Once upon a time I was Black Friday shopping and left this note on a 50 Shades of Grey display:
Yesterday I was at Target and left a lovely Mother Teresa meditation inside another copy 😉
50 Shades of Grey is coming out in theaters soon. In an ideal world, I would be outside theaters handing theater-goers some sort of material telling them about love – what true love really is. But I’m not Catholic enough to bi-locate (or tri-locate – is that a thing?). Dagnabit.
Actually, in an ideal world this “phenomenon” wouldn’t exist.
When the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge took off, we looked at it in a class trying to figure out why it became so popular. Right now I’m trying to wrap my head about the 50 Shades “phenomenon”.
Why is this so popular?
Quite simply, this is wildly popular because our country is obsessed with sex. But who didn’t know that already? Just take a look at magazines, Carl’s Jr. trying to sell women (err, hamburgers?), and the stress put on people to bare it all Kim Kardashian style. But I digress. Kim is a whole other post.
People defend 50 Shades by saying the so-called “mommy porn” is just a love story: a naive young woman is introduced to the broken world of a hurt man. He pulls her into his BDSM lifestyle and yay! She learns stuff and he finds release from his past. It’s all consensual, they say. Nobody gets hurt because they have “safe words”, right?
Not so fast.
Did you know [SPOILER] that Christian forces Anastasia to get an abortion? Did you know that this book is so poorly written it barely has a story-line besides the graphic scenes? Did you know it started as Twilight fan fiction?
So what is going on with this book?
You can argue with me whether you think 50 Shades is harmful. But I have a thesis, a hypothesis of sorts. I’m fairly certain this “phenomenon” is a symptom of our country’s obsession with sex. But why is it like that in the first place? Why is this all people talk about in the media?
*Enter my go-to homeboy Bishop Fulton Sheen*
Our society is obsessed because:
1. “[L]oss of belief in God. Once people lose God, they lose the purpose of life; and when the purpose of living is forgotten, the universe becomes meaningless.”
2. A “desire to escape from the responsibility of living and from the unbearable voice of an uneasy conscience”
3. The “modern denial of immorality”
4. The “equating of humans with animals”
We’ve probably all heard the idea that humans were made to love and be loved. And I’m fairly certain that’s part of everybody wanting to be happy.
But when we try to satisfy this inner desire with material things, we’re sure to be disappointed because there “is no surer formula for discontent than to try to satisfy our cravings for the ocean of Infinite Love from the teacup of finite satisfactions.”
The popularity of 50 Shades shows me something good: that people still recognize the desire to be loved. What’s sad to see is how (MILLIONS of) people try to go about fulfilling that desire.
We live as if everyone’s version of truth is a-okay – that this train wreck of a 50 Shades phenomenon is too hard to stop. But the fact is that we were made for things far greater than 50 Shades. And we need to be able to admit that. 50 Shades of Grey is incapable of showing us what love is all about because “[t]he infinite cravings of a soul cannot be satisfied by the flesh alone.”
We are made up of body and soul. Because of that, we cannot be satisfied with BDSM so-called romance novels. It is impossible. Our culture’s ravenous attitude toward 50 Shades shows us how utterly insatiable this desire for love is when we try to fill an ocean with a teacup.
So what the heck are we supposed to do about this obsession? In light of the four problems above, I propose that we as a culture need to:
1. Realize we are incapable of fully experiencing love without Love himself as part of the picture. When we seek love, we are searching for Him. Making anything else our goal in life will leave us disappointed.
2. Own up to our faults and realize the mind-blowing awesomeness of seeking a life with a higher purpose going beyond things of the flesh.
3. Realize it’s okay to say that some things are inherently wrong.
4. Challenge the idea that we are slaves to our passions.
And bonus! Be satisfied. There’s a guy out there who would sacrifice his own life for you. And he’s more than a Christian. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I’m telling you he already died for you. His name is Jesus.
And I’d say that’s more than 50 Shades of Awesome.
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P.P.P.S. Here are 50 things to know about 50 Shades. Knowledge is power. Watch it!