Our world is in the pitifully awkward position of informing us that our gravest sins are not sinful at all, while damning the most modest and the most innocent of our vices. Thus we have it that abortion and euthanasia are in and with-it, masturbation is healthy, pornography is good for your marriage, sodomy is an old-fashioned, oppressive term…and it is illegal to smoke in a bar. (I mean, my dear man! We do have standards, you know.) The daring and exciting – Kinky Sex OMG! – is toted as normal, while boring, old, human vice – smoking, drinking and punching other men – is outlawed, banned, damned for ever existing. There is no shame in killing babies, but you better be sure you follow the sign: ’employees are legally required to wash their hands before returning to work.’
The problem with this atitude is that when the most unnatural, audacious of sins are entirely allowed and accepted they do not become a satisfying, natural part of our culture; they become excruciatingly boring. Think about it. If you entirely objectify women through pornography, well then, she is no more exciting than an object. If you make sex a biological act that need no moral scruples attached to it, then it is as exciting as a biological act, and should be performed with as much vigor as is appropriated to similar acts, like sweating and creating mucus. If you masturbate every night, then masturbation is as much a rebellious, pleasure-seeking act as going to sleep; a similar nightly routine. Our world, by it’s lack of virtue, makes sin boring. And when sin is boring there are only two possible actions: A man might convert, and leave the sin behind, and become a saint, or he might move on to a greater sin. For men do not desire boredom.
This I maintain, that the most bored man in the world is not an obese aristocrat with an inherited fortune and nothing to do. He is not the prisoner in a cell, nor the teenager with 7000 video games and no friends, nor the patient confined to the bed, nor you – sitting at your computer, trying to find a way to make the hours go away. No, the most bored man in the world is the serial killer.
A quote from our man Walker Percy would be helpful here.
“The word boredom did not enter the language until the eighteenth century. No one knows its etymology. One guess is that bore may derive from the French verb bourrer, to stuff […] Boredom is the self being stuffed with itself.”
Likewise, the phenomenon of the serial killer – in actuality as in literature – is a modern phenomenon. To be sure, there were a few mass murderers and pre-cursors to the depraved nihilists we have this misfortune of knowing today – but they were few, and small potatoes compared to the evil of the 20th century. I do not believe that these two phenomenons – the development of the concept of boredom and the rise of the serial killer – are unrrelated. They both result from the fact that our modern world has made sin boring.
To be clear, I do not speak of ‘natural’ psychopaths, that is to say, of individuals with utterly no concept of morality from the moment of their birth. Whether they actually exist is beyond me, because we only test for psychopathy after a few, vital years of child-rearing and environmental conditioning, in which the world and the family have the breath-stopping opportunity to make whole or crush their child. No, I am speaking of Ted Bundy.
A man who as a child, looked at softcore pornography. When that could no longer thrill him, he moved to hardcore pornography. When that could no longer thrill him; onwards to violent pornography. And when that sin could no longer thrill, he moved to his crimes that need no mention here. The point is that his heinous crimes were not daring, they were not boldly, satanically evil; they were not even insane. They were the cowardly, cringing acts of a bored man. The illicit excitement one man could achieve by simply viewing a naked woman, he had to commit inhuman atrocities to obtain. He is the man who grew bored and moved on to the next big thing. He – not a society of peace, tolerance and freedom – is the child of a world that says that truly inhuman sins are normal.
And that’s the point. People often get up in arms in this country, crying out that “you can’t legislate morality!” and “we have the right to freedom from religion!” and other rallying cries made up in the last couple of years. And there’s some truth to all this. No one’s going to burst into your bedroom and confiscate your pornography. But when we make serious sin legal, tolerated, widespread and accepted, we make it boring. We invite greater evils that make even the most tolerating, accepting New-Ager shudder. When we legalize pornography, we invite boredom with pornography, and thus we invite child-pornography.
So the world is faced with a choice. Boredom or Sainthood? These seem to me the only options, though one can choose to move slowly in either direction. So why not Sainthood? Because the implication is this; if sin is boring, than Sainthood is exciting. Because Sainthood is seeing everything as it is – whether it be the Holy Mass or pornography. Sainthood seeing everything for the first time, every time. The Saint is never bored.
But for you who are already-saints: There’s a common trend within the Church to fear evil men. We should fear evil, I agree, but never evil men. The proper response to the fact of a serial killer is never one of baffled fear, but one of disgust. These are The Bored. Let us see them and be warned against our sins.