How the Christian Sex Cult Keeps Electing Men Who Abuse Sex and What the Shortage of Lions in Ancient Rome Has Wrought

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So it turns out that (assuming allegations are true) Republican Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the House and champion of “family values” has been paying large sums of blackmail in order to keep a former male student from revealing that Hastert had a “sexual relationship” with they young man. By now, it’s not even surprising when one or another Republican who got votes and/or prominence by championing “family values” and/or by hating on women, QLTBG people, etc. turns out to have been engaged in the very behavior they declaimed. Josh Duggar. Catholic priests. Larry Craig. Mark Sanford. David Vitter. The list goes on and on.

And one wonders how conservative xian voters can continue to support these people. How can they not realize that they’re being taken as rubes, fed a line of bullshit by people who mouth platitudes but don’t for a moment intend to live by that code? Why do they continue to vote — against their own economic interests — for people who clearly won’t adhere to the sexual code that they claim is so important?

I think that Amanda Marcotte put her finger on the answer (or at least a large part of it) this week. Reacting to the Duggar scandal, Ms. Marcotte wrote:

[W]hat we’re seeing here is an attitude is that makes the religious right functionally a sex cult, especially when it comes to the far-right enclaves such as the Duggar’s. Sex is a demon that haunts their world, and everything in their lives is structured around trying to hold the evil at bay. Sex isn’t treated like a normal part of life that people just do, but [as] this force that controls us and which traps people into a lifelong struggle of self-hatred and fear. Even when they’re trying to put a positive spin on it and talking up the sex they are allowed to like —between married couples— this fear-laced obsessiveness leaks out.

Take, for instance, this interview Cosmo had with the Duggar girls:

Jessa: My parents are pretty good kissers! They very much like to show their kiss in public places, so they kiss in front of us all the time.
Talking about “their kiss” as if it’s an object and not an action? Treating it as an object of display instead of a way to show affection? There’s no authentic pleasure or joy here. It’s just the neurotic behavior of people desperately trying to show their mastery over a force that haunts them day and night, and failing.

The weird part is that this is all a self-created problem. For healthy people, even if sex is a big part of their lives, it doesn’t rule them in this way. Most of us think of it as a fun way to spend time, a good way to share affection, and a physical desire, but it’s not some kind of overpowering force that we can barely get a handle on. Even if you’re really horny! It’s like food[,] or your hobbies[,] or even your job: An important part of your life that you want to give a lot of attention to, but it’s not all-defining in this way.

Seewald mocked the idea that this is “a result of sheltering and repressing human desires”. Well, yes. This obsession with “modesty” and “purity” is a sex obsession. All this forbidding this and that drives up curiosity and creates obsession. Sex becomes the ring from Lord of the Rings and fundies are all a bunch of Gollums. Sex is an important part of life, but it’s not some kind of all-encompassing force that will ruin you if you let it. And I think this whole debacle really drives home which “side” has the healthier understanding of sex.

And I think that explains the willingness to keep on supporting people (and by “people, I mean “men”) who talk the talk about “family values,” but don’t walk the walk. If you see sex as this “force that controls us and which traps people into a lifelong struggle of self-hatred and fear,” then it’s understandable that even leaders such as Mr. Hastert or Mr. Duggar “fall.” Who can blame them? If sex is not just something people do, like eat, and sleep, and hug their friends, and go over spelling words with their children, but is, instead, this huge and almost irresistible temptation, then, of course, “even” members of C Street, and priests, and Speakers of the House “fall.” And Jesus forgives them as soon as they ask, so, whee, they get out of moral jail for free and you can keep voting for them.

I’m not sure what the answer is. Sometimes, I’m tempted to think the shortage of lions in ancient Rome has doomed us all.

Picture found here.

What She Said

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I borrowed this from Occult Librarian because I believe that it’s brilliant. And right. And the time is now.

On this Mercury Retrograde, I pray to Hermes for the Koch Brothers. May their communication all go awry and may they undermine their credibility and lose power. May they lose millions and millions of dollars through the market and find themselves without influence. May their lawyers badly drop the ball and may any wrong-doing they have committed come to LIGHT in a way that is fully prosecutable, prosecuted, and which ties up their resources. May they have tongues of lead and fully incriminate themselves of any wrong-doing they have committed in ways that cannot possibly lead to sympathy. Hail Hermes. I pray to you this day.

Picture found here.

May the Goddess Guard Her. May She Find Her Way to the Summerlands. May Her Friends and Family Know Peace.

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Here’s Terri Windling’s lovely tribute to author Tanith Lee.

Picture found here.

Tuesday Night A Prayer His Body Makes Entirely Blogging

Ain’t Gonna Study War No More, Memorial Day Poetry Blogging

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Dulce Et Decorum Est

~ Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!– An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Picture found here.

Sunday Ballet Blogging

What Is Remembered, Lives

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Today unofficially begins Memorial Day weekend. We Pagans honor our ancestors throughout the year, but this weekend is a time to especially remember our ancestors who died in service to their country. Military ancestors, of course, but I also think of those who died fighting for equal rights, protesting America’s wars, fighting fires, treating the sick.

Michael Twitty‘s column in The Guardian tells the story of the first Memorial Day and its basis in African Diaspora religion:

[T]he [enslaved] Gullah [people] developed their own language, a unique syncretic religion blending African and Christian elements, a food culture that birthed Lowcountry foodways as we know them, and they preserved names, stories, traditions and customs from across the African continent. One of the most important rituals that they preserved and passed on was the honoring of the ancestral dead and giving proper due to those transitioning out of this world.

***

And, on 1 May 1865, they performed an act of gratitude to the country that had first enslaved and finally freed them, firmly based both in their African and American heritage that became part of what we now celebrate as Memorial Day.

As the war ended, behind the Italianate grandstand at Charleston’s Washington Race course – which, in the pre-war years had been the playground of the rice and cotton planter elite – there was a mass grave holding over 200 Union soldiers, because the track served an outdoor prison during the last year of the war and many prisoners died of disease and exposure. At the war’s end, after the city was surrendered to African American troops and largely abandoned by whites, the Gullah people were ready to begin facing a new reality of emancipation – but first they chose to pay homage to those who had died.

In the West African tradition from which Charleston’s Gullah people came, honorable warriors deserved sacred burial, and the dead were seen as part of a cycle of souls entering and leaving the world. To disrespect those dead was to ensure a negative energy in the future, so 28 Gullah men dug up the 200 men in that mass grave behind the grandstand and gave them proper burial – horrific work under the best of circumstances.

On 1 May, “in cooperation with white missionaries and teachers”, 3,000 black children bearing roses led women bearing wreaths and men, marching together in a circle to honor the newly-buried war dead. Black troops were present at the commemoration – including some of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (who were later memorialized in the movie Glory). That the Gullah people performed a march and parade in a circle was no accident: movement in a circle – the Ring Shout – was the most sacred rite brought by the enslaved to North America. In a mixture of African and American custom, the Gullah put to rest the Union soldiers, who in part, lost their lives to ensure the freedom of those who later marched for them.

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Three years later, just days before Major General John A Logan declared that 30 May 1868 should be a “Decoration Day” to commemorate the war dead, many of the people who participated in the 1865 ceremony returned to decorate the graves of those that they’d interred. America takes time each year to celebrate the sacrifices of our war dead; this year, we should take a moment to also honor those who, despite facing hardships of their own, chose to commemorate the lives that had been lost partly in the service of securing their freedom from enslavement.

I had no idea.

Picture found here.