By Tom Quiner

Catholic radio talk show host, Al Kresta, analyzed the risk of reading “50 Shades of Grey:”

1st comes the curiosity, which leads to the book purchase. 2nd, the reader is captured by the eroticism. Lastly, the reader becomes emotionally invested in the characters and story, at which point they are either unable to stop, and/or justify it even when encountering the most extreme content.

Isn’t this what is at work in our cultural art, including “literature,” cinema, music, internet content, and television programming?

We’re attracted out of curiosity. As a marketer, I know that curiosity is one of the 4 most effective methods of attracting attention.

Each progressive surrender to curiosity desensitizes our soul. As someone said on this blog a few days ago, remember when Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball had separate beds in “I love Lucy”? For younger readers, I Love Lucy was one of the most popular television shows in the 50s and 60s.

We have progressed (in the view of the Left) or regressed (in the view of the Right) to anything goes in our television programming and art.

A few years ago, I went through the Cincinnati Museum of Modern Art. Every piece of art in the building was ugly. Each diminished man. None ennobled man.

The crowning touch was a video monitor in their main section with two men having sex.

This is art?

And in a public space?

As our art marched toward the pornographic, and as God was removed from the public square, something happened to our culture. It declined.

Since 1960, our culture got worse.

Out-of-wedlock births skyrocketed.

Divorce skyrocketed.

Teen suicide rates skyrocketed.

Crime went up.

Drug use went up.

Abortion became epidemic.

Promiscuity became epidemic.

Sexually-transmitted disease became epidemic.

SAT scores dropped.

Think there’s a connection?

Something worse happened. Social scientist James Q. Wilson put it this way:

“the powers exercised by the institutions of social control have been constrained and people, especially young people, have embraced an ethos that values self-expression over self-control.”

This weakening of self-control has corresponded with an “anything goes” cultural mindset, opening the door to the mainstreaming of pornographic sex and violence.

The cult of self-expression has given rise to the cult of self-esteem in our institutions, characterized by a drooling focus on feelings. The cult of self-esteem is premised on the notion that you can impose a sense of self-worth from the outside-in, so to speak.

On the other hand, the discipline of self-control operates from a completely different direction. Self-control breeds self respect, because it flows from within and grows by doing good things.

People with self-respect are less likely to do bad things. It’s just that simple.

The progression of pornographic seduction is reaching its zenith with the mainstreaming of “50 Shades of Grey,” a work of smut targeting our moms, our wives, and our daughters. The slippery slope into depraved entertainment and “art” erodes one’s sense of self-respect.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn commented on our moral decline in a speech in the 90s:

“The West…has been undergoing an erosion and obscuring of high moral and ethical ideals. The spiritual axis of life has grown dim.”

Writer John Updike observed:

“The fact that compared to the inhabitants of Africa and Russia, we still live well cannot ease the pain of feeling we no longer live nobly.”

Some will read this essay and call me an old fuddy-duddy. I would disagree in the most vigorous terms. Rather, I suggest I’m quite enlightened. We’ve done it the way the Left has imposed on us for the past generation.

How’s that workin’ out?

1 Comment

  1. J on July 30, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    We’ve all heard (and witnessed) the part of the story about young people who buy into the degradations of modern culture and lead debased, often miserably empty lives as a result. The story less often told is those young people who resist the moral depredations, try to live well, and usually end up feeling lonely and isolated, being surrounded on all sides by corruption as they are. The cultural meltdown truly hurts everyone, even (especially?) those who refuse to take part.

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