Richard Beck Peacock
Indulge me while I give some context to my lament. I was brought up in an orthodox Catholic home, pretty typical of middle class Americans of that religion at the time. I went to Catholic schools taught by the stock variety of grim nuns of the day, heavily robed and frozen in time. Then I attended a Jesuit High school, training us boys in the dry academic fashion and rigid logic of the church fathers. The moral landscape and the mythology inherent in that world of Catholicism were both combative and dire. In it the devil and God, aided by Arch Angels and centuries of saints, battled each other for dominance over our souls.
Priests and nuns graphically informed us of the utterly black consequences of giving in to our basest desires and action. The proscriptions by them covered everything big and small -- greed, lying to parents, gluttony, cheating your sister, eating meat on Fridays, gossiping, denying of God's will, but especially anything having to do with our sexuality and the pleasures derived from it. Endless sermons were rapturously preached by unmarried priests and cranky Immaculate Heart of Mary nuns warning of the consequences of our lust, the most base part of our nature. Dante's description of hell was a classically handy reference for the imagery of everlasting punishment. So it was confession on Saturday nights and mass on Sunday morning and moral downfalls by Tuesday afternoon. That was life.
The downfalls. Yes, there were other things happening for us as well -- all that stuff going on at the street corner, in movie houses, in the back seat of cars where a new moral order was competing. The real world. Hence the conflict. Naturally we all soon learned the deep excitement that the other gender (or the same gender, or one's own body) relentlessly stirred. So the old battle lines were firmly reemphasized -- good vs. bad; right vs. wrong; light vs. dark; heaven vs. hell, God vs. the Devil, the Madonna's virginity vs. our gross private dreams,