Warning: this post is not about writing. Sometimes I write those. Beware. Here be flames and grouses.
My college campus is a diverse place, as one would expect even from a University campus in the middle of the Midwest, and it never surprises me when there’s a booth or two in the student union that causes me to raise an eyebrow. Yesterday I noticed one such booth, which was populated by two gentlemen handing out flyers.
Upon closer inspection of one of these flyers, I discovered that they were promoting the event Porn Nation, which had been mentioned a few times in the Daily Nebraskan (our campus paper) and on posters tacked up in various buildings. This flyer was different though, and it saddens me that I didn’t keep it for posterity (I ended up using it as an emergency napkin over lunch when I got overzealous with my Mac and Cheese), because on the bottom were the words I had missed on all the other posters:
‘Sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ’.
A little background, if you will permit me. I am not a Christian. I was raised Catholic, attended Catholic school for ten years, and then decided that the whole church thing really wasn’t for me, right around the same time I realized that the bible made fifty different kinds of no sense (in terms of history, literature, science, logic etc.) and that I was attracted to females as well as males. That and the local church telling me that going to see the Da Vinci Code movie was a mortal sin and would damn me to hell (which was totally not worth it after seeing it. Neither was the nine bucks for the movie ticket). So I dabbled in spiritualism, deism, pantheism, and general wtf-ism, and after much mulling and faffing about I decided that I wasn’t much for the labeling of what I believed, because I wouldnt’ say I believe much of anything. I refer to myself as a skeptic, non-theist, a friendly agnostic, a Pastafarian (I have a FSM decal on the back of my car) and just a general questioner of life. I don’t know much about science or evolution (I’m an arts nerd; science has never been my strong point), but I know that faith isn’t something I have any interest in having, be it in religion or people as a whole. I’m friends with atheists, agnostics, dedicated Christians, confused people, you name it, and we have many calm and rational discussions about the nature of life, the universe, religious texts, stupid people, without setting each other on fire in indignation.
So yes: tl/dr – I’m not religious. I’m the opposite of religious. And seeing that Cru was sponsoring an event about porn immediately made me go “hmmm.”
So, since I had an hour to kill before Jeff got out of class, I stopped by this booth to talk to the student behind it, and our conversation went a little like this (completely paraphrased – I have a less than stellar memory):
Me: So this is for real?
Student: Yes, the talk’s going on tomorrow night at 7pm.
Me: I see. And it’s just one guy talking about porn?
Student: Well, it’s Michael Leahy talking and giving a multimedia presentation about porn and hypersexuality and addiction.
Me: So it’s just him talking about porn? There’s not a debate, or a for and against option? It’s just one guy telling us about the effects of porn?
Student: Well, he’s here to tell people about his experiences with porn, and the effect porn addiction had on his life.
Me: Like what?
Student: Well, like how he lost his job and ended up leaving his wife and kids and basically ruining his life.
Me: Because of porn?
Me:… yeah, that doesn’t sound like it’s exactly the fault of porn, it sounds more like he was weak and dealt with his problems in a not-so-smart way.
Student: Well… *shrugs* it’s not just him, he’s got a presentation all about former porn stars who were in the industry, porn addicts and stuff.
Me: Still, it all seems kind of one-sided to me.
Student: *shrugs* Well, it is sponsored by Cru.
Thank you fellow student for making my point for me (his reaction amused me greatly, I have to say).
Seeing this event on my campus reminded me of a blog post made by one of my favourite internet Atheist bloggers, Jen McCreight, about a similar event that came to her University when she was an Undergrad at Purdue. The relevant blog post is here. I highly recommend reading it (not in the least because she’s a kickass writer and her blog is full of awesomeness in general) as it discusses her experiences attending one of these Porn events, and I sadly can’t fill you all in on how Porn Nation went at UNL, because it’s Thursday night and I am stuck at work until 10pm. I have a sad panda over this, as I always enjoy getting a little dose of ‘you have got to be kidding me’ over religious events. Call me an emotional masochist if you like, but seeing these things reminds me why I consider organized religion and blind belief to be mind-bogglingly frustrating.
I acknowledge that there are hundreds of things wrong with the porn industry and the images portrayed in porn (especially of women), and there are people who are addicted to porn, and there are multiple social stigmas surrounding pornography and the usage thereof. But not everyone who watches porn becomes socially maladjusted, abusive, a child molester, a deviant etc. Part of the problem isn’t the porn itself, it’s the shame culture surrounding sexuality.
I’m all for encouraging open debate about the subject. An event this blatantly one-sided, sponsored by a campus organization that actively works towards promoting conversion to Christianity? That’s something that bugs me.
I’m sad I cannot attend this presentation. I feel like just ranting about an experience with the guy working at the promo booth at the Union isn’t an adequate experience for me to comprehend the program fully. Maybe it’ll be less inflammatory and condemning and more informative. Maybe I’m making an assumption since Cru is sponsoring it. But here’s Porn Nation‘s website, so you can make your own impressions and opinions from what’s available there.
So there you go. People are weird about porn and religion in my neck of the woods. I’m a happy minority who still fights with her Mum about going to church on major holidays (Lincoln Nebraska is one of the most conservative Catholic diocese in the United States. You can guess I’m not a big fan of it) and fears the Noodly Appendage of the Flying Spaghetti monster and picks fights with street preachers over logical fallacies (sometimes, mostly I just heckle and play bingo). Much respect to the non-theists, yo.
And now I’m going to go back to listening to AFI and pretend I never said anything like that last sentence. I’m far too white to be walking around saying ‘yo’ without looking ridiculous.
So now that I’ve offended everyone, have a happy Thursday!