January 2006 Archives
Many on the right have argued the need to pass a constitutional amendment making marriage only between one man and one woman. Underlying the motivation is the oft heard argument that the family needs to be protected from secularism and a leniency towards social issues that conflict with religious or Biblical doctrine. Absent from the argument is the obvious disconnection between the amendment and actually protecting the family. Here’s the issue. The proponents argue that allowing same sex marriage will harm families as it defies both religious and historical convention in the practical definition of a family. Many argue that a child cannot be properly raised in a same sex family and therefore providing legal recognition to such arrangements is tantamount to promoting the demise of the family.
I’ve listened long and hard to these arguments with a strong sense of doubt for both the legitimacy of the argument as well as the motivations behind the argument. When I find myself in such dilemmas, I would suggest that exploring and pursuing the theory to its extreme conclusion will often illuminate the truth of the matter. So in my truth seeking exercise, I begin with looking at one man and one woman literally…meaning that if one accepts the Bible and religious doctrine as the origin of the argument, then it requires only one man and one woman…period. Not one man at a time or one woman at a time…or trading in one man for another or one woman for another…but each man must join only one woman and visa versa. I find it interesting that nothing is ever inserted into these proposed constitutional amendments that would fully uphold this underlying Biblical and religious principle. If in fact preserving and protecting the family is the purpose, then failing to fully address the issue leaves the motivations of the proponents open to skepticism. Further, the data is far more conclusive as to the damages that result from divorce and single family parenting than any of the data relative to damages inflicted upon children raised in committed same sex relationships. Where’s the outrage?
Now in fairness, there are some on the right, who support a one man and one woman amendment, that also argue that extramarital relationships are bad, that divorce is wrong, and that broken homes are injurious to children and the family. However they do not seek to add provisions to their amendments to address these issues…issues that are equally, if not more clearly outlined in religious doctrine than those that are reported to denounce same sex relationships. One must then examine why. There are numerous possibilities, albeit none as noble as the rhetoric and banter used to oppose same sex marriage. One explanation is the lesser sinner proposition…the argument that a failed marriage, adultery, or divorce between a man and a woman is a lesser sin than any same sex union. Honest Biblical scholars would acknowledge the weakness of this argument. Another possibility is that it's better to set the bar for others in order to avoid examining your own failings. In reality, the identified explanations only serve to heighten the likelihood that dubious motivations lurk beneath this inconsistent approach to protecting the family and upholding Biblical principles.
The cynic would likely go further and demand that the hypocrisy be challenged. The cynic might insist that those of principle must indeed modify their behaviors and begin to demonstrate the sincerity of their beliefs by immediately acting to effect the intended result…saving the family and the institution they put forth as sacred and certain. The cynic might then choose to take the offensive and demand that the well documented history of doctrinal disregard exhibited by numerous heterosexuals is deserving of proactive and preemptive legislation or a constitutional amendment. In fact the cynic might go so far as to ask the proverbially pregnant question…is this push to save marriage and the family from same sex unions simply bigotry at work? Call me a cynic.
Daniel DiRito | January 26, 2006 | 1:54 PM |
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"Oy Vey Day" is a recurring posting here at Thought Theater. It's strictly lighthearted and meant to bring a smile or a chuckle. Strange as it may seem, even though I grew up in an Italian American Catholic home, I've always felt some kinship with Jewish culture and familial dynamics. Perhaps it's the notion of guilt that both seem to embrace or perhaps it's the numerous unique expressions and insightful conversational banter that is found in both Italian and Jewish cultures. Regardless, I've always had a curiosity for Jewish or Yiddish terminology.
I have a few books that list many of these expressions and offer insight into their origin and meaning. One book that I find particularly enjoyable is Every Goy's Guide To Common Jewish Expressions by Arthur Naiman. A goy is a non-Jew and he explains their difference this way:
"The distinction between Jewish and goyish can be quite subtle: Fidel Castro? Jewish, of course. Henry Kissinger - goyish. Marlon Brando - Jewish. Ringo is Jewish. Paul is goyish. George was goyish. John, of course, was Jewish."
Today's entry is from his book:
Standard answer to any question of the form: "How's your (business, health, whatever)?"
"Ben and Hyman meet in the street. They exchange a few pleasantries and then Ben says, "Every time we talk it's this superficial chitchat. You never ask me anything about myself, how I'm feeling, how my business is doing, what's happening with my family. Don't you care even enough to ask?
Hyman is flabbergasted. What an outpouring of emotion! Consumed with guilt, he says, "Of course I care about you, Ben. How can you think I don't? Please, tell me, how's your business? How's your lovely wife Shirley, your son Arnold, your daughter Elyse? How's your health? How've you been feeling?
Ben pauses for a moment, looks at Hyman...and says, "Don't ask!"
Daniel DiRito | January 26, 2006 | 10:07 AM |
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Death is inevitable but the desire to understand the process will live forever. The near-death experience and autoerotic-asphyxiation offer two possible previews into this longstanding mystery despite their respective positions on the moral continuum. This clash of faith and science seems an interesting and thought provoking example of the divide that exists between secular and religious ideology. The gap is a constant source of debate and a burgeoning point of conflict.
Much is written and reported regarding the concept of a near-death experience. Most of these accounts include some connection to widely held religious beliefs. Many who have had the experience speak about seeing heaven or encountering God. Some report reuniting with family and friends who have previously died or describe the much heralded white light or long tunnel of light. There is often conversation with these previously deceased individuals similar to what one might experience in a dream, although frequently recounted as far more vivid.
I’ve read articles and information that attempt to describe this process scientifically. Generally, the explanation involves an assertion that as the brain begins the dying process, which is exacerbated by the reduction of oxygen, the mind enters a heightened dream state. Evidence indicates that endorphins are increased and that despite the spiral towards death, the mind experience is quite pleasant. Images are vivid and past events are often activated, unlocked or revisited as if they are happening in real time.
Many who have experienced these near-death events reject the scientific explanations and hold steadfast to a religious or after life interpretation with profound implications…God sent me back…there was something I needed to do before I died…a family member sent me back to care for others. Such attributions often comport with long held beliefs which makes them extremely difficult to define outside of this construct.
Recently, while listening to the news, I heard a report on autoerotic-asphyxiation. I had been aware of people having died while performing this obviously dangerous act. Briefly, autoerotic-asphyxiatiion involves restricting the flow of blood to the brain by placing a constricting device around the neck while, at the same time, masturbating. The process is frequently done standing and often includes a rescue mechanism should the individual lose consciousness. In cases where accidental death occurs, the rescue mechanism has often failed to work as designed.
As I listened to the report, I took note of how the experience was described by those who had actually engaged in the activity. What caught my attention was the similarity to a near-death experience, albeit with the added sexual element. Both include vivid and heightened imagery, a sense of euphoria, as well as the white light effect. Both of these events are reported to result from the same scientific mechanism which includes the deprivation of oxygen to the brain, the release of endorphins, and the slowly manifesting death process of the brain. At the same time, the underlying circumstances and attributions have little commonality.
From my own twisted perspective, I find it ironic that religious doctrine and sexual gratification intersects in this bizarre pitting of moral and religious beliefs vis-à-vis primal hedonistic pleasure. It’s such a succinct dichotomy. It serves to illuminate the vast chasm that permeates much of the debate between the secular scientific camp and the theocratic intelligent design clan. One man’s autoerotic asphyxiation is another man’s preview of heaven. Could it be that this debate rests on the long established colloquialism…"I’m not sure if I’m coming or going?" Regardless, the death process is a fascinating topic likely to remain one of life’s largest unsolved mysteries.
Daniel DiRito | January 25, 2006 | 8:06 PM |
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