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Right Theory: Mystical bodies, part 3 — “Every spirit that dissolveth Jesus”: The anti-Christ in electronic media

Photo by Giuseppe Enrie, 1931In my last post I outlined the choice facing us all as we witness the growth of the corporate Global Person: incorporation through electronic media into either the Mystical Body of Christ or the Mystical Body of Anti-Christ. The right path, I hope, is clear. Even so, we must always be on guard to avoid being drawn into the Mystical Body of Anti-Christ, and this can be accomplished by gaining critical perspective on the nature of the media entities that seek to incorporate us.

A first step is to determine the characteristics of the anti-Christ as manifested through electronic media; for this problem, the Sacred Scriptures provide some help. The First Epistle of John explicitly addresses the subject of the anti-Christ, and although it dates from a period in history that seems far removed from our own, his time was like ours in that paganism and heresy flourished and true Christians had to discern carefully the spiritual nature of much of what they saw and heard. In the epistle, St. John advises his fellow Christians:

“Dearly beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits if they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. By this is the spirit of God known. Every spirit which confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God: And every spirit that dissolveth Jesus, is not of God: and this is Antichrist, of whom you have heard that he cometh, and he is now already in the world.” (1 John 4:1-3; this and all scriptural quotations that appear in this post are from the Douay Rheims Bible)

As this passage suggests, the anti-Christ is a body made of bodies, and not the individual that many, drawing from the Book of Revelation, assume he will be. Earlier in his letter, St. John points to the corporate nature of the anti-Christ with greater clarity when he warns, “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that Antichrist cometh, even now there are become many Antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18). The anti-Christ is not a charismatic figure who will appear on our television and computer screens sometime in the future: he was present, as a corporate entity, at the time of St. John and he is present now, although as Marshall McLuhan suggests in his 1969 letter to Jacques Maritain, electronic media have increased his power, speeding up the construction of what McLuhan refers to as “a reasonable facsimile of the mystical body, a blatant manifestation of the Anti-Christ.” The “spirits” that St. John speaks of are the heretical teachers, teachings, and churches of his time, while for us they are McLuhan’s “electronic information environments,” which “being utterly ethereal fosters [sic] the illusion of the world as a spiritual substance.”

St. John advises his audience to “try the spirits if they be of God” by determining if these spirits “confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God,” or if they “dissolveth Jesus.” Broadly speaking, in the context of electronic media, spirits that “dissolveth Jesus” may be thought of as those closed media environments that exclude Jesus as the Word or Logos. These closed environments exclude life, in that they deny that Jesus is the foundation of reality. All of us have experienced the magnetism of electronic media environments and their capacity to block out the world, substitute fantasy for reality, and foster the decomposition of the mind and body. Such environments invite solipsism and “dissolveth Jesus” in the soul.

Jesus is the only medium (and His status as a medium is something I have addressed in an earlier post) through which we can find salvation. As McLuhan says in his 1969 Playboy interview, “Christ . . . is the ultimate extension of man,” or the ultimate medium. All other media, if they do not lead us to Jesus, can only lead us back to ourselves. The closed media-environment that excludes nature, person-to-person contact, and spiritual truth becomes, at its extreme, analogous to the snake swallowing its own tail (or Ouroboros): the Zero. The Mystical Body of anti-Christ, with Satan as its head, seeks to contain all such closed media environments into a single, narcoticizing, suffocating body leading from this world to the closed environment from which there is no escape: Hell.

A defining characteristic of closed media environments is their capacity to simulate reality, and this is the means by which they exclude Christ. In the Mystical Body of Christ, media are used to connect us to other people, to the world in all its complexity, and ultimately to the Church, which in turn connects us to the Church Suffering in Purgatory and the Church Triumphant in Heaven. The closed media environments of the Mystical Body of anti-Christ, on the other hand, simulate the world, replacing the sacred with the simulacral and the incorporeal with the merely virtual. The religion that blossoms in these environments is a sort of digital Gnosticism–an echo of the Docetist heresy fought against by St. John and later St. Augustine and others. The believers of Docetism, who represent one variation of the larger Gnostic heresy, managed to “dissolveth Christ” by claiming that Jesus was an entirely spiritual being, and that His human body was merely a convincing simulation. There is a robust teaching that accompanies this idea in Gnostic thought–a false teaching that usually asserts that the spiritual is good and the material is evil, the material world must be rejected entirely, marriage and procreation should be shunned, and abnormal sexuality should be tolerated (all for reasons I don’t have space to address here). Today’s unwitting cyber-Gnostics don’t entirely shun the material world and the processes of nature (for the gadgets that keep them immersed in their spiritual unreality are certainly material), but they alienate themselves from both by living a narcissistic and masturbatory lifestyle, rapt in a world of simulation, often embracing all those sins that fuel our “Culture of Death.” At its worst, such devotion to the Mystical Body of anti-Christ devolves into an asceticism of gluttony: many of us are familiar with the unfortunate prevalence in our society of the figure of the Internet-addicted bachelor who ruins his body with fast food, avoids the sunlight, bathes rarely, and generally radiates the nauseating stink of the shut-in, all for an all-consuming online life of chatting, tweeting, and gaming. The decrepit, willfully unemployed, socially maladjusted Internet geeks of our time are, as cultural figures, the Satanic inversions of the hermitic Desert Fathers, who in the early days of Christianity left the world behind to pray and advocate on behalf of others to God. The simulations of reality they indulge in may appeal to the senses and create a false sense of excitement or comfort, but whiffs of necrotic flesh drift out from behind the electronic facades.

To avoid the lure of the simulacrum, one must distinguish between those signs, flowing through the media, which point to reality (or Christ) from those that merely simulate reality. Some academic philosophers and media theorists, for the most part coming from the French political left, have investigated the concept of the simulacrum in philosophy and in relation to our “postmodern” culture, and their insights can be helpful, even for those like myself who do not share their philosophical and political orientations. Gilles Deleuze, in his essay, “Plato and the Simulacrum,” examines the concept of the simulacrum in Plato in order to explain how one might engage in the task that Nietzsche set for his new philosophy: the “‘overthrow of Platonism'” (45) (and by this, both Nietzsche and Deleuze do not mean the overthrow of Platonism and Platonism only, but the overthrow or inversion of all or most of Western philosophy). Deleuze’s focus in this particular essay is on aesthetics and representation, but his larger project is to rid philosophy of any lingering concepts of transcendence, at least as traditionally conceived, or else submerge them in a philosophy of total immanence or this-world-ness, along the lines of Spinoza’s philosophical pantheism. Anyone reading Deleuze from an orthodox Catholic perspective will see a Luciferian impulse at work here, and I believe there is a connection between Deleuze’s fusion of spirit and substance and McLuhan’s warning that “Electronic information environments being utterly ethereal fosters [sic] the illusion of the world as a spiritual substance.” In any case, through Deleuze’s work we can gain insight into how, specifically, the simulacrum functions as part of the metastatic DNA of the anti-Christ.

Deleuze positions the simulacrum as an unstable concept within Platonism, and presumably also within those aspects of our culture that maintain some connection to the philosophical tradition deriving from Plato. He examines Plato’s theory of representation as it appears in the Sophist (236b, 264c), and comes to the conclusion that “. . . Plato divides the domain of the image-idols in two: on the one hand the iconic copies (likenesses), on the other the phantasmatic simulacra (semblances)” (47-48). The iconic copies each bear an analogical resemblance to an original Platonic Idea. Phantasmic simulacra are those signs that have, by being crafted to appeal solely to the subjective experience of the observer (or in the modern world, by undergoing processes of mass reproduction and distribution), lost their internal analogical resemblance to Ideas and have become mere simulations or fakes. However, Deleuze does not entirely accept this understanding of the simulacrum as “a copy of a copy, an endlessly degraded icon, an infinitely slackened resemblance” (48), since he stresses that it is also something more. He writes, “The simulacrum is not degraded copy, rather it contains a positive power which negates both original and copy, both model and reproduction” (53). Daniel W. Smith, in an essay on Deleuze, Plato, and the simulacrum, expands on this idea in the context of Christianity, suggesting that “If simulacra later became the object of demonology in Christian thought, it is because the simulacrum is not the ‘opposite’ of the icon, the demonic is not the opposite of the divine, Satan is not the Other, the pole farthest from God, the absolute antithesis, but something much more bewildering and vertiginous: the Same, the perfect double, the exact semblance, the doppelganger, the angel of light whose deception is so complete that it is impossible to tell the imposter (Satan, Lucifer) apart from the ‘reality’ (God, Christ) . . .” (13). When icons become simulacra, the foundations of reality are threatened, and the grounding principle of analogical resemblance or likeness is replaced, in the destructive confusion caused by the impostor or fake, with a new sign-system based upon ungrounded difference–“difference” being a key concept for Deleuze and many post-structuralist thinkers, as it allows them to envision reality as an immanent domain of non-hierarchical, radically pluralistic sign-systems. Icons foster hierarchy (which for Deleuze is bad), and simulacra foster pluralism (which for Deleuze is good). Whether “to raise up simulacra, to assert their rights over icons or copies” (52) in order “to overthrow Platonism,” as Deleuze advocates, would plunge us into total relativism and nihilism, is a complicated question; the very least that can be said is that in the differential world of simulacra there is no room for Christ, the Church, or the Thomist philosophy that we must uphold as the surest guide to truth.

The closed media environment and the simulacrum are but two sources of the demonic energy that powers the Mystical Body of anti-Christ, that all-encompassing simulacrum that offers, at best, a simulation of Heaven that amounts to nothing more than great hall of mirrors in an echo chamber, where “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42) multiplied in reflection for all eternity.

Works Cited:

Deleuze, Gilles. “Plato and the Simulacrum.” Trans. Rosalind Krauss. October 27 (Winter, 1983): 45-56.

McLuhan, Marshall. Letter to Jacques Maritain, 6 May 1969, from Toronto. The Medium and the Light: Reflections on Religion. Eds. Eric McLuhan and Jacek Szklarek. Toronto: Stoddart, 1999. 70-73.

McLuhan, Marshall. “Playboy Interview – A candid conversation with the high priest of popcult and metaphysician of media.” Rpt. From Playboy (March 1969). Essential McLuhan. Eds. Eric McLuhan and Frank Zingrone. Concord, Ontario: Anansi, 1995. 233-69.

Smith, Daniel W. “The Concept of the Simulacrum: Deleuze and the Overturning of Platonism.” Essays on Deleuze. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012. 3-26.

Right Theory: Mystical bodies, part 2 – The Mystical Body of Christ and the Mystical Body of Anti-Christ

In my last post I discussed the incorporative nature of the new electronic media and the impending rise of the Global Person, and presented a quote from Marshall McLuhan’s 1969 Playboy interview in which he offhandedly relates the concept of “Psychic communal integration, made possible at last by the electronic media” (262) to the Mystical Body of Christ. In order to proceed, I must clarify the latter concept, which I can’t assume is familiar to most readers.

The Mystical Body of Christ, for Catholics, is the Church understood as a single corporate entity stretching from our material realm, through Purgatory, to Heaven. At baptism, we are incorporated into the Mystical Body. The Head of the Mystical Body is Jesus Christ, and the Soul of the Mystical Body is the Holy Spirit. The Mystical Body on Earth is the Church Militant; the Mystical Body in Purgatory is the Church Suffering or Church Expectant; and the Mystical Body in Heaven is the Church Triumphant. The members of these three parts of the Church form the Communion of Saints within the Mystical Body. Communication between the parts of the Mystical Body occurs primarily through the sacraments and the medium of prayer. Communication within the Church Militant (the Mystical Body on Earth), however, makes use of all the usual “earthly” forms of media we have at our disposal. The Mystical Body inhabits our media, through channels that may have nothing to do with specifically Catholic communications, reaching out through the wires, cables, and airwaves to incorporate any who open their hearts to Jesus Christ.

The Venerable Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979), in his 1935 book The Mystical Body of Christ, describes the Mystical Body with an eloquence far greater than I can hope to muster:

“The plan of the Incarnation was based upon the communication of the Divine through the human, the invisible through the visible, and the eternal through the temporal. It was, in a certain sense, the foundation of a Sacramental universe in which material things would be used as channels for the spiritual. The footprints of the Eternal Galilean were soon to fade from the sands of the seashore and the dust of Jerusalem’s streets; even the beautiful body which He took from His mother would be so tortured by men as to lose all its comeliness before assuming that glorified state in which men could no longer touch it. But though He knew He was soon to leave, He would not be an Architect who lays a foundation and then disappears, nor a Teacher who ceases to teach, nor a King who ceases to govern, nor a Priest who ceases to sanctify. He would be with men even to the consummation of the world. In order that this union might be effective, He said that He would assume a new body which should not indeed be like the physical body which He assumed from the Blessed Virgin, but another body, a kingdom, a social unit, a spiritual corporation of regenerate souls, a new humanity, a new race” (33-34).

Later in the same work he explains that the Mystical Body is part of the yet larger Mystical Person of Christ:

“Christ and His Mystical Body make but one Mystical Person. A Mystical Person has a double existence: one in Himself as Head of the Mystical Body, and the other in the Body of the faithful who receive His Life. Inasmuch as He exists in Himself, He is a single Person; but inasmuch as He subsists mystically in His members, He fills the role of Personality. Thus united to us, Christ shares His Life by a kind of ‘communication of idioms’ somewhat akin to that which is established between his two natures” (67-68).

If, as I suggested in my last post, electronic media has made possible the creation of the Global Person, it has also made possible (even if seemingly unlikely) the rapid and totally immersive incorporation of all humanity into the Mystical Person of Christ. The way forward for any Christian is clear: if we are to become part of a Mystical Body of a Mystical Person, it should have Christ as its Head. I can’t say for sure whether McLuhan saw electronic media as a potential path to salvation, but the quotation from his Playboy interview shows he understood that the incorporative nature of electronic media is at least analogous to the spiritually incorporative nature of the Mystical Body of Christ. There is also, as I noted in an earlier post, strong evidence that underneath his non-moral exterior McLuhan was, as Mark Krupnick asserts, “a belated modernist who was hoping that the new science might be used to reverse the effects of Gutenberg technology, thereby restoring us to the unified oral world of the Catholic Middle Ages” (113).

If McLuhan’s thoughts on the use of electronic media for spiritual advancement are ambiguous, his concerns regarding its potential for spiritual degradation are less so. In the same Playboy interview, on the topic of the eventual impact of technological development, McLuhan remarks, “There are grounds for both optimism and pessimism. The extensions of man’s consciousness induced by the electric media could conceivably usher in the millennium, but it also holds the potential for realizing the Anti-Christ—Yeats’ rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouching toward Bethlehem to be born” (268). In a similar vein, in a 1969 letter to Jacques Maritain, McLuhan writes, “Electronic information environments being utterly ethereal fosters the illusion of the world as a spiritual substance. It is now a reasonable facsimile of the mystical body, a blatant manifestation of the Anti-Christ. After all, the Prince of this World is a very great electric engineer” (72). McLuhan seems to be pointing to two possible outcomes of the further development of incorporative electronic media: the extension of the Mystical Body of Christ, or the development of the Mystical Body of Anti-Christ.

Sheen also writes of the Mystical Body of Anti-Christ in an oft-quoted (on the Internet) passage from his 1948 book Communism and the Conscience of the West, using language that McLuhan echoes in his letter to Maritain. Speaking not of the electronic media but of a new political order, Sheen states, “He [the Anti-Christ or Devil] will set up a counterchurch which will be the ape of the Church, because he, the Devil, is the ape of God. It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content. It will be a mystical body of the Antichrist that will in all externals resemble the mystical body of Christ” (24-25?).

In my next post, I will take a closer look at this great Ape of God, the Mystical Body of Anti-Christ: where It dwells in our media environment, how It functions, and how Its battle with Christ is conducted.

Works Cited:

Krupnick, Mark. “Marshall McLuhan Revisited: Media Guru as Catholic Modernist.” Rev. of Marshall McLuhan, Escape into Understanding: A Biography, by W. Terrence Gordon. Modernism/modernity 5.3 (1998): 107-22.

McLuhan, Marshall. Letter to Jacques Maritain, 6 May 1969, from Toronto. The Medium and the Light: Reflections on Religion. Eds. Eric McLuhan and Jacek Szklarek. Toronto: Stoddart, 1999. 70-73.

McLuhan, Marshall. “Playboy Interview – A candid conversation with the high priest of popcult and metaphysician of media.” Rpt. From Playboy (March 1969). Essential McLuhan. Eds. Eric McLuhan and Frank Zingrone. Concord, Ontario: Anansi, 1995. 233-69.

Sheen, Fulton J. Communism and the Conscience of the West. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merril Company, 1948. Note: I do not have a copy of this book, so I am trusting the accuracy of the many Internet sites that quote from it. I have no reason, however, to believe that the passage I have quoted is inaccurate.

Sheen, Fulton J. The Mystical Body of Christ. New York: Sheed & Ward, 1935.

Right Theory: Mystical bodies, part 1 – incorporative media

All of us, throughout our lives, belong to multiple corporate entities: the mother, the family, the community, the city, the nation, the empire, the world, the church, the faith. Usually we are already incorporated into these entities without our consent, although some we must choose to enter. As we grow, we may gain the ability to incorporate others—as mothers, or as heads of families, or as leaders in business or politics—but at no point can we claim autonomy.

The powers that hold these corporate entities together vary, and may include blood, race, geography, familiarity, or religious conviction, but they always depend upon and exercise their influence through forms of media, broadly conceived. Marshall McLuhan conceived of media as “extensions of man,” and we may expand upon this idea by conceiving of media as extensions of man that make possible the formation of corporate entities, or Persons made of persons. The development of electronic media has created a Global Village (to borrow McLuhan’s term) consisting not of individuals but of corporate multimedia entities, and the continuing expansion and refinement of electronic media will ultimately result in the development of the Global Person, in and through which all of humanity may be united as a corporate whole.

McLuhan did not use the term Global Person, but he certainly spoke of such an entity, as in this comment from his famous 1969 Playboy interview: “Psychic communal integration, made possible at last by the electronic media, could create the universality of consciousness foreseen by Dante when he predicted that men would continue as no more than broken fragments until they were unified into an inclusive consciousness” (262). Here, McLuhan seems to be speaking not of an interconnected Global Village but of the soul of a Global Person. As McLuhan’s reference to Dante suggests, this idea of a universal “inclusive consciousness” has little to do with New Age globalism. Indeed, McLuhan continues with reference to another historical precedent: “In a Christian sense, this [“Psychic communal integration”] is merely a new interpretation of the mystical body of Christ; and Christ, after all, is the ultimate extension of man.” The distinctly (though perhaps not exclusively) Catholic concept of the Mystical Body of Christ, which McLuhan as a devout Catholic convert would have known well, should be of great significance to any Catholic thinker grappling with the spiritual implications of the new media. Although McLuhan was speaking, as he always did in public, from a self-consciously non-moral and non-religious perspective, his reference to the Mystical Body of Christ points to the possibility of a Catholic cultural criticism that would address the powerfully incorporative nature of electronic media.

To be continued in “Mystical bodies Part 2 – The Mystical Body of Christ and the mystical body of anti-Christ”

Notes:

For anyone who has doubts regarding the influence of Catholicism on McLuhan, see my earlier post on McLuhan as a Right Thinker or Read Mercer Schuchardt’s excellent article “The Medium is the Messiah: McLuhan’s Religion and its Relationship to His Media Theory” in the online journal Second Nature (April 1, 2013).

McLuhan, Marshall. “Playboy Interview – A candid conversation with the high priest of popcult and metaphysician of media.” Rpt. From Playboy (March 1969). Essential McLuhan. Eds. Eric McLuhan and Frank Zingrone. Concord, Ontario: Anansi, 1995. 233-69.

Our Inversional Culture: The New Ontario Sex-Ed Curriculum

“The ‘homo’ is the legitimate child of the ‘suffragette.'” – Wyndham Lewis, 1926

I’ll begin this post with a relevant quotation from Wyndham Lewis (not to be confused with his much milder contemporary D.B. Wyndham Lewis), taken from his 1926 work of political analysis, The Art of Being Ruled. The passage speaks to the problems that Ontarians are facing as radical feminism, rekindled by gender theory and LGBTTIQQ2S (or whatever) activism, becomes more and more an essential element of Canadian public policy. Such activist theory has recently crept into Ontario’s new Health and Physical Education curriculum, which unfortunately must be followed in both public and Catholic elementary schools and high schools. (The curriculum is normally available here but the government site is down for some reason.)

Keep in mind that Lewis’s prophetic quote is from a book published almost ninety years ago.

“Now what really is happening today (and this will continue until the full circle of social revolution has been described) is that the opposite of the initiatory ceremonies of puberty, universal amongst primitive people, are performed. The puberty ceremony of primitive life was directed to separating the adolescent male from the women and children (with whom up to then he had lived) for ever. Simultaneously he became a ‘tribesman,’ and was initiated into the ceremonies over which the male leaders of the tribe presided. Today at the age of puberty, or indeed long before, the child receives, and is destined more and more to receive, an intensive ritualistic teaching opposite in its aim: namely, away from the traditions of the tribe and its traditional rulers. He, he is told, is henceforth the ruler. (This in effect would be the rule not by childhood, of course, but by the mentor or teacher, the dominy, and by the queen-mother, sitting upon an ideologic matriarchal throne.)” (Lewis 253-54)

Lewis is describing the development of our inversional culture; this development started long ago—it’s not even remotely new. Even in the Britain of 1926, traditional families and communities were already being turned inside out and transformed according to the logic of “social revolution.” Lewis saw the coming of the man-child, the teacher-ruler, and the ideological matriarch. Under such a system, the child (and especially the male child) is forced to remain a child indefinitely with a sexual drive that has been stunted and misdirected by what is indeed “an intensive ritualistic teaching.” This teaching is ritualistic in the sense that it demands participation and repetitive acts of affirmation. All of us are part of the ritual, in some sense, in that we are daily assaulted by the percussive messaging of feminism and gay rights; it commands us to conform, against every natural instinct.

Ontario’s ideological matriarch is Premier Kathleen Wynne, and her Ministry of Education is her hive of teacher-rulers. That being said, I don’t think she is the head of any conscious conspiracy to sow moral chaos. I doubt she thinks that what she’s doing is controversial at all. As you can tell from her grating smile and DeGenerestic spunk, her eyes are filled with rainbows and she genuinely believes she is on the side of the angels.

The problem with the new curriculum is not its explicitness. The problem is that it seeks to enshrine, within our school systems and within the minds of young Canadians, a warped sense of sexuality and gender. To show this, I’ll highlight several of the key elements of the ‘teaching’ contained in the curriculum. I’ll try to do this without hyperbole, so as to avoid the usual accusation that anyone who objects to the curriculum is a prudish bigot.

Element 1: the usual (for sex-ed) sterilization of the topic of sexuality

As in the past, the curriculum treats reproductive organs as if they are mere pleasure-organs that must be handled carefully so as to avoid disease or pregnancy. Never mind that the purpose of these organs is, first and foremost, the creation of new life. The idea of sex as consummation is ignored, as is any connection between sex and marriage. The new guidelines even discourage children from using the terms “husband” and “wife,” except in situations where those terms are approved as being appropriate.

Element 2: the separation of sex (as biology) and gender (as social construct)

The new curriculum confidently treats gender as a social construct when in fact the boundaries between nature and nurture in gender expression are not at all clear. (Indeed, the document contradicts itself when it describes “gender identity,” in a sample Grade 5 student response, as one of the “things I cannot control.” If gender identity is a social construct, it is not an unchangeable essence.) The stark sexuality/gender divide allows for a distinction between gender identities (“e.g., male, female, two-spirited, transgender, transsexual, intersex”) and sexual orientation (“e.g., heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual”). How is an elementary school student supposed to use this model of sexuality and gender as a guide when it is based on confused activist theory rather than fact? Why not simply explain that most people are either male or female in both sex and gender although there are many variations from the norm?

Element 3: quantitative relativization

In the lists of available options for gender identity quoted above, we see a technique characteristic of the Marxist intellectual habitus which we might refer to as quantitative relativization. A category of human identity—in this case gender—is identified, and the spectrum of possible sub-categories is mapped out. What is crucial is that the sub-categories be listed without any reference to their actual distribution in human societies. Anyone who doesn’t spend all their time on the Internet or on university campuses knows that the overwhelming majority of people on Earth identify as either male or female (and are also “cisgendered,” to borrow a noxious term from gender theory that applies to anyone whose mode of gender expression corresponds to their biological sex), while a very small minority identify as “two-spirited, transgender, transsexual, intersex,” and so on. Yet male, female, two-spirited, transgender, transsexual, and intersex are presented in the curriculum as simple categories stripped of any quantitative data that would show the distribution of each. They are all granted equal status.

One example may demonstrate the absurdity of this type of thinking. Imagine that you are a father whose daughter is a late teenager. You decide that it’s about time she learned how to drive a vehicle. You know that there are two main types of vehicles on the road: cars (and in this category I would include SUVs and four-wheeled trucks) and motorcycles. The overwhelming majority of people drive cars, while only a small fraction of people drive motorcycles, which are more dangerous and less versatile than cars. Would you tell your daughter, “It’s about time you learned to how to drive a car or motorcycle”? No—you would tell her it’s time she learned how to drive a car. In the unlikely case that she has always dreamed of driving a motorcycle and has no interest in driving a car, you can warn her of the dangers and limitations of motorcycles and negotiate the situation from there. The motorcycle option is a special case outside the norm. In the same way, “two-spirited, transgender, transsexual, [and] intersex” gender identities are outside the norm and should be treated as special cases. Do we need to present these gender identities to children, who are awkwardly discovering their sexuality, like options at a buffet? Are male and female gender identities just two possible options among many?

Element 4: the characterization of morality as “private”

The curriculum treats morality as something relative and private and replaces it with a resolutely liberal ethical framework. Ideas of right and wrong are ignored; what matters is whether the child is able to develop a unique “self concept” and gain emotional support from similarly-oriented role-models and allies. The child is left without any means of determining what might make one self-concept better than another, except for the golden rule that one’s self-concept must not lead to intolerance toward the self-concepts of others.

The curriculum says, “A moral consideration is what you believe is right or wrong. It is influenced by your personal, family, and religious values.” Ok, fine. But then it continues with the non-sequitur that “Every person in our society should treat other people fairly and with respect.” In other words, the ethics of fairness and respect trumps morality. This would only make sense if morality could be separated from ethics, which is impossible.

Element 5: the exclusion of references to Christian traditions or teachings, although other cultural/religious traditions are mentioned

Regarding religion, the document manages to incorporate references, in the context of puberty, to Jewish (bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah) and Aboriginal traditions (rites of passage), but none to Christian or Islamic traditions. Why?

Element 6: the representation of masturbation as harmless

The curriculum states, “Exploring one’s body by touching or masturbating is something that many people do and find pleasurable. It is common and is not harmful and is one way of learning about your body.” While even the Catholic Church is lenient regarding masturbation when it comes to teenagers, there is a big difference between saying “no, it won’t make you go blind” and “it is common and is not harmful.” Chronic masturbation can lead to all sorts of harm. It can make one turn away from healthier expressions of sexuality, and it can easily lead to the use of pornography. Our culture, in many ways, has become not only inversional but also masturbatory and voyeuristic.

Summary

There are fundamental flaws in this new curriculum that make it unsuitable for use in both public and Catholic schools. Many of the opponents of this new curriculum are religious people, but the curriculum also undermines traditional secular understandings of sexuality and gender and should be of concern to non-religious people as well. This curriculum should be rejected and replaced with one that would encourage tolerance of those with sexual orientations or gender identities outside the norm without obliterating traditional concepts of sexuality and gender.

Lewis work cited:

Lewis, Wyndham. The Art of Being Ruled. Ed. Reed Way Dasenbrock. Santa Rosa: Black Sparrow Press, 1989. First published 1926.

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