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Things A Catholic Ought Never Say
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Sister Patricia: On Seven Quick-Takes Friday
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Just Thought You'd Like To Know...
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Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Ugly Side Of Beauty

My blood runs cold -
My memory has just been sold -
My angel is a Centerfold
My angel is a Centerfold

I heard this old J Geils Band song earlier today, blaring from the outdoor speakers at a local ice cream joint. I was there with the Younger Son of LarryD, treating him to an after-ballgame treat (he played in a Little League All-star Baseball game - he's pretty good!), and along with the ice cream, we were treated to cruddy 80's smut music.

The song reminded me why I rarely, if ever, listen to popular music. So much of it glorifies sin, or reduces love to merely groinal activity, or celebrates the fallen human condition. This song in particular got me thinking about how destructive pornography is to families and society.

I heard a statistic on the radio some days ago - the pornography industry grossed more in 2008 than all the US professional sports teams, combined. I know porn is gross - that stat reinforces it.
All those magazines, online sites, DVD's, strip clubs - sucking in money and time, spitting out broken, damaged men. And women.

And it's darn near impossible to avoid - 'soft' porn is endemic. On billboards, in the checkout lanes at grocery stores on magazine covers, in newspapers, on television. It shows up on the computer after booting up - "Hollywood star sizzles in skimpy bikini!" tempts the AOL browser headline - and with a click of the mouse, alluring images can be scrolled through. And for what reason? These enticements are the first step down a dark path - a path that is incredibly difficult to turn away from. Only by the grace of God, the power of the sacraments, the help of a strong spiritual advisor, a dedicated prayer life, can a man resist the temptations and remain pure of heart and free of sin.

Pornography addiction, it's been said, is more powerful than drug addiction or alcoholism because the endorphins and hormones released in the brain, being naturally and internally generated, far exceed the strength of any substance that a person can inject, inhale or imbibe. And as with any sensory experience, the body craves more intense episodes - so the viewer sinks deeper into the quicksand while attempting to reach higher and higher with each experience. It's like trying to climb a smoke ladder.

I have a close friend who struggles with porn. He will call me after falling down, lamenting how easily he gave in to the temptation. And he's a good Christian man, shackled by leg irons that he can't just break free from. His story is a tragic one - when he was young, still in the early elementary school years, he was playing at a friend's house. His friend's father, with no regard to the age and innocence of his son or my friend, took them aside. Showing them a porn magazine, he said in so many words that to really be a man, this kind of stuff was necessary in their education. I think all my friend learned was that a) his friend's dad was a pervert; and b) it affected his life so deeply that he's still suffering to this day. I pray for him a lot to cooperate with God's grace and overcome this affliction.

Pornography could be the greatest example of the objectification of women. Men end up looking at women as mere playthings, only for their pleasure and gratification. When I hear guys say (and I've even heard a few women say the same thing!) "It doesn't matter where you get the appetite, as long as you go home for dinner!", I feel like asking them if their wives like being referred to as meat. I'm ashamed to say I used to laugh at comments like that. But after having struggled myself with a mild bout of the on-line variety, and by God's grace having avoided that temptation for a long time, I no longer find that statement funny. Relationships struggle and fail, marriages are decimated - I believe porn to be the single greatest contributor to the breakup of marriages. Four out of ten men are addicted to porn to one degree or another. And because it is so shameful, many of these men lack courage to seek help.

One thing that frustrates me about this scourge is that the progressive Catholics who tirelessly claim that the Church is oppressive to women rarely, if ever, speak out against pornography. Can there really be any comparison between the two? Which is worse, the fact that women cannot become priests, or the fact that women are exploited by a soulless industry, used to drag men into a black pit of undignified shame? I have tried to come up for a reason why the progCaths neglect this problem, and I honestly have no clue. It damages men, destroys women, dissolves marriages, unravels society, and yet all they ever prattle about is the "injustice" afforded women because they cannot be ordained. I guess sin in any form blinds the sinner who chooses to remain in their sin - to the detriment of society and the Church.

Ted Bundy stated that his addiction to pornography factored in his killing spree. I suppose when a man sees women as nothing more than assorted body parts connected by air-brushed skin, it's possible to see every person that way. It could probably be argued that the violence of porn led him to commit those violent murders. So...when the Hate Crimes Bill eventually passes, and a person murders a woman, or a number of women, and it's learned that he was deeply addicted to hard-core porn, maybe Larry Flynt and Hugh Hefner will get arrested, and their insidious empires will be dismantled. Wouldn't that be great - a providential example of God bringing good out of evil.

Speaking of Hugh - I think he's been dead for years now. It's just a steady drug cocktail of Cialis, Extenze, Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy Shots that keeps him animated.

More needs to be done to help men overcome their addiction, and to help women free themselves from the industry. There are organizations out there to help - one such place is TrueKnights.org, started by Kenneth Henderson (the site is under construction right now) - but the Church ought to take an even greater, more active role in helping men and women escape the trap and experience true freedom.