When Same-Sex Marriage was a Christian Rite

This article has just blown my mind…

Contrary to myth, Christianity’s concept of marriage has not been set in stone since the days of Christ, but has constantly evolved as a concept and ritual. Prof. John Boswell, the late Chairman of Yale University’s history department, discovered that in addition to heterosexual marriage ceremonies in ancient Christian church liturgical documents, there were also ceremonies called the “Office of Same-Sex Union” (10th and 11th century), and the “Order for Uniting Two Men” (11th and 12th century).

These church rites had all the symbols of a heterosexual marriage: the whole community gathered in a church, a blessing of the couple before the altar was conducted with their right hands joined, holy vows were exchanged, a priest officiatied in the taking of the Eucharist and a wedding feast for the guests was celebrated afterwards. These elements all appear in contemporary illustrations of the holy union of the Byzantine Warrior-Emperor, Basil the First (867-886 CE) and his companion John.

 

http://anthropologist.livejournal.com/1314574.html

Obama and Same-Sex Marriage

All I can say is, about time he finally revealed how he feels. No matter what the motivation was…

Ok, that’s not all I can say.

The political issue of whether or not same-sex marriage should be allowed has been raging in the country for quite some time. Current polls seem to put the country at about a 50/50 split, in favor vs against – with the in favors normally coming out slightly ahead.

Personally, I think that all States should recognize same-sex marriage. And I do think it is up to the States and not the Federal Government. Without passing a Constitutional Amendment, marriage is the domain of the State. Let’s be honest here, passing an amendment to guarantee same-sex marriage as a right would be very difficult right now.

But, I think we will get there. The logic in favor of same-sex marriage is so easy for me, I think it is inevitable that every State will eventually recognize it. With people like Obama coming out in support, it becomes only a matter of time. The fight isn’t over yet, and we need to keep pushing, but we can get there.

Anyway, I said the logic for me is easy. Here is that logic…

In order to figure out if same-sex marriage is valid – we need to look at the purpose of marriage. Not the long historical purpose of a man purchasing a wife to bear him children – but, the modern purpose.

There are those that argue that the true purpose of marriage is to create and raise children. Well, let’s test that with a simple thought experiment. If that is the only purpose, then why don’t we pass laws banning the infertile from marrying? I mean, if you can’t have kids – what’s the point? Also, why not pass laws banning single-parenting. Force people who have children to get or stay married? And while we are at it, we should pass a law requiring married couples to have children within a certain time – or their marriage is canceled. If that is truly the purpose of marriage, wouldn’t this be the direction we should be going?

But, it isn’t. I don’t know of any hardened same-sex marriage opposers who would seriously consider banning the infertile from opposite-sex marriage. Obviously, we have a sense that marriage is more than just making kids. Would you even want to marry someone who thought that your only purpose was to produce babies for them?

No, we tend to think of marriage as a joining of two people in love. A partnership of mutual caring and respect that affirms a couple’s resolve to stick by one another and share in life’s experience.

The purpose of marriage is to celebrate this union of two people coming together as one. I tend to get annoyed when people try to use the slippery-slope argument that same-sex marriage will lead to things like human-animal marriage or polygamist marriage. You can’t have a union of two people if one of them isn’t a person. Having more than two people becomes problematic as well, but for other reasons.

So, same-sex couples meet the requirement of two people in love. There is no requirement for the natural ability to produce children. And if same-sex couples want children, they can use the same avenues that the infertile do. That system is already in place.

What about the argument that same-sex marriage degrades the institution of opposite-sex marriage? I don’t see how it can. Two people joining their lives together is the purpose. Not a man and a women. Did allowing opposite-race marriages do anything to same-race marriages? There was a time when people made the same arguments against interracial couples that they make now against same-sex. I don’t recall there being a huge problem with people’s marriages when those laws were struck from the books.

So, why all the uproar? Maybe some people are just afraid that they’ll be left because their spouse really wanted a same-sex partner the whole time. And if that’s the case, wasn’t your marriage a shame from the beginning?

Osama bin Who?

I don’t much like covering death, but seeing how “America’s greatest enemy” (which is kinda sad, that it was some bearded dude living in the suburbs) was finally taken out this past weekend, I thought I’d share some links…

Yahoo’s search blog has reported that 66% of searches for “who is osama bin laden?” come from teens aged 13-17. I guess they’ve missed the memo.

There is an interesting post over on Informed Comment with a quick history of al-Qaeda and “Usama” bin Laden. Very interesting read about what was motivating the group and how the democratic movements around the Arab world will do much more to stop them than killing bin Laden.

They were all dictatorships– the Soviet Union, the Communist government of Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Sudan, and the Taliban. Usama learned to take the law into his own hands because he had no other way to effect change. He wanted to see the region’s dictatorship overthrown in favor of his renewed Islamic Caliphate. It was a crackpot, fringe, pipe dream, but he brought to the aspiration all the experiences and training he and his men had learned during the Reagan Jihad against the Soviets. Then he and his number two man, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, came to the conclusion that the reason they could not overthrow the governments of Egypt (Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship) and Saudi Arabia and so forth was that these were backed by the United States. They decided it had been a mistake to hit the “near enemy” first. They decided to hit the “far enemy” on American soil. Bin Laden thought that if only he could entice the US into the Middle East, he could do to it what he thought he had done to the Soviet Union.

Hence the horrific attacks on the US of September 11, 2001.

Go read the rest of that. Very interesting.

What happened to Ethos?

I was reading an article on Partial Objects that had this image at the bottom, with the text:

There’s the question then: How do you shift the argument from pathos to logos for someone who’s firmly stuck on the emotional side of the issues? And where the hell did ethos go?

Yeah, where the hell did ethos go? How do we get it back?

Ethos is a Greek word meaning, “character,” the guiding principles behind a community, nation or ideology. It is also the root for the word, “ethics.”

The triangle above is a representation of the 3 artistic proofs (methods of persuasion) in classical rhetoric, along with, Pathos – an appeal to emotion, and Logos – an appeal to logic.

It seems to me that too many of our current political discussions take place purely in the realm of Pathos. I can understand why people avoid Logos, modern Americans find logic boring. Logic doesn’t move us, inspire us or appeal to our decision making process in a way that would make it useful for political argument. In fact, use of logic tends to get politicians derided as elitist.

But, there is always Ethos. Ethos can win where Logos fails.

How do you use Ethos?

Well, the difficulty with Ethos is that it is purely in the mind of the audience…

The trick with Ethos is to point out what makes you credible from an ethical standpoint – and what makes your opponent non-credible.

When a Republican says we should lower taxes on the wealthy the Democrats should point out the obvious conflict of interest – most politicians (and their friends and supporters) are wealthy. Obama has been almost doing this by reminding everyone that he is wealthy when he talks about raising taxes, but I think he should go further.

I still feel that the American spirit is alive and well. We may not be as tied to logic as perhaps we once were, but ethics is part of us still. No one likes a hypocrite.

We should once again turn to crafting the American image. One of community, equality and freedom.

An Argument

Why do we have dividend taxes? Because in America we work for a living.

Why do we have estate taxes? Because in America you make your own way.

Why do we tax the rich more? Because they have 200 times more money, but don’t do 200 times more work .

That isn’t equality or fairness or the American way. We broke from England, not to get out of paying taxes, but to pay them on our own terms. It was about fairness, no taxation without representation. The burden falls on each person, according to their ability – the more ability you have, the more burden you get. There needs to be a price for success – that is how equality is maintained.

America was a break from the past – when you were entitled to riches because distant relatives earned them. When power came through birth and was absolute. In America you don’t get the right to rule, you have to earn the privilege from the people. In America you don’t get to be rich, that to you must earn, and you must pay your dues…

You don’t get rich without the working/middle class giving you money. They took care of you, it is only fair and equal that you take care of them – the America that gave you the opportunity of wealth.

Disclaimer

For those who don’t know me, I’m not rich, but I do alright. I happily pay my taxes and would gladly pay more if it would help the country. That is what real patriotism is.

 

MoveOn Supporter Brutaly Attacked by Rand Paul Supporters?

The headline for the article in The Atlantic suggests that this is a brutal attack… I think everyone is going overboard.

First, the Rand Paul Supporter went overboard. There is no reason to put your hands on someone over a political difference. That is counter productive. If you want to be taken seriously, you shouldn’t go out of your way to show how crazy you are. Now everyone gets to say, “did you see those Rand Paul supporters? They are nuts!” Now the conversation isn’t about why you support Rand Paul, now it is about his angry mob of followers.

Second, the news is going overboard. Let’s not sensationalize this. She wasn’t “brutally” attacked. It wasn’t an American History X style curb-stomping. It was very rude – and probably frightening for the girl – but in the interview at the end she appears fine. Not even upset.

Here, just watch:

Okay, it is sad that this would happen, horrible even. But, to be honest, it is kind of expected. Our whole political system, from the Politicians to the News organizations, has got everyone stirred up into a frenzy. You can’t villainize the opposition and expect people to not treat them like villains. Mix that with a healthy dose of Narcissism and this is the outcome.

Socialism for Dummies

There is a great little primer on the different political “theories” over on the Huffington Post.

The spectrum reads, from pure liberty to pure statism as follows: anarchism, libertarianism, constitutional republicanism, liberal democracy, welfare state democracy, social democracy, socialism, communism (Marxism) and corporatism.

Socialism For Dummies or: Why Obama Isn’t a Communist

Mosque Update

I have some further comments on the NYC Mosque and some more information for people against it to consider.

First, I’d like to make something perfectly clear. The members of Al Qaeda, the group behind the WTC attack, are Muslim — but, not all Muslim people are part of Al Qaeda. The two groups are not mutually inclusive. In fact, not all Muslim people are from the Middle East and not all people in the Middle East are Muslim. I know it sounds crazy, but it is true!

Some interesting numbers:

  • Total Muslims worldwide – 1.2 billion or 19% of the World’s population (as of 2005)
  • Total Muslims in Middle East – 329 million or 90% of the Middle East Population of 364 million (as of 2005)
  • Total Muslims in U.S. – 4.82 million or 1.6% of the U.S. population of 312 million (as of 2005)

The rest of the U.S. breakdown:

  • 84% are Christian (about 50% of them actually go to church)
  • 1.9% are Jewish
  • 0.91% are Buddhist
  • 0.39 are of various ethnic religions
  • 11.2 percent are other/non religious

Take those numbers however you like, but most Muslims aren’t even in the Middle East. It is a huge world-wide religion and it’s not going anywhere. No matter how afraid you are of the few zealots, you can’t dismiss 19% of the World’s population as being probable terrorists.  It just won’t work.

So when are we, as a Nation, going to finally drop this whole hatred of Islam thing?

I know many people are claiming that they don’t hate Islam, but don’t want the Mosque built because it is disrespectful. I don’t buy it, not for a second. The people building the Mosque are not terrorists, were not involved in the attacks and members of their community were even in the towers working as they fell.

This isn’t a Victory Mosque, or some kind of Memorial to Al Qaeda, but just an Islamic church and community center. That’s all it is. They get built all the time all over the Nation – all over the World. It isn’t even the only Mosque within 2 blocks of the WTC ruins. Did you know that? There is already one from before the attacks, still there, still having services.

If you don’t like Islam, then don’t convert. It is really that simple.

And to the people who try to liken this to WWII and Pearl Harbor – there is a Buddhist Temple about as close as you can get to the water. Several Shinto Shrines aren’t too far away either. Do you know why? There are a ton of Japanese people who live in Hawaii, just like there are a ton of Muslim people in NYC. Both populations were there before the attacks and both are around still around now.

They aren’t going anywhere. It is time to stop the silly, childish, my dad can beat up your dad crap. We are all here, we are all Americans and we need to start supporting each other, because in America everyone is equal and we are all in this together and we have way bigger things to worry about.

Such as – when are we going to build a real memorial on the rubble pile that used to be the WTC? It has been 9 fucking years! How is that not disrespectful?

STFU NYC Mosque Critics

You are making us look bad…

In the middle of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s (what a name) trip to the Middle East to promote moderate Islam, a firestorm of controversy has erupted in New York City over the Mosque [and community center] he and his group have planned to build 2 blocks from the World Trade Center remains.

We sure do pick stupid things to argue about and the media isn’t helping any by giving voices to people like Steve Ayling, a 40-year-old Brooklyn plumber, who was quoted as saying:

“[The same people building the Mosque are] the same people who took down the twin towers. They should put it in the Middle East.”

To call the Mosque planners the “same people” as the terrorists is certainly inflammatory, but hardly true. Rauf is an American, a moderate, a community leader and promoter of peace. He is also a Muslim, but to lump all Muslims together so carelessly is a sign of ignorance – and not the bliss kind. The Muslim world has long been divided by different groups with different interpretations of the religion. To say all Muslims are terrorists is like saying all Christians are child molesters due to the actions of a few perverted priests.

The protests over the weekend did give some ample highlights of just how dumbed-down the American people have become, though. One such sight was a mannequin dressed in Arabic clothes mounted on a fake rocket that read, “Again? Freedom Targeted by Religion.” I guess they didn’t notice the irony.

“This is sacred ground and it’s where my son was buried,” a native Israeli from Queens said, “[the mosque would be] like a knife in our hearts.” Maybe we should remember what is sacred about it. Innocent people died at the hands of a group of people who don’t respect our freedoms and took out their anger on strangers. If we become like those who have hurt us, what have we gained? How is that winning?

Another parent of a victim of the 9/11 attacks said, “When I look over there and I see a mosque, it’s going to hurt. Build it someplace else.” There are over 100 Mosques in NYC, maybe he should move.

I’m sorry, but this is the United States of America. When did we become a nation of whiners, worried about other people’s feelings? The country is full of ass holes and no one stops them, because in America you have every freedom to be an ass hole. Now, I’m all in favor of everyone being kind to each other and actually caring, I think it builds better communities, but I’m not in favor of enforcing it!

Of course, after the priceless quotes from the protestors, some of our esteemed politicians decided to have their say too.

Rick A. Lazio, a Republican candidate for governor and a former member of the House of Representatives said that the President (by supporting the Mosque) was still not, “listening to New Yorkers” and that “With over 100 mosques in New York City, this is not an issue of religion, but one of safety and security.” I’ll get into the Presidents words in a bit, but first lets talk security. What block the Mosque is on does not affect security in any way. The same people will go to it, the same ideas will be taught – isn’t that what’s important? Besides, we have people to worry about security, the FBI and local police will almost certainly be keeping a tab on things. And with so many of their own lost, I thinks it’s a little disrespectful to assume they won’t be doing their jobs.

Of course, Palin also chimed in, saying, “this is an insensitive move on the part of those Muslims who want to build that mosque in this location, that feels like a stab in the heart of, collectively, Americans who still have that lingering pain from 9/11.” Oh no, the poor Americans just couldn’t handle a Mosque near the WTC ruins, that would just break their little hearts, gosh darn it. I’m tired of people pandering to our emotions. We are a strong people and it’s time we started acting like it. We can have suffered a lot as a Nation in the name of freedom, this is like a pin prick by comparison.

This is what the man behind the Mosque had to say:

“American Muslims have the right to practice their religion in accordance with the Constitution of the United States”

“I see the article of independence as more compliant with the principles of Islam than what is available in many of the current Muslim countries.”

“We have worked to ensure that our mosques are not recruiting grounds for terrorists.”

Rauf is right, Muslims do have the same rights as anyone else, and the Constitution is awesome for it. We should respect those rights, even support them. Christians, Jews and others weren’t the only ones working in the Towers that day, members of Rauf’s own congregation were there too. NYC is multi-cultural, always has been. Since 9/11, Christian and Jewish churches have popped up around the footprint of the WTC. No one had a problem with that.

No, the problem isn’t that they are building a Mosque, it is that they are Muslim. It is blind hatred that is fueling the fire. Daisy Khan, Rauf’s wife and a board member for the Mosque project hit the nail on the head when she said:

“[The anger over the project] is like a metastasized anti-Semitism. It’s not even Islamophobia. It’s beyond Islamophobia. It’s hate of Muslims.”

I find this very sad, that we can hate a group of people so much. I know it is hard to uphold the idea of America’s welcoming opened arms, but the irrational fear of all of Islam is over the top. We shouldn’t fear Muslims, we should fear extremism, no matter the religion.

Thankfully, there are people out there who can see reason. Unfortunately, a recent survey said that only 29 percent of Americans favor building the Mosque, while 70 percent oppose it. Although this is clearly politician bait (they never seem to disobey the majority), a few have stood up for what is right.

Obama said, “Muslims have the right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country.” I think that is all that needs to be said.

One of the men to officially sign off on building the Mosque, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, said, “for anyone to imply that a mosque is not appropriate in New York … that is just an un-American attitude.”

Well said.

To see just how bad things have gotten, go see the video here that shows the crowd at the protests attacking a guy who looked to be Muslim (but wasn’t, it turned out).