Monday, May 18, 2009


On 'sexual-like union' with God

LOL! The very *notion" of "sexual-like union with God" -- mentioned by Feodor in this rambling, volatile thread over homosexuality -- sent a couple of the usual suspects into self-righteous, faux pious conniptions!

From a "deep recess of ... rectum," Marshall Arts ejaculated! "Offensive and blasphemous," Mark spewed!

It reminded me of the following.

"Holy Sonnet XIV"

Batter my heart, three-person'd God; for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd towne, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved faine,
But am betroth'd unto your enemie;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot againe,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I
Except you enthrall me, shall never be free,
Nor ever shaste, except you ravish me.
--John Donne

Four years ago, when I first discovered that piece, I wrote:

"It makes me think of how I am so past due to have my hip broken while wrestling with an angel. Plus, what seems sensual, even sexual, in today's understanding, overwhelms me with the reality that 'sex,' and all its associative realities, is actually an act of creation. To compare the two makes perfect poetic sense. And to be overcome with God's Godness must be the ultimate receiving of the Act of Love in a way that my poor pitiful mind can't begin to grasp. The best words of even the most erudite among us can do nothing but be insulting to the idea in their feeble attempt to convey it."



Even the Bible talks about the Church as the bride of Christ, so it isn't like marital imagery is new or anything.

I'm sure the phony-pious neo-Puritans get all freaked out about such allusions, but when do they not get all freaked out about ... well ... anything? It's just another example of yet more stuff they don't actually know about their own religion, which surprises me not one bit.

(Just my random thoughts, which may or may not have already been stated over there. You couldn't pay me enough money to click a link to the Amerikkkan Descent crowd, particularly when they're off on one of their usual fag bashing rants.)
First, my Butthead impression: "You said 'ejaculate'".

Second - is it any wonder these sex-hating, world- and life-denying doofuses would expostulate so, only revealing their ignorance? Did Feodor mention St. Francis praying about suckling at the breast of Christ? He should.

I would correct Mark, but the psychological problem he describes is Munchasen's syndrome by proxy, a form of narcissistic personality disorder, in which a parent or guardian uses a child to bring about attention to him or herself. I'm not exactly surprised he got it wrong; he's not exactly a brain-wizard.
Studying that Holy Sonnet with undergraduates at a conservative Baptist university is a hoot.

Have you read Donne's sermons?
I <3 John Donne.

No way am I clicking over, but at least the "discussion" got you to post that. Can always use a little more poetry!
:-) Links provided for documentation purposes only, not s recommendations! :-)

Never read a Donne sermon, and I'll bet Baptiust undergrads are hootful in such circumstances.

What IS this: <3 ?? Looks kinda dirty, in a coupla different ways. LOL
And, yes, I let Poetry Month get by this year with nary a single post about it!
Donne's sermons are beautiful. Somewhat difficult but a marvelous model for sensibility.

Not replicable, but great to read and put into the brain's background noise.

2I ≤ 2ERs ÷ 3½GKSs
And I think I put his sermons on your hand-crafted seminary syllabus.
Just because I love accuracy, and if you start dropping shrink-talk out there, Geoffrey, I'm gonna bite:
There is a diagnosis known as Munchausen syndrome, in which the person does feign illness (sometimes to the point of self-harm) in order to receive medical attention. the "by proxy" version of this illness is when the affected person uses a "proxy" (often a child, sometimes others) as the "ill" target. I have treated a few cases, and usually the patient bolts upon diagnosis. So Mark was fairly accurate in his description of the former, and Geoffrey in the latter.

The entire thread over at MA's was certainly entertaining from an scatological point of view. The science, on the other hand, left much to be desired. Particularly lacking was any rudimentary understanding of genetics. (I am surprised, though, that none of the wise-acres over here didn't bring up the point that genetics is rendered moot to any self-respecting creationist.)

By the by, my favorite Donne quote: "I observe the physician with the same diligence as the disease."

ER, The <3 is a heart, or Dolly Parton wearing a blindfold and having a bad day.
Well, "feign" is a little pejorative and a misunderestimation, don't you think, Doc?

The psychological process is rather more hidden from consciousness than feigning, isn't it? One can't get psychotics into treatment by first pointing out that they are feigning the Soviet "bugs" in their hair.

And so where were your fingers when you were reading for science lacunae in the thread? They weren't typing.
"Particularly lacking was any rudimentary understanding of genetics."

Again, haven't read the thread, but those morons are discussing genetics!? I can't imagine how that bunch of slack-jawed, mouth-breathers whose family trees have no branches could possibly understand genetics: "Well, if my sister is my wife, does that make my son my nephew?"

Though all that inbreeding does simplify the Punnett Squares a bit, I suppose. :)
Re, "The entire thread over at MA's was certainly entertaining from an scatological point of view."

Ha! Reason enough to drop in over there once in awhile!
Doc - to be honest, I had never heard of Munchausen's syndrome, only "by proxy". See, the intertubes is good for larnin' . . .

I thought I said something about the whole "genetics" thing - about how it describes a correlative predisposition, rather than anything causal, that kind of thing. Doesn't that count for something?

Finally, back to the whole sexual union thing, and their explosive over-reaction, I honestly wonder if these people have any clue how easy it is to show them how stupid they are. I mean - they are using the internet, for crying out loud. There's this thing called Google, you type the words "mystic+vision+sexual+language" into the little box-thingy, and the third item on my list was, from all that's Holy, the right-wing First Things, specifically this article from 2007 that discusses the sexualized imagery of Bernard of Clairvaux's sermons on the Song of Songs, as a way to attempt at least to show the complexity and power of sexual imagery as a metaphor (but only a metaphor) for union with Christ. It shouldn't surprise me that these bobbleheads have no idea what any of this means, or who it references, but that's all the more reason to point and laugh rather than take them seriously.
Yes it counts. I should have stated that there were some individuals that seemed to not grasp rudimentary genetics. (For example, statements that genetics cannot be a factor in homosexuality because some have successfully realigned to heterosexual patterns, or because it could not be passed down to subsequent generations.) There are many counters to that, and some were presented on that thread. Pardon my fuzziness.

"Feign" is precisely the correct word, and is not pejorative. Individuals with Munchausen Syndrome are aware that they are not physically ill, they manufacture physical symptoms in order to get medical attention. It is their psychological condition that causes them to feign such physical illness. That can be contrasted with a few other conditions. Malingering is when a person feigns illness for a specific secondary gain (e.g. to win a lawsuit, etc.). Conversion/somatization disorder, in which the person has physical symptoms caused by subconscious conflict. A stereotypical example of the latter is the groom-to-be losing his voice the morning of his wedding day. Psychotic conditions, can also cause a person to believe that they have a physical illness, of which there are many. Body Dysmorphic Disorder, is one example. Your "Soviet Bugs," commonly associated with Paranoid Schizophrenia, is another.
Munchausen Syndrome does not fall into the area of psychosis; treatment with antipsychotic medications is generally not effective, and the primary treatment is psychotherapy. Sadly, the prognosis is poor, and most do not receive treatment.
Doc, as you are the resident psychologist, am I correct in my saying that Munchausen's syndrome is similar to, and can accompany, narcissistic personality disorder? Since it doesn't seem treatable by antipsychotics, and NPD is a neurotic rather than psychotic condition . . .
Sigh. If I could get Dr. ER to blog, *she'd* be the resident psychologist! :-(
There are many features overlapping the two (lack of insight, need for validation, an external locus of control--I don't have the problem, you do--etc.) Often the comorbid diagnosis of NPD is made with Munchausen Syndrome. Histrionic Personality Disorder probably comes in second in the comorbid personality disorder list. Do remember though, that Munchausen Syndrome is quite rare, and so there is not a great deal of expertise that one can claim regarding etiology.

And speaking of narcissism, I am a psychiatrist, not a psychologist! :)

ER, mega-apologies for serious thread derailment! I'll run along now.
Sorry, Doc. Wasn't a dis - I do know the difference! Just an oopsie on my part.

Anyway, it wasn't a derailment - it's all part of the discussion. Mental illness, Marshall Art - they go together like white and rice.
I wasn't suggesting the Munchausen was related to psychosis. I was saying that an approach with "feigning" inferred is going to fail to win therapeutic alignment.

Better to examine the stated symptoms and buy time to create a relationship. One has to "bracket out" the suspected diagnosis from the work for a while.
In a, a seraphim drove the fiery point of a golden lance repeatedly through her heart, causing an ineffable spiritual-bodily pain.
"I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron's point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying."
---Teresa of Avila
If you are interested in Donne, go here: You can compare the variants from various early copies of his work. Neat stuff. There is also a link to the Donne Variorium. The volume of Holy Sonnets has been published, and is magnificent. I've had the pleasure to meet most of the scholars at conference, and worked with one of the scholars on an as-yet unpublished volume. Wicked smart people, let me tell ya. There's a few rednecks in the bunch, so I felt at home.
I know LeeLee is too sophisticated for this, but I would not suggest anyone take the Variorum argument to the dark side. Or Teresa.

Or anything after God closed the canon and bonded the leather.
Me, sophisticated? Aw shucks.
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