Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Re-paganization

Orgy, by Paul Cezanne, ca. 1876
"Il y a une sexualité qu'on ne peut vivre que sous alcool. Boire, c'est ça aussi : c'est accueillir ce qui devait rester caché. De notre propre désir."

Virginie Despentes - Les Jolies choses

Poor translation:
"There is a sexuality which one can live [experience] only under [the influence of] alcohol. To drink is also to accommodate what was to remain hidden. Namely, our proper [or true] desire."

Virginia Despentes - Pretty things

According to Despentes, in addition to prostitution as female empowerment, it is in drunkenness that what we really desire, at least sexually, is revealed to us. If I am following this line of reasoning, waking up in the morning and regretting my drunken escapades is intoxication, denial, repression, or, in the words of Queen, "escape from reality"? Is it true that reality is for people who cannot handle drugs? Oh, what we do to turn off, and even kill, that prickly, annoying, part of consciousness known as conscience, or, what a Freudian would call our super-ego.

The Curé d'Ars believed fallen humanity to be inherently pagan. Don Gius believed that human beings tilt toward pantheism and anarchy. Now, quite apart from proving the truth of Christianity, one can take these seemingly innate tendencies and ask, Why fight them? Well, this gets into the recognition of alienation and angst, which is nothing other than seeing the world as broken, or, stated more succinctly, f'd up. How do we overcome alienation and angst? How do we rise from our fallen condition? More fundamentally, is such a thing even possible, or, desirable? Do we simply, in the words of a certain Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant, "embrace the suck" of the void? It is my firm belief that this is what Jesus Christ did in His passion and death- which is why, even after all the controversy generated by Alyssa Pitstick's legal brief accusing him of heresy last year, I love Von Balthasar's take on Christ's descent into hell. So crucial is this insight, in my estimation, that I do not believe we can be saved without something like Balthasar's account of Christ's descent into hell actually having occurred. These are questions I have sought to deal with before and will no doubt address again, as they are perennial, existential questions. Besides, I am far too influenced by Marcel not to be deeply engrossed in these questions.

Long before Giussani, or even Vianney, St. Paul, writing as much from a Jewish as a Christian perspective, noted our tendency to exchange "the truth about God for a lie" and to worship and serve "the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever" (ESV Rom. 1,25)! One does not have to be a really keen observer to notice that the Western world is rapidly being re-paganized. Contra these trends we have St. Paul's Letter "To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints," written in approximately 58 C.E. (ESV Rom. 1,7a). In this letter we read: "Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy" (ESV Rom. 13,13). We also live according to his admonition, taken from his Letter to the Galatians, written between 48-50 C.E.: "Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (ESV Gal. 5,19-23).

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