Pollyanna is that person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything. Religious folks can be just so inclined. Transgressive is that which exceeds a limit or boundary, especially of social acceptability. That is, transgressive folks go beyond acceptable boundaries of taste, convention, and even the law.
I’m no Pollyanna, but I do think some good will come out of growing up. I know that it is my choice, I’ll just make up my mind, and do not look anywhere else.
With puberty comes the sometimes first experience of the transgressive. Nearly unavoidable, hard to recognize when you’re young, and especially hard to talk about then. But it’s happening. I am born.
I know. I could not talk to my mother about my first erection at age 10 or so. Did I then think that it was her business to know? No, but it was not that. I was simply a bit ashamed. Strange how that was, or is. For me, it was an astonishing moment, a wonderous moment. What was the cause of my shame?
Christian theology teaches that shame is an innate virtue and that it helps to guide us on the correct path.
Should I have told my mother that I was ashamed of something? Like in ‘confess anything and all,’ like in ‘do not keep any secrets,’ like in ‘keep nothing private’? Just blurt it out, whatever it is, and cleanse or purify myself right away?
Well, yes. That is what confession is for. Surrender and submit yourself and you’ll be given happiness.
That is insane, really. I mean, you have opened a bottomless pit for humanity, pulled the rug from underneath us. What on earth is not shamable in the affairs of humans? Where to draw the line, if there is one at all? We already pray before every meal and sing an anthem before every game. Our lives are so scripted and ritualized according to morality, Is all that not a rather authoritarian claim by the church? Salvation, restoration, Heaven, unity, we know God’s will and what is right for you…
Animals are not ashamed, and they did not ‘fall.’ They may go into hiding when copulating. But that is not out of shame, that is out of safety and security. They do not want to get killed by a competitor in that most vulnerable moment.
We are created by God, you know. Humans are not animal.
Seriously, shame is more of a cultural imposition than an innate virtue. I do not buy into your conjectures anymore. While your god gave humans that godlike nature of consciousness, why did he not alleviate them of their ‘nasty,’ ancient animal drives and instincts? Big mistake.
God works in mysterious ways and you really do not understand. That’s why we have not seen you in a while, we guess.
Right. So you say that the best way to deal with the transgressive nature of sexuality, eroticism, and even amorous love is to denigrate it all? Like in ‘let’s coerce people into abstinence and have them endure years of sexual deprivation until they realize God’s love in their suffering and eagerly accept a blessed marriage for relief’?
Tom, repent – because blasphemous heretics like you will not make it into Heaven otherwise.
I’ll salute the common man without pity. Our doors are open 24/7 for all. No credit card needed.
Cool it, fellas. As I said long ago, the unruly power of sexuality is sublimated, kind of transfixed, into forms of real productivity. That is what’s happening. The Protestant work ethic should come to mind, and that ethics is not necessarily a bad thing, at least for the middle-class and the elites. Even the poor have gotten much richer.
Yes, but it comes at a cost, though. With all of our riches, are we happier? Satisfied, and not frustrated? If there is anything to be restored and honored, it must be the erotic. That’s the way to get rid of porn, the ultimate unerotic. I still wonder why the transgressive is so powerful.
Power is transgressive, so is the sexual. As Freud said, throughout human history, people have come to keep a lid on sexuality in favor of establishing and maintaining social cohesion. And perhaps for the better.
But shunning sexuality across all of Western society, even with the best of intentions, makes it only worse for those who have a hard time fitting in to begin with. The old Christian morality is not a slam dunk.
Well, yes, my child. Anima and animus are in all of us.
The powerful, the haves, the elites understand how to safeguard their status while also seeking to advance disruptive scientific and economic progress. Is sexuality used to control people somehow, especially by religious elites and wannabes, by people wanting to get the upper hand?
Not only that, but I used early, platonic-infused Christian morality to control myself and then some. As you must know, I had been a sex abuser, a violator of women, a real villain by modern standards. Thanks to my persistent mother’s love, I was able to turn myself in. And then I wrote about love, about God’s love, like a madman.
Many of the fallacies of subsequent Christian theology can be attributed to me. I could not see things nearly right, after having been so wrong before. And whatever I had said, my wishful thinking, seems to linger on in the superego even today. That should not come as a surprise to modern minds, though.
Oh my, this is all over my head. What are you talking about?
You’ll get there, Pollyanna. It’s just a matter of time. Without Freud’s sublimation of sexuality, we probably would still be living in the trees like the bonobos – if at all. Once your hormones kick in, your survival instinct will get stronger and guide you through the thick and thin of luck, over the ups and downs of fate, past the vicissitudes of life, and through the vagaries of love – believe me. Call it your conscience, the compass in the mind, your instincts, any cold-blooded reason, whatever, you will make it – like almost everyone else.
I say that because, actually, I am the one who will usually see to most all of that in people. Perhaps that is why God left me in there. I can be virtuous.
May the force be with you.
Your psyche is predisposed to privilege yourself over others, even though we must mold ourselves after others. Fact of life and normal and all, no moral choices or responsibilities or divine mandates can alter that.
Ok, but I am going to be nice anyway.
You should, girl, you should.
Remember that God loves you, Pollyanna. Our doors are always open for you. And, yes, we ask for a bit of tithing.
And who is taking care of me?
The author of this blog, Tom Froehlich, is a graduate of the Unification Theological Seminary (Class of ’83) and is infatuated with musing about the phenomenon of lasting erotic love in human affairs.