Why is Christianity obsessed with sexuality?

The cumulative effect of the following:

  • Patriarchy, and its concern to control fertility and access to fertile women as tribal commodities.
  • The concern of archaic Judaism to associate fertility with religious identity (circumcision).
  • The dismissal of bodily desire as more base than spiritual pursuits, to be regulated (already present in both Judaism and several strands of Greek philosophy).
  • The emergence of asceticism in some branches of Judaism.
  • The presence of some ascetic preoccupations, and concerns over temptation, in the preaching of Jesus of Nazareth.
  • The severe discomfort with sexuality and the physical world in general of Paul.
  • The rejection of libertine sexuality associated with paganism (already in place in the injunction to Gentile Christians to abstain from fornication and blood sacrifices, if they weren’t going to get circumcised).
  • The continued discomfort with sexuality and preoccupation with abstinence of most Church Fathers.
  • The asceticism of both the Eastern Desert Fathers, and of Jerome who joined them.
  • The more intellectual yet even more pessimistic outlook on humanity of Augustine.

Who were the least saintly saints?

Cyril of Alexandria.

Patriarch of Alexandria. Doctor of the Church. Founder of Mariology, and formulator of the concept of the Mother of God. Establisher of Miaphysitism, the distinct belief of the Oriental Orthodox Church; yet his formulation was also foundational to the Chalcedonian Christianity of the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church.

Even if you don’t hold him directly responsible for the lynching of Hypatia, St Cyril was a street thug in a long line of street thug Patriarchs of Alexandria, with monks as his shock troops—and heretics, Jews, pagans, and any Christian who crossed him as his target. Most of his contemporaries recoiled from him; the church historian of the time, Socrates of Constantinople, does not have much nice to say of him.

A couple of decades ago, his collected works were accidentally deleted at the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, on the old Ibycus system before my time; the grad student ran in exclaiming “I’ve deleted Cyril! I’ve deleted Cyril!”

That’s not much of a revenge against Hypatia (especially once the backups were restored). But it’ll have to do.

What is your very first memory?

Originally Answered:

What is your first memory?

I remember remembering my earliest memory. I don’t remember it, but I remember remembering it.

I remember remembering being photographed, and thinking how tight my pants were. The photo is with my sister, and I must have been 3 or 4. It’s at my parents’; I should get it some time and scan it in.

Yes, I was chubby.

What is the biggest atrocity you have seen committed against books?

Yeah, when I was an undergrad, someone did a conceptual art thingy, involving nailing books into the lawn. And students had the kind of anguish that McKayla Kennedy spoke of in her Pinterest answer. And rescued the books; I got a Ulysses out of it.

The books were going to be pulped by the publishers anyway, as surplus; they were released for the conceptual art thingy on the understanding noone would rescue them.

Was that the biggest atrocity?


McKayla rightly identifies that a conceptual art thingy is worse than burning a book. Burning a book recognises its power. An art piece?

They don’t care what they’re doing to the poor things, all that matters is how it looks.

There’s worse than that though, McKayla. Even that, at least, is a symbolic acknowledgement of the book; it fetishises it as a symbol.

You know what’s worse?

Whenever I step back in the university library. And I see students, one after the other, on their laptops and on the remaining desktops. Checking Facebook, or eating lunch, or Googling, or studying PDFs.

And not one of the bastards paying any attention to what’s sitting on the shelves.

There’s worse things still than fetishing a book.

There’s being utterly oblivious to them. Within the temple once consecrated to them.

What inspires you to write on Quora?

I’ll of course overlap with others, but that’s to be expected, and it’s a Survey Question anyway.

Let me break this down into what motivates me and what triggers me.


  • Interacting with clever and/or (usually and) lovely people that I respect.
  • Learning about stuff I’m interested in. On occasion, that I didn’t even know I was interested in.
  • Adulation.
  • Sharing niche stuff I know quite well about.
  • Reasoning about stuff I don’t know well at all, but arriving at an intellectually satisfying conclusion, based on Wikipedia and my powers of inference. That is truly one of the highlights for me.
  • Writing well-crafted prose. Or hilarious prose. Or touching prose. (Only succumbed to writing verse here once so far.)
  • Adulation.
  • Feedback. Can I get more feedback, people? Even if it isn’t adulation?
    • Don’t mind the adulation either, though.


  • An intriguing question on subject matter close to me, that I know all about. Often in a pet topic. You know the ones.
  • An even more intriguing question, on subject matter that is not necessarily close to me, but that I know enough about to think through.
  • An A2A on something that might not be intriguing at all, but that I can have fun with anyway. That includes an awful lot of survey questions.
  • A question well answered by a fellow Quoran, where I have something to add to their answer (and that warrants a bit more than a comment). If my answer is going to be supplemental to theirs, I’ve lately taken to writing “Vote #1 That Quoran”: I’ve got a following by now, and I can get more upvotes than their original answer even if I’m just a clueless outsider.
  • A question that has so far been answered by a bunch of people, stupidly. (Is stupidly too harsh? Unreflectively, reflexively, superficially.) It’s good to think “no, you haven’t got it at all”, crack my knuckles, and get to setting the record straight.
  • A good discussion in comments, that raises a new question. Sometimes, I might A2A myself as a result.

Is it a problem that Quora is fairly self-contained?

I find the respondents’ reactions to date odd; but then again, I wasn’t attracted to Quora because it was a walled garden. I’m grateful that the stuff I write on Quora gets higher ranking in Google than what I’ve written outside Quora, and I’m annoyed that outsiders have to jump through hoops to get to it.

I’m more of an old school internet person, and I agree with those who think walled gardens compromise the integrity and the usefulness of the web. Hyperlinks are the point of it. Hyperlinks in, and hyperlinks out, and the free flow of information in between.

And the biggest annoyance about Quora being a walled garden? I’m not convinced it’ll be around in five years. And archive.org has no reach into it. Everything we do and are is a sand mandala; but walled gardens are that much more perishable. And that much less impactful.

Is Quora deleting answers?

In addition to the instances Jennifer Ellis mentions (Jennifer Ellis’ answer to Is Quora deleting answers?), answers will also get instadeleted for spamming. (Already pointed out in Joe Buettner’s answer to Is Quora deleting answers?)

I’ve just had one answer get trapped by the SpamBot because I got link-happy in the answer. It was clearly a bot action, and I know why it thought they were spam, though that wasn’t the intention. I removed the links, appealed, and got the answer restored.

There’s a lot about Quora Moderation that I vehemently dislike; but I agree with Jennifer that the deletion of answers is sparing, justifiable (reasons are given, so it’s closer to transparency than the norm), and appealable.

I’m answering the question as stated, though Joe Buettner pointed out OP was actually talking about collapsed answers.

If your country had a slogan what it would be?

My country (Australia) already has a slogan. The Lucky Country.

The popular understanding, within and outside Australia, is that Australia being lucky (having lots of resources, affluent, stable) is a good thing. The original book, which everyone in this country should read (and which is still relevant 50 years on), argued that this was a very bad thing: it allows complacency. The full slogan, which not enough people realise, is:

Australia is a lucky country run mainly by second rate people who share its luck.

Nick Nicholas’ answer to What is the scariest thing about living in Australia?

My country (Greece) already has a slogan.

Όταν εμείς οι Έλληνες χτίζαμε Παρθενώνες, εσείς οι βάρβαροι τρώγατε βελανίδια.
When we Greeks were building Parthenons, you barbarians were still eating acorns.

2000 hits on Google for “οταν εμεις χτιζαμε παρθενωνες”.

Pegah, canım, you’re Torki not Farsi, but you know very well what it is to live in country arrogant about its long past. And you know that it’s not a healthy thing.

Who knew! I googled this, and found that a real guy had said this. Nikos Athanasopoulos, a member of parliament, who died this year. Spoken to Emile Mennens, a Belgian anti-corruption official of the European Union (then EEC), in 1990, who was testifying against Athanasopoulos in court, and criticising Greek public administration.

The context does not surprise anyone, does it…

Does Greek present tense “continuous lifestyle” always mean that x always does y or can it mean x regularly does y for a specified period and stops?

The question is about Grammatical aspect in Koine Greek, as OP clarified. That’s OK, the behaviour of aspect in Greek has not essentially changed since antiquity. In fact, not that I’ve checked, but I’m struggling to think where it’s changed at all.

  • x always does y is either continuous aspect (unbroken), or habitual aspect (does it all the time)
  • x regularly does y for a specified period [and stops] is iterative aspect.
  • Continuous, habitual and iterative aspect are all subclasses of imperfective aspect. They contrast with perfective aspect, which emphasises that the action is complete.
  • The “and stops” can make the action perfective; but if it’s happening in the present tense, the “and stops” is in the future, so it would be irrelevant.
  • The Greek present indicative (and future, for the inflected tense) does not differentiate between perfective and imperfective at all. τύπτω means “I am hitting” or “I hit (usually)” or “I hit (one-off)”
  • Greek distinguishes imperfective and perfective in the past, and in non-indicative presents. ἔτυπτον “I was hitting” vs ἔτυψα “I did hit”; ἐλήλυθον ἵνα τύπτω “I came to be hitting” vs ἐλήλυθον ἵνα τύψω “I came to hit (once)”.
    • Koine Greek, it seems, also made this distinction in the present, with auxiliary formations of the form εἰμί τύπτων “I.am hitting”
  • None of these distinctions differentiate continuous, habitual and iterative aspect. They’re all expressed in the same way in Greek, whatever the tense.