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April 21, 2006

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My dad (lapsed Catholic) thinks the Church's real issue is the possibiity that a couple might actually enjoy sex. The goal of the Church , in my dad's view,is to make sex a hassle, either by encouraging worry over the time of month, worry about pregnancy, or worry about disease. Sex wasn't supposed to a good experience.

My increasingly-alienated-but-still-devout Catholic parents have told me flat-out that "nobody" listens to the Church on the subject of birth control. It's kinda like when the Pope condemns capital punishment or wars of aggression; American Catholics just tune it out.

Oddly enough, though, this argument seems to be seriously applied only to sex. I have no idea why.

According to a Jewish friend of mine, the principle difference between the Jewish and the Christian view of sex (and what makes him so cross at the Christian tendency to refer to "Judaeo-Christian morality") is that the Christian belief is fundamentally that sex is bad and disgusting - the only possible excuse for indulging in sex is to perpetuate the species, because intrinsically sex is sinful, though it is possible to justify having sex if you can point to a valid reason besides pleasure for having sex.

Whereas (he says) the Jewish belief is that sex is fundamentally good, and having sex is intrinsically good, though it can (like any other good thing) be turned to bad purposes. Orthodox Jews believe that it's a mitzvah for a married couple to have sex on Shabbat, for example.

Now, before everyone jumps on me, obviously there are Christians (and Christian sects) who believe that sex is fundamentally a good thing, as there are doubtless Jews (and Jewish sects) who believe that sex is fundamentally sinful. But I do believe he's on to something. Personally, I blame St Paul, who definitely had a thing about sex.

As a current Catholic, who was raised Protestant, I feel obliged to chime in.

I think there are two reasons for this focus on contraceptives, and sex as a whole.

There is the theological rationale. Actually there are a couple. One is that to use a condom or other contraception is to attempt (though not necessarily be successful) to thwart the will of God. It therefore is a sin of hubris, similar to Babel.

Another rationale is that it use of contraception is akin to the sin of Onan. The seed is spilled but wasted. BTW, Onan's sin was not masturbation, but rather refusing to follow the laws of God and sleep with his brother's widow.

It should also be noted that for centuries, the male part of the conception process, sperm, was thought to be, in effect, a human being. The female was merely the fertil soil in which the seed was grown. Therefore, contraception was also, to some degree, considered killing miniature human beings. (Somewhat akin to the arguement against abortion.)

I do not say I agree with these positions (I don't) ad as Uncle said above, most American Catholics don't, and probably even fewer European Catholics. Unfortunately, where the Church still its greatest moral authority on these issues, Africa and Asia, is probably where the greatest need is.

In regards to lily's and Jes' comments. There is a lot to that as being the real sublayer behind the teachings. Remember that in the mid 1800's the Church developed the dogma of the immaculate conception, to say that Mary was conceived in a manner in which sin was not involved. The very act of conception was believed to impart sin to the unborn child, and there could not be a mother of God who carried that original sin into her own conception of Jesus. (Poorly explained).

One could go even further and say that it is also an extension of the basic view of the Church for centuries (slowly changing) of the subservience of women. Would take too much time to explain at this point.

Allow me, hilzoy, to teach you everything one could want to know about the Roman Catholic position on contraception. I write as a culturally Irish-Catholic girl who, tho she has long been godless, does well recall the doctrines.

Cardinal Martini’s position is unexceptionable, and I am surprised if the Vatican has ever opposed it, for married couples. The Church opposes all “artifical” measures that are directly intended to keep sperm from meeting ovum. Intent is the key, here.

But using a condom to prevent transmission of disease, if that is the primary intent, would “save” the practice as moral – at least for married couples. The Church does not prohibit hysterectomies for women who have some underlying disease, even if the sterilization consequences would be pleasing to them.

As to your food analogy. The Church doesn’t care what “cotton candy” a married couple adds to its bedroom repertoire as long as, at the end of it all, they do nothing to prevent sperm from joining egg. So too, one may consume bon bons, as long as one does not seek to redirect the food from its natural path through the body.

In sum, then, the Church teaches that the “natural” procreative purpose of sex may not be frustrated by man, not if the frustration is directly intended.

In sum, then, the Church teaches that the “natural” procreative purpose of sex may not be frustrated by man, not if the frustration is directly intended.

(I can't resist) *brightly* So, using the female condom is OK, then?

john: about the little humans: I think that Aquinas thought that an embryo didn't develop a human soul until 40 days (male) or 80 days (female) after conception. Granted, he might (I don't know) have agreed with Aristotle that the sperm contains the form of the human being, and the egg its matter (this was Aristotle's rather charming way of explaining why our bodily parts aren't just arranged all higgledy-piggledy, as one might expect if different sperm, or sperm and egg, contained different parts of the human form), but form without matter is not a human individual.

As an actively lapsed Catholic (the Mother Church may consider me Catholic, which is just fine by me as long as it's clear to them that I hold that I am not), this is one of the many reasons I left the church in the first place.

Not that Catholics have cornered the market on logical inconsistency, mind, just that the dogged insistence on implementing policies of this kind baffle.

To caveat, I am crystal-clear that I am a byproduct of Church-advocated birth control: if those practices the Church blessed were effective, or the science behind the practices sound, I would not be here. For me, two-edged sword; for others, maybe only one.

This http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4417521.stm>BBC article about condoms and the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference quotes one of its staffers saying:

The church does, for example, condone the use of condoms between a married couple where one partner is HIV-positive.
"The teaching is not against the use of condoms, but against the casualisation of sex," the SACBC worker said.

That is certainly my understanding, as one who left the church over the birth control issue, among many others. Cardinal Martini's position is entirely consistent with the sexual teachings foisted on me as a lass in the 60s/70s.

My wingnut brother-in-law once tried to explain to me that male homosexuality was Evul because "the anus has a purpose, and it is wrong to use it for a different purpose." I said in astonishment, "Gosh! I must stop urinating immediately."

Imagine my surprise when I learned that the Catholic Church committed the same fallacy (phallusy?) as my brother-in-law: the idea that an act or organ that is good for one purpose ipso facto may not be used for other purposes. Hilzoy, you would know -- is there a technical term for overliteral or isomorphic teleology?

If I stop mouth-breathing, must I also stop smelling the flowers?

trilobite: I don't know, but my favorite German word is relevant here: zweckentfrendung, which literally means: end/goal-alienation, or the act of using something for a purpose that is not its own. The fact that they have a word for this has always fascinated me: use a matchbook to prop up your bookcase, and lo! a zweckentfrendung!

"If I stop mouth-breathing, must I also stop smelling the flowers?"

Only if your olfactory glands are in your mouth.

Trilobite says: Imagine my surprise when I learned that the Catholic Church committed the same fallacy (phallusy?) as my brother-in-law: the idea that an act or organ that is good for one purpose ipso facto may not be used for other purposes. Hilzoy, you would know -- is there a technical term for overliteral or isomorphic teleology?

But really, I don’t believe that is Catholic doctrine. (Oh, how to proceed without running afoul of whatever decency standards may prevail at ObWi!)

Catholic married couples may licitly do oral sex. They may put the pee pee in the lady’s, um, rectum, if they wish. The only caveat is that when the “he” half of the couple “spills the seed,” it must be into the vagina, with no spermicides or other "unnatural" impediments placed there.

Just as long as the “natural” purpose of sex is retained, then sex toys, creative use of various body part &etc…it is all ok. But the male ejaculate must be deposited in the female reproductive tract.

But the male ejaculate must be deposited in the female reproductive tract.

Wait just a second. Are you saying that a Catholic couple can fool around in any position they like as long as when he's about to come he maximizes the chance of pregnancy? Coitus interruptus is disallowed?

If so, I did not know that. And: wow.

Jackmormon asks

If so, I did not know that. And: wow.

Completely and totally verboten. Mortal sin, go straight to hell.

Right. Stems from a gross misreading of Torah, as noted above. Look up "onanism."

You know, now that they're not blaming us for killing Jeezus anymore, I'm sure we Jews could lend them some good Hebrew teachers so they could read their book correctly...

The whole "Natural Family Planning" thing (as the mayor said in Graham Greene's Monsignor Quixote, it's difficult to imagine something more unnatural) isn't the same as the rhythm method, and it's a lot more effective, too. Many couples use it because they don't want to mess with chemicals or condoms.

Two points, though:

Firstly, it's not clear that the Church does teach that using condoms is immoral in order to prevent transmission of disease. Martin Rhonheimer, a prominent moral theologian, tackles this in a good article in The Tablet.

Secondly, the argument that the Church's position leads to increased transmission of AIDS never made much sense to me. Surely HIV is mainly transmitted through extra-marital sex. If people don't buy the Church's argument on a much more fundamental area of moral theology (the impermissibility of sex outside of marriage) then why would the same people accept the much more controversial teaching concerning birth control?

hilzoy: AFAIK, Aquinas had no concept of an "egg": for him, the male was the efficient cause, while the female was merely the material cause. The semen was seen as the instrumental cause, acting upon mere unorganized menstrual blood. I suspect he might have thought it "unfitting" that the female play a bigger role in this.

And I think it was 90 days for women.

To clarify here, I am a Catholic, and I do strive for orthodoxy. But it's pretty apparent the Church hasn't really provided any good arguments when it comes to contraception.

xiaopo, I think the idea is that one member of the couple may accept the church's position even if the other doesn't. If the husband becomes infected through extramarital sex, the wife won't be able to use a condom to protect herself.

xiapo: true enough (about eggs.) I have a vague recollection that they might have had the idea that the female contribution might have been somewhat more specific than mere matter -- I am tempted to say, maybe one of the fluids involved? but I stand corrected. (My copies of the relevant books are not in the same location as I am, and unlike God, I am not omnipresent, so can't look them up just now. I do recall just loving the strangeness of Aristotle's On the Generation of Animals.)

the Christian belief is fundamentally that sex is bad and disgusting - the only possible excuse for indulging in sex is to perpetuate the species, because intrinsically sex is sinful, though it is possible to justify having sex if you can point to a valid reason besides pleasure for having sex.

Usually I see St. Augustine getting the rap for this.

KCinDC: Yeah, that's what I guessed was the objection, but I've also wondered if that sort of situation is so common that it's considered "disastrous." But as I pointed out earlier, it's not clear that the Church does teach that using condoms would be immoral under those circumstances. And I think it's obvious there are much more fundamental problems to be counteracted than condoms in situations like those.

Jesurgislac: the Christian belief is fundamentally that sex is bad and disgusting

Surely this isn't true. As C. S. Lewis pointed out:

The old Christian teachers said that if man had never fallen, sexual pleasure, instead of being less than it is now, would actually have been greater. I know some muddle-headed Christians have
talked as if Christianity thought that sex, or the body, or pleasure, were bad in themselves. But they were wrong. [...] If anyone says that sex, in itself, is bad, Christianity contradicts him at once.
Or see the Pope's new encyclical Deus Caritas Est. It's true that Augustine had some odd ideas about the massa damnata and concupiscence (sometimes—IIRC, he was a little inconsistent on this). But it's a mistake to assume he equated concupiscentia and sexual desire. That would tend toward some views which are (perhaps unfairly) grouped together under the heading "Gnosticism," and which are considered heretical.

Ahh, Christian theology of sex. One of my favorite topics, back in the day.

When deciding whether something like sex is "good" or "bad," the classical Christian thought process is to classify it as part of "creation" "sinfulness/fall" or "redemption." (I used to make my students recite this little ditty a few times early in intro theology classes: "Creation good, fall bad, redemption good.") In a nutshell: God creates; humans fall; Jesus redeems.

In the case of sex, well, the first thing to say is that sex was obviously "created by God" and therefore, as created, is good.

At the same time, though, it is ("obviously?") out of control, and therefore evidence of the fallen nature of humanity. To the extent that it shows this evidence of fallenness, it is wrong and needs to be resisted, or redirected -- which of course is only possible with the help of grace ("redemption").

Let's see if I can remember the details here. I'm pretty sure that it was St. Augustine, in the City of God, who argued that humans were created with perfect control over their bodies. The mind (soul?) rules over the body, and the body obeys. (In general, Augustine has a monarchical view of the universe: everything has its proper place in a hierarchical system, with some things naturally "higher than" and commanding other things. The world is the way it is supposed to be when the entity in charge commands well, and the entity who is supposed to obey obeys well.)

Because Adam's sin was disobedience to God, therefore the punishment for that sin was disobedience -- the disobedience of the body against the mind (soul?). Sexual desire is not under our control: to put it bluntly, we get horny when we would rather not, and we can't get horny when we want to. This, for Augustine (who prior to his conversion had quite the active sex life) is direct evidence of the fallen-ness (and therefore, to that extent, the EVIL) of human sexuality: it is a failure in obedience. It precisely mirrors the human failure (without grace, due to sin) to obey God. So Augustine theorizes that Adam and Eve's sexuality, before the fall, was perfectly under their control: a very rational sort of process.

I'm pretty sure C.S. Lewis follows the same line, more or less all the way through his discussion of sexuality. Sex is (superficially) good but it's also (and more deeply) bad. So his line "If anyone says that sex, in itself, is bad, Christianity contradicts him at once" -- that's only a small part of the story. The "in itself" is the tip-off that he's only talking about the "created" and not the "fallen" nature of sexuality in that sentence.

Secondly, the argument that the Church's position leads to increased transmission of AIDS never made much sense to me. Surely HIV is mainly transmitted through extra-marital sex. If people don't buy the Church's argument on a much more fundamental area of moral theology (the impermissibility of sex outside of marriage) then why would the same people accept the much more controversial teaching concerning birth control?

The snarky (but accurate) answer is that people are not wholly consistent in these matters. I suspect there exist religious Jews and Muslims who have committed adultery but refuse to eat pork.

Also, the Church's influence on governments may have the effect of reducing the availability of condoms in some countries.

xiaopo, Aquinas was just going verbatim from Aristotle's On the Generation of Animals, which obsesses mightily about many things too indelicate to be allowed to be spoken of in mixed student company (it took me a lot of digging in the college library to find an unexpurgated copy) and in which the ancient Greek alleged that mother=matrix, and females provided only food and shelter, and that all the *form* of the offspring came from the male contribution.

Now, Aristotle was more sophisticated and his explanation actually does sound like a thru-a-glass-darkly version of DNA, in that he regards semen as something like a stamp or a mold that hits clay and makes it into a new copy, which is then "baked" in the oven of the womb. (Females are birth-defects, caused by undercooking, so to speak.) It's all very analagous and abstruse, like diagrams of atoms, in the original.

But later less sophisticated thinkers *did* imagine entire microscopic embryos floating in semen, which only started growing when "planted", and thus did regard masturbation as murder. But I can't name any at the moment without digging through and for very old notes.

Jes et al, there are two things going on here: there are batches of theologians who talk about Sacred Eros and think that sex is great, so long as it's the right kind and in the right place only - Sex as the image of God's love for humanity/creation/Archetypes/Jesus the Bridegroom etc etc.

Then there are the other batches of theologians and religious teachers who are filled with the ancient, all the way back to Classical times, squick about women and menstruation and OMG blood & guts and mucus and yet I can't help LUSTING after them - and you find that in yes, Jewish tradition as well as in Roman and Greek, alas. (eg "uncleanliness," the obsession with virgins, and prostitutes, in the TANAKH, and rabbis bragging that they never saw any of their wives' bodies, so that one famous virtuous man didn't know his wife had a deformed arm even, so free were they from lust.)

And they are the ones who manage to transmit best, or give religious backing to cultural squicks, and always have.

And - this is the truth as witnessed from inside the conservative Catholic academic bubble - even the ones who *talk* about Sacred Eros and the Divine Union of Bridegroom and Bride and all that, actually are infected with the whole universal madonna/whore and eww blood! general squick problems, down deep where it counts.

Also, the Church's influence on governments may have the effect of reducing the availability of condoms in some countries.

Bernard - not may. Does.

This was bragged about openly in conservative Catholic newspapers like The Wanderer and by groups like Human Life Internationalfor years, whenever a success was managed and the Vatican able to pressure some UN country to refuse funding to health clinics that offer contraception.

There are, of course, Catholic doctors, nurses, and other social workers around the world who simply defy this teaching. But make no mistake, they are as much in defiance as an employee at a state health care clinic handing out medical marijuana would be in the States.

Also, xiaopo, you can literally spend weeks of study trying to figure out what, exactly, various ancient theologians did or didn't mean when they use (or their translators use) words like "concupiscence." Trying to find consistency of definition not just from one theologian to another but even within the same Doctor's corpus is like trying to nail down water, or come up with a consistent unified Egyptian mythos...

I am not Catholic, but I often go to a blog with many natural law philosophers. Which is unfortunate for all concerned.

According to the "new" natural law theory, informed by John Paul II, Aristotle's teleology has shifted from a metaphysical purpose based on the body's innate design to a theology of the body. This transmutes the body into God's living image and affirms the sacred dignity of that image.

So the hazard has shifted (upwards, in my view) from violating Aristotle's natural order, to violating Kant's categorical imperative. Recreational sex intended to avoid procreation is viewed as a sin against human dignity.

Step2: that's oddly in keeping with some of Kant's own odder views, which include: the moral dubiousness of selling one's hair.

bellatrys, I had not encountered the word "squick" before, so I asked Google to define it for me. Bleah. The WikiPedia definition is a bit stomach-turning.

Live and learn.

ral, I've encountered it mostly in the 'such-and-such squicked them out' or, 'that's very squicky' senses. A stronger, more visceral version of 'yuck.'

That said, great discussion of Christian sexuality. As far as the protestand sexual ethic, I'm reminded of the Monty Python skit in which a husband proudly informs his wife of all the things he's allowed to do because they don't have to pay attention to the Pope -- then blandly reads the newspaper.

To some, it may appear that Martini is breaking with the pope and official church teachings.

But in fact, Martini's comments in the Italian magazine are entirely consistent with the church's reverance for life.

The church teaches that no one should use a condom or any other type of artificial contraception.

The reality, though, that if everyone follows that teaching, people will likely die.

Martini is not a relativist. He is not arguing that the church shirk its beliefs and adapt to contemporary, secular morality — or immorality, if you will. He is not calling for condom distributions after Mass.

Martini just wants to make sure that whenever possible, the church avoids a greater evil and, even after man has sinned, always stands up for life.

At the risk being disrespecful of some of the Deep Thinkers discussed above, may I suggest that Biblical ideas about sexual morality derived primarily from the need for the tribe to increase its population in order to survive? Practices such as birth control or homosexuality would be viewed as immoral simply because they were thought to reduce the birth rate.

I think that many of the arguments that have been cited here are not attempts to think through issues of sexual morality, but rather to justify rules that were taken as virtually axiomatic.

I have nothing new to contribute to the sex-&-Christianity debate; verily, there is nothing new to be said.

But I'll chime in with the reminder that the early Church was an uneasy amalgam of gnostic and "catholic" teachings, the latter label being a bit like Lenin's "bolshevik," i.e., true after the fact. Gnosticism's marks on catholic, & later Catholic, teachings are surely visible in Augustine and others. We should not be surprised if the Church's teachings on the subject ultimately make no sense, despite the best efforts of some truly brilliant clerical minds.

And note the recurring extremes to the other end, free sexuality irrespective of marital status, gender, etc. Some of these stories are probably exaggerated (cf. the Cathars), but even the creation of a wholly fictional Other is evidence of one's own conflicted beliefs.

Hilzoy said: I would have more respect for this argument if it were applied to other appetites: if, for instance, the Church were just as firmly opposed to eating for some purpose other than nourishment, and banned the eating of non-nutritious foods like cotton candy on those grounds; or if it opposed shopping for things people don't need, and forbade its members to buy any luxuries; or if it opposed taking aimless walks or oversleeping. Oddly enough, though, this argument seems to be seriously applied only to sex.

That's not quite right. I'm certainly not an expert on Catholic teaching on contraception. Nonetheless, on my understanding, using contraception is akin to bulimia. With bulimia, someone takes advantage of the pleasure of eating food, but then takes measures to prevent the body from using that food for its natural purpose.

That would be the analogue to contraception. Not eating cotton candy. I.e., no one in the Catholic church says that you can't have sex out of emotional desires, using all sorts of interesting techniques, and at a non-fertile time of the month. It just says that if you do have sex, let nature take its course. Just as you're free to eat anything at any time (barring gluttony), but you shouldn't vomit and thereby block the natural act of eating from taking its course.

Agree with it or not, I don't care. But the concept should be easy to understand (even while you disagree with it).

And need I add, it would be quite an amazing misunderstanding to accuse someone who opposed bulimia of being "against eating."

Actually, I guess Mona said pretty much the same thing upstream.

Also: shopping for things people don't need, and forbade its members to buy any luxuries

Actually, greed and lust (including lust for material things) are two of the seven deadly sins. It's complicated, however, by the fact that one person's "luxury" is another's necessity. (A large car might be a luxury to some people, but might be a necessity for a large family.) Still, if one buys something out of the improper motive of greed or lust, the Catholic Church would definitely classify that as a sin.

Discussions of Church doctrine regarding sexuality always move me to do further reading.

But I can't remember where I put my copies of Henry Miller's Sexus, Nexus, and Plexus.

Wasn't Miller's mysterious heroine/girlfriend in those books named Mona/Moira.

I have a technical question regarding the transmission of sperm to its proper destination (that phraseology right there puts me off the entire once exciting subject):

Does this not mean that every priest's nocturnal emission (all premature because the eggs are sequestered in the nunnery) becomes a harrowing experience, in the original meaning of "harrowing", as in Hell?

And what explains why the pages of their Bibles (that sexy book) are stuck together?

I have always felt that people who think their God can be frustrated by a thin layer of latex are plainly not believers in an omnipotent God.

The series of immunisation shots most babies in the US get at six months, when the natural immunities they get from their birth mother wear off, equally frustrate God's will and nature's course. If we assume that tricksy modern inventions enabling women to have only as many children as they want and can care for, but in reasonable confidence that those children will not die in infancy, are fundamentally wrong.

The other idea, that out of all the possible ways two people can make love, God thinks that humans should only have hetero intercourse, is always slightly bizarre: I've never seen how anyone could respect or worship God the Cosmic Voyeur...

The series of immunisation shots most babies in the US get at six months, when the natural immunities they get from their birth mother wear off, equally frustrate God's will and nature's course

Which is why our bible-belt inhabitants don't do it and I guess the same goes for the US bible-belters.

OK, J, all you're really saying is that you don't believe in Christianity, one major point of which is that God cares about how people act and think in every possible aspect of their lives, up to and including their innermost thoughts.

I have always felt that people who think their God can be frustrated by a thin layer of latex are plainly not believers in an omnipotent God.

There are some Christians who believe that contributing to global warming is a sin. One might as well respond, "I have always felt that people who think their God can be frustrated by a few carbon dioxide atoms are plainly not believers in an omnipotent God."

Such a response misses the entire point of Christianity, which is that even though God is omnipotent, he has granted people free will to disobey his commands in a zillion possible ways.

Niels: OK, J, all you're really saying is that you don't believe in Christianity, one major point of which is that God cares about how people act and think in every possible aspect of their lives, up to and including their innermost thoughts.

Hmmm... no, that's a stretch. When I say I don't respect God the Cosmic Voyeur, I mean exactly that: a God who cares specifically how a couple have sex, and has specified various natural combinations and methods as sinful.

There are some Christians who believe that contributing to global warming is a sin. One might as well respond, "I have always felt that people who think their God can be frustrated by a few carbon dioxide atoms are plainly not believers in an omnipotent God."

Living so that you contribute less carbon dioxide to the atmosphere (and use up less irreplacable fossil fuel) is self-evidently a cooperative, helpful, friendly way to behave: forcing women through unwanted pregnancies and unwanted childbirth is self-evidently an unfriendly, hostile, uncooperative way to behave.

To argue that God wants people to behave cooperatively, to be helpful and friendly, to take thought for future generations, is an argument that stems naturally from the principles of Christianity - especially the belief that it's morally better to be poor than rich. ;-) To argue that God wants more and more people to become infected with HIV because they are not allowed to use condoms, or that God wants women especially to suffer, die, and be made sterile because women are not allowed to choose how many children to have, that is hard to argue stems naturally from the principles of Christianity - but fits well with the idea of God the Cosmic Misogynist, or God the Cosmic Voyeur.

I have intense respect for any Christian who acts as if they believe literally "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.' But no respect for people who use Christianity to justify their own social prejudices against women, or gays, or anyone transgressing from a social norm.

"...he has granted people free will to disobey his commands in a zillion possible ways."

Well, I originally came up with something in the vicinity of 1,311,427,981 ways you people could possibly disobey my commands, but the fecundity of your creativity is somehow simultaneously deeply demoralizing and, well, admirable. Why, the number of amazing and misdirected places teenaged boys find to deposit spermatazoa boggles even my world-mind. And there were those three incidents yesterday, Neils Jackson. I've got my eye on you. ;) (plus whatever the emoticon is for "you will burn for eternity") Little did I know. Socrates was right about knowing thyself. I kind of regret the hemlock incident. You are me and I am you and we are all together, but that is no excuse for orgies.

And, Jes, much as you piss me off, you kind of remind me of me.

Incidentally, does anyone know how I can get in touch with John Thullen, whom I hate? I have issues with him. Someday we will meet and, whoo boy, that'll be some kind of sight.

Now, all of you, shut up and eat your peas.

Let us have peas!

I am now visualising whirled peas.

Forget who you have issues with, DGWTIP, who is going to take the World Series?

Thome stays healthy and the pitching holds up, again with the White Sox.

Mets: interesting, but a year away.

But my client, natch, is a Yankees fan.

He tells me too, that there must be some special dispensation for Craig Biggio. Like an August trade to the Yankees to put them in the thick of it.

Well, let's not forget the Red Sox if Beckett can Clemensize and Martinezize the pitching staff.

Plus, if Ramirez can learn to love the game like Tony Conigliaro wishes he were around to do and Yaz absolutely did.

That's for the 7-year old Hilzoy.

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