The Stubborn Swedish Cow

The following story was written for my “Write-Now” class which is conducted by Dr. Carolyn Wedin a retired professor emeritus from the University of Wisconsin.  Dr. Wedin gave us a short email message she had received from a friend in Sweden about a cow that would not give milk.  The assignment for the class was to use any element or perspective from the email to write a story.  My story loosely embraces some of the key elements from the email but is of course embellished by my own writing fancies and imagination.  Since I generally write social and political commentary, this story might seem a bit odd. However, if you reflect on it a while after you read it, I think you will find that there is a message or at least a few morals from this tale that you can take away.

swedish cowOnce upon a time there was an old farmer and his wife who had a cow that suddenly decided to stop giving milk.  It was a Swedish cow and you know how stubborn those Swedes can be.  The old farmer was going to go out to talk to the cow but quite unexpectedly he choked to death on a bone in a piece of lutefisk.  His wife now inherited the farm, the chickens, the pigs and the stubborn Swedish cow who would not give any milk.

The farmer’s wife went out to talk to the stubborn Swedish cow and tried to explain that without any milk, she would not be able to keep the farm and would have to sell everything.  The chickens would go to Kentucky Fried Chicken and become original crispy chicken legs.  The pigs would go to Famous Dave’s Barbecue and become hot and spicy pork ribs.  Last but not least, she explained the stubborn Swedish cow would go to Mc Donald’s where she would probably become a Big Mac with Double Cheeseburger Sandwich.

But the stubborn Swedish cow would not budge.  “I am tired of giving milk she thought to her-self” and being a stubborn Swedish cow she was not moved by the farmer’s wife arguments.

The chickens and pigs heard all of the arguments though and were quite perturbed.  The chickens nominated one of their own to go and talk to the cow.  “How selfish of you and inconsiderate” the delegated chicken argued.  “You don’t care that we will become fried chicken; all you can think about is yourself.”  This line of attack did not persuade the stubborn Swedish cow.

Next, the pigs decided to have a talk with the cow.  In mass they went though, as pigs like to do everything together.  In one voice, they pleaded with the stubborn Swedish cow:  “Please don’t let us become barbecue ribs at Famous Dave’s we don’t want to die. We know you have your reasons, but we hope you will change your mind and save us all.  You may be a stubborn Swedish cow but deep down inside you are really a good bovine.”  This line of reasoning also failed to persuade the stubborn Swedish cow.

mouseUnbeknownst to all, there was a small little field mouse that lived with his family in the great barn.  The field mouse had overheard the plight of the farmer’s wife and the arguments of the farm animals and was quite moved by their problem.  The field mouse was an avid reader and many of his kind would have called him an intellectual.  He was a follower of the famous Swedish philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg and also more recently the Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom well known for his work on existential risk, the anthropic principle, human enhancement ethics, superintelligence, the reversal test, and consequentialism.  The little field mouse decided to try explaining the theory of the Anthropic Principle to the cow in the hope that logic would prevail where pure emotion had failed.

“Listen please” said the little field mouse to the stubborn Swedish cow “The Anthropic Principle is the philosophical consideration that observations of the universe must be compatible with the conscious and sapient life that observes it.  It is well known that cows give milk and to be a conscious cow, you have the obligation to perform this duty for the universe.”  Now the cow had recently been reading from the writings of Dr. Niklas Boström and was quite impressed with this line of thought.  “Yes”, reflected the cow, “even though I am a stubborn Swede, I am also a creature of the universe with an infinite obligation to take my proper place in the grand scheme of things.”

“You have convinced me” said the once stubborn Swedish cow to the little field mouse.  “Hence forth, I will take my rightful place in the universe and give milk every day as long as I am able, thus fulfilling my role in the grand scheme of things”

And the farmer’s wife, the chickens, the pigs, the once stubborn Swedish cow and the little field mouse and his family all lived happily ever after.

Time for Questions:

What strategy did the Farmer’s wife use on the cow?  The Pig and the Chicken?  How effective were these?  Could they have been more effective?  What strategy did the mouse use?  Why was it effective?  In real life, which strategies do you think work best?  Why?  Which strategy would you have used?

Life is just beginning.

“Here and there and not just in books we catch glimpses of a world of once upon a time and they lived happily ever after, of a world where there is a wizard to give courage and a heart, an angel with a white stone that has written on it our true and secret name, and it is so easy to dismiss it all that it is hardly worth bothering to do. … But if the world of the fairy tale and our glimpses of it here and there are only a dream, they are one of the most haunting and powerful dreams that the world has ever dreamed…”
― Frederick BuechnerTelling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale

Old Times There Are Not Forgotten!

The lyrics from the title song above were written by Daniel Decatur Emmett.  One well known verse is:

I wish I was in Dixie, Hooray!  Hooray!

In Dixie’s Land I’ll take my stand

to live and die in Dixie.

Away, away, away down south in Dixie.

Away, away, away down south in Dixie.

Ironically this song was written by a Northerner and first sung in New York City in 1859.  The first shot was not fired in the Civil War until April 12, 1861 when the Confederates attacked Fort Sumter.  I often heard this song when I was growing up since my mother and I were both born in Alabama.

farm roadsI was born in Fairfield, Alabama and my grandparents had a farm in Ensley, Alabama.  Years later and the farm is now ancient history and Ensley is a bunch of suburban homes adjacent to Birmingham.  The cow paths, chicken barn, pig sties and goat pens are long gone.  The rolling dirt road that once led to the Farmers Grain and Feed store is now a paved two lane highway leading to Walmart and CVS.  I remember feed millmany trips down this road beside my grandfather who always had a large quart canning jar full of ice and water and wrapped in a towel.  When we arrived at the feed store, he would go in to purchase his feed and buy me an RC Cola from the metal soda box on the front dock.  I would sit on the side of the feed store loading dock while the workers would pack his pickup truck with bags of grain and other assorted farm essentials.   My grandfather would have a brief chat with the workers and we would be on our way back to his farm.

Old Farm

My grandfather and grandmother lived in a Quonset hut that they purchased after the end of WW II.  The hut was all metal and “rooms” were defined by hanging blankets.  I do not remember any doors in the hut except the single door leading outside.  Beyond this door was the path that would take you directly to the outhouse.  Other paths branched off this main path to the barn and various animal areas.  My grandfather and grandmother always lived frugally but they did not scrimp on the food.  Breakfast would be grits, brains, bacon and eggs.  Lunch would be fried chicken with collard greens and large baking powder biscuits.  Supper would be fried potatoes, green beans and either roast pork or perhaps barbecued goat.  Fridays we would eat catfish and okra.  I never tired of my grandmother’s southern cooking.

blast-furnaces-of-a-steel-mill-light-j-baylor-robertsMy grandfather supplemented his meager income by working at the Birmingham Steel mill.  I remember when we would go to Birmingham at night.  The sky would be full of smoke and sparks from the various steel mills in the city.  The steel mills dominated ingot of steelthe city architecture and they owned the night.  As we came closer to one of the mills, we would soon see the large red hot ingots lying on their side cooling off in the mill yard.  Occasionally, we could see the huge ladles of red hot ore pouring out their contents into the casting molds.  Sparks would fly everywhere and cauldron of steelthe night sky would be lit up with flames streaking hundreds of feet into the heavens.  It was almost like a fireworks show that went on night after night.  I left the mills and Alabama when I left home in 1964 thinking that I would probably never see either of them again.  I was wrong though.

One after another each of the five major steel mills in Birmingham shut down, unable to compete with more modern methods of making steel.  Soon there were only large rusted metal cities looming ominously over the landscape but devoid of soul and spirit.  The smoke and flames were gone from the night sky.  Each of the mills were torn down and replaced by shopping centers or parking lots until finally only one of the old mills

Steel Mills Birmingham

Steel Mills Birmingham

remained.  Civic minded leaders in a spirit of trying to capture history decided to turn this last steel mill into a museum.  Later on in my life, I toured this museum and visited the various plant areas but it was not the same anymore.  The plant that had killed hundreds of men and took my grandfather’s left foot was now lifeless.  In my imagination, I could see shadows of the dead men who had sweated in the heat of the blast furnaces and stoked coal to feed the hunger of the ovens for fuel and a growing nation for automobiles.  A steel mill that had once been a dangerous fiery roaring tiger was now simply a large cavernous rusty building that echoed in my mind with the mute sounds of the past.

Years after my first marriage was over, I took my second wife Karen down to Alabama to visit the remnants of the clan that my mother had belonged to.  By this time, my grandparents were dead and most of my aunts and uncles were also deceased.  I had never gone south with my first wife and so it had been years since I had visited Alabama.  Karen and I had taken trips together to several different countries.  We had been to England, Scotland, France, Germany and China.  I warned her that going down South would be a culture shock.  I was not surprised when she later told me that the “culture shock” she experienced in the South and with my relatives was greater than any she had experienced on our overseas trips including China.

Karen said she had heard that the South was still fighting the Civil War but she could not believe what she heard and saw during the trip.  Numerous bumper stickers, ain'tfergettintattoos, hats and t-shirts proclaiming:

  • Hell no, we ain’t forgettin
  • The South will raise again
  • Long live the Confederacy
  • Nathan Bedford Forest: American Patriot
  • Confederate American and proud of it

And of course, she saw numerous Confederate flags hanging from houses, pickup trucks and motorcycles.  We even found a roadside stand where they were selling Confederate memorabilia and a large sign over the stand proudly proclaiming “Heritage Not Hate” as though the Civil War was about mint juleps and the right of slaves to sing and dance all night long.

red neck shirtIt became apparent to me why I never took my first wife to visit my relatives.  Deep down inside, I was both appalled and ashamed at their ideas and behavior.  During our visit Karen and I listened to more prejudice and bigotry then I had heard in years.  I retreated to an almost catatonic state.  I did not once broach the subject of racism or discrimination despite the abundant evidence of its pervasiveness.  My normal outspokenness for intolerance was stilled in the onslaught of insults and harangues that I heard towards Blacks, Mexicans and other minorities.  It was like a Gordian knot of discrimination and I did not know where to start unravelling it.  On our way home, Karen and I discussed our mutual inability to speak out or take any action in the face of this prolific bigotry.  I perhaps more than Karen was embarrassed that I had said and did nothing.  I had become the silent person who fails to speak out.

We can talk about moving on but I don’t think many of us realize how long it takes to change a culture and to really let go and move on.  There have been and continue to be many changes in the Old South.  Slavery has of course ended.  The plantations are gone and Jim Crow rule is finally over.  The Confederate Flag has even been taken down from most Southern State Capitals.  The symbols and icons of the Old South are fast disappearing.  Nevertheless, in the hearts and minds of many Southerners, you can still hear the refrains from Dixie repeating: “Old times there are not forgotten, Look Away, Look Away, Look Away, Dixie Land.”  When it comes to the South, old times there are still not forgotten.

Time for Questions:

Have you ever been down South?  What was your experience?  Do you have any roots in the South? If so, what changes have you seen over the years?  What do you think it will take to make the South forget the Civil War and move on?

Life is just beginning.

“In the South, history clings to you like a wet blanket. Outside your door the past awaits in Indian mounds, plantation ruins, heaving sidewalks and homestead graveyards; each slowly reclaimed by the kudzu of time.”  ― Tim HeatonDon’t Be Ugly:





Bumper Sticker Philosophy?

bumper stickersRecently, I was thinking of starting a bumper sticker business.  Bumper stickers can do quite well in terms of bringing in revenue.  They are cheap and inexpensive and everyone has something they want to show off to the world.  If you go to any trade show or convention or some special events like Roller Girls, Star Trek conventions, Comic Cons, you will find lots of different bumper stickers at the various booths.  Someone once told me that bumper stickers (selling for 1 or 2 dollars) were a bread and butter item for them.  “Big expensive items hardly sold, but everyone had a dollar or two for a bumper sticker.”

This got me to thinking.  If I had some good ideas for a bumper sticker and if I sold each one for $1.50 with .50 shipping and handling and if everyone in the world bought just one of my bumper stickers, that would be 3 billion people X $1.50 which = $4.5 billion dollars.  If it kept 1/3 of that as net profit, I would earn $1.5 billion dollars.  I would still not be as rich as Donald Trump but if I could sell just one per year to everyone in the world, it would only take me 6 or so years and I would be wealthier than Donald Trump.  At that point, I could then finally claim “I am great!”  If I lived another 25 years, I might eventually surpass Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in net worth.

my_kid_beat_up_your_honor_student_bumper_sticker-e1425666062414Of course, a great bumper sticker business must start with great ideas that have universal appeal.  You must cater to the masses.  You must have themes that resonate with the common person.  You can’t have bumper stickers that say confusing things like E=MC2 or Circumference= Two x Pi x r.  You must have ideas that are simple to understand and that everyone can relate to.  For example, one classic one that I have seen on many cars is “My Kid Kicked Your Honor Roll Kids Ass.”  This of course expresses the clear concept that it is better to be a bully than be intelligent.  This seems to be an idea that among Trump supporters, Tea Party advocates and many right wing extremists resonates very well.

trump hateOne other example of a great bumper sticker has been around for many years.  It is quite popular and goes:  “God, Guns and Guts Made America Great.”   This bumper sticker shows quite clearly that God loves guns and guts and thus favors Americans who have more guns and guts than any other people in the world.  Statistics prove this fact as it is well known that there are enough guns in the USA for everyone to have at least three guns each for every man, woman and child in the US.   Even as I write, gun manufacturers are working to improve this statistic.   Ruger has a goal of selling two million guns this year and will donate a dollar for every gun sold to the NRA to help promote their goal of selling more guns.  In no time at all, we will have 4 guns for every person in the country, thus helping our nation become even greater than it is.

I would say something about guts, but we all know that Americans don’t run or that the colors on our flag don’t bleed.  It is an American truth that “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  What is lesser well known though is that there are now so many obese or “adipose challenged” (see my bumper sticker below) men in America that we are now having more difficulty getting it up, never mind running or getting going anywhere.  Statistics show the following:

  • More than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese. [Read abstract Journal of American Medicine (JAMA)
  • Obesity is higher among middle age adults, 40-59 years old (39.5%) than among younger adults, age 20-39 (30.3%) or adults over 60 or above (35.4%) adults.

funniest_crazy_cool_pictures_of_funny_bumper_sticker_2_20090814_1080511172But what the heck, you can still be fat and send drones and guided missiles to bomb the hell out of other people.  Guts are overrated!  If we can maim and slaughter our enemies, we will still win and that is what counts.  Winning is a common bumper sticker theme and one that I have tried to utilize in the following concepts.  I present these ideas as possibilities for my bumper sticker company.  I am open to other ideas.  Please feel free to share any great ideas you have for bumper stickers.  When my bumper sticker company becomes rich and famous, I will share some of my profits with you so that you can also be “Great” someday.  Thus, without further ado, here are my top ideas for “Great” bumper stickers.

  • My grandkids are smarter than your grandkids
  • Next to my girlfriend, my wife is the prettiest woman in the world
  • Harley Davidson – Made in Japan
  • Growing old sucks!
  • If you’re so rich, why aren’t’ you smart?
  • Free money
  • Sex, sex, sex, that’s all you ever think about!
  • Why do I have to swallow?
  • Trump is a big fat rich ass-hole, but I love him anyway!
  • Egotists rule
  • Not fat, adipose challenged
  • Intellectuals are stupid
  • Salads are for sissies
  • My mother can beat your mother up
  • Where is God hiding?
  • Send a missile, don’t send me!
  • Immigrants don’t belong here
  • Kill a terrorist for Christ
  • Who is John Persico?

funny-bumper-stickers.jpg-620453-Google-Chrome_2014-03-03_12-11-08-OptimizedI am working on other ideas but I thought this would be a good start.   One caveat that must be admitted is that bumper stickers can offend some people; but as they say “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.”  Furthermore, the people that buy bumper stickers usually have an innate desire to express themselves in ways that they can’t manage as well verbally.  A truly challenging bumper sticker lets people say things that they could not express as succinctly or eruditely if left to their own linguistic devices.  For instance, the NRA says that “When guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns.”  Can you imagine the average person making such an eloquent defense of guns and assault rifles with such a short but biting comment?  With one very unique phrase, millions of people have come to believe that they must buy a gun or be at the mercy of the millions of outlaws just lurking out there to rape and pillage their farms and homesteads, steal their cattle and ride off into the sunset with their women.

trump_supporters_bumper_bumper_bumper_stickerA great bumper sticker is an algorithm for self-expression.  Those commie pinko intellectuals who can confuse you with their big words and high sounding concepts don’t stand a chance against a good bumper sticker.  Bumper stickers let the average or even below average person duke it out on a level playing field with a Harvard college professor.  One of my favorite bumper stickers says:  “Just cause you’re so smart and went to school don’t mean you know anything.”  Wow, is that profound or what!  Take that you college Ph.D.’s that think you are so smart.  “My son will kick your graduate son’s ass.”

Time for Questions:

Do you have any favorite bumper stickers?  What do you think makes a good bumper sticker?  Do you ever put bumper stickers on your car?  Why or why not?

Life is just beginning.

“The world’s bumper sticker reads: Life sucks, and then you die. Perhaps Christian bumper stickers should read: Life sucks, but then you find hope and you can’t wait to die.”   ― Ted Dekker




Sex, Saints and Sinners

AdamandEve1Six thousand years ago, a prudish God threw Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Evil for fornicating.  He foolishly put a nude man and a nude woman together with a few apple trees and told them that they could do anything but fuck each other.  Naturally, given human nature and the DNA that God so wantonly created, Adam and Eve got bored with paradise and a bit of horny in the bargain.  It did not help that Eve looked pretty hot with no clothes on and that Adam was very well endowed.

They ate from the “Tree of Knowledge” and not the “Tree of Life” which is kind of funny, since one would think they would need to have some skills in copulating and procreating and the “Tree of Life” would provide these abilities .  Nevertheless, the apple from the “Tree of Knowledge” seemed to have all the information required and before long Eve was pregnant and both Adam and Eve were escorted out of the Garden of Evil.  It is ironic that the fault was blamed on Eve for initiating things and ever since then men have been expected to take the lead in sex.  Nevertheless, it is still typical for men to blame women for all the problems in the world.  Remember the story of Pandora’s box?

free the nipplesSix thousand years later and God is still a prude.  You still can’t walk down the street nude.  Women can’t show their breasts in public and men cannot show their pubic areas.  You certainly can’t have sex in public.  Natural human activities include eating, sleeping, working and sex.  However sex is not really included when we talk about public or “au natural” activities.  You can spread a blanket out in any park and have a picnic. Try spreading a blanket out in a park and start fornicating and see how long it takes before you are arrested.  Cops still patrol “lonely hearts areas” looking to bust people doing “it” in the back seat of their car.

free loveFor six thousand years, people, governments and society had been hung up and intolerant towards sex.  It would be foolish to say that we have remained in the Dark Ages, Victorian Ages or Middle Ages in our attitudes towards sex.  We have simply remained with the attitudes that we got from God in the Garden of Evil way long before these time periods.  Then came the sixties and the “Free Love Movement!”  The “Free Love Movement was an effort to create a more open and tolerant attitude towards sex.  The result was labeled as promiscuity.  (Promiscuity means that you are having sex with someone but I am not.)  People picked up books on sex that were written by Wilhelm Reich, who became known as the prophet of Free Love.

“In his 1927 study The Function of the Orgasm, Reich concluded that “there is only one thing wrong with neurotic patients: the lack of full and repeated sexual satisfaction” (the italics are his).  Seeking to reconcile psychoanalysis and Marxism, he argued that repression – which Freud came to believe was an inherent part of the human condition – could be shed, leading to what his critics dismissed as a ‘genital utopia’” — “Wilhelm Reich: the Man who Invented Free Love” by Christopher Turner

womens liberationThe Sexual Revolution of the sixties as well as the Women’s Liberation Movement (perhaps its third reincarnation) led to some major changes in the way sexuality is now played out in society.  Women started wearing sexier clothes and the clothes have continued on a sexier and sexier spiral ever since.  While women are still fighting for the right to expose their breasts in public, sex out of wedlock has become common.  There is no longer any expectation that sex partners will be married or that sex will even lead to marriage.  Condoms are as ubiquitous as lollipops and are now distributed in schools.

friends with benefitsIn our 21st century hook-up culture, friends with “benefits” have become the norm.  Television, movies and commercials all portray scenes of sex that censors would have cut to pieces even twenty years ago.  The dividing line between pornography, erotica and sexy has become ever more blurry if it even exists at all.  We have not quite come to commercials showing two people openly having sex, but it certainly would not be a shock or surprise to anyone today.  Books and literature describe sex acts from sodomy to bondage that are simply taken for granted or read on the sly.  The censorship that accompanied “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” is a thing of ancient history.

“In 1930, Senator Bronson Cutting proposed an amendment to the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act, which was then being debated, ending the practice of having United States Customs censor allegedly obscene imported books.  Senator Reed Smoot vigorously opposed such an amendment, threatening to publicly read indecent passages of imported books in front of the Senate.  Although he never followed through, he included Lady Chatterley’s Lover as an example of an obscene book that must not reach domestic audiences, declaring “I’ve not taken ten minutes on Lady Chatterley’s Lover, outside of looking at its opening pages. It is most damnable! It is written by a man with a diseased mind and a soul so black that he would obscure even the darkness of hell!”   — Wikipedia

So sex crazed people are no longer sinners but they are still not saints.  Sex is still something that is hidden away and referred to by euphemisms.  “Friends with Benefits” mean that I am fucking my “friend”.  “Special friend” means we go to bed regularly and copulate.  “Significant Other” means that we are living together and screwing without being married.  The promise and allure of sex is used to sell everything under the sun from cars to perfume to camp stoves.

hooking upSex may be more open but it is still not considered as natural a function as sleeping or eating.  We still have parents who have a difficult time discussing sex with their children.  This is true even when their children are now adults.  We still use euphemisms like “doing the dirty” or “doing the nasty” to refer to an act of passion and sometimes even love.  We walk on tiptoes around young children as though they don’t watch TV or go to the movies.  When I was a young child, I was taught in school that masturbating would either make my cock fall off or grow hair on it.  Both seemed like undesirable outcomes when I was eight years old.

Priests, monks and prophets still believe that celibacy confers some type of special honor in heaven.  Even non-celibate pastors and ministers hardly ever bring up talks about sex in their weekly homilies.  Sex is something we still do not discuss in public.  It is reserved for back rooms and brothels, unless you are in Las Vegas where street vendors routinely pass out pictures of available women for a price:  “Real college students!”  “Actual pictures of the women you will get if you call this number!”  Elsewhere in the United States hooking up vegas girlswith a prostitute, street walker, call girl or “escort” may get you a jail sentence.  The female side of the equation is usually locked up until a fine is paid.  Many zealous police departments throughout the US occasionally decide that they can better stamp out sex by jailing the John and not the “sex worker.”  A former CEO of my spouse was arrested several years ago in such a sting when he decided to take a mid-morning break from his job with an “escort” he met on Craig’s list.  Both the police department and his company frowned on this.  He was arrested, released later in the day and fired from his million dollar a year CEO job before the sun set that evening.  The moral here is that you don’t do sex on the job or at least you don’t get caught.

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a talk show and the interviewee was a journalist (Nancy Jo Sales) who had recently published a book titled:  “American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers.”

“In her new book American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers, readers are afforded the opportunity to understand what is really going on in the lives of teenagers, especially our girls. ..This book stands apart from other books targeted at understanding the concerns and current plight of teenage girls… A must read for all parents.”Examiner

The dialogue was very interesting between the talk show host and Nancy.  Then, Nancy was asked if her 13 year old daughter had read the book and what she might have thought about it.  Nancy seemed shocked by the question and I was shocked by her reply.  It was something to the effect that her daughter was still too young to read the book.  I could not believe that this woman who was ostensibly studying the sex lives of teenagers could say such a thing.  Was she unfamiliar with the following statistics?

Among U.S. high school students surveyed in 2013

  • 47% had ever had sexual intercourse.
  • 34% had had sexual intercourse during the previous 3 months, and, of these
    • 41% did not use a condom the last time they had sex.
  • 15% had had sex with four or more people during their life.
  • Only 22% of sexually experienced students have ever been tested for HIV.*
  • Nearly 10,000 young people (aged 13-24) were diagnosed with HIV infection in the United States in 2013.
  • Young gay and bisexual men (aged 13-24) accounted for an estimated 19% (8,800) of all new HIV infections in the United States, and 72% of new HIV infections among youth in 2010.
  • Nearly half of the 20 million new STDs each year were among young people, between the ages of 15 to 24.
  • Approximately 273,000 babies were born to teen girls aged 15–19 years in 2013

These statistics are taken from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website.

We still have too many sinners out there and not enough saints.  We have created a culture where people spend a good portion of their lives surfing the Internet for sex, porn, hookups and other forms of what are called illicit sex.  The amount of money spent on Internet pornography is said to exceed all other forms of Internet revenue.  We label this the dark side of the web.  Anyone trolling for sex is considered a pervert.  (The real perverts are those that prey on little children and are truly sick individuals).   However, for many normal people seeking a sex life that is consensual with other adults of their ilk, we have created a culture where sex is in a Freudian sense sublimated.  Sex is considered anything but a natural activity.

Two shows that I like on Netflix are “Murder in Paradise” and “Numb3rs.”  In both shows, the heroes are on love with women they work with.  The shows constantly tease us with the potential relationship between the two erstwhile lovers.  However, nothing is consummated in episode after episode.   It can be argued that this is to keep us tuned in each week but the net effect is to portray people who do not seem to know how to establish a loving relationship with each other.  My wife watches Bones where this same scenario between the FBI agent and the Forensic Anthropologist went on for many years.

leo on loveNow love and sex are certainly not the same thing.  Sex is much easier to define, unless you are into politics in which case “sex” often becomes a very ambiguous affair.  For most of us though, it is rather clear when and if we have had sex.  Sex is a physical affair.  Love on the other hand is an emotional affair.  Philosophers, poets, prophets and authors throughout history have tried to define love and yet we still do not really know what it is.  We use the term in very strange ways.  “I love you” we say to friends, relatives, spouses and even strangers.  I love my cat.  I love my house.  I love my new steak knife set.  Father Stochel at the Demontreville Retreat Center used to make fun of a class taught by Professor Leo Buscaglia with the words “luv, luv, luv, everywhere you look everyone is in luv.”  Buscaglia created a popular course at the University of Southern California during the eighties and became known as “Dr. Love.”

love_versus_lustThe question that haunts many of us is where does sex leave off and love begin or sometimes vice versa?  Where does love leave off and sex begin?  I have little doubt that if “love makes the world go round and money greases the wheel” it will be many decades and generations before love really becomes free.  It is just too valuable an enterprise to allow it to become as common as picnics in the park.  Sexy people will continue to be thought of as sinners and virgins will continue to be our erstwhile saints.  Men and women will both continue to be torn between the saint and the sinner.  Women will continue their love affairs with the “bad” guys and men will continue their love affairs with the “evil” women.  Society will continue its schizophrenic relationship with sex where on the one hand we all want as much of it as we can get and on the other hand, we don’t want to be labeled as sinners.  There are few saints associated with an excess of sexual activity either in God’s Garden of Evil or the 21st Century.


There are some readers who might wonder or even think that I made a typographical error in my naming of the Garden of Evil.  However, it is a little known fact that up until the Council of Vogogna in 634 AD, what is commonly referred to now as the Garden of Eden was first called the Garden of Evil.  This was the first name for the garden because this is where the “evil” deed of copulation was done by the first man and woman in the world to break God’s law regarding fornication.  The Catholic Church despite wanting to stamp out the growing tide of wanton sex that had taken place ever since Adam and Eve did it, also wanted to soften its stance a bit regarding the name of the earliest habitat of humanity.  Thus, at the Council of Vogogna, 200 or so Cardinals headed by Pope Honorius I decided on a name change.  The Garden of Evil would now be called the Garden of Eden and all records of the former name were to be expunged from Bibles and holy books.  Of course, prohibitions against fornicating would continue on as before.  Priests were always encouraged to remain celibate although this injunction did not apply to Bishops, Cardinals or Popes.  (See the following for a list of sexually active Popes.)  The list is even longer if you look at those who were sexually active as priests before they became Popes.

Sexually Active Popes:

Pope Sergius III (904–911) was supposedly the father of Pope John XI by Marozia (Source: Liber Pontificalis, Liutprand of Cremona).

Pope John XII (955–963) (deposed by Conclave) was said to have turned the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano into a brothel and was accused of adultery, fornication, and incest (Source: Patrologia Latina).

Pope Benedict IX (1032–1044, again in 1045 and finally 1047–1048) was said to have conducted very dissolute life during his papacy.

Pope Clement VI (1342–1352) according to contemporary writer Petrarch held dissolute life both before and after his election to the papacy. Countness of Turenne was ostensibly his main mistress.

Pope Alexander VI (1492–1503) had a notably long affair with Vannozza dei Cattanei before his papacy, by whom he had his famous illegitimate children Cesare and Lucrezia. A later mistress, Giulia Farnese, was the sister of Alessandro Farnese, who later became Pope Paul III. For rumors of Alexander’s sexual activity see Banquet of Chestnuts. He fathered a total of seven children.

Pope Julius III (1550–1555) was accused of having homosexual relations with his adoptive nephew Innocenzo Ciocchi del Monte whom he made a cardinal shortly after his election to the papacy. Some others claimed also that he was his father. None of this allegations, however, have been confirmed with certainity.


Time for Questions:

What role does sex play in your life?  Are you a sexy person?  Have you taught your children about the role that sex plays in a person’s life?  Is sex a good part of your life?  Why or why not?  What do you think we need to do to create a healthier attitude towards sex in life?

Life is just beginning.

“Sex and beauty are inseparable, like life and consciousness. And the intelligence which goes with sex and beauty, and arises out of sex and beauty, is intuition.”  — D. H. Lawrence



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