Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Gay Marriage Enthusiasm

I had been working on a long post about this, but I didn't like it. The main problem is that I'm not really all that interested in it either way. I was feeling a bit out of sync with the people who are absolutely certain there is nothing reasonable to be argued against it--the first time I heard it mentioned, about 10 years ago, my moral imagination/sophistication whatever was so poorly developed that I thought it was a joke. I still can't quite get fired up about it, but at the same time I don't think it is important enough to be worth ruining friendships, or in my case potential friendships, over, which seems like what would be at stake in many instances. There is a bit of the sense, in the mocking and scornful tone of some of the rhetoric, that an ascendant authority which has no especial place of honor (which is all most broken down men approaching forty have any desire to possess, in whatever pitiful degree they can manage) in it for people like me, is in fact largely defined by its opposition to people like me, is imposing itself, so why would I be inclined to wholeheartedly submit to it anyway? But in truth if felt I myself to have been constantly winning in life, and had this reinforced by the society around me, if I could have figured out how to have a career in a field that interests me or it if pretty girls had preferred dancing and talking with me at least rather than with homosexuals at art parties I would hardly care. Traditional marriage was a sop to sops, an institution replete with solemn ceremonies, the illusions of roles to play in life for people who otherwise had none and, for the man at least, of privileged status and respectability, and, at least within his own household, authority, with the intent of keeping the sops well-behaved and engaged in the greater projects of life that their masters orchestrated. That is obviously already largely eroded but the trappings still carry symbolic power, which is why people of stunted intellect especially feel an instinctive urge to resist such a sweeping change in the definition of it.

Why I Will Never Be Taken In By the Episcopalians

My wife's church, which I also go to as it happens, though my participation in the spoken rituals at least is limited, has finally selected its new rector, to replace the one who ditched his wife of 30+ years to run off with the pretty young adjunct priestess, who was also married and had little children by the way, all of which scandalized the good parishioners, though I'm not sure why, since no one in the chuch seems particularly religious, and numerous of them of course have similar histories and alternative family arrangements themselves. Anyway, the new rector could not be more perfect for this congregation; or perhaps I should say her resume could not be more perfect, though among this crowd the one and the other are pretty much identical. She has an American mother and a English father, and has lived in the UK nearly half her life. After college in the U.S. she worked in publishing and marketing in Britain for 13 years--this is important, to demonstrate that she was able to succeed in a competitive environment, without which nobody under the age of 70 has any hope of attaining credibility with the high-achieving flock at St Paul's Church. At this point of her life, having decided she wanted to do something different, more spiritual, she decided that being an Episcopalian priest might be a fulfilling career. Unfortunately there was little information or indication in her biography about her involvement in the church or spiritual development up to this time. I don't think that was of much interest to the search committee though. At any rate, she was admitted to the divinity school at Durham Cathedral, where the Venerable Bede I believe formerly held sway, and which is regularly accounted one of the five or ten most spectacular cathedrals in all of Britain. This is important as it establishes her as a person who is enthusiastically welcomed into and knows her way around rarified institutions with gorgeous buildings and esoteric traditions, which is another qualification that carries great weight with the flock. At press time the committee and the new priestess are still in "negotiations" as to her compensation (you can bet the house the humble old rectory will not be adequate accomodation for this servant of God; no one has lived there in 25 years, and they use it for church offices now), which makes it sound as if she hired Scott Boras to deal with the phalanx of lawyers who constitute about half the positions on the committee.

Past clergy at this church have included a former lawyer and a guy who had gone to Yale, both of whom made much use of these past experiences by frequent allusions to them in their sermons, a lady who was on the faculty of the exclusive St Paul's prep school who at least sort of admitted that she had become an Episcopalian because the Evangelicals and born-agains, though probably closer in religious fervor to what Jesus would have encouraged, were just too gauche in their organization, their institutions, their buildings, for her to be comfortable with (also unstated was that her credentials would have nowhere near the authority they carry in the eastern prep schools in which she was accustomed to work), and one lady who was just annoyingly vain and arrogant and insecure at the same time, (her pseudo-knowledge of Greek was one of the pillars of this trinity of noxious characteristics) all without emitting a spiritual aura in the least. One thing about hanging out with Catholics, at least when I was a kid, almost nobody, even if they are smart, has been to a non-Catholic prep school or the Ivy League or Oxford, especially the priests (maybe they have done some time at the Sorbonne or somewhere in Italy if they are super scholarly), and even if they have, and they are rich or uber-professional class, if they continue to hang out with Catholics the distinction simply doesn't carry the same obsessive weight in their dealings and relations with other people as it does with these damn Episcopalians.

I was going to do a few pop culture/middlebrow art links, but I think I will save them for another short post.

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