"The only good thing which we owe to Plato and Aristotle is that they brought forward many arguments which we can use against the heretics. Yet they and other philosophers are now in Hell. An old woman knows more about the Faith than Plato."
X-From_: firstname.lastname@example.org Mon Nov 30 08:18:34 1998
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 98 16:18:33 GMT
From: DeltaNet Form Processor (email@example.com)
Subject: Feedback and or Questions
The field values for the form received were:
comments="I really enjoy your site but I must pose a question that I believe you have overlooked.
I reviewed your info that you placed about your mother and I am sorry for her early departure into Heaven.
I can tell your deepest respect for her and your trust of her life into the arms of God. On that note however I must bring up the point that a large portion of your choice of poetry does not go in accordance with the laws of the Bible.
The poems on "Breasts" and many others of sexual nature are in direct conflict with the commandments from the Bible. Out of respect for God and His Word, as well as out of respect for your mother, I would ask that you reconsider the posting of such material for all to read.
I see that your religion is Catholicism and with mine being Christianity I hope that you can see my point. With warmest regards in Christ, robert..."
How is life treating you?=" I am blessed"
Findout="Just surfed on in!"
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HTTP_USER_AGENT=Mozilla/4.08 [en] (Win95; I ;Nav)
--End of Message--
I do not think God will begrudge me my little webpage. My mom, when she was alive, told me she liked it. I knew full well when I posted these pages I was doing so in public and so gave much thought to what I included. Many are the famous passages from Plato, Plutarch, the Bible, etc. which exemplify all that I find best in the spiritual and intellectual; on the other hand, I think that needed to be balanced by some general randiness and good gut humor. I would like to appeal to the mind and intellect, but I would not forget other parts of human anatomy closer to the ground. I apologize if some of the more explicit material on my webpage did not agree with your palate, but I reckon you never get the rose without the thorns. Such is life; deal with it.
Believe me when I tell you I posted nothing to this webpage merely to titillate or exploit. You will find, for example, no hardcore pornographic pictures of women who appear as if they were undergoing a gynecological exam. I simply posted tasteful pictures of naked women and sexually explicit poems which spoke to my heart and elsewhere. I chose art which I found to burn brightly with the fire of physical passion and sensuality. One of my favorite passages from "Breasts" by Charles Simic (to which you object so much) is the following:
Robert, I respect and learn from the parables of Jesus and wisdom of the Old Testament, but that is hardly my ONLY frame of reference. If you can persuade me without relying ONLY on Christianity and what you believe the Bible to say, I would consider taking those pictures and poems down. Otherwise, they stay proudly posted to the general public under the aegis of my own domain. We are in part spiritual creatures whose souls aspire towards the heavens, but we are also passionate animals with earthy desires and passions. I always found the sickly-sweet Saint Augustine message of inclining overly towards the City of God over the City of Man to go too far! I pity men like Augustine and Tolstoy who pass through lusty youths only to discover a convenient chastity and asceticism in their dotage! I never did agree with Saint Jerome that the "devil is in the loins"! A temperate and rational individual can enjoy the pleasures of this earth without being destroyed by them; but I think a man who flees from his passions must live in fear of both them and himself.
Yes, I admit it: I take pleasure in looking at tasteful pictures of beautiful women and cannot find that to by anything but healthy and normal. And I hope to continue reading famous love poetry as long as I possess the strength to lift a book to eye-level. When I do so, I feel my heart start beating a little faster! And God forbid this should ever change! I hope to feel this rush even in old age when I'm on my deathbed! I would not snuff the healthy enjoyments of this world with a single-minded contemplation of the next; praise for the soul need not entail contempt for the flesh. Instead of the medieval monasteries I find inspiration in ancient Athens; and perhaps you understand me better now. There is a dour, scolding tone to your e-mail which, besides all else, puts me off and inclines me to frown upon your request to "reconsider" my postings. Or, rather, I did "reconsider" these images and poems, my motivations for posting them, and felt only more secure than before in my aesthetic choices. If there is indeed a God above us, I see Him not only in the Bible but in the the Good, the True, and the Beautiful so vividly and skillfully portrayed by artists and thinkers all across human history in poetry, sculpture, music, and painting; and I hope I make myself clear.
Think about what you are asking me to do and why. The religious fanatic Girolamo Savonarola commanded many volumes of "corrupt" Latin and Italian poets to be burnt as heretical during the Renaissance, including that of Boccaccio. A committed enemy of the ideas and arts of antiquity whose re-discovery and re-interpretation made his native Florence great, this zealot fed his "Bonfire of the Vanities" with every kind of theatrical device (re: carnival costumes, wigs, playing cards, musical instruments, etc.) and not a little fine art (consequently lost to us). The fiery, eloquent Dominican monk Savonarola drained the lifeblood from Sandro Botticelli's ebullient art with his hysterical message of hellfire and damnation; but today Botticelli's beautiful nudes and the radiant humanism of the other Florentine painters and poets of the Renaissance liberally litter my website, and they are welcome -- and the other black-and-white nudes and attendant poems I have chosen follow in the same spirit. It is in part God I am extolling when I showcase the beauty of His creation and find pleasure in it. Let a man cast his eye where he might, and let his conscience only dictate what is "blasphemous" and to be avoided. But I see nothing blasphemous in my site, and I challenge you to show me otherwise.
The objections you raise to my website resound only rarely -- from some fundamentalist Christians here in the United States, and in countries like Iran or Afghanistan where theocrats reign. When you equate the law of mankind with the Law of God, don't you have a prescription for disaster? Look at Iran today! Look at Europe under the Inquisitors! Think of the specter of imperious popes ordering the nudes in Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel to be painted over with fig leafs and robes covering genitalia and breasts. Think of the Puritans trying to ban Shakespeare's plays (and eventually succeeding in banning them) with the same reasoning, claiming there are bawdy scenes in his plays not appropriate for the young and honorable and numerous examples of villains and perfidy shocking to the righteous. All this is anathema to me! Religious idealism -- when taken to an extreme -- is as oppressive as it is uncompromising! I see in your e-mail a strict, literal interpretation of the Bible and a willingness to censure that which is "not in accordance" with it. This is slippery stuff! Have we not learned from the past?
D.H. Lawrence said that pornography is the attempt to insult sex, to cast dirt on it. I would not deign to do that! But Lawrence was also correct when he claimed that what is pornography to one man is the laughter of genius to another. He should know, as his novel "Lady Chatterley's Lover" was legally banned in the comparatively liberal United States for many years by busy fools who could not understand that despite a host of four-letter words there was not one single obscenity in that great book of redemption through sexual love. But I reckon some people will not recognize the forest for the trees.
I trust this message finds you well out there in Alabama.
X-From_: firstname.lastname@example.org Mon Dec 7 07:36:59 1998
Date: Mon, 07 Dec 1998 09:36:02 -0600
From: Trust Jesus (email@example.com)
X-Mailer: Mozilla 4.07 [en] (Win95; I)
To: Richard Geib (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Re: Fwd: Feedback and or Questions
Hi Richard. My only basis for the question posed is the Bible and my belief in a supreme God who has set standards of right and wrong and those He passed along to us in the form of the Bible from His own hand. Outside of that I know nothing about humanity except that it's basic motive is only selfishness. I understand your view though on the material in question and excluding the Bible as the basis for argument I would have to concede to your view that man should enjoy beauty in all forms and without regard for a standard of right and wrong.
I appreciate your responding to me so quickly.
Have a great week.
In Christ Jesus, robert....