FEMEN Activist Steals Baby Jesus in Vatican City

Sat, 12/27/2014 - 09:42
Submitted by Carlin Ross

I f*cking love Femen. Here's one of their members in St Peter's Square in Vatican city stealing baby jesus from their Nativity scene.

Notice that written in black marker on her chest is "God is Woman". I remember thinking as a child that Jesus should be a girl...why would god want a son when women birth the next generation? It seemed so obvious.

Here's video of the whole affair:

Editor in Chief & Keeper of All Things Betty Dodson

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Sat, 12/27/2014 - 11:14
Marco (not verified)

Dear Carlin, I'm a friend of yours on FB. Today I do not agree with you. I know FEMEN, and overall I like them, but in this case I think they could have avoided this stunt. Even though I am Italian, and I am a Catholic but I am not a bigot, and it's a long time that I don't go to church, I feel that somehow the lady has done something that strongly affects the faith and the beliefs of a few million people..... she could have avoided that! Take care of Grayson and of yourself, and enjoy a wonderful New Year's Eve. Ciao, Marco

Once again my Darling Editor in Chief,

Betty Dodson's picture
Sat, 12/27/2014 - 13:54
Betty Dodson

you have given me the Biggest Smile during this sickiness we call Christmas! The worst aspects of organized religion with its trumped up fairy tale about a "baby jesus" birthed by a virgin in a manager gets combined with America's illness of consuming more plastic crap that's killing our oceans.

Thank you Feman for giving us a hit of reality, tits and all. That woman is a Hero and why indeed whould god give us a son when women birth the next generation? I sense a revolution coming and this time WOMANKIND will be leading the change. Now I can have a Happy New Year! Join me.

Good will to all

Sun, 12/28/2014 - 00:57

Peace on earth, and good will to all humankind. All genders and all orientations, no exceptions.  In some religious traditions, there are no divine sons or daughters, no virgin births, no Gods with a gender---indeed there may be no gods at all. But there is still universal compassion. And when that catches on, it will be the revolution that makes any other revolution superfluous.

I must agree with Marco. I

Sun, 12/28/2014 - 13:28
VanessaXYZ (not verified)

I must agree with Marco.
I don't know much about femen, but reading this site, you talk a lot about how views and beliefs are imposed on others, and now you promote exactly that. I don't think causing a scene at someone elses Christmas celebration is necessary or actually gives Femen value...."why would god want a son when women birth the next generation" ? Carlin, unless I have misunderstood, are you not having a son? I hope I misunderstood and that you are estatically happy with that, and that you would be just as happy if you were having a girl.
I have a lot to thank your site for, but I disagree with the views in an increasing amount of your posts that seem to promote that we need to bash men to raise ourselves. We each have strengths, and in my ideal world, we acknowldge and play to those strengths.


Sun, 12/28/2014 - 13:49
Vince C. (not verified)

I love how compassionate Femen is... only a philistine would behave in such a way. Her anger is seriously misplaced as Pope Francis has been the most forward-thinking, open-minded Pope the Catholic Church has seen in decades, maybe centuries.
Why doesn't she protest the honor killings in Islamic culture? That's more rageful. Attacking the Catholic Church is easy when there isn't a price to be paid like a fatwa being placed on your head.

Christmas Goodwill

Sun, 12/28/2014 - 14:42

My understanding is that FEMEN were protesting the Vatican's position re: women's reproductive rights around the world. It's a reasonable thing to protest against.

However, some of us on the site are both sex-positive and practising Christians so it's a shame that the protest message got a bit lost in all the spurious comments re: god as female, "trumped up fairy tale"etc.

To state the obvious, it's possible to object to the Vatican's position on reproductive rights and still be a catholic just like one can object to the government but still believe in democracy.

No one should be shamed or poked fun of for their belief system - it sits so badly with the inclusivity of this site overall.

NorthLondonHousewife, I cotinue to appreciate you and your

Betty Dodson's picture
Sun, 12/28/2014 - 16:00
Betty Dodson

thoughtful comments. Like Patrick and ORS you lend much wisdom to our site. However, I do believe that poking fun at a belief system is just another aspect of healing in our unhappy world. You might say Humor is one of my gods. It's simply my method of dealing with all the pain and suffering I see in the world espcecially the letters I get from our youth struggling mightily to find a way to enjoy their confused sexual feelings.

Yes, it's true. I am really pissed off at the Catholic Church and all organized religions for the damage they have done re: treatment of women especially and of course priests sexual abuse of boys and withholding birth control and fighting abortion as a legitmate aspect of a woman's control over her reproductive body. That's just my opinion. Please don't take my poking fun as a personal put down of you or your spiritual practice. That was not my intention. As much as I admire you that doesn't mean I wont poke fun at another sacred cow. It's how I practice my ideal of exclusivity.
Let's have a wonderful New Year.  

No Goddess

Sun, 12/28/2014 - 16:41
Jake E

Christianity has no goddess, and that's badly effected the lives of women in European culture for 1700 years. That's the point of the protest.

Having studied Jesus I think the modern moral consensus shared and developed by universal literacy, has more to do with his thoughts and the women who paid for his ministry than much of the bible does. Also the old testament is'nt a Christian book. It's Jewish and only gives a background  to the faith Jesus was born into and that he was disatisfied with. And a set of values that Jesus would have been killed for if he'd questioned even slightly.

So persicuting people for being gay or killing people for having the wrong haircut, that's not Christianity. Getting those with food (fishes and loaves) to share with those that have none  is  what Jesus did and was about, that's how he turned water into wine too. 

He lived in a totallitarian state and had to be super careful about what he said about the Romans and Judaism. Until one day he decided that if he would be killed for speaking the truth, then he would speak the truth and die. So he spoke his truth, kicked the tables over in the temple, which got him arrested and 3 days later he was dead. Leaving his truth behind him. That's the meaning of him giving himself and dying to save us. 

My very strong hunch is he is originally the invention if a woman story teller, who was once a slave and prostitute, and who's stories were successful. A woman telling stories about  a man means the man is the star which is acceptable to Jewish society at the time and so "his" ideas are taken seriously and have kudos. This would explain the total lack of evidence for his existence even though there are Roman records that would do that, and the reason why there are historical and geographical errors in the story. Though originally it contains a very good and profound message about Christians not needing rules but being good and honourable even when there are no rules and no law and order and you could commit a crime with impunity. 
So that's Christanity explained 

Your welcome :)

A world we'll want our children to inherit

Sun, 12/28/2014 - 18:51

FEMEN's actions have triggered such a rush of contradictory emotions in me. Part of me is still a child, awestruck at the nativity display in front of my childhood church. And part of me remembers how the Catholic child I was, was threatened with eternal damnation for masturbating, and how women who dare to use contraception are denounced as 'mortal sinners' who also deserve to go to Hell, along with any gay people who have sex with their lovers. Pope Francis has a more appealing personality than most of his predecessors, but he has changed not a single word of these harsh Catholic doctrines. Until he does, he's all talk. My own idea is to extend love and compassion to all human beings, and to overcome violence and oppression wherever they are found and no matter in whose name they are being done. Then we'll have a world we'll want our children to live in.

I have no issue with the

Mon, 12/29/2014 - 10:05
Kathryn (not verified)

I have no issue with the action. I have, however, taken issue with FEMEN. A documentary was released about them sometime last year, it's called Ukraine is not a Brothel. It shows an angry, abusive man as a puppetmaster for the organization. Reading about him and then watching the documentary definitely changed my perception of FEMEN, even if I find myself supporting the cause.
Here's an article about the documentary: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/03/12/femen-s-abusive-patriarch-victor-svyatski-exposed-in-ukraine-is-not-a-brothel.html 

Victor Svyatski and FEMEN

Tue, 12/30/2014 - 00:02

 If this man is really the impetus behind FEMEN, it's bizarre. Should the reports describe him accurately, he is a bully who rules by intimidating those young women. I don't understand why he is apparently orchestrating these protests---what he really believes in and what he is hoping to accomplish. He doesn't seem to be a humanitarian or a lover of womankind. Perhaps he is an equal-opportunity bully more interested in being noticed than in changing the world.

the documentary

Tue, 12/30/2014 - 08:07
Carlin Ross

I found this interview with the director of the documentary you referenced...fascinating:

FEMEN shows up sexism by shrewdly exploiting our immaturity

Tue, 12/30/2014 - 20:24

I agree, a fascinating interview with Kitty Green. The 'twist' at the end of her film that Green mentions has got to be the behind-the-scenes presence of the enigmatic Victor Svyatski. To describe the women of FEMEN as being entirely manipulated by a 'patriarch', as if they're pawns unable to think for themselves, is surely much too simple, but I'm still not certain what this guy is all about and what these women really think of him. 

One very clever thing, however, that FEMEN does is the way they're using our culture's juvenile idea of 'sexy'---which is absurdly obsessed with things like bared breasts---to manipulate the press and get popular attention. FEMEN is using our own immature fetishes against us to force us to take notice. What they're doing wouldn't work at all if we were more level-headed, less sexist, and more grown up. We'd just be saying something like, 'Oh yes, bare-chested women. Right. What message are they trying to convey?' Instead, many of us are acting like ten-year-old boys getting a glimpse into a neighbor's window as she's dressing. In a way our adolescent response to these protests is pathetic, but FEMEN, whoever is behind it, is also shining a brilliant light onto our culture's immaturity, exploitation for profit, puritanical mores (which along with sexism and greed are behind phenomena like sex tourism), and much more. I'm still unclear on who is ultimately behind FEMEN, who's financing them, their ultimate goals, and so on, but they are masters at tweaking our society's weaknesses in order to get the attention they want.

Vandals defame the very causes they hope to promote

Ron The Logician's picture
Mon, 04/06/2015 - 12:08
Ron The Logician

This post has generated a lot of interesting comments, some of which I will address.

When I was younger I incorrectly imagined nearly every adult had the intellectual capacity, moral courage and emotional strength to examine silly received myths and ultimately reject them. Thus I had hoped that by the time I reached the age I am now, with most of my life over, traditional religions would have retreated dramatically in the affluent countries. This has not come to pass. Millions upon millions of people still try to cross the street of life, teaming with traffic, eyes closed.

But there is a growing atheist minority, even here in the United States, which I credit to the growth of mean IQ ("Flynn Effect"), as well as better education and more affluence. I am much cheered by the increasing interest of public intellectuals and others to promote this enlightenment.

In the context of the present, sex-and-religion-focused discussion, I would draw attention to two works in particular.

The first is a two-hour film by the entertainer Julia Sweeney, best known for her stint on US TV's "Saturday Night Live" in the early 1990s, and especially so for her mysteriously androgenous signature character Pat. Her Letting Go Of God (2008) is a funny, sweet and persuasive telling of HER journey from a happy, affluent upbringing, embedded in a religiously sincere (Roman Catholic) community of nice everyday people, through various alternatives, until she embraces atheism on intellectual grounds. Studying the Bible in a thoughtful manner played no small part in undermining her original Christian faith. All that said, she continues to report that "I was raised Catholic. I appreciated my birth culture and still consider myself to be culturally Catholic" - despite the fact that she observes how EVEN the Bible itself paints a picture of a "bipolar" Jesus, theoretical philanthropist and nasty, anti-social cult leader, all at the same time.

Locate legal copies of her film or its audio track online for $5 to $12 without gotchas, here.

The other work is a book by Betty's fellow Kansan, a fundamentalist-raised, atheist PhD occupational psychologist named Darrell Ray, titled Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality (IPC Press, 2012), $8.50 and up at Amazon here, 300 pages long. It not only discusses Christian sects, but other faiths as well. [In a previous version of this post, in haste, I had cited a previous book by him, viz. The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture (IPC Press, 2009), $10 and up at Amazon here, 241 pages long and featuring only a chapter on sexuality.]

Tolerating the right of others to promulgate ideas which may be wrong is a basic feature of pluralism and republican equality. That such activity may inspire the doing of great wrongs is its hazard, and such a consequence is always exploited by tyrants, grand and petty, to justify the means they use to impede or silence communication, whether by vandalism, theft, or even homocide.

In the video report cited above, the FEMEN activist is carrying out her own fatwa against the Roman Catholic Church. Anyone who morally supports her is just as culpable.

I am not a pacifist. War and other forms of violence are terrible things, but sometimes they are the only means to eradicate existing political evils. Yet they should not be confused with the unworthy attempt to silence deliberation.

There was a time, now long past, when the Roman Catholic Church ruled a substantial territory vastly larger than its rump sovereign micro-city-state, and was the de facto partner in ruling even greater realms as well. The French Revolution and Garibaldi put an end to all that by the time the 20th century arrived. Defacing church art by stealing a Jesus statue is not an act of political revolution, but a petty stunt of cultural vandalism and gesture of intellectual tyranny. Maybe if FEMEN needs to make a few bucks for bail money now and then, they can run some bulldozers for the Islamic State at antiquarian world heritage sites.

Suppose someone commissioned Betty to paint a gallery collection whose whimsical but provacative subject was "Vulvas of the First Ladies of the United States." Would someone be justified in stealing the Eleanor Roosevelt Pussy because they opined it promoted a view of the world which would lead to grave wrongs?

I am the first to condemn the many historical wrongs of the Roman Catholic Church as a whole and innumerable responsible officers acting as wildcats. Start with the Crusades (against Muslims and even Christians), the Inquisition, and most of all, the near-total genocide of European Jewry following centuries of vicious anti-Semitism, orchested under the rule of a man who as a boy was given, among others, a traditional Catholic education. The world has long been a very shitty place and the Church was an integral part of its superstition, stupidity and horrific cruelty. (For fun, watch this.) Famously, the adherents of the Eastern Orthodox Church (whose influence molded the culture which so grieved the founders of FEMEN itself) were alleged to have said even they prefered the Turban of the [Muslim] Turk to the tiara of the Pope.

All that said, the Roman Catholic Church played a non-trivial role in the intellectual ascent of the European world. And while its lunatic superstitions would often lead to assaults on critical thought, as well as countless innocent human bodies, at the same time Catholic religious made important contributions to science, examples being Occam's methodological minimalism, the heliocentric cosmology which paved the way for the Newtonian revolution in physics, the Mendelian breakthrough in genetics, and the Big Bang Theory of cosmogeny.

I'm sorry if some people are impatient with Pope Francis, but one can't always skip Gorbachev and go straight to Yeltsin, even with a regime only a single human lifespan old, let alone one outliving all known international historical insitutions. And even now, the Roman Catholic Church leans atheistic compared to the carnival midway of lunatics one finds among fundamentalist Protestants who inspire too many US voters.

I don't see why critics of supernaturally-inspired religions cannot restrain themselves from theft and vandalism and create their own art to combat the art of their adversaries in a civil manner. Take for example the enlightening religious hymn published here!

Like so many in its Southern Gospel style, it features the redundancy of a frequent chorus. After all, the more improbable a story, the more important it is to repeatedly pound it into your head, so that it always can be parroted back without variation!

And as a lawyer, I think Carlin will enjoy the hymn's rhetorical method of tacitly embracing orthodox theology and then exploring the embarassing logical consequences.

Finally, I hope all will forgive its author the use of poetic license in describing female biology. We all know much better places for reference to scientific information about the latter, starting with Dodson and Ross!

FEMEN vs. the Catholic Church

Mon, 04/06/2015 - 13:10

Well, I think we need to be clear about who the primary culprits are here. FEMEN are a tiny organization and have relatively little influence; the Catholic Church holds hundreds of millions in its power. The Catholic Church was not just historically evil; it remains today a major source of misery through its cruel doctrines and misogyny. For two millennia the Church's response to women has been essentially the same: 'Shut up, have your babies, and do as you're told.' If a handful of women can't take it any more and steal a doll from a nativity scene, their offense pales in comparison to the harm the Church has done over all these centuries. It's a question of what really ought to be provoking our outrage---one arguably offensive incident, or hundreds of years of systematic oppression.

Pope Francis does have a more accessible personality than his predecessors, which is why he was chosen. He's smart public relations. He's a better face for a church that has become widely mistrusted and disliked. But he is not a reformer, not so far. He hasn't changed a single word of Catholic doctrine. Sexual fantasy, masturbation, 'petting'---indeed any form of deliberately pleasurable sexual exploration---are still punishable by eternal torture according to the Catholic Church. Yes, even if you're only a kid. (You can find a Catholic Catechism and look this stuff up; there's a section on what constitutes a 'mortal sin', which includes 'grave acts' like playing with a Ouija board or leaving the RCC for another Christian denomination). Regarding homosexuality, Francis has said only that it's not up to HIM to judge gay couples. He doesn't have to judge them, because his church teaches that God will do it for him. He has said that the door to women in the priesthood is 'permanently closed'. Based on his actions so far, there is no reason to think that he wants or intends any meaningful reform at all.  Until he actually exchanges some of the hair-raisingly cruel doctrines of the Church for far more compassionate versions, he is just another dictator with a smiling face.

The Catholic Church has changed somewhat for the better over the centuries as it lost absolute power. The Church no longer tortures, executes, and instigates aggressive wars; instead it opposes all these things. Perhaps more positive changes will come in the future; we can hope so. But reforming the Catholic Church into an inclusive, truly compassionate faith may take centuries if it happens at all.

Understanding the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church

Ron The Logician's picture
Mon, 04/06/2015 - 19:56
Ron The Logician

Thank you, Patrick, for your comments following my original post.

You wrote in part:

The Catholic Church rules by fiat. There is no deliberation to be silenced, none that involves the participation of the public. The faithful are not consulted about the contents of the official Catechism; they are merely commanded to obey.

As a young man, I did research in a branch of physics, earning the PhD from a university staffed in part by multiple Nobel laureates. Sadly, the human community of physicists is hardly free from corruption, extortion, sabotage, fraud and other wrongs. A particularly egregious example of chronic fraud in the late 20th century basically put an end to physics research at a famous industrial research lab (Bell Labs) which had produced multiple Nobel laureates itself during its glory years. I don't blame the investors and their executives for reacting as they did.

Despite the human frailties of the physics community, I think the epistemology of physics as a discipline is sound and that it will continue to improve our understanding of how the world works at a basic level - even if it sometimes takes years or decades to undo the damage done by scoundrels or just incompetents much better at politics and economics than physics per se.

In principle, physics welcome all comers. In practice, VERY few people have the raw IQ and learning (or motivation to acquire same) that they need to be accepted by those with proven track records. The community of professional physicists endeavors to be a self-governing  aristocracy in the literal sense of the word - a rule by the best (qualified). There is no apetite to take suggestions from, or hold discussions with the general public, not even from those who got an A in their single undergrad physics course, or even became self-made billionaires. Time and money is limited and those who waste it by excessively interacting with no-can-do wanna-bes will fall by the wayside. Their mission is extend our knowledge by improving the most economical and understandable logically self-consistent model of the universe, reflecting its timeless laws, consistent with all reliable, repeatable measurements which have so far been made and faithfully recorded.

Patrick, you must understand that the Roman Catholic Church, by which I will mean the clergy, especially the high clergy, SEE themselves the same way that the physicists do. It is not the Church's job to placate members of the ignorant and witless masses. It is in the serious business of ministering to humanity by enlightening it concerning the demands of an omniscient, omnipotent, loving, infallible superbeing (i.e. what an idealized parent is to an infant) who created the universe, whom it calls God, and running human institutions which address the needs of humanity in a way consistent with these demands. Its epistemology includes posited belief in historical miracles which evidence the majesty of God. And it even admits its thinking was rather mushy in early centuries, until Thomas Acquinas came along and disciplined it in a way which ancient non-Christian savants like Aristotle would have approved.

They Church welcomes to seminaries those who want to study and perhaps master theology, the best of whom will some day guide humanity in the context of a changing world, according to the timeless designs of a perfect Designer. To those less gifted, it offers a Catechism which summarizes the theology of the church and explains what God expects of human beings. If the reason why some of the (perhaps painful) things which God demands is not evident to the layman - or even the clergy - that's just too bad: It's "Tough Love." God obliges the Church to help you obtain eternal spiritual salvation, not the best time of your ever-so-brief mortal life. (It might remind you that any good physician treating you will tell you what is necessary to defeat disease or delay death, even if you bitch about the nasty side-effects.)

In the modern, literate, skeptical world, between the Catechism and the seminary are things like the Church-sponsored Bible study course which Julia Sweeney took. In Catholicism, your parish priest doesn't have to be a first-class theologian to be ordained and thereby gain the ability to operate the magical powers of the sacraments. You might perhaps make a comparison with your auto technician, who knows enough to maintain and repair your car by following reliable procedures, supplemented by a limited amount of independent thought, without being a real degreed engineer, much less an inventor.

One can contrast Catholicism with Judaism, which once had priests in the days of the Temple, but today only has rabbis, who are teachers, not magicians. Judaism encourages study and critical thought by ordinary adherents much more than the dominant Christian sect. It holds that when Moses received the written law from God recorded in the Old Testament, specifically the first five books, God also gave him the oral law, which he was forbidden to commit to writing. This latter law, eventually written down anyway, and the massive scholarly commentary upon it which followed, is called the Talmud and amounts to about 5,000 pages, as I recall.

So don't hold your breath waiting for the Church to hold plebecites on theology any more than you should wait for physicists to hold plebecites on what doctrines they should embrace or reject. It's not that there never is any controversy (e.g. what should the Church say about the development of the birth control pill, or physics about the discovery of the neutron); it's just that it is held these matters are above the heads of the vast majority of humanity.

Because of the shock of the Reformation, among doing other things like undertake military action and commission awesome religious art, the Church doubled down on its theological and education efforts: The Society of Jesus became its R&D and technology-transfer division. The Jesuits even created the concept of the Devil's Advocate so that their hypothetical thinking could be as heretical as possible. In fact, their work became so troubling that for several decades around the time of the French Revolution, the Papacy suspended the order.

For all the power it would eventually accumulate and lose, the Church has not reigned without its critics over the centuries. It could not have burned heretics if it had denied there were any. In an age when it ruled through force, in alliance with sanctified crown heads, other crowned heads organized successful revolts which permanently deposed its authority on a geographical basis. Eastern Orthodoxy and the Papacy mutually excommunicated one another circa 1054, the Counter-Reformation was only a partial success and the French Revolution and aftermath announced the political coming of the Enlightenment, even if its Cult of Reason could not long resist the siren call of the old, paternalistic religion to the masses. Late in life, Napoleon would write that he found Islam "less ridiculous" than "our religion," but as a master of statecraft he was happy to cynically re-establish the Church and receive imperial coronation from the Pope in the same manner Charlesmagne had a millenium earlier, in the Dark Ages.

Today, if I never go to mass or confession, or even step into a Roman Catholic church, I have little fear that the Knights Templar or Teutonic Knights will come after my sorry ass. Charlesmagne will not execute me if I refuse to become a Catholic, as he did to all those pagan Saxons diehards he brought within his empire through military triumph. Might some lunatic adherent to the Church refuse to do business with me or even physically injure me as the instrument of Satan? Possibly, as might a partisan of a totally secular politcal party or social movement I oppose, or merely fail to support with enough energy and sincerity. (P.S. I'm VERY glad I'm not a woman in Afghanistan accused of burning part of a Koran!)

Millions of people have a sentimental attachment to the Church. This includes the likely majority of self-proclaimed US adherents who indifferently ignore the Church's prohibition of artificial birth control and other demands they find personally unacceptable.

The Church calls itself Catholic (i.e. universal) in the sense that its mission transcends the petty subdivision of humankind into tribes, races, nations, classes and so on. But that universalism is distinct from any inclusiveness which accepts those who maintain unacceptable principles, rather than repent and seek forgiveness. Surely the Church rejoices that Islam accepts Jesus as a parthenogenically-born man, teaching the word of the (one true) God of the Hebrews. But Muslims still can't become Catholics unless they stop denying that the Crucifixion and Resurrection took place.

This is is NOT the Church "ruling by fiat"! This is the Church WITNESSING what it honestly sees as the simple truth! (Naturally, I see this stand as a manifestation of the utter bankruptcy of its epistemology.) A similar notion is at work in a humorous song I love by the brilliant secular Jewish songwriter Sean Altman, which you can enjoy here. (Don't take its putative militancy too seriously!)  The relevant passage goes:

Jew for Jesus - the phrase is pure deceit;
It's like being a vegetarian for meat!

With the recent occurence of Easter, I will close with my favorite Easter song, a little-known number by a brilliant US satirist named Chris Hardwick, whose education included attending a Jesuit high school. (I like it even more than the rather famous Always Look on the Bright Side of Life from the film Monty Python's Life of Brian, which at least one poll shows unsurpassed in popularity at British funerals these days.) Enjoy Chris Hardwick's She Named the Pony Jesus on Youtube here.


Tue, 04/07/2015 - 09:56

There was an interesting article in the Guardian recently loking at the FreetheNipple campaign, whether it's just exhibitionism or just(ified) exhibitionism, whether it's feminist or exploitative, or possibly both. I thought you might be interested... #FreeTheNipple: liberation or titillation?

Re: religion I find it beyond odd that people who insist on telling me I'm stupid, superstitious or otherwise defective in all or any key ways are then surpised when I fail to agree them and drop my faith immediately. Have insults ever worked well on changing anyone's mind?

But I find it less suprising when I realise how many of them worship unknowing at the altar of the God of Science, who happily get into airplanes without the faintest clue as to how they might work (Bernouilli passed them by somehow) or who wouldn't think about questioning their doctors advice, sponsored by bigpharma or not. People put their faith in different places.

The UK is quite reasonably described as post-Christian, being arguably the most secular country to be found and it's a great place for people of all and no faiths to live together. I find it beyond strange that the US with it's strict segregation of Church and State should be so much more religiously observant and fundamentalist in some ways. Why is that?

My Best Laugh of the day thanks to Ron.

Betty Dodson's picture
Tue, 04/07/2015 - 13:50
Betty Dodson

In my hood as I move about shopping for food or going to a favorite restaurant, I pass a small building that is devoted to Jews for Jesus. They often have slogans in their window. I have found it curious, amusing and also a bit diisgusting but without a good explanation.

You nailed it Ron. "Jews for Jesus - the phrase is pure deceit; It's like being a vegetarian for meat!"

The Catholic version of God

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 17:38

Ron, as someone who was raised a Catholic and went through Catholic schools, including starting off at a Jesuit university, I'm familiar with what the RCC believes and with how the Church imposes its will. In the final analysis, it's all about Hell. The Catholic faith, like much but not all Christianity, rests upon a foundation of never-ending torture---curiously incompatible with 'perfect love', one would think. Without the supposition of Hell, there would be no reason for the earnest efforts of any Christian church to 'save' people. The Church sees itself and its sacraments as the only possible way of avoiding the agonies to which its 'perfectly loving God' has threatened to consign countless billions of us. The Church offers to save us from God's otherwise inevitable hideous, endless torture. They offer 'salvation'.

No loving human parent would stand by and do nothing as her children burned to death or drowned, but this is what many Christians believe of God. And no loving human parent would allow her children to be tortured for a single moment, no matter how badly they had behaved. But many Christians, to my amazement, have no problem with the eternal hard-heartedness of God. The Catholic Church still has not settled the question of infant damnation, by the way; one of the Vatican's own web sites has an article on the 'Hope of Salvation for Infants who Die without being Baptised'. The best the Church can do is throw those unbaptized babies on the mercy of God and 'hope' that He's not torturing them for all eternity. That's a divine parent in whose love one can have confidence!

Now, given the astonishing cruelties the Catholic Church believes are compatible with 'God's perfect love', the Church's intransigence is in a sense understandable, which I think is what you're getting at in your discussion of the Church's attitudes.

In questions of faith and obedience, the RCC will try persuasion, but if persuasion fails the threats are not far behind. The Church threatens Catholics who deviate from Church teachings with excommunication (non-Catholics usually don't understand what this means). This happened in my large Midwestern American city several years ago, when the archdiocese attempted to seize the assets of an ethnic parish that had been granted fiscal autonomy for over a hundred years. When the parish council resisted this power-grab, the archbishop threatened to excommunicate them (and I believe finally did so, including their priest). Excommunication cuts off a Catholic from the sacraments, without which devout Catholics believe they can't get into heaven. It's a sentence to Hell, in other words. Such coercive cruelty perfectly exemplifies the bullying mentality of the Church: 'Do as we (not God!) command, or we will see that you're tortured forever'. How's that for compassion? Despite any and all protestations of 'love' by the Church, it all comes down to threats in the end.

The Catholic Church is one of the world's true totalitarian patriarchies. You might remember that a group of nuns published their more compassionate take on human sexuality a year or two ago. The Vatican cracked the whip: no bunch of meddling women are going to tell THEM that their doctrines are cruel and wrong! The Church likes to speak of 'God's love' and of sex as 'God's beautiful gift'. Don't you believe it. The very process of healthy human sexual development, which MUST include normal sexual self-discovery, is regarded by the Church as one 'grave sin' after another. In other words, simply growing up as we were designed to grow up can send us to Hell as far as the Church is concerned. The Catholic Church of today bears no resemblance whatever to those egalitarian groups of early Christians gathering together in someone's home and communally celebrating God's love. It's as self-serving and dedicated to self-perpetuation as any multi-national corporation or military dictatorship. It survives chiefly because it threatens anyone who leaves it with never-ending torture. The Church has very slowly, over centuries, become more compassionate in certain limited ways. What is going to sink them in the end is their inveterate harshness---the discrepancy between their avowed belief in God's love and the incredible viciousness of so many of their doctrines. Human beings want and need true acceptance, genuine love, and compassion. If they don't find them in the Roman Catholic Church, and many cannot, they will leave and find them elsewhere.

My God & Me

Wed, 04/08/2015 - 12:24


A lot of your criticsm could be leveled at other Christian denominations. Certainly the idea that God stands by and "allows" people to suffer is understood in my Protestant Church to be a function of self-determination ie. if you create a self-contained consistent world and give people free will and choice then God cannot intervene.

Having said that, I'm constantly shocked and horrified by the stories of some of the people posting into this site who have been traumatised by their local priest or church when it comes to sex or their sexuality. It always sounds to me like the horror stories from the Victorian era.

My own problem with religion once it becomes organised, is the way it becomes political. Churches seem to mirror the power structures of the secular world rather than striving for better. Perhaps it's inevitable with all established organisations. But even in Catholicism I hear of people who are busy trying to take back their church.

For those of us who are religious and observant, it remains important not to concede the ground, not to leave the church to the bigots, the misogynists etc. but to remain present and challenge this rubbish where we find it.

My God is one of love, tolerance and forgiveness. He gave me this body to enjoy. Why else were women gifted a clitoris - the sole function of which is sexual pleasure! He made a rainbow nation, all colours, all sexual orientations and attitudes and he made it right.

And with apologies if anyone is offended but my God doesn't make mistakes so anyone who disagrees the perfection of God's creation, homo, hetero, bi, trans, "anyway extraordinary" can f*ck off.

Yay North London Housewife.

Betty Dodson's picture
Wed, 04/08/2015 - 12:35
Betty Dodson

You tell them sister! You said it like it is for you and I support you 100%

God, suffering, and our personal path

Thu, 04/09/2015 - 18:03


Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I've had little faith in a 'good' God since my brother died of kidney failure when I was five years old. That made all those pretty Bible stories about Jesus 'loving the little children' seem like some kind of horrid meaningless joke. If Jesus healed the blind and the lame two thousand years ago, what could have prevented him from healing my brother? I  mean, if God could heal any illness two thousand years ago, why not now? Childhood cancers and the kind of genetic birth defect that killed my brother are not the result of anybody's 'choice'. I oould only conclude that God has the power to heal, but simply refuses to use it anymore. All I had left of God was God the Punisher and Torturer, which believe me I heard plenty about in Catholic schools and churches. (Many human choices take place largely at an unconscious, conditioned level and are arguably nowhere close to 'free', but this is another topic).

I agree with you about the politicisation of religion. Large churches aren't like small loving gatherings of the faithful any longer; they're inclined to concentrate their power at the top and to do ruthless things to preserve it. We all have to find our own way to some kind of meaning in life, which many of us call spirituality. That often involves belief in a personal God, though some faiths, such as Buddhism, put their trust in a path of compassion that involves no deity. Your own faith community seems to have a belief in unconditional love that is completely lacking in the Catholic and evangelical forms of Christianity. Whatever faith we profess, not that many of us seem to take these spiritual questions with the seriousness they evidently deserve. How many of us born Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Hindu will do a careful study and comparison of the world's faiths, and choose the path that seems most true? Most of us just follow in our parents' footsteps and never look beyond. It might be good to keep in mind that there are many possible spiritual paths, and a genuine personal spiritual quest could be very rewarding.

The Problem of Evil

Ron The Logician's picture
Fri, 04/10/2015 - 08:39
Ron The Logician

Patrick writes:

if God could heal any illness two thousand years ago, why not now?

More to the point, why not three thousand years ago? Or ALWAYS. This is a well-known issue in philosophy, The Problem of Evil. If God is ominipotent and all-loving, why is there suffering? Either God isn't one or isn't the other (or maybe even isn't either one, if God exists at all.)

Wikipedia writes:

Manichaean theology taught a dualistic view of good and evil... denying the omnipotence of God and postulating two opposite powers... It thrived between the third and seventh [Christian] centuries, and at its height was one of the most widespread religions in the world... It was briefly the main rival to Christianity in the competition to replace classical paganism.

St. Augustine, one of the Doctors of the (Roman Catholic) Church, was originally a Manichaean! You can question anyone's motives and sincerity, but obviously he had to find a way to deal with the troublesome issue you raise nearly two millenia later.

And the religion called Christian Science might tell you that Jesus doesn't make house calls anymore (how many physicians do?), so they have a holy DIY kit to address your problem.

But someone like the late satirist George Carlin wasn't buying ANY of it, as illuminated in his take on the television seriesTouched by an Angel in a video clip here.

As best I know, religions much older than Christianity and Manichaeanism really didn't give a fuck about the well-being of whiny adherents who wanted decent customer service, and weren't even concerned with providing a moral/legal code for running a just society. They were about PLACATING potentialy angry deities who, if pissed off, might hold back the rain and let everyone starve, or throw thunderbolts and start forest fires destroying everything you own. It was a real bargain if you could simply show respect by sacrificising something expendible like your first-born son to keep your deity happy! And who knows? Maybe if you were pious enough to build your god a splendid temple, next time you fought the neighboring people to the death, victory would be yours and not theirs, including lots of new land and hot women!

From the perspective of these old gods, your problem with the Catholic god is that maybe he over-promises - after spoiling you rotten by doing ANYTHING at all for you!

More, in sacrificing his OWN son as an offering (yes, to himself) - not out of devotional avarice mind you, but to pay for your OWN collective guilt as humans for disobedience in the Garden of Eden - the Catholic god is one swell guy! Gee, why do you even expect Jesus to heal the sick anymore - he was KILLED. You can't eat your cake and have it, too. And besides, He is coming back and will set everything right in the end.

Now, all this would work much better outside the existing Catholic framework in which Jesus is "co-substantial" with God the Father in the Trinity. Perhaps you know that a priest in Alexandria, named Arius, (whose name hints at some lost connection with Iran=Persia) put forth the tenet that Jesus, as the Son of God, was a lesser God. This so-called Arian Heresy was embraced by most of the Christianized Germanic tribes who would settle in declining Imperial Rome, but in the end would yield to Catholicism. (Only the Franks converted to directly Catholicism.)

After all, if Jesus was the all-powerful God the Father, being crucified would be no sacrifice, just some kinky voluntary masochism. And making Jesus a bit more like a mere human prophet also solved the embarassing scriptural problem of "Father, why have you forsaken me?"

Patrick wrote:

We all have to find our own way to some kind of meaning in life, which many of us call spirituality.

Patrick, you may hunger for The Meaning of Life (which the Monty Pythons also humorously examined in a film of that name, video clip here.) But don't look for physics to provide it. Physics only endeavors to describe the world economically, and at the lowest level, too. It is not concerned with morality or even aesthetics. But for what it does, it has no rival among alternative philosophies like supernatural religions, especially thosed based on "miracles."

(Aside: Miracles are LOGICALLY impossible: if they are real, they are just another natural phenomenon, however infrequent - just ones not currently explained by science. To a primitive tribe which has NEVER seen a person whose heart has stopped move autonomously again, my CPR gadget is not mere technology, but a holy ark whose talismanic plates resurrect the dead.)

Let me cite The Quotable Atheist (Nation Books, 2007):

Religion in general is based on falsehoods -- comforting beliefs in a heavenly parent or big brother; hopes of surviving death -- and on utility or expedience: socially cohesive tribal  myths... [etc] ...The problem, however, isn't that science, secularism, and  Enlightenment ideas have become the modern religion, but rather that they haven't... spiritual appetites are real, worthy of respect, and of course are begging to be milked for profits.

Much of my life has been a (too-often near-hopeless) struggle to overcome grave disadvantages, tragedies and so on. There was little time to squander wondering about any meaning in life, beyond working toward goals which grant material, emotional and intellectual pleasure, rather than pain, for me and those people and causes I have loved, during our very short respite from utter non-existence in the vastness of time.

Happily, no one tried to implant in me the "God virus" to which Darrell Ray, cited in a previous post by me above, says we are particularly vulnerable during certain years of our first decade. I'm not disappointed by no hope of immortality, and in fact pleased that no supernatural asshole might torment me through all eternity for the choices I have made. The assholes in this life have been plenty enough for me, thanks!

Let me close by trying to leave you with a smile, by a quoting a line (particularly appropriate for a Web site run for the pioneering Betty Dodson) from an epsiode of the Blackadder series on old UK TV, in which a character laments:

We are but the genitals of the Gods, they play with us for their own amusement!


Roman Catholic sex culture [minor edit]

Ron The Logician's picture
Wed, 10/07/2015 - 21:36
Ron The Logician

I'd like to bring the discussion here back to the matter of sex, which is the central focus of this web site, but at the same time place it in the context of Roman Catholic (RC) culture.

If you are interested in the topic, I recommend for your viewing a film made 30 years ago titled Heaven Help Us in the United States and Catholic Boys in the UK. It is set exactly a half century ago in Brooklyn, a borough of New York City, and focuses on the lives of a handful of young men attending their last year of an RC high school. While not part of their community, I knew quite a few within it, and can attest that the film is very consistent with my personal memories. Surely the film is so faithful because it is based on the writing of a man, now deceased, educated in the type of school depicted.

This movie was marketed to the public as a sex comedy, and did not do all that well at the box office. While sexuality indeed is an important, and frequently comical element of the film, this work embraces a wide range of human experience in a moving way, making for superior art.

Masturbation, and the Church's attitude to it, is an issue for two of the boys, especially one who finds it impossible to abstain - even on the school grounds; his libido dominates his existence. While there are other Christian sects which are especially anxious about sex, the RC Church is unique in the vast amount of ritual and symbolism which I think subliminates the most explicit sexual matters in a barely disguised manner. This provides the comedy for the film clip here.
After viewing this clip, can't you just see someone like the late George Carlin (whom I cited above) asking his Cathechism instructor about Holy Communion? Specifically, when the host transubstantiates to the body of Christ, how does one avoid eating his dick?

While the boys attend a sex-segregated school, there are girls in their world, too: including those attending another, nearby, Catholic high school - whose firm, young, unpenetrated, plaid-skirt-clad flesh is a staple genre of mainstream porn in our video era! Among the funniest scenes in the film is the speech made before the boys and girls attend an inter-school dance together, here.

In our digital age, there is little excuse not to understand the official position of institutions like the RC Church on matters of great concern to them. About a century ago, working with clerics including faculty from the Catholic University of America, the Knights of Columbus sponsored The Catholic Encyclopedia, (TCE) whose entire contents, conveniently indexed by a full-text search engine, can be accessed online for free here. (Note that Church doctrine and practice has evolved since it was published!)  This work explains itself so:

The Catholic Encyclopedia, as its name implies, proposes to give its readers full and authoritative information on the entire cycle of Catholic interests, action and doctrine... It differs from the general encyclopedia in omitting facts and information which have no relation to the Church.

...Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encvclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions. In all things the object of the Encyclopedia is to give the whole truth without prejudice, national, political or factional.

I think it does a decent job fulfilling its mission. Alas, however, a century ago it was virtually impossible to publish ANY work which discussed something like masturbation! This was no less true for some secular, even anti-RC work, than an RC publication; the only hope might be some rare, expensive text whose sale was restricted to physicians. So you won't find the matter discussed in TCE.

However, time marches on, and the dawn of the present century (2003) saw the revised edition of The New Catholic Encyclopedia (TNCE). Its Forward, written by the President of the Catholic University of America, says:

This revised edition of the New Catholic Encyclopedia represents a third generation in the evolution of the text that traces its lineage back to the Catholic Encyclopedia published from 1907 to 1912... Although Canon Law no longer requires encyclopedias and reference works of this kind to receive an imprimatur before publication, I am confident that this new edition, like the original, reports accurate information about Catholic beliefs and practices.

BTW, the Forward to its 2010 supplement adds this:

The Second Vatican Council reminded us that the Church is “sancta simul et semper purificanda” — “at the same time holy and always in need of purification” (Lumen gentium, 8).

TNCE devotes nearly two full pages to an article titled Masturbation, starting on page 315 of Volume 9. I would describe its tone as not unenlightened, but stubbornly doctrinal. I even think some readers here would be pleasantly surprised. For example, it writes:

Within marriage such self- or mutual stimulation is moral... when it serves in some way to prepare for or to complete a natural act of sexual intercourse.
i.e. foreplay is okay, LOL!

TNCE is sold through a lay publisher which is eager to serve its investors, not save any souls, so you won't discover a free copy that isn't illicit. However, it should be very easy to locate the nearest library copy through WorldCat here.

Catholic doctrine on sex

Sat, 04/11/2015 - 15:18

Thanks for the links---I will have a look. We have had a death in the family so I will have to be briefer for the time being. I remember being 11 years old and paging, curiously at first but soon with mounting horror, through my parents' Catholic marriage manual: 'Marriage: A Medical and Sacramental Study', published by Sheed and Ward. It was a lesson in draconian repression and threats. There were no pleasant surprises. One passage talked about (as I recall) the plight of couples who were unable to conceive in the usual way. Artificial insemination was mentioned, but dismissed at once because it involves male masturbation to orgasm, which we are assured is ALWAYS a mortal sin no matter how noble your motives. To this day the Catholic Church thinks we deserve to be tortured for billions or even trillions of years for a single instance of getting ourselves off. The penalty is actually the same for having a sexual fantasy. There's nothing like a sense of proportion!

Indeed, any voluntary, pleasurable sexual thought or sensation by an unmarried Catholic can send that person, even if quite young, straight to Hell. Gay and lesbian sex is proscribed because it can't lead to 'the gift of life'. But if a gay or lesbian couple were both naturally sterile, the Church would still forbid them from having sex, because the 'gift of life' rationale is bogus. The Church just plain hates sex, which is one reason why they punish kids so harshly for getting to know their own bodies. Foreplay? Okay in the context of a validly married Catholic couple trying to have procreative sex (as long as it doesn't lead to male ejaculation!), but a hellfire offense otherwise. Dipping into an official Catholic catechism and having a look at the 'mortal sins' will provide a quick education into just how viciously repressive and threatening Catholic doctrines on human sexuality really are. Celibacy and the harshness of the Church's teachings on sex have not only made countless millions miserable, they are also the direct cause of the ongoing abuse crisis. There is nothing light-hearted or pleasantly surprising about the official Catholic view of human sexuality---just threats, threats, and cruelty, with more threats for dessert.

Roman Catholic sex culture today

Ron The Logician's picture
Mon, 04/13/2015 - 13:46
Ron The Logician

In a previous post above, I highlighted a reasonably faithful portrayal of Roman Catholic (RC) sexual culture, as portrayed in a film set in 1965. This was on the eve of the dramatic reforms of Vatican II, and before the emergence of what is often called "Cafeteria Catholicism." Even back then, the varying attitudes of the young men in the film were hardly all pious.

Today, the freer sexual culture embraced by at least some US Catholics, even many students attending Church-run colleges, would surprise people. This is illustrated by the experience of 35-year-old actress, musician and polymath visual artist Kate Micucci, who is a 2003 graduate of Loyola Marymount University  in Los Angeles. A song created with partner Riki Lindhome, The Loophole, via their musical duo act Garfunkel and Oates, is the subject of a D&R page here. I commend to your attention a link to the official music video for it, which is the subject of my first post there. My second post there links to a video clip which discusses the backstory for the song, including Micucci's testimony concerning the sex lives of Loyola Marymount students.

In recent interviews has Micucci described her upbringing by what seems to be a rather pious Catholic family, how she enjoyed church social life while at the university, and how she still characterizes herself as "Catholic Lite." Micucci finds it easy to have fun with RC theology, as evidenced by her song I Want to Be a Nun, performed here, which takes the viewpoint of a little girl.

As regards masturbation per se, Garfunkel and Oates offer another of their funny songs, Go Kart Racing (Accidentally Masturbating) on YouTube here.

It could just be that for most people in developed nations, the strict sexual guidelines imposed by traditional religions will be ever more completely laughed out of existence, as better-educated younger generations displace older ones.

Catholic teaching versus Catholic reality

Mon, 04/13/2015 - 17:16

There is certainly a world of difference between the incredibly punitive official Catholic attitude to sex and the ways in which many Catholics actually behave, but that's only because nobody could possibly grow up to be a normal human being if they tried to follow Catholic teaching to the letter. The perfect Catholic would never have a reason to marry, for example, because they would never have discovered that sexual touch (their own or somebody else's) felt good. That would be the actual consequence of trying to be a 'perfect Catholic': no fantasy, no masturbation, no necking, no nothing---because every one of those normal steps in becoming a healthy adult is a 'mortal sin'. The appeal of sex to an ideal Catholic would be a complete mystery.

You're right, it's not that Catholic kids never have sex or are less interested in sex than other young people. They've just been threatened with torture for pursuing those interests. Catholic doctrines on sexuality are impossible, inhumane, and completely incompatible with psychosexual health and normal human development. If you're going to grow up Catholic without going crazy, you have to find some way around the Church's crazy harshness. That's what those Loyola Marymount kids are doing. Future generations might laugh this anti-sexual crap out of existence, if they can shake free of the lifelong fear of Hell that the Church tries so assiduously to implant. But sexually active Catholics, if they are aware of the threats and are sincere, are going to have miserable struggles with guilt and with a sense of failure for doing perfectly healthy things like sexual self-exploration. If you're raised Catholic and grow up with a happy, healthy sex life, you're either ignoring Church teaching, you somehow managed never to hear about it, or you're a heretic. True, lots of young Catholics don't feel bound by every detail of Church teaching, but that's only because they're not really trying to be Catholic.

Timely 2015 BBC documentary on sex and Christianity

Ron The Logician's picture
Fri, 04/17/2015 - 20:42
Ron The Logician

In the UK, BBC Two television  has started running a three-part documentary on sex and Christianity, titled Sex and the Church, Web home page here. Using the BBC iPlayer app, Brits can view the programs on demand via the Internet as they find convenient, during a limited time window. Other times and places, one can rely on the piracy of such a program for republication again and again on the global Internet. (Too bad for the BBC that it does not sell worldwide via the Internet; some people would voluntarily PAY for programs like this if they found it convenient to send a modest amount of money as a token of support.)

The series features an Oxford history professor, who, it happens, was also ordained as an Anglican deacon about three decades ago.

I've seen the first program (titled From Pleasure to Sin) and thought it did a good job. It was long on visuals, including outdoor scenery, and short on words, which were therefore carefuly chosen. A program such as this will reach a great many people who are averse to traditional, intensive, book-based learning, and will also long abide in their minds via the visuals which will serve as mneumonics.

Spend less than three minutes to watch a preview of the series on YouTube here, with the complete blessing iof the BBC. Amen!

BBC documentary

Sat, 04/18/2015 - 10:57

Thank you for the heads-up, Ron. This is indeed intriguing. I watched the preview and would like to see more; perhaps it will eventually be available on DVD in the US in the 'BBC Store': http://shop.bbc.com/us/page/home

You're probably right about piracy; presumably all three episodes will appear somewhere on the Internet in fairly short order. I agree that many non-UK viewers would be willing to pay something in order to have access to more BBC content. I've been searching for a way to purchase Stephen Fry's BBC presentation on bipolar disorder, for example, but I can't seem to find a way to view it in the States. I wouldn't doubt that PBS, the American public network that carries some BBC shows, will be too timid and afraid of fundamentalist backlash to air the 'Sex and the Church' program at all.

BBC video in the United States + 19th century sexuality

Ron The Logician's picture
Sun, 04/19/2015 - 09:08
Ron The Logician


I hope you know that in the United States many cable TV customers can subscribe to a channel called BBC America, which broadcasts a subset of BBC material from the UK.

The other year BBC America also produced its first original series, a historical novel set largely in New York City during the last year of the US Civil War, titled Copper. The production values were awesome - besides CGI augmentation, they built a set that filled a half-dozen acre ex-auto plant in Toronto. The focus of the series was on the infamous Five Points neighborhood of lower Manhattan, previously explored in Martin Scorcese's film Gangs of New York, then a largely Irish (Catholic) immigrant slum. This was a real 21st century television production, with the gloves off when it came to language, sexuality, violence and an embrace of amorality. The series took liberties with historical facts, but tried to be faithful to the culture of the era. One was struck by the poverty, brutality, stupidity, and most of all, the utter moral depravity of life.

Perhaps the most singular sex-related aspect of those bygone times, of which so very few  contemporary people are aware, is that until the very late 19th century, minimum age to marry was basically the onset of puberty, and indeed, even well below it in some US states. (Was it 7 in Delaware?!) One of the principal characters in Copper is Annie, recently forced by cruel circumstances into marriage with her stepfather at age 10! This is all the more remarkable given that average age of menarche back then was dramatically higher (2 years+?) than it is today.

Both seasons of Copper, now canceled, are available on DVD. For now, spend a couple minutes visting Paradise, the neighborhood brothel, via YouTube here. It's as close as any of Copper's characters will ever get to heaven.