Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Going to Gdańsk

I leave for Gdańsk tomorrow, so of course I am pondering my death. I always ponder my death before I travel. Pondering your own death is a good, traditional Catholic thing to do. And it reminds you to update your will, as I did last week by ripping up a codicil.  I am a terrific will-changer. Nobody will ever want to murder me for a legacy.

In the event of death, I will not leave you orphaned, for there are a number of women tilling in the Single Solidarity field.  Some of them are readers, and prominent among you are the Orthogals. who blogister (my portmanteau of blog and minister, get it?) for Single women of the Eastern Christian persuasion, aka the GREEKS. There there's Christian Grace from The Evangelista. On a completely different, and not explicitly Catholic note, there's newcomer Postum Scriptum, who writes about all kinds of traddy and vintage stuff, like the lost art of letter-writing.

Then of course there are the Professional Writers for Singles who are farther afield and either taking money from the Catholic Dating Websites or are just better than me at marketing what I give for free. And I don't have a problem with that. Just because my conscience says "donations, speaker's fees and book sales only" doesn't mean that's what their consciences say. Occasionally my conscience does twinge a bit when I point to the balance of my student loan, but it just really refuses to get involved with Catholic Dating Websites. And, yes, I know they do some good.

Which reminds me. Somehow my name has been attached to the idea of dating websites because I did a fellow freelancer a favour by answering questions about  internet dating and meeting B.A. online.  But I did not meet B.A. through a dating website; I met him through my blog. Don't believe everything you read in the newspapers: it's not that journalists lie, it's that whoever makes up the headlines and the captions doesn't know how to, or just doesn't have time to, read the actual article.

I had insomnia last night after watching the Sherlock episode, "A Scandal in Belgravia."  I don't often watch violent or suggestive stuff, and "A Scandal in Belgravia" was both.  Also, I have a deep loathing of sexually sophisticated people who try to take advantage of sexual innocents, so I did not enjoy watching Irene Adler's attempts on Sherlock's virtue. Sherlock is an arrogant twit, but he does not use his intellectual prowess to bamboozle people into bed. The farthest he goes is to flirt mildly with poor Molly in the morgue so that she will let him see the latest corpse or what have you.

The writers depict Sherlock and his brother Mycroft as cold fish without feeling, and seem to say coldness is why Sherlock, at least, is largely proof against sexual temptation. But as a matter of fact, Sherlock is intensely loyal and protective of the few people who are intensely loyal and protective of him. It's a great plot device: when the writers need us to feel pity and fear, they put Watson in danger of certain death and Sherlock's blue eyes positively blaze with rage. In contrast, Watson's angry, jealous girlfriends, with whom he presumably, to quote him, "gets off", are just figures of fun.

Despite themselves, the writers have hammered home the idea that in itself sex means nothing next to chaste, self-sacrificing love. Still, I don't think they would go so far as to extol Sherlock's chastity as normal and another example of his formidable powers of reasoning. But I would.

There is a quality of mercy in Sherlock. As blunt and thoughtless as he can be, and as capable of throwing baddies out the window, he takes pity on people when he realizes that they seem to love him. And this is most unlike the kind of  sociopath who punishes most those who seem to love him.

Because, to move from television to real life, there are indeed men who punish, rather than protect, those who love them because their victims love them. Perhaps there are women like that, too. But I have met at least two men like that. Their own mothers were afraid of them. And although only one of them actually said, "I enjoy making the people who love me suffer", the same was true of both.

These were not seedy gangsters. They did not have criminal records. These were mildly good-looking, charismatic, clever men with intellectual interests who attracted less intelligent but nicer men as loyal friends. Possibly one was much nicer when he was younger; the other was a sadist by 17, and by sadist I don't mean all that silly sexual game-playing so-called "sophisticated" people think so daring. I mean that even at seventeen he enjoyed making the people who loved him suffer agonies of mind and heart. I cannot for the life of me understand why, or if he could have been improved by psychiatric help.  I wonder what a priest would have said to him; I wonder how often parish priests in comfortable countries have to look squarely at evil and see a soul in palpable danger of hell.

I am quite sure that as painful as it is, it is much better to love someone like that and to suffer innocently than to be someone like that and make innocents suffer. So if these were to be my last ever written words, I would want to say, not "Look out for someone like that" but "Don't be someone like that." Satan, handsome, clever, attractive, arrogant Satan, makes a lousy role model.


Anna said...

Thanks for the shout-out again! I am the only one of the 3 Orthogals who is cradle Orthodox (and yes, I am Greek). In fact, most of our readership seems to be converts. :)

Big fan of the Evangelista here, so glad to be grouped with her.

Jackie said...

Have a wonderful (and safe!) trip, Seraphic! I heart Orthogals and will definitely look forward to checking out these other blogs as well!

In regards to Sherlock, this was just something that crossed my mind: S. states that he is "married to his work" in the first season. Many people have posited that he is asexual, or someone who just doesn't have any interest in dating. Is someone with no inclination that way truly virtuous?

For example, I have a friend who has little appetite in general and NO appetite for chocolate. (!) She is skinny but is she as virtuous as the person who must fight tooth and nail to stay on the straight and narrow? *cough, like me, *cough* I am thinking about Lenten fasts, among other things.

I just wonder: If you are never tempted by the desire, can you truly claim virtue?

Also: I notice that someone who is not dating mindlessly -- or carelessly, Dr. Watson I am looking at you!-- creates a kind of anxiety in some people. Their landlady is constantly implying that Sherlock and Watson are a couple!

(Unfortunately, IRL I have someone who is constantly pushing me to get out and date when I really want to figure some things out on my own. In this instance, Team Sherlock all the way!)

Christina Grace @ The Evangelista said...

Thanks so much for linking to The Evangelista! I owe 99% of my wisdom about living well as a single woman to your sage counsel over the past few years. Oh--and safe travels!

OntarioGal said...

Hope you're enjoying your time abroad! This is unrelated to your post, but I came across the link below and thought you might enjoy the book since you've written about wanting to learn about Theology of the Body in a non-bedroom context. It sounds like just such a book has been written!

Cordi said...


In his "Nichomachean Ethics" Aristotle talks about how the truly virtuous man finds desires what is virtuous and good, because he has gotten all his unruly desires in line with what is true and good. It's the becoming-virtuous man who has a hard time, because his appetites/desires haven't been ordered toward what's good yet. I agree though that the extra effort the less virtuous man has to expend should merit something!