Not Past It - World’s Most Famous Virgins

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Hey, not past it listeners, get your Domino’s ready.

We’re about to do the segment where we tell a series of little stories from history that are all connected.

Where one thing leads to another and another and we end up in a totally unpredictable place.


This is the historical domino effect.

From gimlet media.

This is not past it a show about the stories.

We can’t quite leave behind.

I’m Simone palana in.

Most people probably know the Christmas story about the Virgin birth of Jesus, the son of God sent to save Humanity, from their sins.


But on today’s episode.

We’re focusing on.

Jesus, mom.

There’s just something about Mary and the story of the most famous virgin in history while It’s gonna get weirdly horny.

The dominoes are all lined up after the break.


We’re going to the chapel and we’re gonna get married.

That’s like a one throat of the break right?

There, doesn’t get better than that.


Eric mental, hello.


Someone pull on it.


Thank you.

How are you doing?

I invited fellow audio producer.

Eric mental to join me for this weeks episode.

You might know him from his recent podcast.

Stay away from Matthew McGill.


A lot of Eric’s work is quite personal and he speaks pretty openly about his relationship with religion, which is why I wanted to talk to him today, you know, today on the day that we’re taping this.

Where do you sort of?

And your relationship to the church by discarding with a softball?


Yeah, just really easy for the sake of giving it a word.

I would describe myself as agnostic.

I grew up going to church.

I went to church through most of my twenties and then sort of like, laid my twenties.

I fell away from it and have have remained Fallen.


As some might describe me from within the church.

What kind of church did you grow up going to?

I grew up in a Lutheran Church, which is a Protestant church, but But it’s like pretty Catholic.

It’s like Catholic without Mary is usually how I described it.

So like if you went to a Lutheran Church service and a Catholic Mass.


The order of operations would be like, pretty close to identical.

There’s just not like there’s no praying to Mary and the same way, gotcha, but it sounds like you grew up going to Sunday school.

You sort of have this knowledge of of the Bible.


Like, is that would you say that’s all fair someone?


I am familiar with the Great.

To make sure.

Yeah, like, I know, like a little bit of stuff, but like, I’m not scholar, you know, cool.

Well, I’ve got some fun things in store.

So, I’m excited to surprise you.


I truly feel like I’m at a theme park.

We’ve got a bunch of new rides and you’re going to test them all out for us.

Okay, that’s the kind of how I feel like a ride tester today.

So like, let’s let’s do it.


We Begin our journey in the early 5th Century with a man by the name of Augustine of Hippo.

He is considered to be one of the sort of fathers of Western Christianity, I think, I hope I’m not getting my augustin’s mixed up.


I think he was like, Super Hornet, right?


Yeah, that’s okay, you know, more than the basics did.

I know, probably more about like horny men from history that I do about the Bible, to be totally honest, but So Augustine lived and what is now, modern-day Algeria and he was a bishop in the Catholic church.


So I had like a decent amount of authority within the church.

He was also a really well-known philosopher and writer in his time and he happened to write a lot about sex as you noted horny, man, from history.

So at this particular time in history, it’s the tail end of the Roman Empire and the Catholic Church is really rising in power and sex is a big deal for the Catholic Church.


The Catholics are really like, you know, sex is between a married couple, a man and a woman for the purposes of procreation.

And so Augustine, he starts to contextualize this Catholic theology and to his own life and his own sexual experiences, you know, one of the most famous texts of his where he’s sort of deals with these topics of sex and Reality is called confessions Augustine was in his Usher era.


So confessions is about religion, but it’s also like very autobiographical.

He wrote pretty extensively about like how he struggled with lust for most of his life and he even writes about, you know, having a lot of sexual exploits with a lot of men and a lot of women and having sex outside of marriage.


Of marriage.

And he writes about feeling really guilty about all of this to the point where like ultimately he resolves himself to a life of total celibacy.

I’ve read the confessions.


It’s like largely like noted as like the first time anyone wrote A Memoir.

I remember feeling really frustrated by that fact because like I love Memoirs a form and the idea that the initial one is like an incredibly horny, dude.

He’s like but look you can change you can you can like get it all under control, right?



Control is a huge part of it.

It’s like he sees the struggle to control these urges as evidence that sexuality.

Must be bad, right?

It’s not godly.

He ends up turning to what is probably the best-known story in the Bible.


Adam and Eve.

And it’s this investigation that leads to one of his biggest contributions, which is the concept of original sin.

This had been an idea that had been floating around but augustin’s really the one who coins it and really takes it to the next level.


Now, as this is this a concept that you’re familiar with.

With my understanding of original sin is basically that from the moment that eve took a bite out of that.

Apple sin was cast over man for all eternity.


So, now the moment you’re born, you are in fact, like, born into sin, you know that, that’s exactly right.

Eve, took a bite out of the forbidden apple.

She convinced Adam to do the same, and now humans are forever tainted with sin because they are descended from Adam.


That’s the gist of it.

Augustine comes up with the idea.

That the way that this original sin is passed down from generation to generation is through.

Adams, sperm weight literally, literally.



I didn’t know that.

Yeah, this sperm idea comes up in one of his writings called city of God from the early 400s.

And there’s actually a term for this.

It’s called seminal headship.

It’s seminal headship is literally the word though.


Yes, that is, that is yep.

That is the phrase, but a little, on the nose, right?

It’s the evil cmn that has corrupted Humanity, okay.

Basically, the idea is like, you know, at the dawn of time we were all present within an atom as his sperm and therefore, have an inherited.


Our sinful nature from him.

I can’t wait really.

It’s like, that’s how it happens.

It’s like it’s like a biological that’s surprising to me.

Yeah, you know, but it seems like the explanation was kind of working for people at the time because this concept of original sin really takes off after Augustine writes about it.


And as this concept is becoming more and more popular people in the church, start to be like, well, hold on this actually this presents a bit of a problem because if sin is passed down through sperm, Then how do you explain all the people who are supposed to be, you know, holy and pure and not have any sin at all.


If you know about the big players in the Bible, you know, about this guy named Jesus and you probably know that he is conceived of immaculately, my very basic understanding of how Jesus came into the world.

Is that Mary solid Angel?

And then she was pregnant.

People saw angels, Mary had a baby but the important Thing to note, is that at no point between those two moments.


Did Mary have sex, right?

She was a virgin.

So Jesus is in the clear, you know, he did not come from sex.


He is not descended from Adam sperm.


He does not have original sin.

He has not inherited sin.


But now the question for the church becomes.

Well, what about Mary, right?

Like, how can she be the mother of, you know, the Lord and Savior?

If she was also, descended from Adams sinful sperm.


This takes us to Mary’s Immaculate Conception.

What the fuck Domino number?

So after the concept of original sin, you know, gets popular and sort of widely accepted the church turns to this Mary issue.


They have this problem.

Is she free of original sin or not.

It’s almost like they’re debating whether or not Mary has the credentials to be the mother of Jesus.

Like, is she sure enough?

If she has Original Sin, Like what somebody challenging her for the job.


Like, what’s like, why, like, what’s the, what’s to be gained here?

I don’t know if this is to reductive but it is like is this teen like cool enough to be God’s mom.

So I imagine every headline.

Is this team cool enough to be God’s Mom.



Well, it turns out she is cool enough because there is this little known story about Mary’s conception.

And, you know, the church kind of brings it out of the woodwork to deal with this question of Mary’s original sin.


So, let me tell you about Mary’s parents, who were named Anne and Joachim.

So the story isn’t actually in the Bible, but it’s in the gospel of James, which is not one of the canonical gospels like Matthew Mark, Luke John, right?


So Anne, and Joachim, I’m we’re living in modern day Israel, you know, they were a blessed couple and many ways Joachim was a very wealthy man, but they didn’t have any kids.

They really wanted a child.


They’re trying to conceive one but they were really struggling like weighing very heavily on them.

And at one point Joachim just decides to leave.

He actually escapes to the desert for 40 days and 40 nights to pray.

Do you think Joachim like composed a folk album?


I was like, oh man, I would sure not want to listen to it if he did no offense, but we don’t really know if he figured anything out, right?

Well, sort of so an angel comes to him while he’s out in the desert and the angel told him, you are going to have a child.


God is going to give you a child, right?

She’s like great.

He goes back to Israel and he finds his wife.

Ann is pregnant and they’re like, oh, wonderful.

Like God has graced us with a child and eventually and gives birth to Mary.


One thing one detail though that is never explicitly, discussed in this story is at what point sex takes place, right?

But nobody says there is no sex, but nobody says that there is hmm.


So the church takes advantage of this ambiguity when it comes to Mary and you know, her original sin because now they can point to this story and be like see Mary is free and clear.

She was also immaculately conceived.


So they adopt this old little-known story from the gospel of James about Mary’s Immaculate Conception.

There’s an obvious follow-up here.

Well, what’s your thinking Eric?

What about an it?

Can’t just be Immaculate Conception all the way down.


Like, like the once you crack that seal.

Like I know, I know, right.


I thought the obvious follow-up was going to be about, you know, how like when your husband leaves town for 40 days and 40 nights and you end up with a baby.


I’m not so sure.

That an angel is the one who put it there.

You know.


I mean, oh gosh, I don’t like where this is going.

So I would have liked most what kind of dominoes game is this.

It’s a pretty spicy one.

I gotta tell you.

Okay, so by the Middle Ages, like some time before they hear 1000, this actually morphs into a holiday and people start celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which is not about Jesus Immaculate Conception, but about Mary’s, and the way you celebrate it, you know, some of the ways you can sort of acknowledge a days, you can light a white candle.


You can eat white foods, you can pray and honor of Mary’s purity.

Some people set out, you know, fresh white flowers, like lilies, or carnations Dove soap.

Things like that.

Yeah, exactly.


You know, it’s the sort of, observance of Purity.


We’re going to hit pause, on our little game of dominoes, and when we come back, we’re going to follow these ideas of Purity as they travel, the globe and land on American Shores.


Will you We’ll be right back and I pray, you’ll stay with us after the break.

Welcome back Heavenly Angels before the break my guest.


Eric mental, and I knocked over the first two Domino’s.

We learned about noted horny, man, from history, Augustine of Hippo, who coined the term original sin.

He popularized, the idea that humans are all innately sinful because of our great-great great-granddaddy Adam and he also believed that sin shows up in our lives through sexual urges.


So thank you for that I guess.

Finally we learned about Mary’s Immaculate Conception, which freed her up from original sin and kept her pure.

And these ideas were still bouncing around over the next few centuries.


As different offshoots of Christianity began to evolve and then and the 17th century.

There’s one offshoot that really takes this idea of Purity and runs with it.

So let’s get back into it.

Shall we Domina?


The Puritans land on American Shores.


So one thing that’s actually pretty interesting is that they didn’t call themselves Puritans.

It was actually a derogatory nickname given to them because they were largely seen as religious extremists in their time.


They believe that many Earthly Pleasures were sinful, you know, things like sex parties, but they were also like, really anti like fancy Church, where and ornate, religious declaration.

Relations and this kind of made them outcasts in England at the time.


So they left and came to what is present-day?

North America.

Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Yes, exactly.

They bring with them is a particularly somebody say uptight relationship to sexual behavior.


And in these colonies, we see a lot of this like, you know, thoroughly puritanical culture, you’re not supposed to dance with a member of the opposite sex because that might lead to lustful thoughts or behaviors.


You’re not supposed to play cards or play dice, right?

The real them Footloose situation.

It really is the original Footloose laws.

The Puritans also have all of these laws around, you know, what kind of sex is or Okay, and these laws are known as sodomy laws basically outlying sex that they see as immoral or unnatural, which is basically all sex.


I mean, it’s like no oral sex.

No, anal sex.

No masturbation, pretty clearly like no sex between two men or two women.

Basically, the Puritans like, only approve of sex inside of a marriage for the purposes of having a child sex is Like and means to an end.


But like, even like, if you had like, lustful sex with your spouse, like that would be seen as bad.


Dirty talk, right, I guess the way I’ve always interpreted, was those lost about like sex specifically and more just about like real sense of like self-control.


And that’s just like, like part of the long history of People trying to.

Make themselves feel more Godly than someone else early greater.


That’s an interesting.

This, the notion of like self-control is what sets you apart and I wonder if that’s where so much of the guilt comes from, because inevitably, you know, you’re a person, your humanity is going to shine through and like when you aren’t able to control that, what is it that you start to, you know, understand.


Yourself or or you know your value as a person.

Totally, I feel guilty all the time.

This is so exciting.

No, you have to apologize.

This is like this is the other long tail of puritanical ism is just like how I walk through the world feeling guilty all the time.



Well, you know, the country is literally built on many of these puritanical ideas but makes sense that it would bleed into your psyche.

And so over time.

These Notions that are sort of brought over by the Puritans.

They stick around in the form of different social norms and values and even more laws.


And this kind of goes on for like, 200 years.

Until we reach a sort of a Tipping Point.

Domino number.

The sexual Revolution, when I say the sexual Revolution, what does that sort of bring to mind for you think sort of like grainy jumpy image documentary thing.


I see is Woodstock, you know, like that’s the thing.

There’s the sort of Rise of the Gloria steinem’s of the world, you know, and like the rethinking of like how we relate to sex as a culture and as individuals.

Yeah, totally also like sex intense in a field.



I think that was yeah my understanding of a to was like, oh it’s like naked hippies dancing in the mud.

And then that’s definitely a big part of it.

Yeah, but there’s obviously so much more, you know, than hippies some really big stuff happens in this time that still affects us today in 1960.


For example, the first birth control pill is approved by the FDA and then generally like attitudes around relationships and Acts are starting to loosen up.

So like, you know, the idea of living together before marriage starts to become more acceptable.



We also start to see a lot of laws changing around this time, especially ones pertaining to sex and sexuality, sort of The Offspring of the Puritan laws.

If you will in the 60s, Illinois becomes the first state to get rid of its sodomy laws.


And a lot of States sort of follow suit.

We also have the And Mark Supreme Court decision of Roe v– Wade and 73 which Outlaws total bans on abortions.

The sexual Revolution is like a cultural thing.

It’s also like a legal thing.


It’s a medical thing, you know, it’s kind of springing up in all of these different parts of life, which is sort of, you know, unusual for a country that up to that point had been like pretty puritanical and it’s attitudes.


It’s sort of like the long pendulum of History swinging back and forth and back and forth and back and forth.


And this is like a hard swing back.

Yeah, and so, if the sexual Revolution is a hard swing back from these puritanical values and conservative attitudes around sex.

Then we actually see the pendulum swing once again, back to the other end.


Yeah, and that takes us to our final domino.


Which is the rise of Purity culture.

So as soon as the sexual Revolution starts, some people kind of respond to that with, like, oh, great.


Like, I’m on board and some people respond to that with, like, oh no, this is ruining the country and one group that falls into that, latter category, are conservative Christians.

So, in the 1970s, in the wake of this row v Wade decision, you start to see concerned.


Christians around the country getting really activated politically, you see a lot of Conservative, Christian, start to align themselves with political candidates, and even sometimes becoming the political candidates which brings us to 2001 when noted Conservative Christian George W bush, takes office.


And with his administration, we see a huge influx of federal funding and to these with they call faith-based initiatives and one of the sort of most notable initiatives being abstinence-only sex education.


Well, they’re like very and very invested in this.

We will double Federal funding for abstinence programs.

So ski schools can teach this fact of life abstinence for young people is the only certain way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases.

I remember very vividly that Gaston’s only education being A big Topic in the likely 90’s early 2000’s.


And I also remember very vividly like even at like age, 10 feeling, like the last thing you want to do to, like, keep me from trying to have sex, as a teenager is to tell me.

I shouldn’t have sex as a teenager.

I’m just like like it just like it was like so obvious even as a kid.



I remember like seeing the abstinence-only messaging around and like people would use these metaphors.

There’s be like, you know, you’re a piece of gum.

And every time you have sexual contact with somebody.


It’s like they’re chewing you up by the time you get to the point where you want to marry.

Someone who’s going to want a chewed-up piece of gum.

That’s wild.

The messaging always was if you have sex you will get used up and you will be of no value.


That was like not how I imagined that metaphor working.

Also, that’s what you’re supposed to do with gum.

Yeah, it’s best serving its function but you’re supposed to chew it up.

A lot of the stuff was also like appearing and the culture.


And in pop culture specifically there’s this period of time where all these pop stars were coming forward and being like I’m a virgin and I’m going to save myself for marriage.

Wait, who are you thinking of specifically?

Well, Britney Spears was a noted public facing virgin.


And she got asked about that constantly.

I’m just how you feel about, you know, that’s just something as part of growing up and that’s just something that we all have to deal with.

So have there been any changes on that promise?


Jessica Simpson was another one of those peaches.

All right, right, right.

I’m a hopeless romantic.

And there’s that one thing that I want to share with my husband.

So this one company they like sort of see this trend and they’re like we’re going to cultivate all of these really wholesome young teen stars that are like parent.


Friendly any guesses as to who these guys might be like, is their mascot a mouse.



Is it the wonderful world of Disney?

It sure is?

It sure is?


Disney ever, the family friendly brand.


Oh, I know, I mean also, Of the people who brought us Britney Spears to begin with.

I mean, her iconic Mouseketeer era, let’s not forget.

But in the early 2000s, there, in the midst of this big Rebrand, that’s like, you know, the height of like the Disney Channel original movie.


Like, you know, they’re doing really well in the sort of TV movie space, but they also have this music part of their business.

That’s not doing too well.

So they’re like, you know what?

We’re actually going to take these this like new crop of teens.


We’re going to like give them shows and whatever.

But we’re also going to make sure that they record albums and make music and try to like gin Up the Music side of the business.

Oh no, and they do incredibly.




This era brings us Miley Cyrus.


I was waiting for you to say Miley Cyrus.

I was like, oh no Selena.

Gomez Demi Lovato.

The Jonas Brothers.

I mean, this is okay.



Wow, we’re talking like peek mid 2000s, Disney domination.



But these teens aren’t just appearing on Disney together.

They have something else in common because they also all wear Purity Ring’s and they all talk about them publicly that’s wild.

Like they were like all they were all wearing them.





I had like earth-shattering crush on Joe Jonas and like I was very distraught about his purity ring situation because I was like if we do meet which I’m sure we will and if he does fall in love with me, which I’m sure he will.


What are we going to?


You just have to be patient.

I guess you have to really give you a real long game with Joe Jonas.

What’s interesting is that after Disney sort of invested, all of This time and money, creating this class of like perfect Pure Clean, teen stars.


They start to push back and the pendulum swings back again.

My question for the Jonas Brothers is, did it feels so good taking off your purity ring and did it feel so good taking off your Purity, right?

Let me know saying, I think Miley Cyrus is an interesting example.


Because she probably had the most public break from this, like, innocent teen image.


You know, she had her Can’t Be Tamed era.

She caught her hair and dyed it blond and twerked and you know, everyone freaked out about that.


I mean, she’s she’s taking these very deliberate steps.


To sort of be shocking in this way.

Really good famous person.

She’s one of those people who navigated that like, kind of incredibly at least publicly something.

Trusting about her as like, she’s not just being open about her sexuality and her music.


I think she’s also pretty open about the sort of reality of that in her personal life.

You know, she’s talked openly about being queer.

Yeah, totally.

I mean, it’s not like perfect but it feels like we’re moving towards more and more openness and authenticity in a way that it felt like there just was not space for that even just 10 years ago.


I feel like we’ve reached the singularity, like we started with the sense that like culture needs to repressed, sexuality, and like this back and forth, pendulum of time the Catholic Church to the Puritan.

So like Purity laws in the United States and then they gets us to the Disney Channel where they try to create wholesome stars, but then what you wind up with is like the horniest stars on the planet between like Miley Cyrus and like, Nick Jonas.


Like they’re really hot that took like such a like backfiring of like whatever.

It was going for holy cow.


It’s all coming together.

No, I love it.

I love it.


It’s interesting to think about Augustine.


And Miley Cyrus is like diametric opposite sin.

Some way, who knows what the world looks like and 400 years, but I do Wonder, like, which of those texts this text being the confessions and then, Hannah Montana will be, have been more influential on Americans.



It’s a toss-up knows.


I did not see this going for where it went.

Well, For the tricky little dominoes that great.

That’s that’s what we try to do over here right now.

Well, thank you so much for joining us.



It’s been a pleasure, and you’re welcome back, anytime.

It was a blast.

Thank you.

Thank you.


Not passed it as a Spotify original produced by gimlet and zsp media.

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