Saturday, December 12, 2009

Culture Wars - Catherine Millet

Cultural wars – Catherine Millet
The French writer who has made her sexual promiscuity public in her books has to some degree shocked the literary and art world. It’s most likely dismissed by Christians as being exhibitionist and immoral however we do well to see what is actually going on here in her writing and more so in her life which is a lived out world view. Let’s be frank here, her writing is pornographic and in that sense detestable from our perspective of the Christian Worldview, but let’s go further and see how her worldview stacks up under an internal critique, using her own words and experiences – does it still hold together as a worthwhile system? [1] It's at this level that the cultural wars are to be fought as a Christian, no in slanging matches or in fearful ignoring of what is going on around us.

She seems to me to be the child of Kierkegaard and Sartre and Camus, those existentialists who threw out reason and objective Truth and took on subjectivity as the arbiter of right and wrong, good and bad. Truly you see in her actions and attitudes that all that matters is the experience. As with Kierkegaard, all that matters is personal experience, and no ones else’s “truth” invalidates mine because it is mine, and theirs is theirs. Yet such subjectivism and individualism must I think devolve into mysticism, where the irrational triumphs over the rational and people are alienated from each other more and more.

Observing this MacArthur says of such a system, what I call this existential worldview, that it has no integrity. “Those who espouse it cannot live with the repercussions of their own illogic.”[2]

In practice a man cannot totally reject [ rationality ], however much his system leads him to it, unless he experiences .. some form of mental breakdown”[3]

And this I believe is exactly what you see in the life of Catherine Millet. The above observations by MacArthur and Schaeffer indicate for us what we might expect as ramifications for Millet’s Worldview.

Her writing, especially as found in her ‘The sexual life of Catherine M’ has found wide readership being translated into 40 languages and selling more than 5 million copies worldwide. It depicts her proclivity for sexual encounters with whoever, where ever and whenever, even attending orgies, all the time whilst married to Jacques Henric who himself knew what was going on.
As she says in one interview:

The sensation that one was glorying in this unbelievable freedom, this transcendence. I look back on it with nothing but pleasure. It was important to me, to my identity, my ego, but it wasn’t an addiction.”[4]

No it wasn’t an addiction but a worldview where she is the ultimate authority on right and wrong, good and evil. Where she determines what is right for her. It reaches almost the status of religion where above she says the so called freedom was an experience of “transcendence”.[5]
What really rocked her world though was when she found out her husband had himself been having affairs all the way along. His unfaithfulness “knocked her sideways; she describes being unable to sleep or breathe; suffering wild fits of rage, feeling her heartbeat falter. At times she was banging her head against the wall.”

As Francis Schaeffer referred to, she is finding herself below the line of despair, which is where the existentialist with his worldview is.

It is the moment of crisis because no man is an island. They exist in community and the fundamental community is that of God and family. Where one has friendship and trust and love with the opposite sex within the plan of God, within marriage. Where is intimacy when one lives as a self-determining authority? Where is integrity when you set the standards only for yourself and others determine their own standards? What we have in Catherine Millet at this point is the clash of her worldview with reality. That she is hurt, feels cheated and ignored is not surprising for the Christian who understands that sexual encounter is far more than a physical encounter, it is the becoming of one flesh as God in His Word proclaims. Elsewhere she proudly proclaims that the sex act is like an empty pocket [6] into which people put different things, like love as in “if you love me you’ll..” or even money or as in her case “pleasure” or so she claims but her anguish expressed above and the beating of her head against the wall reveals that she is really in denial. She is as Romans’ 1 tells us suppressing the truth about God, and one of the results of this is abandonment to abnormal sex where true passion and pleasure are destroyed.

What I find interesting is what seems to be prevalent today in out society of doing what’s right in your own eyes, of being the self-legislators of “truth” does not end up satisfying people. That even whilst searching everywhere in ways like this there is still for many a deep hunger for social relationship, for community, and more so with one special person, where love and intimacy and acceptance will be found. No matter how far people rebel against God and run, they are left only in despair and loneliness and loss of intimacy which themselves point to the reality that they are the absolutes they have abandoned in their rebellion against God.

I am not recommending you read Catherine Millet’s book, indeed I wouldn’t want you to because the language is so explicit it’s demeaning. Rather I want you to see that she is like so many others who run from God and attempt to make themselves the arbiters of Truth only to end up in shallowness and a world lacking intimacy and worth and love.

I would also hope that in God’s Grace she might hear of the good news of the gospel message that alone can release people from such bondage.

your brother in Christ,

1. Some see her work as porn as the new art, but I have no interest in arguing against that view here, but rather the more important question of whether such a worldview implodes upon itself into despair.
2. John MacArthur ‘Reckless Faith’ Crossway Books 1994 pg 27.
3. Quoted in MacArthur ‘Reckless Faith’ pg 27.
4. Mind Games by Jon Henley ’Life’: The sun-Herald Magazine Dec 6th 2009 pg 21
5. Mind Games by Jon Henley ’Life’: The sun-Herald Magazine Dec 6th 2009 pg 21

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