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Bless me Father, for I have sinned.  It has been 15 days since my last post

Hey, I’m a busy guy.  You all know how it goes.  But things are loosening up a bit for me now, so I hope to get back in the saddle  a bit.

I’ve been working on a commentary on the movie Still Alice — anyone seen it?  I guess if this post gets any “likes,” I’ll know I have an audience :)

In the meantime, for the sake of blogging aesthetics, I need a visual of some sort.  Here is a Youtube compilation of funny baby videos for your enjoyment:

I love it when I get to let visual media do the talking for me, so here we go :)

Sci-Fi Sells Fine

A little play on language — was it obvious?

Anyway, I saw this in a clothing store yesterday.  I guess there aren’t too many commodities that cannot be successfully endorsed with the face of a wookiee, or any other iconic denizen of the world of cinema lore.

Chewbacca

For parts one through three, click here John_Paul_II_1980_cropped Although we have covered some important aspects of Pope St. John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body,” one might wonder precisely how the sexual roles of men and women differ according to God’s original plan.

Essentially, the man is the “active” partner who makes a gift of himself from without, bringing with him the “seed of life”; the woman, meanwhile, is the “receptive” partner who welcomes the man into her “inner sanctuary,” from whence life can emerge.  But lest you think this diminishes the role of the woman, be aware that there is an active and passive component in the roles of both partners.  Each affirms and reinforces the other.

Unfortunately, as discussed in part two, human sexuality is affected by Original Sin.  In the man, the gift can easily become an intrusion; in the woman, the welcoming embrace can become a seductive form of entrapment. Daenerys_Targaryen_with_Dragon-Emilia_ClarkeDaenerys “Dany” Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), arguably the strongest and most iconic female character in Game of Thrones, becomes a victim of that first impulse early in the first season. khal drogoShe is given in an arranged marriage to Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa), the ruthless leader of the nomadic Dothraki people.  At first, he treats Dany as another one of his conquests.  Their marriage is consummated not in lovemaking, but in rape.

Eventually, this changes.  Dany and Drogo actually fall in love.  Drogo, for his part, learns tenderness, and becomes something of a gentler person.  He learns to treat Dany as someone to be treasured rather than something to be possessed.

How does this happen? Dany faceThe change begins in season 1, episode 2.  Drogo and Dany are in their private tent, and Drogo is about to proceed as per usual.  Dany turns to face him, looking him directly in the eye, and says:

“Tonight I would look upon your face.”

This is very important.  Of all the human body’s various members, the face is generally recognized as the one least affected by the Fall.  When we look at a human face, we see the person revealed — the unique, unrepeatable, and inestimably precious subject made in the image and likeness of Almighty God.  In being brought face-to-face with Dany, Drogo, along with all others who would perpetrate acts of violence and injustice upon their victims and “conquests,” is confronted with a kind of judgment.

Here it would be helpful to return to the thought of Pope John Paul II; referencing the great Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas and his “philosophy of the face,” he comments thus:

It is through his face that man speaks, and in particular, every man who has suffered a wrong speaks and says the words “Do not kill me!”  The human face and the commandment “Do not kill” are ingeniously enjoined in Levinas, and thus become a testimony for our age… (from the book Crossing the Threshold of Hope, ed. Vittorio Messori; italics included)

We can say the same for the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, which cover sexual conduct.

Okay — so the face reveals the person.  But the personal is never abstract.  What the face reveals is the human self in its masculinity or femininity, depending on whether the subject is a man or a woman.  Dany’s effect on Drogo shows the power of a peculiarly feminine way of responding mercifully to aggressors, and calls to mind such wonderful women in Church history as St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine.

That’s not to say that Dany is a saint.  One could spend a considerable length of time on her character and its evolution over the course of the series (one of these days I hope to return to the “Kingship and Power” series that I began, and abandoned, a couple years ago; that would be a good place to take a closer look at Dany).  But in this case, she does well.  Whether author George R.R. Martin knows it or not, her response to Drogo is pregnant with potential for spiritual significance.

So there are my thoughts on different aspects of how sex is used in Game of Thrones.  I am a firm believer that one cannot fairly criticize the vices of a TV show or movie without at the same time being prepared to acknowledge its virtues.  Charity, after all, rejoices in goodness wherever it can be found.

That said, I want to restate my belief that the sex in Game of Thrones is gratuitous and unnecessary.  It caters to a human preoccupation, for sure — not with sexuality, but with pornography.  Perhaps if they were aware of the statistics and studies on the real effects of pornographic material on the psychological and social well-being of individuals and families, they would showcase human skin and coitus with at least a little less ease. And now I’m done.  Thanks for reading :) *********************************************************************************************************************

Acknowledgements

1. “John Paul II 1980 cropped” by Fels_Papst.JPG: Nikolaus von Nathusiusderivative work: JJ Georges – This file was derived from: Fels Papst.JPG:. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Paul_II_1980_cropped.JPG#/media/File:John_Paul_II_1980_cropped.JPG

2. “Daenerys Targaryen with Dragon-Emilia Clarke” by Uploaded by TAnthony. Via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Daenerys_Targaryen_with_Dragon-Emilia_Clarke.jpg#/media/File:Daenerys_Targaryen_with_Dragon-Emilia_Clarke.jpg

Remaining images obtained through a Google image search

I am saddened at the death of James Horner, one of my favorite film composers and undoubtedly one of the best.  Upon hearing the news, I promptly went to Youtube in hopes of finding a fitting tribute to his life’s work (or, more appropriately, his life’s passion).

A difference may be made in people’s lives in many different ways.  Let us not forget or belittle the contribution of those who, through dedication to aesthetic excellence, give voice to the echoes of the soul.

May James Horner rest in peace.  I pray that he has found the One from whose Voice the aforementioned echoes come.

Fair warning: There is one line spoken in this tribute, and there is one profanity in it.

Emanuel_African_Methodist_Episcopal_(AME)_ChurchIn the wake of the terrible tragedy that occurred recently at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, Bishop Robert Guglielmone is inviting people to pray a Novena (nine-day prayer) for the victims and their families.

Here is a suggested prayer for anyone interested in participating (say it once a day over the next nine days):

Lord, we pray for those who have been devastated by
recent tragedies. We remember those who have lost
their lives so suddenly. We hold in our hearts the
families forever changed by grief and loss. Bring them
consolation and comfort. Surround them with our
prayers for strength. Bless those who have survived and
heal their memories of trauma and devastation. May
they have the courage to face the days ahead. Help us
to respond with generosity in prayer, in assistance, and
in comfort to the best of our abilities. Keep our hearts
focused on the needs of all the community. We ask this
in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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Image from Wikipedia — full citation:

“Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church” by Cal Sr from Newport, NC, US – Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Emanuel_African_Methodist_Episcopal_(AME)_Church.jpg#/media/File:Emanuel_African_Methodist_Episcopal_(AME)_Church.jpg

Episode 6 scene 15

Episode 6 scene 15

For parts one and two, click here

If you love Game of Thrones, chances are you love Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage).  But let’s face it: His popularity doesn’t do much to foster a healthy sense of morality in our society.

Take Tyrion, a whoring, cussing, imbibing, lustful dwarf who is at the same time charming and compassionate, and put him against the background of a bunch of  lying, scheming, murdering, brutal scoundrels (his own father, Tywin Lannister, among them), and people will naturally prefer Tyrion.  Not only that, his sins will seem excusable, minor, or even non-existent by comparison.

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage  Mandatory Credit: Photo by HBO/Everett/REX_Shutterstock (4705667g)  Peter Dinklage, 'The Wars To Come', (Season 5, ep. 01)  Game of Thrones - 2015

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage
Mandatory Credit: Photo by HBO/Everett/REX_Shutterstock (4705667g)
Peter Dinklage, ‘The Wars To Come’, (Season 5, ep. 01)
Game of Thrones – 2015

Okay…there’s a lot we can say about Tyrion.  He is witty.  He is charming.  He has a gentler heart by far than 99% of the show’s many characters.  But he is, for a good portion of the show, a man of lust.

It would be useful, however, to ask why he seeks happiness in sex with sundry women.  Is it simply shameless self-indulgence, or is there something else going on here?

Tyrion-Bronn-ShaeThink back to season one, episode nine — specifically, the scene in which Tyrion drinks and swaps stories with the sellsword Bronn (Jerome Flynn) and the prostitute Shae (Sibel Kikilli).  In the course of their interactions, Tyrion reveals that he was married at age 16 to a woman with whom, in the naivete of youth, he had fallen in love (or so he thought).  But not long after, he learned that it was all a setup.  The woman was a hired prostitute. Tyrion’s father even forced him to watch as Lannister guardsmen had sex with her.

LannistersAnd this is only the tip of the iceberg.  Eventually, we learn that Tyrion’s mother died giving birth to him; for that reason, and because he was a stunted dwarf from birth, he has incurred the lifelong ire of his family (with the exception of his brother, Jaime).  His own father flatly tells him that he wanted to throw him into the sea as a baby, but spared his life only…

(. . .) because you’re a Lannister.

Evil does not subsist in itself.  Evil is to good what the cavity is to the tooth.  It’s existence is entirely parasitic.  Therefore, every form of evil depends on a particular form of good, and every sin  is a misdirected desire for something good.

Tyrion_ShaeSo what good is Tyrion looking for, consciously or unconsciously?  I think it’s safe to say he is looking for love.  Except he’s not going about it the right way, because no one has ever shown him how.

He finally finds love during a brief and secret romance with Shae, which he is forced to end in order to protect the latter’s life.  Unaware of Tyrion’s motives and deeply hurt, Shae turns against him.  During a trial (presided over by none other than Tywin Lannister) in which Tyrion is charged with a crime he didn’t commit, she stands witness against him.  Later, when Tyrion breaks out of his prison cell on the eve of his scheduled execution, he discovers that she is sleeping with his father.

And he kills her.  Hardly the act of a genuine lover, but no doubt he had experienced something with her that, of all of his experiences, most closely approximated the “real thing.”

Tyrion in VolantisOkay — fast forward a bit: Tyrion has fled to the vast eastern continent of Essos and ended up at a brothel in the city of Volantis.  He approaches an attractive young prostitute, strikes up a conversation, gains her interest, and is about to go with her to a secluded room.

But at just that moment, he is surprised to discover that he can’t do it.  He does not appear to be upset about it — it is simply a new fact of life for him.

What can we make of this, precisely?  In order to explore the possibilities suggested by this question, I turn once more to Pope St. John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body.”

John_Paul_II_1980_cropped

In the address titled “Dominion over the Other in the Interpersonal Relation,” the late Holy Father expressed a profound insight that I will try my best to summarize.

In forfeiting their relationship with God, our first parents also seriously compromised their relationship with one another.  No longer could they enjoy that same deep, intense, personal, self-giving union that they enjoyed in Eden, because sin has introduced the element of selfishness into their relations.  Hence we have the phenomenon of lust, which is “insatiable” because the genuine goal of human sexuality by nature eludes it.  Seeking pleasure in the indulgence of sexual appetite for its own sake, as Tyrion does for most of his adult life, is much like seeking relief from an itch by constantly scratching at it: It provides momentary relief from — one might even substitute the word “forgetfulness of” — the problem, but does nothing to solve it; in fact, it only makes the problem worse.

Tyrion on trial I think it’s safe to say that Tyrion has finally realized this.  The experience of true love has shed light on a void within him that he now realizes cannot possibly be filled by random sex.

Sorry, but I was wrong again.  I’ll need four posts rather than three.  We’ll cover Dany next time.

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Top image of Tyrion and image of Pope John Paul II from wikipedia — full citations:

1. “Tyrion Lannister-Peter Dinklage” by Uploaded by TAnthony. Via Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tyrion_Lannister-Peter_Dinklage.jpg#/media/File:Tyrion_Lannister-Peter_Dinklage.jpg

2. “John Paul II 1980 cropped” by Fels_Papst.JPG: Nikolaus von Nathusiusderivative work: JJ Georges – This file was derived from: Fels Papst.JPG:. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Paul_II_1980_cropped.JPG#/media/File:John_Paul_II_1980_cropped.JPG

Remaining images obtained through a Google image search

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