Sunday, May 20, 2012

Stop Children, what's that sound?

After watching How I Met Your Mother reruns tonight on WGN, the Chicago news came up, covering the ongoing protests of the NATO summit there.  The reporter asked the protestors what message they were trying to send and she had to go three deep before anybody had anything meaningful to say: complaining about the Afghanistan War, which was part of the summit's mission anyway.  (The first said she was there to hang out because the leaders were having dinner and "we weren't invited" the second guy literally said nothing.)

I don't really sympathize with protestors now, so when I look back at the protestors 50 years ago, like the Freedom Riders and civil rights leaders, I kind of wonder if I'd have been on the right side then.  I hope I would have.  Looking now, though, I find it hard to believe that history isn't going to look at these people as jokes, if it remembers them at all.

It feels like a disappointment that these people are getting this kind of news, thinking they're changing the world, yet they don't know what they're changing from or to.  My generation is awesome.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

From the lion's mouth

I like going to weddings now.  It's a party with food and music and drinks and sometimes friends you know and other times friend you know.  It's especially good having a built in date, because stressing over whether or not you're serious enough to invite a girl to a wedding, especially if it's far a way, is some jive I just don't need.  It just stinks when Dr. Sighted can't make it, because while you can dance to My Humps in a group, Can't Help Falling In Love doesn't really work the same way.

The reception isn't all that's nice about it, though.  The weddings themselves are part of what makes them good, too.  The ceremony serves as a reminder of the seriousness and sanctity of my own marriage, and how nice it is that Dr. Sighted will be Dr. Sighted forever.  (Answer: pretty darn nice.)

We traveled to, of all places, North Carolina for a wedding this weekend (man and woman, of course) and with all the talk that's been going on about the amendment and the Dan Savage video flying around facebook and what not, thinking about my own marriage is not the only heady topic that came up this time.

On the drive up here, Dr. Sighted asked me, "Why do people who aren't [religious] even want to get married anyway?"  Hers is a more cynical view that if you are not asking for God's blessing on a permanent union, then what difference does it make anyway, aside from tax and medical conveniences.  It really amounts to, I think, that when religious people say the word "marriage" they mean something different than when the non-religious do.

I'm not sure whether marriage was first a religious or civil institution, but the modern Western conception of marriage is clearly so colored by its religious character that it's hard to say it's not a religious one now.  Religious marriage is a joining of a man and woman before God that is severable only by death or, in bad cases, "sexual immorality," as per Matthew 19:1-11 (which also is a part where Jesus expounds on what marriage means).  For Kim Kardashian, Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich, marriage means something else.  And shame on us for letting people like that abuse the institution without calling them out on it.

There is, though, in addition to this religious ceremony a package of civil benefits that goes along with that because it was in the state's interest to encourage this sort of association.  That package of benefits got called marriage too because most everyone who got them also did the religious thing, too, so there wasn't really any trouble.  I think that we as religious people may have done a disservice to the institution of marriage by allowing the package of associational benefits to be conflated (in name, certainly) with the promise to spouse and God.

The discussion this week has been not just about preventing gay "marriage" but also the package of associational benefits as well in the state I am in right now.  I don't think there is really any Biblical basis for a Christian religious marriage between two people of the same sex.  I don't really see why there shouldn't be a contractual means for creating a package of benefits for, really, any pair of people for inheritance, medical and some other benefits.

The rest of it -- the dancing, the music, the drinks -- is a celebration mostly for show.  Just ask Kim Kardashian.  And there has been nothing stopping anybody from throwing a party for any reason they want.