Worried that I might be over-indulging in holiday cheer, I decided to spend 45 penitential minutes in the company of Robert P. George, “this country’s most influential conservative Christian thinker,” courtesy this NYT Sunday magazine profile. You may not know George, but rest assured he is thinking of you and yours this holiday season; he is very likely writing a learned essay about why you should refrain from oral sex at this very moment.
For one thing, this story made for an odd Advent message. In this particular buttoned-down intellectual’s version of Christianity, the bedroom habits of our neighbors (not saying it has to be in the bedroom, or anything—I’m not a weird obsessive sex cop) are of more pressing concern than the fate of the poor. Jesus might be confused, but this article reassuringly lets us know that George checked out his perspective with Thomas Aquinas and Karl Rove, and it’s kosher, if you don’t mind the expression.
For another thing, the piece gave me pause, about half-way through. I scratched my head and looked vacantly at ye olde Tanenbaum and wondered, “Now, why, exactly, am I reading about anal sex in my high-brow family newspaper this holiday season?” Oh, that’s right: because Robert P. George, intellectual, finds anal sex so endlessly fascinating that he has built an entire career in the Public Square on lengthy ruminations thereon. As our friends the sailors say, nice one, matey.
Isn’t it strange and rather melancholy to think of them, the intellectuals of the sex-mad conservative Christian right? As they don their suits and ties and pace across their ivy-covered campuses in an almighty snit, afire with visions of recreational cunnilingus destroying America before they can marshal a Philosophy 301 argument against the dreaded practice? Is it funny, or sad, or scary, or all three? Does it creep you out, just a little, to know that Robert P. George is even now consulting the works of Christianity’s great thinkers with an eye towards stopping college kids from hooking up? What are we to make of this monomaniacal focus on the technical details of OPP? Are we supposed to take it…seriously?
UPDATE: Not surprisingly, Andrew Sullivan offers a much more comprehensive and intelligent response here.