Carol Platt Liebau: Sex and Religion

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Sex and Religion

In this week's Sunday LA Times, I write about two things you're never supposed to discuss at a dinner party: Sex and religion -- in the context of their contrasting statuses in the public square.

28 Comments:

Blogger Sam said...

Thanks much for pointing out the inconsistent positions taken by the "Left" on the issues of exposure to sexual and religious material. In their view, religion stands in the way of progress toward a society with no values other than theirs, while rampant sexuality breaks down respect for the traditional values they despise.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Wooducke said...

I think it's a good thing that the state doesn't try to endorse any particular religion. According to your article there are only 4% of people don't celebrate Christmas. However in a country of 270+ million people that's still 10.8 million people--not a good number to alienate. I don't think George Bush should be sending out "Christmas" cards or that the Boston mayor, Thomas Menino, should be publicly endorsing the Christmas holiday even by having a "holiday tree". It's just an issue that the state should stay away from. Likewise, they shouldn't be endorsing sex. And besides the sexual scandals that politicians seem to always be trying to cover up, I don't really see the state endorsing sex or trying to offend anyone explicitly with sex. In a sense, the state seems to be staying out of everyone's business like they should. However, we live in a capitalist society. Victoria Secrets has the right to advertise how they wantm, within reason, if it makes them money. Lets say, all of a sudden, Victoria secret found out that they can make a whole lot more money if they had a Nativity Scene in the front window of their store instead of "bare-bottomed mannequins". If this were true, then they would do it and the state wouldn't prevent them. It's not the state that is creating this situation that people don't want to recognize the birth of Jesus at Christmas time--it's CONSUMERS! Duh! People just don't want to hear about Jesus when they're buying lingerie or going to a strip club--however Santa hats are allowable. That's the situation. You can blame "liberals" or the "left" but really it's capitalism and consumers. Sorry.

12:06 PM  
Blogger Orphan in Bama said...

wooducke...I think you missed the underlying point. Her piece is very close to being a simile.

d.

12:11 PM  
Blogger LQ said...

I usually post a comment on the rare times I disagree with you.
Today is an exception. I just read your piece in the TIMES. OUTSTANDING! Well done. Congratulations and thank you.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Wooducke said...

In the last paragraph of her article she suggests that their should be a "standard for deciding what content is appropriate for the public square". The state shouldn't try to impose a "standard" on businesses who don't want to explicitly recognized Jesus' birth at Christmas or who want to advertise sex. The state also shouldn't endorse a particular religion even if there is a majority of people who celebrate that religion's holidays. If you want to try and change the culture so more people want to recognize jesus's birth, I'm fine with that--just don't criticize the state for being secular. There's a difference between criticizing the government--who doesn't endorse religion or sex--and retailers who have the choice of endorsing the which one they please.

12:32 PM  
Blogger Carol Platt Liebau said...

Woodlucke:

I'm not talking about the state -- as evidenced by the discussion about billboards, Victoria's Secret and popular music.

I'm talking about the "public square," i.e. the culture -- and what we, the people (not the government) deem to be acceptable or "offensive" there.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Orphan in Bama said...

I agree with you...it is the retailers who have the first say. It is the people who have the last say, which is what I think Carol's last paragraph references. The standard must be set by the population.....only then can the trend be reversed.

I just don't see the state connection..

david

12:44 PM  
Blogger Wooducke said...

You were criticizing mayors and the city of Denver and then all of a sudden you switched over to "retail clerks", and how they say "happy holidays" instead of "merry christmas". I realize it's a problem that there all all these people out there who just can see the connection between jesus and christmas. These people need to stop their denial. However, I don't see how we resolve this situation. Other conservatives are upset that the whitehouse is sending out secular christmas cards. I mean what are you doing to do?! Have our public officials endorse christmas? Is that really their job? No, I think they should stay secular.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Wooducke said...

We don't really have control over what the private sector does--whether or not they decide to endorse the true meaning of christmas or not.

Should we demand that public officials endorse Christmas and it's real meaning? Why is this important?

1:06 PM  
Blogger beeplet said...

This piece is comparing apples to oranges. You say that sexually-themed displays by private entities are accepted, while religiously-themed displays by public representatives are not. Of course they are! Government has no business endorsing any religion. Private entities are still free to display whatever Christian paraphernalia they choose, just as others are free to display advertisements and so on with "adult" themes. If they choose not to (in the case of some stores that choose "Happy holidays" over "Merry Christmas") it is because they are responding to consumer demand.

You have also overlooked the fact that the government does take a stance against allowing overt sexuality in public places - for example, the fines imposed on broadcasters by the FCC if they violate certain standards. Meanwhile, you are perfectly free, as a private person, to put up whatever religious displays you want on your lawn this Christmas.

By comparing two different standards of public conduct, you are filtering the reality to see only what confirms your preconceived notions. I would not have given a passing grade to this essay if it had been written by a high school student.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Wooducke said...

Thank you beeplet. That was what I was trying to say, though you said it more eloquoently.

There is a difference between the government's involvement in the "public square" and private organizations involvement in the "public square"

1:16 PM  
Blogger Orphan in Bama said...

Both of you....please define the word "respecting" and then provide the linkage to a private letter.

Change of subject....almost...but you two are using the term "public square". Just what is that? Who gets to use it? For what purpose?

Or does ot belong to the state?

david

1:22 PM  
Blogger Wooducke said...

orphan in bama,

I didn't use the word "respecting" in any of my blogs and neither did beeplet, so I don't know what you're talking about or what you mean by "linkage to a private letter"

As far as "public square" goes, I was using the definition that Carol Platt Liebau stated: "i.e. the culture -- and what we, the people (not the government) deem to be acceptable or "offensive" there."

1:30 PM  
Blogger Wooducke said...

Why is this article titled "Separation of sex and state"? When I see that title I think one think: Bill and Monica.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Orphan in Bama said...

I simply made a request....I did not say you used the word "respecting"....

About the "public square"....I am asking for some clarification relating your understanding of the term and physical place.

And, I'm also sitting here wondering if the 'Boys are going to get whacked by the Chiefs.

david

1:46 PM  
Blogger Wooducke said...

A lot of Christians don't like the fact that retail stores leave out Jesus when celebrating Christmas. And I sympathize with that--it doesn't really make sense. However, don't think it would be more offensive if they did included Jesus and Mary in their store front displays. I mean, imagine if Victoria's Secret decided to advertise this way. They would probably have the Madonna wearing lingerie! I think I would rather have them celebrate in secular fashion, don't you?

1:56 PM  
Blogger Wooducke said...

Sam said...

"Thanks much for pointing out the inconsistent positions taken by the "Left" on the issues of exposure to sexual and religious material. In their view, religion stands in the way of progress toward a society with no values other than theirs, while rampant sexuality breaks down respect for the traditional values they despise."

This is great! As a member of the "Left" I would like to point out that this is IN FACT our nefarious scheme! And in addition to this, I would like to say that we are also wicked devil-elves that have pointy ears and horns.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

I wasn't describing a "scheme", but an attitude. "Nefarious" is trite and sophomomic silliness doesn't advance the discussion.

3:01 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

I wasn't describing a "scheme", but an attitude. "Nefarious" is trite and sophomomic silliness doesn"t advance the discussion.

3:03 PM  
Blogger Wooducke said...

at least I'm contributing to discussion! everyone else seems to have left. I'm just trying to put things out there, and I don't like when people villianize the "Left" like we are this coherent entity that is destroying America

3:07 PM  
Blogger Wooducke said...

I'm still curious, why is it important that we the public make sure that both the private and public sectors celebrate the real meaning of Christmas? And if this is important, what action do we take to ensure that people do celebrate the real meaning of Christmas and don't advertise sex?

3:13 PM  
Blogger Wooducke said...

okay I'm leaving now, but I'll check the blog later on for an answer.

3:14 PM  
Blogger Orphan in Bama said...

In her piece, Carol wrote" About 90% recognize Christmas as the birthday of Jesus Christ, according to a 2000 Gallup poll." She is asking why the public Christmas culture is not supported by this stated belief. Are we to conclude the American people are without conviction? If so, why?

david

Are you going to try some research and answer my questions? It isn't mandatory...just curious.

4:39 PM  
Blogger COPioneer said...

My opinion on WHY the stores leave out Merry Christmas is because of the fear of the ACLU and the like. An employee or customer simply has to say "I am offended", and the wimps running the business bow down and kiss their feet. It's not "consumers", as Carol points out, the majority have no problems with Jesus. But one fringe atheist is all that's needed, re: Michael Newdow. What I've never heard from the left is how are they offended? They might suddenly burst into flames if they see Jesus?

8:33 AM  
Blogger Wooducke said...

Orphan in Bama said...
"In her piece, Carol wrote" About 90% recognize Christmas as the birthday of Jesus Christ, according to a 2000 Gallup poll." She is asking why the public Christmas culture is not supported by this stated belief. Are we to conclude the American people are without conviction? If so, why?"

I thought about your statement here and I can see how this seems really weird. I mean, here we have a large portion of the population making this connection between Jesus and Christmas but yet that's missing from the general Christmas culture. Kind of weird.

All I can say is that I wouldn't worry too much about this "culture". It's the a result of a lot of things that aren't in our control--like consumer demand. I mean, you can poll people and ask them about the connection between Jesus and Christmas and of course they'll recognize it. But you can also ask them if they're more likely to buy lingerie if they advertise with sexy santa hats or baby Jesus and they're going to choose sexy santa hats. I don't think there is that much wrong with this contradiction--it's very understandable given the selfish nature of shopping.

If you think that we can fix this culture problem by asking public officials to endorse christmas or requiring stores to make christmas more religious then you're wrong. That kind of action will only alienate people. I think we can just live with the situation we have now--it's really not that bad. Don't worry about someone thinking the American people have a lack of conviction--no one thinks that, we're pretty damn stubborn.

8:57 AM  
Blogger soupycafe said...

I agree with this article. It is refreshing to read about the exaggeration of our sexual culture and its idiosyncracies, while we break down the building blocks of our culture. Regardless of religious inclination, one must respect the origin of our founding fathers and their intent for America.
One must wonder, however, why we are saturating our market with all of these sexual images? I do not believe we should censor, but just question...what effect this has on our generations and is it worth the price? And yet, why is it okay to censor some one's idea of God? This is very odd. Our culture teaches conflicting values.
Many families' pasttime is watching our surroundings, tv, movies, and reacting to it. Unfortunately, it is not the media's fault, it is our reaction to it. We allow it, because we endorse it and respond with dollars to it.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Draino said...

soupycafe said:
One must wonder, however, why we are saturating our market with all of these sexual images? I do not believe we should censor, but just question...what effect this has on our generations and is it worth the price?

The price is that sex sells...big time. Breweries know it, music execs know it, retailers know it.

And this is the conservative quagmire, its it. (no, not Iraq).
Conservatives won't stand up to big business or regulate anything they do. Yes, there's been some muscle flexing at the FCC but it hasn't made a dent. Sex in our culture is about dollars. MTV, BET, ABC. You want to reduce it you have to regulate the businesses that are cashing in on it. They will NEVER do so on their own. This administration has been bought by the business lobbies. They won't (heck they can't) do anything to change it.

Makes it hard to take the high road when you start moralizing about sex in our society.

Just more hypocricy if you asked me.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Wooducke said...

Soupycafe said:

"I agree with this article. It is refreshing to read about the exaggeration of our sexual culture and its idiosyncracies, while we break down the building blocks of our culture. Regardless of religious inclination, one must respect the origin of our founding fathers and their intent for America. One must wonder, however, why we are saturating our market with all of these sexual images? I do not believe we should censor, but just question...what effect this has on our generations and is it worth the price?"

You ask "Is it worth the price?" I ask: What is the price? In an oversexed culture like ours, are their actually more rapes, more teen pregnancies, more crimes, more murders, as a result of this sexual culture? What is the damage that it does? I honestly don't know the answer to this and it's probably impossible to really tell. However, my feeling is that these real issues like crime, teen pregnancy, rape, prostitution, domestic violence will persist unabated even if our "sexual culture" diminishes.

I want to add that I agree with many of you who don't like our mainstream materialist culture with all of it's contradictions and superficial crap. I just moved to LA from the Northwest and you can just feel how much more sex-crazy and image oriented LA is. It's hard to find good bars around here--a lot of places are your typical meat markets where everyone drives big cars and shows off a lot of skin--but I guess that's LA, ya know.

I think in other places, there are a lot of people who just don't buy into the "sexual culture" and the don't have to believe in God to do it. I wouldn't worry about trying to censor our over-sexed culture either. It's going to become passe someday for a lot of people I mean the only reason why it's remotely sustainable is because of youth and hormones. I think eventually most people grow up and become less sex-crazed.

However, Changing the Christmas culture is a more difficult situation, because there are a lot of people like me who would rather not celebrate Christmas because we're agnostic or something. Yet what are we supposed to do in regards with our families? Am I supposed to say, "Mom, I can't celebrate Christmas anymore because I took to much philosophy and science and now have renounced the idea of virgin birth, sorry but I'm going to be a Scrouge". That would really mean. It's fun to celebrate Christmas with your family, even if you're not Christian. Yet still, I'm not going to buy a nativity scene or demand that stores place "Joy to the World" instead of "jingle bells" However, at the same time I also don't want to be ridiculed by Christians who point out this contradiction with my agnostic beliefs and my action of celebrating Christmas with my family. It's a tough situation to be in. I think a lot of people feel this way and perhaps we all buy presents at the stores that don't celebrate baby Jesus and maybe this is causing a huge problem with the culture at large. But I just want everyone to understand why it happens. And I think you just have to accept it and learn to share Christmas with the secularists without getting too offended. I mean, perhaps after my mom dies I will no longer celebrate Christmas to be more consistent with my beliefs, and maybe everyone will eventually do that and we'll fix the situation, but for right now you're going to have to live with secularist Christmas celebrators.

I hope I have not been contributing to this blog too much. Sometimes I just ramble too much.

8:47 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Google