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The Episcopalian's Guide to Sex

“No one knows what goes on behind closed doors.” ~ Charlie Rich

Throughout all of Christendom, no group has more attractive churches — nor more fetching women — than Episcopalians.

I say this after attending a service at the American Cathedral of Paris — a huge edifice tarted up in the ecclesiastical style of the 19th century.

Paris is full of Episcopalians. Sure, there must be a few Baptists and evangelicals drinking grape juice in some stifling basement in a bad neighborhood. But, here on the swanky Avenue George V, hundreds of Episcopalians (and a few Anglicans) gather each week — and put on a great show. Episcopalians love Paris. It is the world’s most beautiful city…and Episcopalians appreciate it.

Baptists can put up with ugly churches, bad food and teetotalism. After all, life is just a short passage on their way to heaven, like a crowded subway car you take to get to a good restaurant. You don’t mind standing up for a while, if it leads to a cushy seat in paradise.

But Episcopalians, unsure of the promise of heaven and suspicious of the threat of hell, don’t like to take chances. Enjoy the trip…who knows where it leads.

Elizabeth and I had dinner at La Rotonde restaurant at La Muette on Friday night. We sat outside, admiring the trees, the people, the fragrance of the nearby park and the soft light of late evening.

“It’s so beautiful when spring comes,” Elizabeth said, respiring heavily, “it’s like falling in love or eating too much chocolate.” Last week, the city threw off the gray overcoat of the long winter and bloomed…

On the sidewalk, not far away, a young couple enjoyed a long kiss, of the sort that would be described as a “French kiss” in America. The whole city seems alive, aroused, pulsing with new life.

Indeed, Paris is saturated with sex — drenched with it, as though after a warm spring downpour. Hence, today’s soggy article. I know no more about sex than I do about the stock market. But I have spent more time thinking about it.

Last week, at the office, for example, sex was forced upon me. I opened an e-mail which somehow took me to a porn site. Those clever porno mongers had figured out not only how to get me there…but how to keep me. Each click took me to another site — there was no way out. Finally, after a very long time, I had to turn my computer off.

If information is really the key to success…people looking at porn sites must have the best sex lives of any creatures in history. My brief excursion into web porno-land invited me to check out “Asian Hotties”… teenaged something or others and “Yo Mammas.” Neither race nor age was any barrier. “Old Ladies” were just a click away at one point. And another click offered “Animal Acts” (though, I admit, I saw no place to click for “Vegetable Acts” nor “Mineral Acts” — suggesting a gap in the market and an opportunity for someone.)

Even the respectable press is in Full Disclosure mode. An article in Figaro Magazine shows two middle-aged Paris intellectuals — a husband and wife team — in bed. Each has written a bare-all book. His book features a photo of his wife’s derriere on the cover. Hers provides readers with a blow-by-blow chronicle of her sex life.

Sex never seems to go out of style. Still, fashions change in sex just as they do in the stock market. When the bull market was at its throbbing climax, Ted Turner described deal making as “better than sex.” Now that deals are more difficult to pull off, sex seems to be making a comeback.

How often should you have sex?

“As often as possible,” comes the mob’s reply. But Episcopalians realize that quality is more important than quantity. Ask yourself, which would you prefer: A single night with Bush foreign policy advisor, Condoleezza Rice, in a wispy negligee…or a whole month with “Stormin’ Norman” Schwarzkopf in full battle gear?

In most Episcopal churches, you would get an even show of hands for either choice. More is not necessarily better. Like everything else about sex, it depends on the context, the details, and the nuances.

After all, the mechanics of sex are pretty simple — everything you need to know can be picked up by an 18 year old in just a few minutes. It’s the romantic details that really matter. But, like fragile spring wildflowers, these nuances d’amour are almost impossible to grow commercially or in an open field. Instead, they need a little shadow…and the dark of 
night. Or they wither in the harsh light of day.

Originally published May 14, 2001.

Bill Bonner [send him mail] is the author, with Addison Wiggin, of Financial Reckoning Day: Surviving the Soft Depression of The 21st Century and Empire of Debt: The Rise Of An Epic Financial Crisis.

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