Tuesday, August 29, 2006

An Obscene Posting.

Does it strike anyone as odd that all of our swear words and cuss words are mainly refer to sex or bodily functions?

It seems really silly to me, because the human body is so beautifully engineered, wired, plumbed and supported. It takes so many thousands of pounds and a lot of scientific hard grafting to recreate just the simplest of human movement like a walk or a run in the laboratory. And yet we constantly degrade it by viewing it as a disgusting object.

The very act of bringing a new human being into the world, working one of God's most brilliant miracles, is regarded as something to be laughed at, or regarded as obscene. It shouldn't. But then that doesn't mean that I want to see instances of what is the most private act emblazoned upon every screen. The cheapening of this act by society is certainly an obscenity.

Well, yes, there are some bodily functions which are not all that pleasant, and yet they still have a certain potentiality about them - the potential to bring forth more life. I'm aware that you won't appreciate me waxing lyrical about things best not mentioned, but the question remains: Why do we prefer to mention killing, murder, rape, oppression to that which we regularly flush away, or do naturally. Why don't we regard "I'll kill him" as the most grotesque of obscenities? Why don't we turn away from the word "war" in disgust?

It seems that our expletives are evidence of how little we think of ourselves, others, and ultimately God. The Psalmist says:

"I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well."

Every bodily action is worthy of wonderment, from the complexity of digestion, to the blink of an eye.

And then, thanks to Fr Basil Matthews, I think of the blessed body of the Saviour in which not only did all these actions take place as they do in us, but they all took place in the full, sinless service of God, even the ones we daren't mention because they are embarrassing. When he was tiny, Our Saviour's dirty nappies praised God and were done in full service of the Divine Will. We don't like thinking about that, but it's true, because Our Lord is that wonderful "amalgamation" (for want of a better word) of Humanity with Divinity.

I suppose I'd like to live in a world in which the mechanisms of the human body are treated with more respect than the shameful acts that the human will invisages. Do you think this is possible?


poetreader said...

SEX (shhhh! Did that naughty man actually say THAT word in public?) is one of God's greatest creations. It is God's chosen mechanism for the continuance of all the higher species of the animal kingdom, and for humanity itself. It is the outward and visible expression of the oldest of the sacraments (Matrimony), and it is the chosen symbol of God for His relationship with His people. Even the usual euphemism in the Scriptures is telling -- to 'know' one's wife is the same word as to 'know' God. Sex is beautiful, and sex is holy, an expression of ultimate beauty, of deepest mystery, and of the holiness of God Himself. Years ago, largely in self-justification, I was fond of declaring that sexual sin is not, after all, the most serious sin -- but is that true? Scripture has far more condemnations and far stronger ones for sexual sin than it has for murder itself. Why should this be? It is because sex is so very holy that misuse of it is sacrilege of the most egregious sort. The tendency to regard the misuse of sexual words as curses to be at least as bad as the misuse of God's Name is, then, not really far off the mark. Such misuse is a perversion of sacredness into ugliness.

And what of other bodily functions? Our revulsion at the waste products of our metabolism is, quite simply, an offering of insult to the One who makes all things well. Our bodies are marvelously designed to make efficient use of the nutritive products of nature and to return the unused portion to the environment for reuse. To the old-fashioned farmer, the leavings of cattle are a beautiful thing, necessary for the richness of grains and vegetables for the table. In fact, in some cultures, manure has been the principal purpose for the raising of animals, other uses such as meat being entirely secondary.

All this illustrates how thoroughly sin has distorted our whole perception of creation. It is only answered by the Cross and ultimately by the parousia.


axegrinder said...


Just before I read your post I was writing about the idea of being "spiritual, but not religious." I see an unthoughtful, inherent neo-gnosticism in such a sentiment. Do you think that the elevation of "spirituality" over religion has anything to do with our denigration of things physical?

Jason Kranzusch

Warwickensis said...


thanks very much for commenting, and with an interesting question too.

If I may, I'm going to put my thoughts on this onto the main blog as I think it deserves some thought. So stay tuned!

Albion Land said...

To continue with the scatological theme, and being a dévoté of Paul's injunction to "pray without ceasing," I am reminded of an anecdote I once read about Santa Teresa de Avila.

Teresa also took Paul's command seriously, and we find her in the privy attending to her morning needs and praising God as she did.

The devil appeared to her and mocked her.

"What a sorry faith you have, and how little you revere your God that you sing his praises as you sit here."

Teresa is said to have replied:

"My praise is for God. The shit is for you."

Jeannette said...

I save egg shells, coffee grounds, vegetable & fruit peelings in a cannister on the sink. They are then moved to a larger bucket on the porch, these precious remnants. Next they are moved (not by me) to the compost bin near the vegetable garden where they rot into rich components to be returned to the soil. This marvelous cycle is dirty but in some mysterious way, through heat and time and little digestive helpers and air and water and sun by God's design...it is ultimately clean and renewing.
Yes, it is killing and cruelty that is ugly, as well as abuse of any realities that God created and calls good.
Yes, God chose to enter into the full realm here...nappies and all.