"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Friday, April 19, 2024

The Ark Of The Covenant - Looking For Sex And God In All The Wrong Places

Mary Bliss had grown up without a doubt in the world.  God was in his heaven, and all was right with the world.  Her Catholic upbringing had kept her in good stead with an unerring moral compass, an ethical sense of social rectitude, and an absolute belief that through good works she would sit with Jesus at the right hand of the Father. 

Nothing diverted her from a path of righteousness, belief, and divine love.  Her trajectory once aligned and set in motion, would have no deviation.  Nothing in the world’s secular assault would deter or dissuade her from reaching her goal. 


Her classmates were not so confirmed in their belief.  Yes, they loved Jesus, obeyed the nuns, and listened to the orations of Father Brophy, but there was always a diffidence, a hesitancy about full commitment to God that Mary could not understand. 

What, in fact, was there to understand?  He had made his will and intentions abundantly clear in both Old Testament and New; and Church fathers from Athanasius to Augustine had filled in the blanks, parsing Jesus and Paul's words in the early centuries of the Church and developing unassailable arguments for the existence of God, the Trinity, and the divine nature of Christ. 

Something happened to Mary along the way.  Perhaps it was her sexual precocity that made her stray; or the badgering, wearying, sanctimony of Father Brophy; but whatever the reason, off she went to Smith, formerly one of the Seven Sisters, the women's Ivy League, bound and determined to find her own way apart from and despite the Church. 

Smith in the days of Mary's college years had become a well-known place for smart lesbians - women who could have gone to Harvard but preferred the secure confines of small college tucked away in the Berkshires where sexual liberty was the sine qua non of a liberal women's education, and where sexual diversity was the imprimatur, the rule of thumb, the ethos, and the brand. 

This place if any would shake the timbers of her faith, help her get over the God thing once and for all or confirm and consolidate her belief.  One way or another she would emerge self-aware from this alternate universe where Catholic chastity, heterosexuality, and piety had no place. 

It didn't take long for the girls at Cutter House to scent new prey; and Jennifer, Caitlin, Amory, and Lizbeth were quick to help her make her bed, fluff her pillows, and take her to dinner.  Such solicitousness, such girlish affection, and such implied intimacy was exactly what she had wanted and expected.  Before she had settled in and gone to her first class, she had made a new 'friend'. 

Claudia was from Chillicothe, had had her choice of New England schools, and chose Smith because....well, girls from this steel town like anywhere else aspired to the lesbian mecca of the East, and what a feast, a smorgasbord of the most talented, beautiful, and ambitious women from coast to coast there would be! 

Mary’s friendship was more than just sexual.  It was emotional and intellectual.  Only at a place like Smith would there be that marvelous amalgam of brains and sensuality.  So between sexual escapades they talked of Kant, Lacan, Friedman, and Freire.  Thanks to their relationship which added energy and intellectual zeal to their years at Smith, they both did well academically and excelled at sports. 

Surprisingly or not, they both had been brought up Catholic, and Smith was the first secular school they had ever been to. They missed the daily masses, communion, and the Sunday school feeling of parochial school.  Claudia had fallen in love with Sister Marie Joseph, a young novitiate from the Sisters of Charity who taught European history, and thus began her, Claudia's, first foray into that intriguing, satisfying double world of love and intellect.  Thanks to Sister Marie Joseph, Smith was a foregone conclusion. 

The problem with Smith, however, was that God was missing.  Going off on a sexual tangent did not mean that Mary was abandoning God.  In fact she had hoped to find him in other guises like the 99 names of Allah or the 100 incarnations of Brahma, or the unknowable, diaphanous spirit of the Buddha. 

Bed and board were not enough, and the more Mary drifted from one affair to another, half-satisfying, never complete, and always half-full, the more she wanted to find her God. She had been warned by Father Brophy about such Protestant apostasy - one did not accept Jesus as one’s personal savior in Catholicism - but sussing out the nature of God was a different story, nothing personal. 

Smith had not only been a sexual idyll but a training ground for liberalism.  Not unlike most universities, Smith was a locus of radical progressivism, a school which took diversity, equity, and inclusivity seriously.  It was the lens through which all texts were read, the academic context for learning; so after graduation, Mary naturally gravitated to Washington.  

She had been accepted as an intern at one of the capital's most prestigious progressive think tanks, and because of Smith's reputation for alternative sexual orientation, she was assigned to the Department of 'Sexual Readjustment', a tightly-woven ultra-feminist lobby group for lesbian and transgender affairs.  'We make a difference' said the head of the Department. 

For Mary is was the perfect nexus - a group of women who loved women who promoted the cause of women and women's love for women.  An unmatched solidarity, a unique union.  She was in the right place at the right time. 

Just like at Smith, however, there was something missing.  The women for all their secular intensity, reformist ambitions, and sexual bonding, had no real raison d'etre - no ethos, philosophy, or something more universal. God perhaps? There it was again, that niggling issue, that peskiness, that sleep-interrupting nettle.  

What were these women really after? Sexual license was now given freely, so would badgering a conservative public give it any more currency? And women's value had never ever been questioned despite claims of suppressive patriarchy. Whether mother, wife, matriarch, queen, consort, or tart, her fundamentalism was absolute.The Women's Rights Movement had a hollow ring to it; and when looked at within a more existential context, it clanged and banged with emptiness. 


These women for whom a day job had become a religion came home to an empty house.  The sisters were all there, happy as birds on a line, happy enough if gloating was included, but the clanging and banging drowned out everything else. 

The longer Mary stayed with the program, the more she felt like a ghost ship in irons, rolling with the waves and drifting with the current with no direction and no progress. Sex with women was as dry as Namibia, a few spiders and mites but miles and miles of barren infertility, God's empty quarter. 

The meme of women for women with women, etc. was scripted, but women without men should have been the first scene. Men - the rooster's contribution at worst, a Lawrentian complementarity at best, can't live with them, can't live without them made a bedroom of undies and frilly things no better than Goodnight Moon, a child's bedtime story. 

So Mary looked for God with men, gave up her sisterhood, got pregnant, and was immediately dunned and exiled, rejected and left on the curb by the sisterhood.  However, like Tolstoy who for his whole life wondered where God was and studied till the day he died to discover the truth about his existence, came up empty but concluded that if millions believed and billions before had believed, Mary agreed that maybe there was something to it after all. 

She never regretted her dalliances, life's a journey not a destination and all that, changed diapers and went to PTA, and never looked back. God was in the details, just not the ones she had been advised by Father Brophy or the Bernal Heights dames.

The Ark of the Covenant, the most religious relic of the Israelites, where God himself resided, the earthly residence of God on earth, has been sought for millennia.  The search was apt and appropriate for the likes of Mary Bliss.  God can indeed be found in the Ark, and you only have to look for it in the right places.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.