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St. Benedict or Dr. Berman?

Western civilization goes out with a technologically-enhanced bang

Sexpert Dr. Laura Berman brings glad tidings of great joy to readers of the Wall Street Journal. Our orgasmic future’s so bright we might as well take our clothes off right now:

Today, couples don’t have to struggle in the dark as they try to learn how to pleasure their partner. The Internet has demystified sex for millions of people, and it has put love and intimacy at our fingertips. Technology is only going to continue to take sex to a whole new level in the future.

Currently sex aids are widely available, but the future is going to hold some truly edgy products. Futurists are predicting that—in just 10 to 15 years—there will be robots that will look and feel incredibly lifelike, robots with which you can cuddle and have sex. You will be able to design your perfect mate, complete with the right voice and the artificial intelligence to whisper those sweet nothings at exactly the right time.

Virtual romantic partners like Samantha in the movie “Her” will be a reality. In fact, a new app called Invisible Boyfriend is already out, sending you loving texts like a real boyfriend might.

We will be able to have robust sexual experiences without touching. Talk about disease prevention! Imagine engaging in anything from targeted foreplay to exploring your wildest fantasies by stimulating your partner with a click of a mouse, even when you are across town or in another country.

Golly. More:

I suspect for the next decade or so we will be riding a wave, seeking more stimulation in less time, quick transitory couplings, and the next big thing to make sex more exciting. The good news is that sex will be safer and more exploratory than ever, given the virtual capabilities. The bad news is that we will likely see an uptick in sexual addiction and a decrease in emotional connection with partners. People struggle with the existential depression and loneliness that comes from a lack of rich, authentic connections. Eventually, there may be a conservative movement of sex-technology Luddites who shun the technological advances. The inevitable social struggle will last for a while, but in the future, freedom will be the winning mantra.

Yes, freedom is always the winning mantra, innit? Screwing robots, avoiding human contact. Crazy people hygienically shagging video games, and calling it Paradise.

The culture of death advances. Here are two quotes cited by historian John Lukacs:

“Between those who think that civilization is a victory for man in the struggle against the determination of things—and particularly against that part of the universal determinism in which man is caught up the way the tip of a bird’s wing is stuck with bird-lime—and those who want to make of man a thing among things, there is no possible scheme of reconciliation.” — Georges Bernanos

“It is easy for me to imagine that the next great division of the world will be between people who wish to live as creatures and people who wish to live as machines.” — Wendell Berry

The lines of demarcation are becoming clearer. To this I would add Philip Rieff’s observation that what makes a civilization distinct — indeed, what makes a civilization at all — is what it forbids. “Freedom is the winning mantra” is a slogan of a hedonistic, materialist civilization that has no future. Rieff:

“That large numbers of the cultivated and intelligent have identified themselves deliberately with those who are supposed to have no love for instinctual renunciation, suggests to me the most elaborate act of suicide that Western intellectuals have ever staged – those intellectuals, whose historic function it has been to assert the authority of a culture organized in terms of communal purpose, through the agency of congregations of the faithful.”

A well-known Catholic philosopher wrote to me today with some eye-opening remarks about where we are as a culture, and how what is at stake now is nothing less than what it means to be a human being. That is, we are not primarily fighting for our faith; we are fighting for basic humanity. The philosopher wrote that he doesn’t think of it any more as the Benedict Option, but rather “the Benedict Necessity. We are mostly out of options, unless you consider apostasy an option.”

I am writing the book proposal this week. Things are moving very fast. People need to wake up. You can have St. Benedict, or you can have Dr. Berman. If you don’t choose, do not doubt for a second but that the choice will be made for you.

UPDATE: I see from the comments that some readers think this blog post is a remark about dildophobia. Honestly, some liberals who come here can be as dense and as unimaginative as any proof-texting Bible reader down at Bugtussle Baptist. This is a post about the sources of the self, and sacred order.



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