FFMC hosts Porn and Poetry event

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Levi Macallister, or “Levi the Poet,” shares his personal struggle with pornography through poetry in the First Free Methodist Church Fine Center.
Kyra Bergan/THE FALCON

Attendees filled all but a handful of the chairs in First Free Methodist Church’s Fine Center as they awaited the start of Porn and Poetry.

The event, which lasted about two hours on Thursday, started with a passionate round of slam poetry reverberated throughout the room.

Two poets in their mid-20s, Levi Macallister, a spoken-word artist who goes by “Levi the Poet,” and Seattle native Nick Vitellaro, took turns onstage relating their personal struggles with pornography through their original poetry.

The poetry contained a number of recurring themes, both directly and indirectly related to pornography, such as broken relationships, depression, shame, guilt, hatred, and regret, but also hope, freedom, and redemption through Christ.

Macallister and Vitellaro provided a context for their work by sharing their personal backgrounds in between poems, with the hope that others would be able to relate to their struggles.

Sophomore Taylor Ford thought poetry was appropriate as an alternative approach to a traditionally taboo conversation topic.

“I think poetry is one of the languages our generation speaks, so it’s pretty cool that they would bring it in like that,” Ford said. “I think it was definitely handled really well, and I like that it was more of a conversation than anything else.”

FFMC and XXXchurch put on the event. XXXchurch, founded by “porn pastor” Craig Gross, is not a physical church, but a team dedicated to fighting pornography addiction, primarily through its website, XXXchurch.com.

“XXXchurch [is the] largest resource online helping people that are caught up in porn. We say we do three things: awareness, prevention and recovery,” Gross said. “We try to make people aware of this as an issue people are going through, prevent it from happening and then help people that are in need of recovery.”

The website offers a number of resources, including articles, a question-and-answer platform, a confessions page, and even downloadable software — all aimed toward providing a way out for those addicted to pornography.

The nonprofit organization has also spent a large amount of time traveling and doing in-person events, like Porn and Poetry, since its inception in 2002.

“We’ve [worked with] musicians, speakers, bands, poets… We travel and speak at churches all around the world. We’ll go wherever we’re invited and take on whatever we need to do that makes sense at those events,” Gross said.

Staff at FFMC was already in the process of launching their first event on pornography, set for May, when they received a nudge from XXXchurch and University Ministries asking for someone to host Porn and Poetry. The opportunity to host has helped get the ball rolling.

“The event in May is going to discuss brain chemistry, how porn literally re-wires the human brain when [porn is]consumed and has the same addictive properties as hardcore drugs like heroine,” said Clay Utley, pastor of Student Ministries at FFMC.

Gross used several statistics on Thursday to illustrate the grip pornography has on society.

According to Gross, 43 percent of all internet users view pornographic material. Of these, 72 percent are male and 28 percent are female.

Gross used these statistics not as a scare tactic, but as a way of emphasizing the reality that many people, both men and women, suffer from the effects of pornography.

He identified this as one of the major challenges of his job, expressing the difficulty in convincing others that pornography is a serious issue.

“The challenge here is that we still come up against a lot of people that go, ‘You guys are crazy. This isn’t a big deal,’ and we’re like, ‘No, this is serious.’ So you’re still up against that fight that the world throws at you,” Gross said.

It is for this same reason that FFMC wanted to help introduce events on the subject of pornography.

“Pornography is an equal opportunity killer,” Utley said. “I’ve had friends in ministry whose marriages have disintegrated because of pornography and what it’s led to. I’ve had friends from college whose parents’ marriages have disintegrated because of pornography and issues connected to that. We want to not only prevent that from happening, but offer help, relief, comfort, accountability [and] freedom to people who are stuck in the midst of that, and that will never happen if we don’t talk about it.”

This article was posted in the section Features.

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