Religion and Porn: Spam Has Gone from Annoying to Disturbing

Spam has been a problem since email was invented, but lately it’s not only been on the rise, it’s been more alarming. I saw some figures a few months ago that said that spam had increased by 80% in a matter of just a few weeks.

My inbox verifies that fact. And lately, the spam that has wormed its way into my line of vision has been even more… ahem… interesting…Today, for instance, I’m looking through my “junk” mail folder before trashing it all. (You never can tell when something GOOD goes in there, so I always give it a cursory glance).

And what I see is the (expected) non-female ads for products to — ahem — “pump you up” so to speak. What I didn’t expect was the preview pane for this particular well-known “V” product to be populated with information on how to save my soul.

Since when did “sex drugs” wiggle through spam filters disguised as religious advice?

Personally, I find that extremely disturbing… on a multitude of levels.

But then life sent me a little connect-the-dots moment.

I had a discussion with my 9-year old this morning about the historical role of the Catholic Church (both good and bad) as the keeper and protector of society’s great works of literature and philosophy.

My husband and I were discussing how the church protected books during the middle ages and then tried to control the distribution by attacking publishers later. We demonstrated that there are both good and bad sides to protective legislation. (Yeah, I’m feeding my kids my own philosophies as quickly as I can!)

Alex commented that she might not have been able to read her Laura Ingalls Wilder books, if they had been burned. She seemed genuinely alarmed. I explained that book burning took treasures of all types from the public, but I also addressed the time line issues she had in her perception.

Right now, I’m reading a book on the history of public discourse and publishing veiled as a book on blogging. It’s extremely good and I’ll be reviewing it here later, but right now… it’s good enough to read sections aloud to my family. This has sparked some pretty cool family discussions.

So, when reading this information, Alexzandria asked what TYPE of books the Vatican had in their collections. My husband and I listed a few types in general terms. I, like an idiot, then added that the Vatican owned the largest collections in the world of some types of books. Then I winked at my hubby (who is Catholic) and he grinned. This, being a parental blunder on a (dare I say it) Biblical level, led to a question from Alex… “Like what types?”

I went blank. Of course porn was the ONLY collection I knew that was housed at the Vatican that was the largest in the world. I KNOW there are others, but at that crucial moment, I drew a blank. I was SOooo busted.

I have a philosophy as a parent… I don’t lie to my children. If they are old enough to ask a question, I figure they are old enough to hear the answer, so I answer it. It’s a philosophy that has often landed me in hot water… but it usually works out for the best. My boys, now in their late teens, tell me it’s a good rule. They say they appreciated it growing up and appreciate it even more now — in retrospect.

So here I sat, in a quandary. To tell or not to tell. I told.

“The Catholic Church has the largest collection of pornography in the world,” I blurted.

Wayne corrected me, “The Vatican, not the Catholic Church, has the largest collection of porn.” Which led to the question I was dreading, “What’s porn?”

“Pornography is material with sexually mature content,” I responded, ready to move forward in the discussion of the invention of the printing press. She raised an eyebrow and stared at me. And she waited, holding my gaze. “And what the kids at school would call ‘dirty pictures’,” I added quickly. She thought about that for a moment and gave a slight nod, then glanced at my book, ready for me to continue.

So, we went on. I sighed a big sigh of relief and we discussed the definition of indulgences and why printing up indulgences was such a big deal to churches and to the publishing business back in the 1450s when Gutenberg took on his first client contract. Alex got my view and Wayne’s view — which were remarkable similar on this topic. And this led to a discussion of the definition of purgatory and limbo.

Educating children is so much fun some days! And today, Alex is off school. Today, porn aside, I’m willing to bet she learned more than she’s learned in the past week at school about vocabulary, history, individual rights and legislation. I just hope she doesn’t throw around some of her new vocabulary at school, it may be a bit hard to explain to a third grade teacher how this came up naturally in a discussion about printing, the Catholic Church, and the history of the world.

Anyway, this all led back to my email and the juxtaposition of the V product header and the preachy content. So, after today, I figure that maybe it’s not such an odd mix after all…. historically speaking.

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