Archive for the ‘Personal Reflection’ Category

To be called unconventional is to receive the highest compliment, for to have led an interesting life is the best use of one.

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California Prop. 8, if passed, would add the following to the state constitution:

Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

I voted Yes on 8, and yet I haven’t lost my mind, however I have been, am, or will be dismissed as such. Know my decision was not made lightly, and yet know I remain lucid.

In the intervening centuries since marriage was simply a business transaction between parents, it has become a public commitment between two adults, a commitment that ideally shares love and resources, with the added intent to raise children.

However, it even more deeply represents a public commitment to get it on — specifically, in a manner such that we propagate the species — and so many religions, including my own, consider marriage ordained by God Himself. This is what marriage is, and that is irrevocable. Although homosexual couples should have partnership rights and legally recognized benefits, their union cannot be called marriage.

It’s as if the government decided to make Christmas and other holy days public holidays — remember how it did, and how this secularization irks believers every Advent and every Lent? Rather than flow from the society inward to government establishment as did the secularization of Christmas, the issue of legalized homosexual marriage flows from the government down to a society not yet tamed by I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.

This time, the religious sectors of society have the power to prevent wholesale — and rightly unacceptable — appropriation and castration of a cornerstone institution into a secular society by taking a positive action. This positive action, so called because it is preemptive and not because “positive” indicates value and worth, took the form of first Prop. 22, and now Prop. 8.

Ironically, voting yes on Prop 8., or even its presence on the ballot, might bring exactly what opponents really want, in the long run — the Supreme Court to have the final say, and more likely than not, in their favor. After passage, a California constitutional amendment about a hot-button issue in a hotly contested election year would bring forth much more interest in the Federal courts than Prop. 22 was. If Prop. 8 passes, the surely imminent lawsuits will bring gay marriage as an issue to a head much more quickly than to vote no this election day and wait for the inevitable proposition next year.

The real and permanent solution is to remove from our government all mention of “marriage,” replacing it with “civil union” or some other doublespeak. Let religions keep marriage; let everyone be equal in the eyes of the law, in all the ways that really matter.

Leave it to the politicians to forget the importance of cosmetic change.

One religious icon displays itself prominently in my cozily-sized bedroom. I call it a lowercase him, and I introduce him to friends as Angry Jesus.

Strictly speaking, Angry Jesus isn’t angry. In fact, he’s probably about as far as angry as a lithograph print of an Eastern Orthodox portrait of the Sacred Heart can be. Yet “Angry Jesus” he’ll stay.

Framed within alternating deep hues of red and ochre, Angry Jesus the Icon shouldn’t, by all rights, seem so imposing on my mostly bare walls. He stands, shoulders square with the frame, holding a scroll in one hand, his other hand bent such that ring and pinky fingers touch his thumb.

The whole of the portrait — including his halo, his long, flowing brunette locks and the ever-requisite beard — seems browned and dull, as if viewed through layers of beeswax. In the middle, set off from his colored but drab robes, there’s a shape of a teardrop. In it, shining, polished and slightly curved steel appears to pierce his heart-shaped heart. The rest of the teardrop is filled by appropriately tricolor fire.

Angry Jesus never looks at the eye-level viewer, but instead slightly above and more slightly to the right. I don’t know why, and he offers no ready clues.

He doesn’t appear to smile, laugh, cry, blush, or retort sarcastically to the Pharisees — his mouth is a thin, inexpressive line. His face betrays neither pain nor contemplation.

It’s this face that earns Angry Jesus his epithet. He isn’t angry, by any stretch of either my imagination or what little theology I’ve absorbed, and I call him angry for my tacit fear of the alternative.

For what else explains his expressionless-ness, but sober judgment? What could I have done that has earned me his judgment? — and then a deluge of my deepest memories reminds me.

I don’t think I’ll change his name, anytime soon. Soberly Judgemental Jesus would be a whole lot harder to live with than a mere Angry Jesus.