. It is simply common place. We tell "the world" that cyber sex is wrong. Why? On what basis? Nobody is getting hurt, right? And we can't find any Bible verses.

It is a new and weird world. I would argue that we now make the majority of our most important ethical and moral decisions in the virtual world and in a fantasy land. But, then again, maybe that's the way it has always been, and only now do we have the technological capabilities to truly bring it into realization. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil has been replaced by a screen and by so many cascading images and sounds.

31 comments:

Jason Hesiak said...

"The Law and the Prophets do not address virtual sins..."

Jesus died partially due to virtual things he didn't say, such as scritpures coming just before or after what he did actually say, pointing to his Messiahship...and pointing to different ideas of Messiahship than what was desired or expected at the time. Scritpures that existed in the world of the text, even in the memory (mind) of the ancient Jew, but not scriptures actually spoken.

"But this is a new and weird world. What other culture in the whole of human history has had such widespread access to pornography? All social groups, from the least to the greatest, have instant access to instant gratification. Anything you want, at your fingertips."

What else was the commonplace of a Baal Temple but the extension of our own idolatry into the world in the name of a virtual god? Idolatry...the placing of priority upon our own sexuality via worship of a god crafted by our own hands.

The only change is the technology itself. From a statue to an internet. From an actual representation of a virtual reality to a virtual representation of an actual one. The god, however, remains hidden in darkness, same as before. The serpent remains deceptive; the isolated and shamed porn addict remains in isolated bondage...

...unless the sin is spoken for what it is, and takes the communal procession to the Eucharistic light of Grace.

Jonathan Erdman said...

I was watching Simon's (the guy from American Idol, (crf. Jason on idolatry?)) girlfriend on Fox News yesterday. Simon has no interest in marriage, and the news pundit asked her about that. She said she wasn't really big into the marriage thing, either, but that at some point she wanted to have a kid. Her mom was a single parent and so she seemed kind of unimpressed with the whole marriage thing.

Fair to say that Simon and his girlfriend have a sexual relationship? Well, obviously. The question is whether or not they are really exclusive or have some fun on the side.

The point is that one gets the feeling that this culture really doesn't see the point of sexual taboos. As long as one is not in a destructive addiction or as long as you are not breaking trust, what's the big deal?

I appreciate your passion, Jason, and I agree with you. But wouldn't you agree that most people in our culture have a pretty casual attitude towards sex? And particularly internet porn?

Why is it that just Christians get hung up on this stuff? And more and more I think most Christians do it, feel a little guilty, but just kind of roll with it and keep living life. The percentages show that Christians do the porn thing like everybody else. I've heard that Hotels have high rates of porn purchases during youth leader and other church conferences.

Is this porn stuff really wrong? Now it's mainstream. You say that it's idolotrous. Is that going to hold up in the public square? We say that in marriage sex is great, but as soon as it happens outside of marriage it is wrong. It is idolotrous outside of marriage, but not within marriage?

Is it fair to say that the church has probably lost the sexuality/pornography battle? I think so. We have lost in every conceivable way.

Melody said...

I grew up hearing my mum say every era has a blind spot. She usually mentions this in reference to slavery/racism and how something that seems obviously deplorable to us was, "not that big a deal" to most people in early America.

It seems impossible to us that these people could not realize all the reason why slavery is horrible.

A hundred years from now will people think the same thing about how we view sex?

Looking at past cultural shifts I don't think that's too much of a leap.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Who are you saying has the blind spot?

The non-believing crowd would say that rigid Christians have the blinds spot, holding on to an antiquated view of relationships and human sexuality. That in a hundred or so years it will be those of us who are Christians who will be regarded as having the blind spot, and Simon and his girlfriend will be the ones who had it more right. Realistically, I think that this is the direction that culture is heading.

Melody said...

Historically this has all happened before...minus the computers of course. The pendulum always swings back...and then it swings to where we are again. It'll probably keep going this direction for a while before it swings back, but I see no reason why it wouldn't swing back like it always has. Do you?

Jason Hesiak said...

"I appreciate your passion, Jason, and I agree with you. But wouldn't you agree that most people in our culture have a pretty casual attitude towards sex? And particularly internet porn?"

Totally, dude. But I'd say that Jews had a casual attitude toward Baal, too.

As far as the marriage as opposed to simple faithfulness goes...I think that conversation hinges on a question of institutions and sacramentality (ritual).

And I'd say were are very much loosing the battle now. I myself am fighting, the tide is certainly turning more in my favor than previously (oohh...the light can hurt). The first step is to actually fight the battle, as opposed to the usual stratety of ignoring its existence. I very much agree that "cyber porn necessitates a Christian exploring the effects of porn on the human being and upon the soul. This is a deep existential and spiritual questioning." Me? Until I FACED the foe, and ENTERED the battle, I didn't even KNOW who I was hurting (myself, other), and how.

I further believe that the very willingness to fight the battle is the FAITH in a very BIG God. As you indicate, Jonathan, the battle looks lost already! But is it!!!??? Hence, I think, the previously referenced large standing ovation from a bunch of non-believers.

And I like what Melody brought up about the cultural shifts.

Dawn said...

Totally bypassing the obvious topic, what a nicely put together video...enlightening.

Jonathan Erdman said...

One might argue that any topic worth discussing should be bypassed on principle!

samlcarr said...

There is a sense in which the polarisation of the sexes contributes. it does so by reducing personhood. if someone of the opposite sex is potentially a sex object, then thinking about having sex with them has to follow.

Culture has shifted quite dramatically away from nuclear family-marriage as the ideal to a sort of free for all where notably the option of sister-brother relationships are not much of an option.

It's more like those who have 'a relationship' and the pool of all potential partners surrounding that.

Funnily, from what I remember, while the Christian ideal has always been chastity till marriage, in practice this was never really so...

Jason Hesiak said...

Does the the thrust virtual's relationship to the actual upon our souls effect this sexualization of opposite gender relationships, or is it simply the same old eroticism that ever was? I mean, I suppose its obvious that a new relationship to the virtual transforms our relationship to actualization; but does the virtual's being a "virtual reality" rather than simply a potential reality in itself sexualize gender relationships in which sex would otherwise be potential? To put it plainly, does the internet make it more difficult to resist having sexual relations with someone of the opposite gender? I think maybe that is too limiting of a use of the term virtual (?), but I say it for the purpose of posing a question.

Jonathan Erdman said...

These are some interesting comments. I ask: Do playing violent video games make me more susceptible to killing someone in real life? Probably not. If I play a lot of video games I will likely be more aggressive, but most of us have the ability to distinguish fact from fiction when it comes to video game violence. If I "kill" a virtual person this is simply not the same as killing another human being. Most of us can tell a big difference between the two, and the small minority who cannot tell the difference are usually disturbed and destructive individuals.

But this just complicates our discussion, does it not? Because most people would say that they can engage in virtual sex fantasies without allowing this to dominate their real world interactions. Getting kinky on the internet doesn't translate into objectifying women in the real world in the same way that killing someone in a video game doesn't translate into killing another real person.

A fantasy is just a fantasy, right? No harm in that.

Jason Hesiak said...

Well this gets real interesting. I'd say that this is where the particular limits of speaking of the internet AS the virtual comes into play. The essence of the virtual is still a one to one relationship between map and territory, is it not? Even if one can actually distinguish between the 2-D image on the screen and the actual person in real time?

For one thing, saying that in this context helps me to better understand the term "virtual," but for another, I suppose it means that the internet is not only an actualized extension or expression of the virtual, but that the internet can present eitehr a virtual or a potential reality, depending on how you choose to relate to it.

And yet if we choose the potential as the channel for our internet experience, the voice of the virtual is still there, whether we choose to listen or not. There are school killers who based their idea of what it means to pull the trigger of an actual gun on the virtal world of "Doom." Yet no one would call anyone else facist for calling that killer insane.

The whole problem is that he didn't distinguish between the voices of the virtual and the potential; but that when the potential speaks, the virtual doesn't stop speaking. In other words, said school killer is insane, but in our judgement of virtual reality we can't write off the school killer as insane.

This would mean that, per se, there's nothing wrong with internet porn, as an image on the screen. But there's something wrong with internet porn. If we are choosing to consider our relationship to reality by its relation to the virtual, then we can imagine another virtual reality, in which we are having a delightful and fully intimate (in every way) relationship with our wife, just as well as we can take that pornographic image on the screen as one potential image of intimacy that does not fully ring true with the true longing of our souls for full intimacy.

??

Jason Hesiak said...

Also...related side note...since the potential is contingent upon political speech, whereas the virtual is contingent upon the technology of the map that has a one to one relationship to the territory...and because we are endowed with a natural capacity for speech (whether we always used it or not is a different question)...then to univeralize the relationship of the acutal to be in relation to the virtual seems to imply: A) the indistinguishability between nature and artifice, and/or B) cognitions's not being natural and/or essential to being human (considering the relation between cognition and speech).

sorry...random aside on that note, maybe. working through some thoughts...

ktismatics said...

On an abstract conceptual note... I think the virtual-actual distinction works here. Imagine two people having actual sex with one another at a particular day and time. Each has eliminated all possible sex partners but one. NOw imagine one real person having simulated sex with a virtual partner -- an internet image, say. The real person can still consummate with only one partner. The internet image can, on the other hand (so to speak), be the simulated sex partner for an unlimited number of people at the exact same time.

There are hybrid situations: having sex with a real partner while fantasizing about someone else, for example. Which I suppose isn't that different from having sex with your hand while fantasizing...

It's certainly less complicated to engage with a simulated partner. Actual partners bring too many other aspects of the relationship into the situation: love, exploitation, fear, boredem, pregnancy, disappointment, and so on. I posted awhile back on a scifi book, Blindsight, which portrays a future in which sex with real partners is almost unheard of, for these very reasons.

In an age when thinness is the ideal, why are more people fat than before? In an era when channels to happiness seem wide open, why is there more depression? In an era of sexual freedom, why are there more ads for penis enhancements and pills that reduce impotency?

samlcarr said...

There really isn't that much difference between what we call virtual and what we call fantasy. Incidentally, as fantasies become virtual, does this in some sense compete with fantasy itself?

Regardless, from a biblical standpoint Ecclesiastes is right again, there really is nothing new under the sun.

Jonathan Erdman said...

So, another thing that is surfacing here is that sexuality becomes an object. The woman becomes an object of desire and gratification. No longer a thing of beauty to be admired, but a means to an end.

Seemingly, when we lose a sense of the beautiful and detach the sexuality of a woman from the woman herself then we lose the opportunity for a truly meaningful soul-to-soul sexual experience. But does this lose of soul-to-soul meaning in the virtual world translate into the inability to form intimate relationships in the non-virtual world? One might argue that it wasn't the fault of the virtual sexuality (internet porn, etc.) to begin with, but that the user seeks out virtual sexuality to supplement an inability to form intimate sexual encounters. We chew Vitamin C tablets because we don't eat oranges, anymore. We supplement intimacy with image.

Ktismatics:
In an age when thinness is the ideal, why are more people fat than before? In an era when channels to happiness seem wide open, why is there more depression? In an era of sexual freedom, why are there more ads for penis enhancements and pills that reduce impotency?

This is the question of our age. To restate: How did the meaningful become so meaningless?

Though normally not a Christian apologist I nonetheless submit that the problem may be, in part, a problem of context. If "the earth is the Lord's and all that is in it" (Ps. 24) then it would follow that the all of the experiences of the earth would have to be understood in their context, i.e. the experiences of the creation must be understood in relation to their Creator. This goes back to Jason's initial comments about the sacramental nature of the creation.

I hesitate to use the term "apologetics" b/c this is a Christian concoction whose full development took place when Enlightenment thought was in fifth gear. But rather than say that our experiences rationally require a Creator in some causal sense, I would modify it a bit to suggest that our experiences take on greater meaning when there is some sort of existential exchange with the Creator.

ktismatics said...

Jonathan -

No longer a thing of beauty to be admired, but a means to an end. A "thing" of beauty is an object, yes? In what way is a computerized image an object? Maybe by trying to stop thinking of sexual attraction as intrinsic to real human relationships, people end up mystifying this attraction and transferring it to virtual images of human beings. The image has no self, so it's reduced to whatever a human being is that's been scraped clean of its humanity. Maybe more open acknowledgement of sexual attraction woould reduce this fetishizing of image stripped of substance?

I'm assuming that the marketplace fulfills desire in a distorted way. It stimulates already-existing desires by pointing them toward commodities that promise fulfillment. However, marketplace fulfillment always operates in a way that simultaneously creates a sense of lack. Instead of meeting demand the marketplace intensifies demand.

You cited the data yourself: America is the source of most of the porn, and American Christian men are big porn consumers. America is probably the most Christian nation on earth, not just nominally but in practice. From an empirical standpoint you might hypothesize that Christianity either causes or is associated with pornography in some way. Do you have any theories about how that might work?

Jonathan Erdman said...

Ktismatics:
Maybe more open acknowledgement of sexual attraction woould reduce this fetishizing of image stripped of substance?

Could you expand this thought a bit more? How would "a more open acknowledgment of sexual attraction" reduce the fetishizing of an image stripped of substance? Are you saying that we somehow bypass the marketplace and somehow avoid fulfillment/sense-of-lack cycle? Or is it just our nature to always feel the drive for more?

"The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing." Qohelet 1:8

"As goods increase, so do those who consume them. And what benefit are they to the owner except to feast his eyes on them?" 5:11

"Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite. This too is hevel, a chasing after the wind." 6:9

Much of Qohelet is concerned with exploring the relationship of desire with that of meaning and fulfillment. As I read him, the conclusion is that there is no discernable connection. The hevel of life destabilizes every aspect of the pursuit of meaning such that nothing is a sure thing. The pursuit of desire is like chasing the wind. Essentially, then, if one does manage to find contentment or love or pleasure or peace or happiness then one should treasure this as a gift of God, because none of these things are a sure find in an existence dominated by random and chaotic events that Qohelet calls hevel.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Ktismatics,

You also raise an interesting point about the notion of "objectification." It is unavoidable that in some way, even in the most loving and mutually gratifying relationship there is some level of objectification. But somehow if there is a more human/relational connection the fulfillment of desire and gratification is more legitimate and more....well....more human. And more right and more good. I think there is also a strong moral sense at play here as well. But this is where it gets really tricky....

Melody said...

Erdman: Do playing violent video games make me more susceptible to killing someone in real life?

Watch the news much? I've heard alot of stories over the past couple years about how studies show that violent video games DO make people more susceptible to killing someone in real life. That's why first person shooters are used as training in the armed forces and why flight simulators are used to train pilots. Because it makes it easier to do the real thing.

I think this has sort of been touched on, but a friend and I were just talking yesterday about a growing inability for people to distinguish between fact and fiction. The conversation came up because an American tourist had asked a British man to direct him to Diagon Alley - a fictional location from Harry Potter.

Sex and violence are things that really happen, wizards, witches, and flying cars are not. I don't think I trust people to figure out what is and is not real.

Erdman: This is the question of our age. To restate: How did the meaningful become so meaningless?

Because we wanted it to be. People said, "I should be able to have [sex, money, power, cake] freely, without responsibility, effort, or consequence." And we got it. But when you do that you take away anything that makes those things really worth having.

ktismatics said...

Jonathan -

If there's no discernible connection between desire and meaning, then why not accept that disconnect? Eat, drink and be merry if you feel like it; it doesn't have anything to do with meaning anyhow. You could make a case that Judeo-Christian sexual morality attempts to impose meaning where it doesn't belong, that it makes to big a thing about it. After all, there's no law against chasing the wind, and it can be kind of fun and relaxing to do so, even if it doesn't really mean anything.

Paul says he wouldn't have known sin except through the Law, that he wouldn't have known about coveting if the Law hadn't said "Thou shalt not covet." The sinful passions were aroused by the law, the commandment not to covet created the desire to covet. Doesn't this suggest that prohibition creates corrupt desires? That if the prohibitions were eliminated the desires would find their own way without being forced into the darkness of bad conscience? Die to the Law, live unto God, who regenerates the desires without reference to prohibition and self-discipline?

I absolutely agree that the desire-fulfillment cycle is intrinsically interpersonal. The marketplace always takes fulfillment out of relationship and invests it in the commodity. Market value isn't the cost of production; it's the value as a satisfier of consumer desire. This whole economy of individuals buying desired objects is a distortion. Marx called this distortion "commodity fetishism" -- the investment of dead objects with the magical ability to fulfill desire.

You could make a case that image is everything in this economy, that what we desire is always presented to us in ads, displays, commercials. To display sexually satisfying objects via video images is no different fundamentally from any other commodity. But now it's the image itself that's desired, and not even the (sex) object behind the image. It's the limit of capitalism. And if Paul is to be believed, it's all the more desirable because it's forbidden.

Jason Hesiak said...

"Maybe more open acknowledgement of sexual attraction woould reduce this fetishizing of image stripped of substance?"

This was my point to Thomisticguy. If the essence of modernity is the irrelevance of the body, since the body has no rational relationship to the globe, then the medicine is not to restrain bodily desires. It only hurts the cause. And that's partially because the irrelevance of the body is hidden, precisely because the globe is hidden to the body's senses.

The part I didn't understand was: "Maybe by trying to stop thinking of sexual attraction as intrinsic to real human relationships, people end up mystifying this attraction and transferring it to virtual images of human beings."

Doylomania, are you saying that sexuality isn't intrinsic to real human relationships, but that we owe it to evolution in some way? I so (?), we could just as well stop transferring our sexual energy to the virtual with the sanity of self-control and an end to being ruled by lust.

Jason Hesiak said...

"You could make a case that image is everything in this economy, that what we desire is always presented to us in ads, displays, commercials. To display sexually satisfying objects via video images is no different fundamentally from any other commodity. But now it's the image itself that's desired, and not even the (sex) object behind the image. It's the limit of capitalism. And if Paul is to be believed, it's all the more desirable because it's forbidden."

But the image still becomes an "object," does it not? Just not an object of physical substance. Its still an abstract apprehended by the intellect.

That said in response to where Doylomania said, "A 'thing' of beauty is an object, yes? In what way is a computerized image an object?"

That the image is still an "object" is why we are able to desire it. That's not to say that we necessarily know what we want, though. Regardless: if we are talking about how the "objectification" is transferred or extended into the world of the virtual, then how does commodity feticism produce lack without the construct of potential/actual breathing down the back of the virtual? Or am I still misunderstanding something?

ktismatics said...

Jasoniak -

I was trying to say that sexuality is intrinsic to human relationships, but we pretend it's not. Then we end up fetishizing objects and images instead of rightly regarding sexual attraction as interpersonal. So I'm with you on this.

And I also agree that the image is an object. It's slipped one further step away because the object of desire is no longer an actual physical thing in the world.

The virtual/actual thing is strange with respect to images. In real relationships, desire and satisfaction are one on one, exclusive to this place and time, eliminating all other possible partners. Ordinary commodity objects can simultaneously feed desire for many people at once by virtue of mass production, of unlimited simulacra. It's as if the original has multiplied itself like loaves and fishes. But as Baudrillard observed, there is no original: the image in the ads is distributed everywhere at once. Still, each individual simulacrum is real, physical, available to only one consumer at a time.

But when the image is the object of desire, the simulacra become even more mystical. Not only is there no original, there aren't even any simulacra, any physical manifestations of the image. The image is infinitely distributable, just like physical simulacra, but any single manifestation of the image can be used by an infinite number of consumers without ever being exhausted or consumed.

So the "precession of simulacra" goes from desire-fulfillment via one-on-one relationships, to fulfillment of an individual via a unique object, to fulfillment of many individuals via mass-produced simulacra of identical physical objects, to fulfillment of the many via the identical image without any physical object that manifests that image.

The idea of "lack" clearly can't exist in the object of desire when it's infinitely replicable, or even more so when it's a disembodied image. The lack seems like it's in the individual consumer, who by having access to these objects seems instead of satisfaction only seems to experience more and more desire. That's because the marketplace's job is to stimulate addiction as unquenchable desire. But the lack also exists in the ever-widening gap between the individual consumer and the other: Relationships are the only locus for actual fulfillment of desires, and there are lots of people who are virtual partners, but these relationships that never get actualized. Instead, the individual actualizes relationships with images inside their own imaginations, which is solipsistic and narcissistic and ultimately empty. End of sermon.

I think all this is up your alley, Jason, with McLuhan and gnostic implications and so on. And you too, Erdmaniac, with your ambivalent commitment to virtual relationships. An interesting topic. Hopefully I'm not rambling in useless directions.

Jonathan Erdman said...

What about virtual intellectual stimulation?

After several years of message boards and blogging I have numerous friends that I have never met.

But we would (rightly) say that going on line for intellectual stimulation is positive and productive.

Yet, to say that virtual intellectual stimulation is ok might contrast with Ktismatics' sermon:
Relationships are the only locus for actual fulfillment of desires, and there are lots of people who are virtual partners, but these relationships that never get actualized. Instead, the individual actualizes relationships with images inside their own imaginations, which is solipsistic and narcissistic and ultimately empty. End of sermon.

What about virtual intellectual partners??? Is this, too, solipsism and narcissistic and ultimately empty?

samlcarr said...

It would be fair to say that you guys virtually lost me a ways back. I think i see maybe what you might have collectively been peripherally virtualising, but i'm still lost...

Jason Hesiak said...

Doylomaniac - that was a good and clarifying sermon. Up my alley, in fact. I guess the question becomes whether Baudrillard's tragic play is a picture of the big picture. In other words, is there ultimately an actual person on the other side of the screeen? I mean that eschatolically. If not, then addiction and unending lack are what we have to look foward to.

Erdmanian Tornado - "But we would (rightly) say that going on line for intellectual stimulation is positive and productive." Right, but for one it would be fun to meet you guys. For another, the interenet is less "productive" and less "actually" stimulating in regard to sexual fulfillment, lol.

"What about virtual intellectual partners??? Is this, too, solipsism and narcissistic and ultimately empty?" Here I think Aquinas is key. The intellect apprehends intellecutal abstracts directly, but "singulars" of substance indirectly by reflection. That doesn't mean that your words don't reflect your person, which is why you'd be fun to meet. It just means that sexual stimulation is different from that of the intellectual variety...again, lol.

sam - you're funny. I wish I could help. I was lost myself until Doyle's recent sermon.

ktismatics said...

Colleagues -

I agree that internet relationships about ideas are wholesome. It's like writing letters back and forth -- even Paul used to do that. Ideas are disembodied things that can pass from mind to mind via language, as per Aquinas via Golden Ass. I know, it's freaky, but it's oh so true.

As for Baudrillard, I think his interpretation of marketplace conditions is accurate. But with respect to real people in real relationships, I think there are people behind the veils. I suspect Baudrillard thought so too. Eschatology isn't necessary to assert that in the here and now there are other real people besides me -- aren't there?

Jason Hesiak said...

"Eschatology isn't necessary to assert that in the here and now there are other real people besides me -- aren't there?" No, but I would think that one's eschatology would go a long ways to determining the whether one chooses to speak as a tragedian like Baudrillard, or as if "someone" will one day appear on this side of the screen and change everything.

Like you said: "But with respect to real people in real relationships, I think there are people behind the veils. I suspect Baudrillard thought so too."

ktismatics said...

You all didn't comment on my theological thoughts. I quote myself from a few comments back, to Jonathan...

You cited the data yourself: America is the source of most of the porn, and American Christian men are big porn consumers. America is probably the most Christian nation on earth, not just nominally but in practice. From an empirical standpoint you might hypothesize that Christianity either causes or is associated with pornography in some way. Do you have any theories about how that might work?

[In response to Jonathan on Ecclesiastes] If there's no discernible connection between desire and meaning, then why not accept that disconnect? Eat, drink and be merry if you feel like it; it doesn't have anything to do with meaning anyhow. You could make a case that Judeo-Christian sexual morality attempts to impose meaning where it doesn't belong, that it makes to big a thing about it. After all, there's no law against chasing the wind, and it can be kind of fun and relaxing to do so, even if it doesn't really mean anything.

Paul says he wouldn't have known sin except through the Law, that he wouldn't have known about coveting if the Law hadn't said "Thou shalt not covet." The sinful passions were aroused by the law, the commandment not to covet created the desire to covet. Doesn't this suggest that prohibition creates corrupt desires? That if the prohibitions were eliminated the desires would find their own way without being forced into the darkness of bad conscience? Die to the Law, live unto God, who regenerates the desires without reference to prohibition and self-discipline?

Is there any critique not just of the secularist and of the sinner but of the Chrisitan system from inside the faith? A place where emerging theology can do some work?

Jonathan Erdman said...

Ktismatics astutely spotted:
You all didn't comment on my theological thoughts. I quote myself from a few comments back, to Jonathan...

In the abbreviated words of our friend at JC, "S.U.F.!"