I’ve realized that my “___-Word Story” series doesn’t mean anything. It’s the literary equivalent of a sugar rush: brief satisfaction followed by a feeling of What did I just do?
To go into more detail:
One of the subjects I write about on this blog is nudity.
Specifically: Nudists. I write stories about people who go naked, and have written about the times that I myself have gone naked.
The reason why is: I find people who go naked fascinating.
The reason why is: “Wear clothes” is a near-universal rule in any family and any society. And yet, such people say “No.”
I don’t see nudists as rebels. But, such peoples’ choice to go without clothes goes against the grain. And I want to know what drives a person to make such a choice, and what they learn about themselves, others, and the world around them, as a result of being naked.
Only, I often find myself disappointed. I get the impression that a number of people only go naked in order to more easily pleasure themselves sexually.
That’s where I come back to me writing about nudity: I feel like I’m writing stories for a reason that is equally shallow.
For example: My most recent story:
The night I sleep naked, I am told, “You sleepwalk.”
Reading those words again, I think What does that even mean?
At least, not to me.
Looking back on all my writing about nudity over the years, “I Have Found It” is the one piece I can honestly say I am proud of.
Everything else just… bleh. It doesn’t feel right.
I want to do right by people who choose to go naked.
It’s my duty as a Catholic to see the humanity in all people, regardless of what they are or aren’t wearing:
“‘Whatever you did to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did to me.’” ~ Matthew 25:40
And, ultimately, I don’t see that happening when it comes to 99.9% of my writing on nudity.
Change is coming.
By the grace of God, it will be the change I need. Whatever that may be.
On a final note:
Thank you to the beautiful woman who made the photo used in this post possible.
“Do people never open the book that they believe is the literal truth? Why don’t they notice these glaring contradictions?” p. 94
81 “Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.”42
“And [Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching.”43
82 As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, “does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.”44 ~ Catechism of the Catholic Church
All of this is to say that, as a Catholic: While I do believe that the Bible is Truth, it is not the only source of Truth. Like a male and a female, Scripture and tradition make no sense on their own but, together, make more sense. And the “contradictions” in Scripture, like the fact that no one is perfect, don’t take away from the beauty and truth that results when two become one…
“It is an essential part of the scientific enterprise to admit ignorance, even to exult in ignorance as a challenge to future conquests.” p. 125
“One of the truly bad effects of religion is that it teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.” p. 126
I’ll do these two at the same time.
On the one hand, Richard Dawkins, you say that, when it comes to the study of nature, it is “essential” to admit ignorance, even exult in it — take it as a challenge.
But then you lament that, when it comes to one’s study of God, a person could ever be satisfied with not understanding something.
It sounds like you’re essentially saying “Ignorance for me but not for thee.”
Which makes you sound like a hypocrite.
And why would I listen to a hypocrite?
“. . . Design certainly does not work as an explanation for life, because design is ultimately not cumulative and it therefore raises bigger questions than it answers – it takes us straight back along the . . . ultimate regress.” p. 141
To look through a telescope or a microscope in the hope of one day declaring “There is no God” is like trying to disprove the existence of a woman by studying her newborn baby.
“Some educated individuals may have abandoned religion, but all were brought up in a religious culture from which they had to make a conscious decision to depart. The old Northern Ireland joke, ‘Yes, but are you a Protestant atheist or a Catholic atheist?’ is spiked with bitter truth.” p. 166
“The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.” p. 167, George Bernard Shaw
“A great deal of the opposition to the teaching of evolution has no connection with evolution itself, or with anything scientific, but is spurred on by moral outrage.” p. 211
“If you agree that, in the absence of God, you would ‘commit robbery, rape, and murder’, you reveal yourself as an immoral person, ‘and we would be well advised to steer a wide course around you.’” p. 227 (quoted partially from Michael Shermer)
“To be fair, much of the Bible is not systematically evil but just plain weird. . .” p. 237
To quote Bob Dylan: “Don’t criticize what you can’t understand.”
“Why should a divine being, with creation and eternity on his mind, care a fig for petty human malefactions? We humans give ourselves such airs, even aggrandize from our poky little ‘sins’ to the level of cosmic significance!” p. 238
Why should a divine being care about humanity?
You just said why: because he’s got creation and eternity on his mind.
And if a cosmic being does care about us, is it not logical for us to care about our “sins” that offend him?
“It is, when you think about it, remarkable that a religion should adopt an instrument of torture and execution as its sacred symbol, often worn around the neck.” p. 251
“The idea that baptizing an unknowing, uncomprehending child can change him from one religion to another at a stroke seems absurd – but it is surely not more absurd than labeling a tiny child as belonging to any religion in the first place.” p. 315
What about labeling that same child an atheist? Is that not “absurd” as well?
And if a child, through the use of their reason and as a result of their own research, one day says “I believe there is a god,” will you see them as “absurd”? Because, if you will — if, in your eyes, everyone who is not a non-believer is a fool — I fail to see this decency that you claim to have as an atheist since, to you, everyone who is not an atheist is a lesser human being; absurd, as opposed to not absurd.
“The faithful are encouraged to profess belief, whether they are convinced by it or not. […]” p. 352-53
Having attended church every weekend of my life (when I wasn’t sick or otherwise not able to make it) I can say that not once have I ever been encouraged to just say I believe. So I don’t know where such a claim is coming from.
On a related note:
“…do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”
~ Matthew 23:3
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…”
~ Matthew 7:21
“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it. p. 354 (Mark Twain)
I wouldn’t say I fear death, either.
It’s what might come after death that keeps me up at night.
“The atheist view is correspondingly life-affirming and life-enhancing, while at the same time never being tainted with self-delusion, wishful thinking, or the whingeing self-pity of those who feel that life owes them something.” p. 361
Isn’t it wishful thinking to say that atheism will never be “tainted with self-delusion… or the whingeing self-pity of those who feel that life owes them something”?
After all: History is full of examples of people thinking “___ will never happen.”
One example being:
“Baby’s First Atheism” are the words that come to kind when I think of The God Delusion. Take of that what you will.
There is more I could say about Richard Dawkins’ words, but this post was just me expressing my first impression of his views.
For now, my final words on Richard Dawkins are these:
Atheism strikes me as, for lack of better words, a terribly boring view of life.
To me, renouncing all belief in anything supernatural is the equivalent of choosing to watch paint dry all day, every day, for the rest of my days.
If I were to live in a world with absolutely nothing associated with anything supernatural — i.e., Richard Dawkins’ dream world — I would be denying myself pieces of art like this:
“There are lots of people out there who have been brought up in some religion or other, are unhappy in it, don’t believe it, or are worried about the evils that are done in its name; people who feel vague yearnings to leave their parents’ religion and wish they could, but just don’t realize that leaving is an option.” p. 1
“To be an atheist is a realistic aspiration, and a brave and splendid one. You can be an atheist who is happy, balanced, moral, and intellectually fulfilled.” p. 1
“Religion . . . has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. What it means it, ‘Here is an idea or a notion that you’re not allowed to say anything about; you’re just not. Why not? – because you’re not!’” p. 20 (quote by Douglas Adams)
Douglas Adams apparently never read verses like these:
“Test everything. Hold fast to what is good.”
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:21
“…be as shrewd as serpents…”
~ Matthew 10:16
“You can’t get away with saying, ‘If you try to stop me from insulting homosexuals it violates my freedom of prejudice.’ But you can get away with saying, ‘It violates my freedom of religion.’” p. 24
Here we go again…
The reason I say that is:
This sounds like another case of a person thinking You’re criticizing homosexuality. Therefore you hate homosexuals.
To which I say:
If you believed in the existence of the soul.
If you believed in the existence of Heaven and Hell.
If you believed that the body doesn’t last forever, but the soul does.
If you believed that sin causes a soul to end up in Hell.
And if you believed that homosexual acts are a sin.
Than what, in your eyes, would be the bigger act of “hate”?
To 1) Hide your beliefs from another, saying that there is no danger in homosexual acts?
Or 2) Tell the person that homosexual acts put their soul in danger?
My point being: Can we move beyond calling people who oppose two men rubbing their penises together “hateful”?
If I really hated homosexuals, than I would tell such people that, when it comes to what two men or two women do behind closed doors, there is no danger of any kind.
And when it comes to the mistreatment of not just homosexuals, but of any kind of person:
“God created mankind in His image.”
~ Genesis 1:27
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”
~ Jeremiah 1:5
“‘Whatever you did to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did to me.'”
~ Matthew 25:40
“If people wish to love a 7th century preacher more than their own families, that’s up to them, but nobody else is obliged to take it seriously…” p. 26 (quote by Andrew Mueller)
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” p. 31
At times, I agree.
But, when thinking about God’s nature, I find that a question to keep in mind is: “Why?”
Why is God the way He is?
For now, the best answer I have is:
Imagine if you found out your boyfriend/girlfriend were cheating on you. Chances are, you would be furious. Chances are, you’d give them an ultimatum:
“End it, or we’re done.”
It’s like that with us and God. Like an exasperated significant other, God will not tolerate infidelity.
“Who cares? Life is too short to bother with the distinction between one figment of the imagination and many.” p. 36
Ah, but here’s the thing: Believers don’t just have their eyes on this life; they have their eyes on what might come after, too. Hence the caring.
You know, for someone who insists that atheists can be decent people despite their unbelief, you’re not making a good case. After all: Is the response “Who cares?” the mark of a mature adult? Not to me.
On a related note: 0:30 — 0:47:
“…Judaism: originally a tribal cult of a single fiercely unpleasant God, morbidly obsessed with sexual restrictions, with the smell of charred flesh, with his own superiority over rival gods with the exclusiveness of his chosen desert tribe.” p. 37
I find it ironic that Richard Dawkins laments that religious people are “morbidly obsessed” with sex, and yet it is scientific people who are paving the way for men to give birth.
“Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?” p. 38 (quote from Barry Goldwater)
I’ll let you answer this one, Andrew Garfield:
“Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there is one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.” p. 42 (quote from Thomas Jefferson)
To quote these verses once again:
“Test everything. Hold fast to what is good.”
~ 1 Thessalonians 5:21
“…be as shrewd as serpents…”
~ Matthew 10:16
“The fact that we can neither prove nor disprove the existence of something does not put existence and non-existence on an even footing.” p. 49
God is not something that can be “proven.”
And even if the god of the Bible could be proven to exist as surely as the sun has been proven to rise in the east, would it make a difference to you?
After all: You know that your ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend exists, and yet you continue to want nothing to do with them.
“I have found it an amusing strategy, when asked whether I am an atheist, to point out that the questioner is also an atheist when considering Zeus, Apollo, Amon Ra, Mithras, Baal, Thor, Wotan, the Golden Calf, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I just go one god further.” p. 53
You know… when it comes to questions about the existence of a god or gods, I don’t have the patience for “amusing.”
Such questions are, to me, too serious for amusement.
Once again, Richard Dawkins, I’m failing to see the decency that you claim to have as a non-believer. For now, you’re doing nothing for me but perpetuating the “Atheists are assholes” stereotype that atheists like The Closet Atheist are successfully combating.
“There is no reason to regard God as immune from consideration along the spectrum of probabilities.” p. 54
0:10 — 0:13:
Seriously, though: this quote made me scratch my head and go Wait. What?
I’ll return to it another time.
“Remember Ambrose Bierce’s witty definition of the verb ‘to pray’: ‘to ask that the laws of the universe be annulled in behalf of a single petitioner, confessedly unworthy’.” p. 60
Depends on what you’re praying for.
And: What’s wrong with being “unworthy”?
Acknowledging one’s perceived limitations is humbling. And if I had to choose between being humble or being prideful, I’d choose humility.
One reason why being: It is humility that prevents one from becoming the next Wolf of Wall Street:
“[Natural selection] has lifted life from primeval simplicity to the dizzy heights of complexity, beauty and apparent design they dazzle us today.” p. 73
“Even if we allow the dubious luxury of arbitrarily conjuring up a terminator to an infinite regress and giving it a name, simply because we need one, there is absolutely no reason to endow that terminator with any of the properties normally ascribed to God: omnipotence, omniscience, goodness, creativity of design, to say nothing of such human attributes as listening to prayers, forgiving sins and reading innermost thoughts.” p. 77
Terminators, as the name implies, don’t create life, they end it.
To take your “Terminator” reference one step farther: God is either Sarah Conner or the T-1000. Because, as Terminator 2 (1991) shows us, it is not possible to be both at the same time:
0:00 — 0:30:
Let’s say God is Sarah Conner.
Well, then He can’t terminate John Connor (i.e., us; the human race) because termination is against His nature.
And if termination is against His nature, what is left for Him to do but create, nurture, and protect, like a mother instinctively does for her child?
But what about all the people in the Bible God kills, or commands be killed? you might be thinking.
Well, ask yourself: “Why?”
After all: A mother is a creator and a nurturer. But she will not hesitate to protect; to kill the intruder who tries to make off with her sleeping child.
Now that school is back with a vengeance, my relaxation time has been limited.
Thus, I’m still on Shizune’s arc in Katawa Shoujo.
Katawa Shoujo, I would say, is 90% “Great!” and 10% “No!”
Why? The sex scenes.
And I’ve realized why, when it comes to a story’s content, I don’t object to, for example, a woman cutting her own arm off with an electric carving knife…
…but as soon as clothes come off, I’m thinking Hands over the eyes!
The reason why is:
I feel like I’m seeing something I shouldn’t see.
What I mean by that is:
Ever see two people together and think I’ll just leave you two alone. I’m like that when it comes to sex scenes. I feel like I’m witnessing something that should only be witnessed by those two people.
As the reader or viewer — as an outsider looking in — I’m not one of the two people experiencing this intimate moment. And so the gravity of the moment is, ultimately, wasted on me. So it’s better if I remove myself entirely, for the sake of the moment. Thus, I close my eyes, press fast forward, click rapidly, or turn the page.
Though I’m not a fan of the sex scenes in Katawa Shoujo, thinking back on the two that have occurred so far, one thing I appreciate about Katawa Shoujo is that, true to the story’s name (“Crippled Girls”), no matter how explicit such scenes get, ultimately I never got the impression that the girls were objectified, treated as a means to an end, or otherwise seen as anything less than who they are: human beings.
Since the beginning of October, I’ve been reading Katawa Shoujo, a visual novel about a young man with a heart condition who is sent to a school for disabled kids, and the drama that happens there.
And, tonight, I discovered why “Disable Adult Content” is an option readers have…
To sum up my experience in 4 seconds:
I didn’t disable the adult content.
Doing that, I believe, would be like censoring a word in a book — sooner or later, my desire to know what had been concealed would get the better of me. Plus, in the interest of analyzing Katawa Shoujo, I thought I need to read all of Katawa Shoujo. Not just the parts that make me comfortable.
How to describe how I feel about Katawa Shoujo’s sex scenes…
On the one hand: It feels hypocritical to be critical of such scenes since, in my own writing, I don’t shy away from eroticism. Just read this.
On the other hand: It is my duty to “have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness; expose them” (Ephesians 5:11) and “test everything, holding fast to what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).”
Is Katawa Shoujo‘s adult content “fruitless deeds of darkness”?
I would say: “No.”
To explain why I’m going to have to get explicit, so you’ve been warned.
Hisao and Emi have anal sex.
Upon first reading that scene, I thought of quitting Katawa Shoujo. The 6 hours I’d put into the story so far had been some of the most thought-provoking fun I’d had in months — lately I’ve been in the mood for slice of life stories — but, in the face of such a drawn out, explicit scene, I thought They’ve crossed the line. Clicking rapidly through the scene just to get it over with, I felt like JonTron:
But, something happened as I continued reading, the strength of the story itself overpowering my objections to its risque elements:
Even if anal sex hadn’t left Hisao and Emi going “We are not doing that again,” Katawa Shoujo makes it clear that, ultimately, no matter the position, no amount of sex is going to resolve the struggles that the two of them face. Eventually, Emi is going to realize that she can no longer keep her demons at bay with a kiss and a touch. Eventually, Hisao is going to have to pull away and say the four words he dreads: “We need to talk.” A relationship built on the physical is a relationship build on a foundation of sand. And it is only through being open and honest with their thoughts and feelings, building their relationship on a foundation of stone, that Hisao and Emi will be able to weather life’s storms that threaten to break them up (Matthew 7:25 — 27).
In that way, I would say, Katawa Shoujo is “exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness.”
That is something I will hold fast to as I continue to read.
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.”
~ Philippians 4:8
I deleted my previous post, “10-Word Story: Moment Of Calm”, because I felt like it didn’t measure up to the standard I have for myself. I don’t know what my standard is, but I know what it isn’t.
When it comes to my 10-word stories, I usually write them fast. I see a beautiful piece of art, and the words pop into my head in no time. But for “Moment of Calm” I spent over an hour thinking of what to say.
The piece of art was so beautiful. I felt I had to say something. I was going for something serious, sensual, or erotic, but settled for something semi-humorous: One child asking another what his mom is doing sitting naked at his dinner table. How awkward might that conversation be?
But, after giving it more thought: The woman in this piece of art deserves better than that. She deserves better than I can currently give her.
Though the road is long and lonely and the end far away, out of sight I can with these arms embrace the light
As I bid farewell my heart stops, in tenderness I feel My silent empty body begins to listen to what is real
On another note:
Recently, I had a conversation with fellow blogger Love Alchemy about nudity and nature. In it, she said:
I remember most vividly bathing in streams and walking through what I would call forest for lack of a better term. It was a place of tall trees, uninhabited, serene and being naked was just so, a be’ing. Though quite young I recall those moments fondly and feel edified to hold any remembrance of beauty.
And I realize that, since that conversation, I’ve been trying to help her “hold any remembrance of” the beauty of, for example, bathing in streams. That’s one of the reasons for posts like “10-Word Story: Revelation.”
And I’ve also realized that, ultimately, I am not Love Alchemy. No matter how hard I might try, or how hard I might want to, I cannot see the world through her eyes. To put it another way: Ultimately, only Love Alchemy can tell Love Alchemy‘s story.
I wasn’t trying to “tell her story” because I thought she was not able to tell it herself.
Like with the work of art that left me speechless, I just wanted to say something; do something to help Love Alchemy hold on to the beauty of her past because I could not accept doing nothing.
Why could I not accept doing nothing? The answer to this question goes back to one of the driving forces behind this blog:
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
~ Matthew 5:14 — 16
Where do I myself go from here? I don’t know.
But, I believe the best thing that I can do is, to quote “Always With Me”: