Archive for the ‘religion and sex’ Category

Monologues’ dialogue upsets men in frocks

It’s funny how things come in twos. First we had the Bishop of South Sydney complaining about Terence McNally’s Corpus Christi (see 9 February story); now it’s The Vagina Monologues in the good ol’ US of A.

There was going to be a theological seminar at the university of Notre Dame, Indiana, this week, but it will now be moved off campus.

The Catholic bishops just can’t stand the fact that this play, a play about, you know, girl stuff, will be held at the university a month and a half after the seminar would have been held. This logic-defying move suggests the men in frocks will never use the university again, since it will for ever be contaminated. Or perhaps only in a February that’s followed by a March or has an r in its name.

“Because of the likelihood of the presentation of the play The Vagina Monologues at Notre Dame this year, the bishops made a collective decision to move the seminar off campus,” the “Most Reverend” John M D’Arcy, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne, South Bend, Indiana, said in a written statement, refusing to give an interview.

Notre Dame students are planning a production of The Vagina Monologues in a campus classroom from 26 to 28 March. It’s by the playwright Eve Ensler, and deals with women’s views of their bodies and their sexuality.

Bodies and sexuality are things Catholic priests don’t get involved with. Er . . .

While the Catholic university has refused to ban the performances outright, those who put art above religious sensitivities have not exactly won the day: performances must be in a classroom setting (not a theatre); the production can’t be used to raise money for community groups; and each show much include an academic panel discussion.

More froth over McNally play

Corpus Christi, the play once described by our old friend, the rent-a-quote Stephen Green of Christian Voice, as “a massive homosexual propaganda vehicle”, is now exercising would-be censors in Oz, with an Anglican bishop getting his cassock in a twist over its showing in Sydney.

Robert Forsyth, Bishop of South Sydney, “questioned the integrity of Corpus Christi and expressed his outrage at the ‘unhistorical and untrue’ depiction of the son of God and some of his disciples as homosexual”, according to the Velvet Hammer blog.

“It is deliberately, not innocently, offensive and they’re obviously having a laugh about it,” says the bish. “It’s historical nonsense and I wouldn’t want to go and see it. Life’s too short.”

Then by all means stay away, My Lord Bishop, and leave the seat free for someone who will appreciate Terrence McNally’s updated passion play, which depicts Jesus and his mates as all gay and living in modern Texas (and opened in the New Theatre, Newtown, Sydney, two days ago). But you might like to prove to us the historicity of your big Christian handbook before you criticise art for not sticking to the facts.

Goodness, but if art stuck literally to facts it wouldn’t be art. It’s meant to go beyond, and present concepts in ways that challenge us and make us think about things in fresh and unusual ways. What McNally does here is to draw parallels between the rejection he faced as a young gay man growing up in Texas and Christ’s persecution.

Historical and mythical situations are used all the time to shed light on modern problems. Who hasn’t seen Julius Caesar performed in the context of, say, Mussolini’s Italy (Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, 1970s), Macbeth in modern Scotland (a BBC drama in the nineties) or Romeo and Juliet set in the streets of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, with stunning music and set-piece dance routines (West Side Story)?

But use Christian (or, for that matter, Muslim) imagery and iconography and, hey, you’re blaspheming. Off with their heads!

As you would expect, there’s an organisation with the word “family” in it in the mix, too. The Australian Family Association’s spokeswoman, Angela Conway, said the play’s “creators had committed ‘a big enough crime’ by neglecting to treat Christianity and Christian believers with more sensitivity”, says the blog story, going on to quote her as saying that the play is “completely fanciful”. Er . . .

When the play opened in the USA there were bomb threats. Christians were out in force when it did the Fringe in Edinburgh in 2005, with a Christian Voice spokesman, Bruce McNally (presumably no relation to the author), saying, “I am quite surprised that this kind of material is being brought to the Fringe, especially with the new religious hatred Bill going through Parliament, as it is deeply offensive to many people.”

(Christian Voice has more than one member? We’re impressed!)

Go back to 1999 and there was even an Islamic death fatwa issued against the playwright when his work was shown in London, because Muslims regard Jesus as a messenger of God. It was signed by one Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, “judge” of something called the Shari’ah Court of the UK, who said at the time, “The fatwa is to express the Islamic point of view that those who are insulting to Allah and the messengers of God, they must understand it is a crime.”

Yeah, right. Ho, hum.

Hell’s angel

“Respectable Polish Catholics, the place from which I address you is fiery hot,” proclaims Karol Józef Wojty?a. The reason for his discomfort is that poor Karol Józef – alias Pope John Paul II – is in hell.

“At the beginning of my stay at the epicentre of fire I, John Paul II, was a little dismayed by the fact that, having been a faithful servant of God, I ended up in hell along with such characters as Goebbels and Himmler,” he says.

The man who used to kiss airport aprons – not yet a saint, but surely an angel in the eyes of Catholics – has, through his depiction by a Danish satirist on his Polish-language website, led to the sort of outrage the Motoons kicked off after they’d been published in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten, but without the body count.

“Many think Pope John Paul II is a saint,” says Jan Egesborn, satirical artist and founder of the Danish satirical group, Surrend, “but he didn’t do anything about sex abuse of children by priests in the Roman Catholic church and this is why we think he belongs in hell.”

Egesborn says early responses from Poles who have seen his satirical webpage have been strong. “For Poles it is just as controversial as the Mohammed cartoon was for Muslims,” he said.
Bottoms up!
But to would-be censors he has this to say in the Sydney Morning Herald: “Satirical art has a mighty force and we see people have an enormous response to it.”

The Surrend group has lampooned, inter alia, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and the Belarussian President Aleksander Lukashenko, and the current superstitionist-in-chief, Joseph Ratzinger, alias Benedict XVI. Indeed, Ratzo is “quoted” as saying, in the English caption below the picture shown here, which is on Surrend’s English-language site, “I am against homosexuality, but for paedophilia.” Brings a whole new meaning to “Suffer the little children to come unto me,” dunnit?

And long may such groups thrive! The Danish seem pretty good at leading the way in the free-expression stakes at the moment, as we can see from the story two posts down the page from this one (see “Mohammed, the far-right poster boy”).

Dog Shit doesn’t get the point

Stephen “Dog Shit” Green wants to achieve the impossible and stop young people from being naturally attracted to each other’s choice portions and dangly bits.

While chastity until an age at which a young person is more “responsible” (whatever that means, in reality) is an ideal, we know it is an unrealistic goal.

But Dog Shit has been sounding off again after a bit of a silence – bemoaned recently on this blog – and he’s now been wheeled on to comment on whether boys as well as girls should be vaccinated against the sexually transmitted disease that causes cervical cancer in women.

It’s called the human papilloma virus, and can be transmitted to unvaccinated partners.immunisation.jpg

Ministers in the UK reckon around 700 lives a year can be saved by giving the jab to girls aged 12 – but Cancer Research UK say boys aged 12 and 13 should have one, too, because maximising the number of recipients would increase immunity across the population, according to a story on

“Not vaccinating boys will increase the risk that homosexual men will become infected,” Dr Anne Szarewski of Cancer Research UK told GP magazine.

Ah! That’s it. That’s why Stephen Green’s had a say. The magic word “homosexual”. It’s all making sense now. No wonder he’s so eager to do his bit for fine, upstanding Christians. (Psst. The man protesteth too much, methinks.)

While there’s controversy over whether the programme should stick to girls and leave boys out of the reckoning, that’s on scientific grounds, and not the job of this blog to opine on. What DS is talking about is the usual Christian chastity thing.

It’ll lead to more sexual activity among young people, he reckons. Er, like, it’s not happening already?

“Giving the vaccine to boys as well as girls would simply encourage promiscuity among boys,” he is quoted as saying. “What these vaccines do is bring about a false sense of security.

“Boys are simply going to think, ‘I’m all right now’ and will take more risks. Surely a better way would be for schools to put more effort into promoting a lifestyle of chastity.”

Well, quite right, Stephen. Every 12-year-old boy has heard of the human papilloma virus and just can’t wait to have an inoculation against it. None of them have been going about doing what boys do once a new hormonal agenda takes over in their young lives.

Ah, but of course. DS would want it taught from a biblical perspective. And how old were girls in those far-off idyllic days when they became mothers?

Green lite

Life has been decidedly dull without Stephen Green. Goodness knows where he’s been for the past few weeks, but this normally vocal leader of Christian Stephen Green Voice does seem to be a shrinking violet of late.

Well, you need grieve no more. He’s back. This time he’s holding forth on new guidelines to doctors that say they needn’t tell parents if kids are having under-age sex. It’s only a very small quote, mind, but, hell!, does he pack a punch!

The new guidelines come from the General Medical Council and, according to a story on the website, “this would apply where doctors believed an under-age patient might harm themselves or run away from home if the information were shared with their family”.

The story continues:

The written guidance from the GMC is the first time that the medical establishment has given its blessing to the growing practice of GPs handing out condoms and authorising abortions for teenage girls, often without parents having any idea their child is sexually active.

The guidance also controversially advises that children should have the overriding decision on their own healthcare in general, meaning, for example, that a child with cancer would be able to turn down life-saving but painful treatment without their parents having a final say.

GPs already have some flexibility in these matters, it seems. Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, they are exempt from prosecution for “aiding and abetting” child sex through providing advice if their aim is to prevent sexual infections or pregnancy, which means they don’t have to inform police 

So, then, we now come to the moment you’ve all been waiting for: Stephen Green pronounced, sagely, clearly having read all the evidence and all the learned journals – wait for it: “The idea of using contraception to stop the spread of disease is a dead duck. It will lead to more abortions, more sexual diseases and more infertility.”

Now wasn’t that worth waiting for?