Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hitting the books: gay marriage

Bible Thumping

I’m a Catholic with a brain. I get that my faith is based on the Bible. But I also get that the Bible has to be interpreted with some application of common sense.

Ponder: who even originally wrote the Bible? Men. Arab men. Three thousand year-old Arab men. Call me crazy, but I’m wondering if modern-day Catholic (or other Bible-based religious group) Americans have a lot in common with the original authors. Do you suppose any of our beliefs have evolved to become different than theirs? I'm guessing so, since we no longer stone our criminals, we don't consider it dishonorable for men to have long hair and women to have short hair, and adultery no longer carries a death sentence. Yup, these things are all commands the Good Book (still) gives us.  Yet, somewhere along the way, we decided to tune out these particulars.

How did we decide (and who decided, anyway?)  that we could ignore those directives and still consider ourselves good followers?   Perhaps, at some point, we reviewed the writings and realized that they were based on ancient, outdated points of view and that we needed to do some updating to our rationalization of the text.

Huh.  What an idea.

Dictionary Thumping

You know I love words.  I get great pleasure out of extracting their true meanings and promoting their proper usage.  I’ve been thinking about three words in particular:  Christmas, traditional and marriage.

Christmas breaks down into two parts:  Christ + mas.  Literally, Christ + mass:  mass, meaning celebration, Christ, meaning…well, Christ.  It’s a celebration of the birth of Christ.  A birthday party, folks.

Traditional – customary, conventional, usual, habitual.  

Marriage – a close union, blend or mixture of two things.

So when someone says “traditional Christmas”, it can be taken to mean “a customary celebration”, or “a celebration we do out of habit”.   What it brings to mind is a pine tree with lights, presents, carols, turkey dinner – all of our standard little rituals and customs that we do in order to celebrate the birth of our favorite VIP. 

I know a family that doesn’t exchange presents at Christmastime, choosing, instead, to donate that money to charities.  In my own family, it just wouldn’t be Christmas dinner without lumpia (Chamorro eggrolls) on the table.  Some choose to spend Christmas in exotic places, rather than gather around the hearth at the homestead.    All quite un-traditional practices, but do they diminish the heart of the celebration itself?  Not in the least.  Put another way:  as long as I show up to the party and am mindful of what I’m actually celebrating, then I don’t think the Birthday Boy cares whether I bring traditional cupcakes with frosting and sprinkles or I bring an untraditional fig tart topped with crushed macadamia nuts, drizzled with a chocolate liqueur glaze with a lit sparkler shooting out of it.  It’s all for the sake of the celebration, and it’s all good.  It’s all about the “Christmas” and not the “traditional”.

Then how about “traditional marriage”?   In that phrase, “traditional” is not the subject at all; it’s merely the adjective used to describe the subject, which is “marriage”. 

We can all agree that marriage is a union.  We also agree that marriage should be rooted in love.  How can we impose sanctions on a union based on love?

Love (noun): affection, adoration, friendship, tenderness, feeling, fondness, devotion, passion.  These are the things we want to have the power to red-light or green-light at our discretion?  In these uncertain times, when grim news comes down the wire every day, these are the values that we would rally against?  And why? Because we would stand on tradition?   The words that now come to mind are:  preposterous, ridiculous, unreasonable and outrageous. 

Because I like words so much, I tend to use a lot of them.  But there’s something to be said for coming to the point as quickly as possible.  I think Lenny Kravitz did a great job of it and he did it using only three words:  let love rule. 


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