Latter-day post-Christian sex

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1 John 2:16)

In Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, Binx Bolling is often “sick to death with desire.” When he and Kate are on a business trip to Chicago, “noble Midwestern girls” do not excite the lust of his eyes, as usual. He confesses to his muse, Rory Calhoun – a Hollywood actor – that “post-Christian sex” does not enjoy the clarity it once did with pagans or Christians:

Off the bus and hopping along Wilmette happy as jaybirds, pass within a few feet of noble Midwestern girls with their clear eyes and their splendid butts and never a thought for them. What an experience, Rory, to be free of it for once. Rassled out. What a sickness it is, Rory, this latter-day post-Christian sex. To be pagan it would be one thing, an easement taken easily in a rosy old pagan world; to be Christian it would be another thing, fornication forbidden and not even to be thought of in the new life, and I can see that it need not be thought of if there were such a life. But to be neither pagan nor Christian but this: oh this is a sickness, Rory. For it to be longed after and dreamed of the first twenty years of one’s life, not practiced but not quite prohibited; simply longed after, longed after as a fruit not really forbidden but mock-forbidden and therefore secretly prized, prized first last and always by the cult of the naughty nice wherein everyone is nicer than Christians and naughtier than pagans, wherein there are dreamed not one but two American dreams: of Ozzie and Harriet, nice-than-Christian folks, and of Tillie and Mac and belly to back.


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