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'09 Authors Insider Tips

Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Digital Publishing & Print
Common Myths of Epublishing
Ebook Formats and Devices

by Louisa Burton
Compelling Characters
Point of View, Part I
Point of View, Part II
Learning to Love Conflict
Story Structure
Keep ‘em Guessing
Keep it Simple
Keep Your Writing Real
The Importance of Pacing

Literary Streetwalker
by M. Christian
New World of Publishing
To Blog Or Not To Blog
Meeting & Making Friends
Thinking Beyond Sex
Selling Books
Walking the Line
e-book, e-publisher, e-fun
Still More E-book Fun

Shameless Self-Promotion
by Donna George Storey
Our Journey Begins
Pitches and Bios
Websites, Blogs & Readers
Publicists, Press Kits and...
Viva the Internet
Adventures in Cyberspace
Promoting In the Flesh
Make Your Own Movie
Bigger is Better
Looking Back, Planning Ahead

Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Questions to Ask Yourself...
Tough All Over

The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
Practice Makes Prefect
5 Books for Fiction Authors
Poetry In Motions
Six Serving Men
Ashley Lister is Anal
Stealing Ideas
Celebrating Poetry

2009 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister

Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
A Year of Living Shamelessly
Adultery, Exhibitionism ...
John Updike Made Me Do It ...
Story Soup: Forbidden ...
Lessons from Amazon
Naked Lunches ...
Erotic Alchemy
Secrets of Seduction
Are You a “Real” Writer?
Don’t Fondle My Sentence

Cracking Foxy
with Robert Buckley
The Passionate Taphophile
Havens on Earth
A Knight Without Armor
Magic Carpet Rides
Getting Hammered
Keep It Quiet
Hang Around for a Spell

Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Worked Up About Why
Worked Up About Why, Part II
All Worked Up About Porn
The Catholic Church
Purity Movement
The National Crisis
The Future
About Homosexuality
Public Indiscretions

Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Premature Ejaculation
Auctioning Off What?

Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Who's Who Around the Table
Ritual Sex
Mixed Legacy
The Spectrum of Consent
Drawing the Line
Marriage without the Hype
The Distracting Smirk
Innocent Guns
Gardens of Earthly Delights

Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Anneke Jacob
D L King
Kristina Lloyd
Lisabet Sarai
Mitzi Szereto
Portia Da Costa
Shanna Germain
Sommer Marsden
Susan DiPlacido

Guest Appearances

Marketing a Self-Published Novel
by Jeanne Ainslie

All Worked Up About The Catholic Church

by J.T. Benjamin


J.T. Benjamin

In the interests of full disclosure, I must make two facts known.

First, I am a former member of the Roman Catholic Church. I was an altar boy, I went to confession, (The usual, Father, lots of coveting and impure thoughts), I went to church on a regular basis, (namely at Easter and Christmas), I contemplated the sublime mystery of the Catholic Mass, (in a word, zzzzzzzzzzz), and I tried to comprehend fundamental doctrinal principles such as the Immaculate Conception, the Holy Trinity, and Papal infallibility, (usually with a glazed ‘What the fuck are they talking about’ look on my face). When I was eleven, I even thought about entering the priesthood until I looked up “celibacy” in the dictionary.

Secondly, over the course of my entire life, every single member of the Catholic clergy I’ve ever met has been a decent, kind-hearted, generous person, who never ever behaved in anything remotely resembling an inappropriate or abusive way, either to myself nor to anyone I knew. Okay, granted, Sister Magdalena was something of a barracuda in sensible shoes, but not in an inappropriate way. In fact, it’s my understanding that her fierce and frightful demeanor was well within the spectrum of normal behavior for nuns of that age.

So, in light of my past personal history both in the Catholic Church and with its representatives, it pains me to say this.

The Roman Catholic Church is stark-raving bat-shit crazy.

I’ve ranted about religious groups in general before, devoting special attention to the Holy Terrors, those evangelical/fundamentalist right-wing nut-jobs who rule the Republican Party. In case you didn’t know, or knew but had simply forgotten, the Holy Terrors’ special claim to fame is their obsession with prohibiting any kind of sex other than that expressly for procreation, expressly between a man and woman bonded to each other in holy matrimony.

However, while there’s still plenty of reason to rant about Pat Robertson, Focus On The Family, the LDS Church, and others of their ilk, this month I’m saving special venom for the Catholic Church. You see, the former groups of knuckle-dragging, Bible-thumping, homophobic, misogynistic nut-jobs are mostly home-grown in the good old U.S.A., and are therefore a strictly regional blight on decency and humanity, the Catholic Church is a world-wide collection of knuckle-dragging, Bible-thumping homophobic, misogynistic nut-jobs and is, indeed, the largest such collection of knuckle-dragging, Bible-thumping homophobic, misogynistic nut-jobs on the planet. Their impact, both on the world stage and in our bedrooms, must receive special attention.

To even begin to enumerate the Catholic Church’s long history of persecution and meddling into individuals’ sexual lives would take up ten years’ worth of columns. Suffice it to say, the Catholic Church has vehemently opposed homosexuality, divorce, women’s choice, and any and all forms of birth control other than the so-called “rhythm method,” which successfully avoids pregnancy somewhere between one half and two thirds of the time.

For a few decades there, it seemed like the Catholic Church was staying away from getting too involved into peoples’ sex lives. Oh, sure, the Vatican issued the Humane Vitae proclamation in 1968, re-affirming the Church’s rigid opposition to all artificial forms of birth control and family planning, and the Church has always been counted on to oppose homosexuality in all its forms. However, for most of the late 1960s and the 1970s, the Church wasn’t at the forefront of the battles, at least not publicly. It turns out that for most of that time, there were internal conflicts within the Church hierarchy over those issues. Priests and bishops, especially in third-world dioceses, were having a hard time justifying the Church’s rigid positions to their members.

The Church’s internal conflicts ended with the ascension of John Paul II to the papacy in 1979. While he was highly regarded as a reformer and as a spokesman for the underprivileged and politically oppressed, Pope John Paul II was as rigidly conservative as they came with regard to sexual issues. No birth control, no homosexuality, no women priests, no married priests, no exceptions, no, no, no.

Pope John Paul’s sexual conservatism was so profoundly rigid that for the longest time, he refused to even consider addressing one of the most tragic and horrifying scandals of his papacy, the systematic and endemic abuse of children by certain “pedophile priests,” and of the Church’s conspiratorial efforts, first to deny the crimes, then to denounce the victims, then to defuse the scandals with payoffs, some in the tens of millions of dollars.

Read Vows Of Silence by Jason Berry and Gerald Renner, or Our Fathers by David France or The Church That Forgot Christ by Jimmy Breslin, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll find the gorge rising in your throat.

But then, as is often said these days, what’s past is past. The Church has grudgingly admitted fault and it seems that, for the most part, the scandals have died down. However, when scanning recent news items it appears that the more things change, the more things stay the same.

In recent years, the Catholic Church seems to be attempting to re-establish its role in the world community as a major player, and especially with regard to sexual issues.

For example, late last year Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican’s observer to the United Nations, stated that the Vatican would be opposing a U.N. resolution which calls upon governments worldwide to de-criminalize homosexuality. It seems that Archbhishop Migliore is concerned that the resolution “would create new and implacable discriminations” against opponents of marital equality. It’s better, according to the Archbishop’s reasoning, to allow homosexuals worldwide to be imprisoned and even executed for their sexual preferences than to discriminate against opponents of their very existence.

Only two months ago, Pope Benedict XVI repeated the Church’s steadfast refusal to permit condom use, not only as a form of birth control, but also to prevent AIDS. The Pope said, “You can’t resolve (the AIDS epidemic) with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, it increases the problem.” It seems that in the eyes of the Pontiff, the only appropriate response to the epidemic is advocacy of marital fidelity and abstinence from premarital sex. The Pontiff made this proclamation on his way to Cameroon in sub-Saharan Africa, where some twenty-two million people are infected with the AIDS virus.

Rebecca Hodes, of the Treatment Action Campaign, said in response, “(The Pope’s) opposition to condoms conveys that religious dogma is more important to him than the lives of Africans.”

But it’s not just condoms and AIDS, nor is the problem confined to the Pope himself. One more horror story, this time from Brazil. As recounted in the Irish Times and the National Catholic Reporter, it seems that a nine-year old Brazilian girl was discovered to be pregnant with twins after having been, over the course of three years, repeatedly sexually abused and then raped by her stepfather. The girl and her mother were informed by doctors that to carry the fetuses to term would probably have killed the girl, and if she’d somehow managed to live, to certainly prevent her from ever having children again. Following the doctors’ medical advice, the girl’s mother consented to the abortions of the fetuses early in March of this year.

Archbishop Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, upon hearing of this tragedy, announced that the girl’s mother and all other adults involved in the abortions were automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church. While the Archbishop and the Vatican made the appropriate clucking noises of sympathy for the girl’s plight, the Church’s position remains firm. Permit an abortion, suffer excommunication.

The good news is this poor child herself is still much too young to be excommunicated, so she’s still a Catholic in good standing. So’s her stepfather.

As I said before, every single representative of the Catholic Church I’ve ever encountered has been a decent, giving person. I therefore hold out the hope that the Church to which these good people are devoted will someday be worthy of that devotion, come around to applying religious doctrine with generous doses of reason and common sense, and to otherwise behave with the compassion demonstrated by the Jewish carpenter’s son they profess to follow.

I’m reminded of the story of how the Italian scientist Galileo Galilei was charged with heresy in 1633 for endorsing Nicolai Copernicus’ theory that the earth orbits the sun, and not vice versa, contravening Church doctrine. Faced with imprisonment and possibly torture, the 68 year old scientist recanted his endorsement.

Eventually, of course, since the earth does revolve around the sun, the Church came to its senses and expressed regret over the entire incident. This was done by Pope John Paul II … in 1992.

One hopes that the Church will likewise come to its senses when it comes to its current positions on sex, choice, and homosexuality.

One also hopes it doesn’t take another three hundred and fifty-nine years to do so.

J.T. Benjamin
May-June 2009

If you have comments or insights to share about this column, please drop by J.T. Benjamin's blog or send an email to: J.T. Benjamin

Get All Worked Up with J.T. Benjamin in ERWA 2009 Archive.

"All Worked Up" © 2009 J.T. Benjamin. All rights reserved.

About the Author:  J.T.Benjamin says, "I'm a generalist. I write about what interests me, which is just about everything." His resume reflects the diversity of his interests. He's been a disk jockey, insurance salesman, private investigator, journalist, college professor, child advocate, political activist, truckdriver, thief,, lawyer, Indian Chief. He's currently trying to start a hippie commune in the Denver/Boulder area.
Email:  J.T. Benjamin

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'09 Movie Reviews

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House of Wicked
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'09 Book Reviews


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Enchanted Again
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Bedding Down
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Brushes & Painted Dolls
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The Edge of Impropriety
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Free Pass
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