Aphrodiphobia, Part VI: Religion as Ecstasy

The woman whom I named Lilith has been my friend for more than forty years now. We were emailing each other a few years ago, discussing the year 1970. She has agreed to let me share part of her story. I have woven the following out of excerpts from those missives.Lilith:I was steeped in the Catholic mystic tradition. Our good Irish nuns were forever telling us about the lives of the saints. For me the whole notion of kneeling on tubercular knees, going into ecstatic states, was "normal" … [Read more...]

Aphrodiphobia, Part V: Toward the Divine Sexuality

In one of the preceding essays, I said that a totally committed couple, in the moment of mutual orgasm, may “feel the edge of the ecstasy of a full enlightenment.” In a full enlightenment or awakening, the barrier between the ordinary self and the Deep Mind (I think that’s a more accurate name than “collective unconscious”) vanishes: one feels one's immortality, one's eternal safety, and the ecstasy, an order of magnitude greater than that of the ecstatic couple, that I think is the continual st … [Read more...]

Aphrodiphobia, Part IV: The Logical Consequences of the First Commandment

The “First Commandment” under discussion here is not that in the Decalogue, but the one in Genesis 1:28:God blessed them by saying, “Be fertile and increase in numbers. Fill the earth and subdue it. . . . “In the King James translation, “blessed them and said,” the blessing appears to be different from what is said; that is simply wrong. When God says, “Be fruitful and multiply,” that is both the blessing and the commandment. Thus, the commandment is a blessing, and what is commanded is i … [Read more...]

Aphrodiphobia, Part III: Prolegomena to Some Theology About Sexuality

In the original essay that I am reworking in these blogs, at this point I jumped into exegesis of some passages in Genesis and Mark. Here that would be way too abrupt. I need to provide some background on what I will be doing next.What I have written will surprise many people (at least among those who actually read it), delight some, outrage others, and confuse quite a few. I’m not trying to upset anyone. I hope that all who read my discussion might say, “These are indisputable facts, this is … [Read more...]

Aphrodiphobia, Part II: Origins of the Sistine Heresy

When I was teaching church history at Holy Family College in the early 1980s, I finally read through the documents promulgated by the Second Vatican Council, and discovered that in 1964 the Roman Catholic Church had abandoned all the medieval theology that denigrated sexuality. The Pastoral Constitution of the Church that the Council created is the first written constitution that the Roman Catholic Church has ever had. In it, in the passage on marriage and sexuality, the Council threw out all … [Read more...]

Aphrodiphobia, the Sistine Heresy, and Ecstasy, Part I

"If Catholicism were really like what Greeley describes, there would be no need for the Craft." Lady Epona (Julie O'R.)Given what I discuss in the next few installments, please understand that I am not a hostile non-Catholic. I was raised in the church and, after a commodius vicus of recirculation, was trained as a Roman Catholic theologian at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, receiving my Ph.D. in theology from the Franciscan School of Theology (the oldest seminary in the US, … [Read more...]

An Evolutionary Model for New Religious Movements

I proposed a few days ago that all religions begin as new religions. Let’s look at more details about how that happens.Many people suspect that any new religious movement (NRM) is probably antisocial in some way, or that the very existence of a NRM is evidence of some sort of social pathology. This tendency often results from assuming a "Golden Age" model of religion: once upon a time God or the Gods handed down the perfect religion to mankind, and everything has been downhill ever since. In … [Read more...]

About Conversion

In a recent blog about the conversion of one of Patheos’s bloggers, Lise (hey, Lise! Mazel tov!), from atheism to Catholicism, Star raised a question of whether that might happen for other bloggers writing for this enterprise as well. I think it probably will, because conversion-type experiences happen far more frequently for people who are seriously interested in religious matters than for people who aren’t. Such experiences can differ in a huge variety of ways. What they have in common is that … [Read more...]

All Religions Begin as New Religions

All religions have at least one foundational myth as well as an actual history. The myth is not historically true, but instead transmits some of the spiritual values on which the religion is based. The history is true in fact, but, as history, cannot convey values.All human beings, as children, believe that the foundational myth of their religion is actual history. Many people in late adolescence realize that the myth is not true as history, and begin to search for the factual history of … [Read more...]

Why Wicca Is a Major World Religion

Gerald Brosseau Gardner, that strange retired Englishman, created Wicca because he could not find an adequate religion elsewhere. His museum contained hundreds of pamphlets from various minority religions, and dozens of documents about his memberships, initiations, and ordinations; he had been actively searching for many years. He did not create it out of whole cloth; he used many extant materials, but the structure he and his friends gradually evolved from the late 1930s to the early 1960s was … [Read more...]


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