Friday, November 14, 2014

If sex can be sacred, is it possible to overdose? Could sushi be better than sex?

Dusty Gates, "Is Sexual Desire Holy" (Crisis, November 10, 2014)

Rachel Lu, "Can Married Couples Have Too Much Sex?" (Crisis, July 25, 2014)

Our underground correspondent we keep on retainer in an Atlantic seaboard city that knows how to keep its secrets, Guy Noir - Private Eye, was provoked by these two Crisis magazine articles to wire me the following telegram:
Frankly, the hyperventilating Christopher West-ian strain of enthusiasm that currently embarrasses too many Catholic apologetic and devotional presentations attempts to meet the culture on its own terms and ends up stripping the faith of latent qualities of prudence and dignified circumspection. Certainly the suggestion that sex is "not secret but sacred" can backfire into a sanctimoniousness that tries to petrify passion or kill "the joy of sex." But hardly less problematic is this new conception of sex as a candy-coated sacrament best dispensed in bulk quantities, even by 55 year olds aping King Solomon. Here are two articles confirming what tend to forget: over-reactions are usually understandable, and rarely helpful.
I couldn't help remembering a good book on the subject that talked uncommon sense by Christopher Derrick, Sex and Sacredness: A Catholic Homage to Venus(Ignatius, 1982), about which Peter Kreeft says that when he used the book once as a text at Boston College, he concluded that his students knew everything about sex but nothing about sacredness. Another book of uncommon sense about the dangers of underestimating irreverence in intimate relations is the irrepressible Alice von Hildebrand's The Dark Night of the Body: Why Reverence Comes First in Intimate Relations(Roman Catholic Books, 2013).

Once when I was teaching students the basic principles of logic, I asked them to give me a major premise in order to help construct a syllogism. So I asked them what they thought was the most wonderful thing in the world. Almost unanimously, the wretched little libidinous pagans chimed in: Sex! Which gave me the perfect opportunity to have a little fun with their sophomoric presumption.

Okay, I replied, and wrote their major premise on the board: "Nothing is better than sex."

Next, I provided the minor premise: "Sushi is better than nothing" -- you know, I added, like if you were on a desert island and had nothing to eat (this was back when sushi was thought by most Americans to be something close to fish bait).

I then asked them to infer the conclusion. Which meant, of course, that for some minutes I could sit back enjoy their dumbfounded puzzlement.
Major premise: Nothing is better than sex.
Minor premise: Sushi is better than nothing.
Conclusion: Therefore, sushi is better than sex.
I wonder whether some of them have figured out yet exactly what happened there.

[Hat tip to G.N.]

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