An uncompromising critical examination of Christian beliefs.

Labor, The Anti-discrimination Bill And The Illusion Of Religious Freedom

To be honest I’m not surprised. Indeed I’m somewhat amused that so many progressive secularists feel betrayed by the Labor party. After all, we are talking about the party that once harboured a number of conservative Catholics who eventually split to form the DLP. The simple fact is that many prominent members of the party have a dual allegiance: one to their electorate and the other to their faith, Christianity. The most prominent of these was the former PM Kevin Rudd. And even though the current PM, Julia Gillard says she is an atheist, her moral views are shaped by [...]

The Child Pornography Debate And The Theology Of The Child

Fact was largely eschewed in favour of emotive supposition, the actual was ignored in favour of the potential and the remotely possible was selectively interpreted as imminently probable. (McCarthy and Moodie, as quoted in Suzanne Ost, Child Pornography and Sexual Grooming) The hysteria around the issue of child sexuality speaks of a deeper cause. When the authorities are having some success at smashing child pornography rings and the incidence of child sexual abuse is actually in decline, the panic over the sexualisation of children is about something more. I am clear that this is all about adult fears projected onto [...]

Sport And Nudity

This is a frivolous post - with a point. Throughout this blog I've talked about the contrast between the Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian attitude to nudity in art. The Greco-Romans celebrated the naked human form whereas the Judeo-Christians, via the Garden of Eden myth, considered the naked form indecent. But the Greco-Roman celebration of the body extended beyond art into sport as well. It is well known that the athletes in the original Olympic games performed naked. The Romans were not particularly fussed by nudity either (clothing was designed to denote status - the senatorial toga was not particularly practical, it [...]

Sex Negative – Sex Positive

I've been meaning to explore the concepts of sex negative and sex positive (sex positive movement) in greater detail because I see considerable confusion amongst those who say they are sex positive yet who still retain some sex negative attitudes. The sex positive person views sex as natural and good. The sex negative person views sex as somehow especially problematic. Obviously there are degrees. It is not black and white. The term sex positive has been attributed to Wilhelm Reich, but whilst Reich might have coined the term, it arose out of the findings of anthropology, especially the work [...]

Colonising Porn And Other Nonsense

From time to time I check in on Melinda Tankard Reist's site to see what she's up to. In the most part it's filled with material about marketing and the media. I don't have any objection to these campaigns. I'm no fan of our consumer culture or of modern marketing. It cheapens us all. No, what I look for is Melinda's real agenda and every now and then it slips through. As I have said before, Melinda is a conservative Christian who receives a lot of encouragement from the religious right, both materially and emotionally. I just wish that many [...]

The Virgin Mary Breastfeeding

One of the oddest beliefs of moral conservatives is that breastfeeding is somehow obscene. I've made no secret that I regard Christianity to have some bizarre beliefs about sex and the body. One of the more bizarre is that the female breast is obscene. But at least the Catholic Church has got one thing right, that breastfeeding is perfectly natural. To encourage the practice the Vatican has asked that Catholic publications publish the many early paintings and statues of Mary breastfeeding. I can only applaud their decision. I only wish they could convince other Christians of this, especially their more [...]

Presentation Of The Virgin

Earlier in this blog I wrote a provocative entry entitled The Truth about the Virgin Mary (or why God is a paedophile).  In it I suggested the current concern of conservative Christians over teenage sex is hypocritical, given that their own tradition accepted that a girl could be married at age 12. I argued that it is possible to interpret the Gospels as suggesting that Mary could have fallen pregnant before the age of 12. The evidence is not found in the Christian Bible, which never mentions a specific age, but in supporting literature. In Judaism, the specifics of [...]

Clive Hamilton (3): Meaningful Sex

When the sexual revolution began to breach the wall of sexual repression it came first as a trickle then as a torrent, with no sign of surcease 40 years on, so that sex talk and erotic imagery pervade books, media, advertising, the internet and public discussion with a fascination that seems limitless. This is a constant theme of the moral conservatives – regret over the excesses of the sexual revolution. The problem is that they do not understand what the sexual revolution is actually about, at least, as defined the people who first used the term. The critical names here [...]

Clive Hamilton (2): Aesthetics And Porn

There is no better example of Clive's elitism than his sophisticated argument about aesthetics, which I do have considerable sympathy for. Following his general argument, art can contribute to a pleasant life, a good life or a meaningful life. In other words, ordinary art is aesthetically pleasant, but great art is aesthetically meaningful. I have sympathy with his argument because of my understanding of Indian aesthetics, which is based on precisely how art can be meaningful. Indeed, according to the great Indian aesthetician, Abhinavagupta, great art does precisely what Clive would want it to do, reveal the numinous. The intention [...]

Clive Hamilton: The Progressive Moral Conservative

Melinda Tankard Reist has succeeded in bringing together a motley group of anti-porn moralisers, each with their own quite disparate agendas. Melinda dislikes porn because it ‘offends’ her conservative Christian values, yet she has gathered support from feminists who dislike porn because it ‘offends’ their view of the good feminist. And then there’s Clive Hamilton, public intellectual, former head of the Australia Institute and current Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University. His website  Clive’s entry into this debate was a surprise to me. I used to be a fan, especially of his books Affluenza and Growth Fetish. I [...]