Sunday, May 7, 2006

A Bodily Reflection [explicit]

*just a heads up that this may be somewhat offensive to some people. however, if you can keep your mind open for the duration of the read, there may be something there worth pocketing.

i was on the computer this afternoon surfing around when i ripped this healthy south park fart, not even thinking twice about it. then i realized two things: i was alone; and i was on some holy religion-related site when the dreadful chair-shaker occurred. and then it occurred to me...ah. this is my faith.

i remember reading (in the Confessions maybe, or a lecture) that Saint Augustine was amazed at all that is, all that existed, so much so that he went as far as to say "everything that is, is good." meaning all that God has created is good--because He has created it--and that there is nothing that is not good because everything has been created by God. It's a Catch-22, but one that when reflected upon unlocks an invaluable guide to living: relax. there is nothing to worry about. keep your eyes open.

but that's not what i really wanted to spin here, these noble Borders self help maxims. what i really wanted to say about Saint Augustine was that, in addition to being amazed by the moon and stars, he was also amazed by farts...his own and others. the fact that we can pass gas through our system as a result of some abnormal digestive blip and out through an orifice in our backside--and the fact that it makes a sound akin to a musical instrument!--completely amazed Augustine. if you ever run out of things to be mesmerized by, or places to travel to, just reduce your scale. there is as much of God's handiwork in our ability to make noise with our gases as there is in the mountains of the himalayas.

in the Summa, Aquinas speaks about the natural appetites--that is, food, drink, sex, as just that,--natural. they are also necessary for survival, and so Aquinas does not object to procurring pleasure from such activities, albeit while exercising the virtue of moderation. however, Thomas does not extend that dispensation to activities which are not necessary to human life (which is the grounds on which i asserted that the pleasure experienced in heroin use is morally unjustifiable. i used a pool of heroin users versus other drug users because the intensity of the high is most akin to that of debilitating orgasms; and because the anticipatory, ritualized 'foreplay' that is such an integral part of heroin use closely mimics the foreplay that takes place preceeding sexual intercourse as a means of maximizing pleasure. while Ecstasy may have similar qualities to that of a full-blown orgasm once ingested, there is no accompaning anticipatory ritualization in its use.)

back on track. we were talking about the 'natural' functions of eating, drinking, and having sex. but these are not the only natural bodily functions of human life. we blow our noses, clip our fingernails, grow hair (sometimes in strange places), sweat, and bleed. and cry.

and since our lives are not always on full display, we deal with certain personal functions in private. Augustine recalls the Cynics of his time trying to prove their point that there was no immodesty inherent in sexuality by having public sex in the squares. unfortunately (for them) many found that they were unable to 'perform on cue,' akin to the modern day porn star and his oft-required fluff daddy, reinforcing Augustine's assertion that sex was best kept in the bedroom as a private act.

we do the same thing with expunging our bodily waste, i.e. 'going to the bathroom.' we go into rooms, into separate stalls (or at least with dividers for urinals) if we are in a public restroom, and do what we need to do. we certainly don't talk about it--a social faux pas--unless you're purposefully trying to be crass (ie, south park, with talking shits coming out of people's mouths and all kinds of fucked-up shit like that, where do they come up with this stuff? and why do i laugh so hard when i watch it?), or super honest (as with a good friend--"*um, dude, would you mind coming in here and taking a look at this. something doesn't look right." "HOLY SHIT DUDE What did you eat for breakfast a fu#*ing THANKSGIVING TURKEY!?"

and so i think...of the first time Jesus 'went to the bathroom'...except that back then there were no bathrooms to go to. you just shat on the ground, or in a hole. the King of kings, taking a dump. could you imagine trying to get used to that? and yet men like Augustine see and are amazed...that God in the sky would take flesh and sit in the stall next to us. we are embarrassed that God should have to do something so dirty, so undignified in order to be with us. but augustine did not see it that way. nor did jesus himself. could you even BE human and not go to the bathroom? for if crying is beautiful, then farting is too...and taking a shit is a glorious event because it allows us a moment to sit and imitate jesus. we drink and glorify his blood, and hang sculptures of indignity above our doors to remind us of his death. but sometimes i need to remember his life, and so maybe from time to time now--after farting, alone, on a holy website--when i am on the can i will reflect on my own dignity as a man, and on the indignity of God subjecting His son to such a thing as being a man, and on augustine smiling whenever he hears people fart, reassuring them that they are beautiful and in their body, with all its undesirables, lies an irreplaceable communion with the Divine. i will not be hanging portraits of Jesus on the toilet on the wall...but i will reflect on it in my heart. stop and think about it: God took a shit on our earth. when i reflect on that, i have never felt such love in my entire life.

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