Thursday, April 9, 2009

For Tanya, a Reprise

Last Christmas we did a post based on a remark made by a woman named Tanya on another blog. I thought that as we approach Good Friday it might be worth running the post again slightly edited.

An atheist at Dizzying Intellect had issued a mild rebuke of his fellow non-believers for their attempts to use the occasion of Christmas to deride Christian belief and, in so doing, he exemplified the sort of attitude toward those with whom he disagrees one might wish all people, atheists and Christians alike, would adopt. Unfortunately, a commenter named Tanya spoiled the mellow mood by displaying a petulant asperity toward, and an unfortunate ignorance of, the orthodox Christian understanding of the atonement.

Tanya wrote:

I've lived my life in a more holy way than most Christians I know. If it turns out I'm wrong, and some pissy little whiner god wants to send me away just because I didn't worship him, even though I lived a clean, decent life, he can bite me. I wouldn't want to live in that kind of "heaven" anyway. So sorry.

Tanya evidently thinks that "heaven" is, or should be, all about living a "clean, decent life." Perhaps the following tale will illustrate the sophomoric callowness of her misconception:

Once upon a time there was a handsome prince who was deeply in love with a young woman. We'll call her Tanya. The prince wanted Tanya to come and live with him in the formidable city his father, the king, had built, but Tanya wasn't interested in either the prince or the city. The city was beautiful and wondrous, to be sure, but the inhabitants weren't particularly fun to be around, and she wanted to stay out in the countryside where the wild things grow. Even though the prince wooed Tanya with every gift he could think of, it was to no avail. She wasn't smitten at all by the "pissy little whiner" prince. She obeyed the laws of the kingdom and paid her taxes and was convinced that that was good enough.

Out beyond the countryside, however, dwelt dreadful, awful orc-like creatures who hated the king and wanted nothing more than to kill him and his heirs. One day they learned of the prince's love for Tanya and set upon a plan. They kidnapped her and sent a note to the king telling him that they would be willing to exchange Tanya for the prince, but if their offer was refused they would torture Tanya until she was dead.

The king, distraught beyond words, told the prince of the horrible news. The prince, all the rejections he had experienced from Tanya notwithstanding, still loved her deeply, and his heart was broken at the thought of her peril. With tears he resolved to his father that he would do the exchange. The father wept bitterly because the prince was his only son, but he knew that his love for Tanya would not allow him to let her suffer the torment to which the ugly people would surely subject her. The prince asked only that the father try his best to persuade Tanya to live in the beautiful city once she was ransomed.

And so the day came for the exchange, and the prince rode atop his horse out of the beautiful city to meet the ugly creatures. As he crossed an expansive meadow toward his enemy he stopped to make sure they released Tanya. He waited until she had fled, oblivious in her near-panic that it was the prince himself she ran past as she hurried to the safety of the city walls. He could easily turn back now that Tanya was safe, but he had given his word that he would do the exchange and the ugly people knew he would never go back on his word.

The prince continued stoically and resolutely into their midst, giving himself for Tanya as he had promised. Surrounding his steed they set upon him, stripped him of his princely raiment, and tortured him for three days in the most excruciating manner. Not once did any sound louder than a moan pass his lips. His courage and determination to endure whatever they subjected him to were fortified by the assurance that he was doing it for Tanya and that because of his sacrifice she was safe. Finally, wearying of their sport, they cut off his head and threw his body into a pool of offal.

Meanwhile, the grief-stricken king, his heart melting like ice within his breast, called Tanya into his court. He told her nothing of what his son had done, his pride in the prince not permitting him to use his heroic sacrifice as a bribe. Even so, he pleaded with Tanya, as he had promised the prince he would, to remain within the walls of the wondrous and beautiful city where she'd be safe forevermore. Tanya considered the offer, but she decided that she liked life on the outside far too much, even if it was risky, and she didn't really want to be too close to the prince, and, by the way, where is that pissy little whiner anyway?

We wish Tanya and all of our readers a meaningful Good Friday, and a very happy Easter.


Your Lying Eyes

It's bad enough that the President of the United States abased himself before a foreign dictator, but now the White House is compounding the embarrassment by denying that the President actually did it. This is an astonishing bit of chutzpah considering that videos of the event leave no doubt that the President, contrary to protocol, bowed deeply before the Saudi king.

Come on, fellas. The President's credibility is sinking low enough without the staff at the White House performing a variation of "Who are you going to believe: me, or your lying eyes?"

Here's the video that apparently no one at the White House has seen:

Next they'll be trying to convince us that the President suffered a back spasm just as he shook the royal hand.


Campus Porn

McLatchey offers this sad report on the popularity of a pornographic movie that's currently being shown on college campuses across the nation:

The movie - reportedly the most expensive porn film ever made - combines computer-generated images with hardcore sex scenes.

Digital Playground's 2005 film "Pirates" became a surprise hit on campuses from Yale to Tulane, said spokesman Christopher Ruth. Student groups contacted Digital Playground for permission to show that movie, he said.

From that experience, Ruth said the idea arose to market the 2008 sequel to university audiences by offering it free.

Student groups at a half-dozen universities - including UCLA and Carnegie Mellon University - accepted the offer. Hundreds of students lined up at each show.

The University of Maryland will screen the movie this weekend, the firm said.

The unfortunate aspect of this is not just the availability of the film, kids have unlimited access to pornography today. Nor is it just that universities across the country are facilitating the showing of the thing. Universities long ago abrogated their responsibility to responsibly shepherd young people through their late-teens years into adulthood. The most unfortunate part of the article, perhaps, is found in the last couple of lines:

The screenings generate publicity and sell a few copies of the movie, Ruth said. But the larger point is to get young people accustomed to seeing adult movies as mainstream entertainment.

"It's not anything you should be ashamed of," he said. "Sexuality never is."

This statement transcends stupid. Whether people should be ashamed of "sexuality" is hardly what's at issue. The issue is what we're doing to the hearts and minds of young people by immersing them in a pornographic culture. What effect does it have on a young man's view of women to see them graphically portrayed as sex toys? What does it do to the self-image of women when their objectification is glamorized and sensualized? What happens to our sense of human dignity when we watch for a couple of hours people copulating on screen? What are the expectations a young couple have for each other in a marriage when sexual athleticism is held up as an ideal? What does it do to sex itself when the act is emptied of all its mystery, intimacy, commitment and love and reduced to a mere expression of sheer lust?

Parents who pay their child's activity fee when they send them off to college probably never suspect that one of the activities they're paying for is the screening of movies that encourage young men to think of young women as little more than a means to their gratification. It's all very sad.