Deleting Temptation

Guilt is a wonderful thing. After all, if it weren't for guilt we wouldn't pick up after ourselves, send Aunt Ruth whom we haven't seen in twenty years a birthday card, or threaten to go on a diet every time we suck in our stomach so we can zip up our pants. Yes, guilt is a great motivator, right up there with money, friendship, and, well, money.

Even though guilt can often drive us crazy, in many instances it's easy to get rid of. One method is to do whatever it is that's making you feel guilty. If it's that you haven't called your mother since she pissed you off by asking for the 1,245th time this month why she doesn't have grandchildren, all you have to do is pick up the phone and take care of it. The guilt part, anyway.
If you feel guilty because your wedding anniversary slipped your mind again, just get a reservation at a fancy restaurant, buy lots of flowers, and be prepared to spend plenty of money in a jewelry store. Oh yes, and grovel. A lot. For a long, long time.

But not everything is that simple. For some things you need prayer. That's why it's good news that a rabbi in Israel has created a benediction to help Jews overcome guilt from visiting porn sites on the Internet. You know, kind of a Browser's Lament. Shlomo Eliahu, a rabbi in the town of Safed, says Jews should recite the prayer every time they go online as well as make it the wallpaper display on their monitor, just in case they should accidentally enter a porn site. "Whoops! I didn't mean to type 'www.sexy-yentas.com' into my browser! Good thing I have my prayer screensaver active."

His prayer, which actually would be suitable for porn viewers of all denominations, is: "Please God, help me cleanse the computer of viruses and evil photographs which disturb and ruin my work...so that I shall be able to cleanse myself." It seems the prayer is a sin absolver and an anti-virus all rolled up in one. If he added a firewall, password manager, and pop-up blocker he'd have a complete security suite on his hands. Look for S.O.S. (Salvation Office Suite) to hit the market any day now.

While people of most religions could use this prayer, Catholics don't really need it since they don't look at porn. Okay, lay Catholics don't anyway. But were one to do so by accident, all they'd have to do is go to confession, spend a few minutes titillating a priest with the gory details, then go home and say a few Hail Marys, a couple of Our Fathers, and maybe a Glory Be or two for good luck and all will be absolved. At least for another week, at which time they can go through this spiritual cleansing all over again. And again. See, Catholics are lucky because the last time I checked the Church hadn't instituted a "three-strikes" policy, so the worst that could happen is each week you'd get slapped with a few more prayers to say. And maybe have to mow the church lawn or check the freshness dating on the sacramental wafers the next four Sundays. Big deal. That's a small price to pay for watching Paris Hilton romp around a bed looking like she could star in Children of the Damned Smurfs.

It's good to see Jews getting into porn atonement, since for too many years Catholics have cornered the market on being puritanical, something which confuses them no end because the Puritans were Protestants. Think about it, Catholics have eight (count 'em, 8!) patron saints of resisting sexual temptation, ranging from the well known Mary Magdalene to a head-scratcher, Pelagria of Antioch. Face it, if you need that many patron saints for one little thing like sexual temptation then either it's a tough one to resist, it's such a popular pastime that the prayers need to be spread amongst eight saints so none of them are overtaxed, or else the College of Cardinals will do anything so they can say the words "sexual temptation" aloud without having to recite the rosary afterwards. I know which one has my vote.

Maybe the Catholic Church needs to stay one step ahead of the Jews and select a patron saint of resisting online porn. After all, they've been talking about coming up with one for the Internet, why not this? Besides, they already have patron saints for television, headaches, and postal workers (Matrona, Teresa of Avila, and Gabriel). They also have ones for comedians, sore throats, and hairdressers (Vitus, Blaise, and Martin de Porres). They even have a patron saint for married women (Monica) and another for snakebite victims (Hilary). Honestly. I couldn't have made up those last two if I wanted to.

The popular candidate for the honor of patron saint of the Internet is Saint Isadore, who set up the first webcam over 1,400 years ago but had trouble attracting anyone to his site since, well, there weren't a lot of computers in Seville then, only barbers. Just kidding. Actually it turns out he wrote a 20-volume encyclopedia which his supporters say is kind of like a database. He may turn out to be the best choice since there's no record of any saint having created an illuminated spreadsheet, sending email, or playing solitaire.

These patron saints and cleansing prayers are a good start, but they don't go far enough. We need something strong, some divine intervention, to save us from the onslaught of emails offering larger body parts, smaller bank accounts, and glimpses of things which will send us back to confession. What we really need is a holy Delete key.

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