Monday, August 2, 2010

Morality is for Mortals

BY Kathleen Bradean

Egads. Another Thumper topic. (If you don’t have anything nice to say…) I can imagine what many of my co-bloggers will say about the way religion uses sex and shame to control people, so I’ll leave that in their able hands.

I was raised in a very religious household, but even my parents teased me about how serious I was about religion compared to them. That should tell you how deeply wrapped I was in matters of faith. On my tenth birthday, I faced a moment that forever destroyed my relationship with god, but it didn’t change the fact that I was a believer. I’ve struggled with this ever since.

A couple weeks ago, a fellow writer had a several hours to kill between flights, so I picked him up at the airport. Among the things we talked about as we walked along the beach was god. He told me that he wrote a story about how utterly frightening it would be if there really was a god. I had to agree. And yet…

Rational me says, “You know better than to believe.” Spiritual me just can’t let it go. If anything, I’m just as deeply wrapped around matters of faith as I was when I was young, it’s just that I understand now that it’s an unhealthy relationship of unrequited love. I know I really need to stop this, but I can’t. God will bedevil me until the day I die.

Spirituality, gods and goddesses, and the relationship between humans and gods are recurring themes in my work because I can’t let it go. In my Chaos Magic series, the main characters are gods. In Piquant (Hearteater anthology, not yet released) the narrator regrets his affair with a goddess or she might be a demon. The mistress in She Comes Stars is divine. With all the gods and godesses I've written though, I’ve never equated sex with sin. If anything, the gods I write about are into sex for the pure pleasure of it. They aren’t monogamous. They don’t wait for marriage. They fuck whoever they want to, however they want to. They don’t think there’s anything wrong with their actions, because they’re gods, and gods do whatever the hell they want to. Morality doesn’t even enter their minds.

SHE COMES STARS (Garden of the Perverse) by Kathleen Bradean

I want to worship at the feet of a Goddess.

The ad I posted was that direct.

Her reply was also to the point: “You may bow to Me.”

She stoops to conquer. To her, I’m not subhuman; I’m human. That’s low enough.
She’s divine.


To my eternal damnation, I’ve learned that the catch when it comes to a Goddess is that she is absolutely inhuman, meaning that she is not human and she doesn’t give a damn if I am. So what if it makes me catatonic to leapfrog through human history in search of abasement? If I curl up in a fetal position after she sells my body to the Marquis de Sade, does she care? Oh no. She revives me, pokes me, prods me. She demands, as her green convertible Jaguar roars down the wrong side of the autobahn at three hundred miles per hour, “just what the fuck is your problem anyway?”

You wanted this.

Sure. I wanted this, but I wanted it different, somehow. I wanted to be in control of my domination. I wanted it to be like my jerk-off fantasies. This… This constantly defies my desires, and yet, reveals them in stunning clarity. My Goddess cuts to the heart of my libido, guts it, tacks it up for everyone to see, dissects it, splices, and wallows in it.


“Don’t do it,” she mumbles. “Mistake.”

Mistake? I am the King of Mistakes. I gave my soul to a Goddess.

No one can imagine what it’s like to be so addicted to humiliation that I sob when she chooses to romance with coos and kisses instead of pain. I suffer horrible nagging doubts as her attention wanders away to the pretty boys dancing together in clubs. I have sweating nightmares about boring her. When I sulk, she doesn’t bother to ask what’s wrong, because she doesn’t care. Or maybe it’s just another of her exquisite cruelties. Fear and hope make for tortured nights. Then, as I’m sure it’s over, and I’m hoping she’ll allow me to go mad again rather than exist in sanity without her, she’s inspired to create a fresh hell. She takes me lower, lower, but I’m so relieved that she still wants to test my limits that I kiss her feet and praise her name even when she brands me a heretic and hands me over to the Inquisition.

Don’t tell me about mistakes.


  1. Kathleen,

    A very eloquently paced dichotomy. It must be frustrating to be torn between rationality and spirituality.

    That said, the recurring theme of spirituality has served you well with the Chaos Magic series. Bloody good reads :-)

    Great post,


  2. Whew! What a post! I don't think I knew that you'd had this sort of spiritual crisis in your earlier days, but looking at your writing, I guess I'm not surprised.

    I promise that for my next topic I'll choose something light... ;^)


  3. Lisabet - It's a gerat topic. By the Thumper comment, I meant that it's hard to restrain my anger over the way religion equates sex with sin. Once I get on that topic, I could go on forever. I don't mind talking about my spiritual crisis - except when some well-meaning but delusional person decides that patronizing religious platititudes will make me see the "error" of my ways.

  4. I love these lines:

    To her, I’m not subhuman; I’m human. That’s low enough.
    She’s divine.

  5. Wonderful essay Kathleen! I have to say I truly believe (since "belief" is sort of on the table this week) that writing takes us to a sacred space where all the gods and demons dwell. "She Comes Stars" being an obvious example of this!

  6. Sharazade - thank you. It's one of my favorite stories.

    Donna - I can't wait to read your guest entry on this subject.

  7. Hi Kathleen;

    I have that same dichotomy. I have been intensely in love with God and intensely disillusioned with God. Sometimes I think I should have died when I was young and pure in faith.

    And what you say about the gods and goddesses "they kill us for our sport" seems to be the conclusion so many of us come to. Who knows what it all really means. Good post.


  8. Garce -

    I had a feeling you'd relate.

  9. That was a very good piece. I think you skimmed very close to the issue that confuses many discussions about God, namely, equating God and religion. Some folks refuse to believe in God because religion has caused so much evil through history. I think that most of us start out with an inborn belief in a higher power. Religion, on the other hand, is a convenient social construct that exploits this instinct in order to control people's behavior.

    Religion, as a social force, has not just to control us, but be seen to control us. It targets powerful instincts like sex. If a religion can control how and who and when people fuck, it can control any other part of their lives.

    Your friend with whom you walked on the beach brought up another glitch in the design of the Universe. If the existence of God could be totally, unequivocally proven, enough to convince the sternest atheist, we'd live our lives in a constant state of terror. It would be like living in a house with a stern aunt who was always watching to catch us in some indiscretion. Not just terrifying, but hideously boring, too. So God had to build a Universe that permanently concealed Her existence. Our only access to God, really, is that little voice inside us that was there when we were born.

    Is it possible that this is the wristhold on God that you can't seem to let go? Don't ignore it.

    Oh, and thanks for the excerpt. I'm going to have a closer look.


  10. DB - Yes! Exactly. God and religion are two different things. ANd thanks for the kind words.

  11. DB - Yes! Exactly. God and religion are two different things. ANd thanks for the kind words.


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