Showing posts with label marriage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marriage. Show all posts

Friday, November 14, 2014

A commercial like no other

Would you believe this moving Chinese film urging people to give love another chance and not divorce is . . . a commercial for hair-care products?

China 1, the West 0.

And I hope Procter & Gamble sells a lot of shampoo, because this commercial is powerful way beyond its ability to move product. In America anymore, you'd be more likely to see ads pushing Trojans to newly footloose and fancy free divorcés.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Posted through my tears

1grace  noun \ˈgrās\

a unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification
b :  a virtue coming from God
c :  a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace

I know -- having been the recipient of it a time or a thousand -- grace when I see it.

Oftentimes, grace is the strength God sends you when you are at the end of your own. Sometimes, grace is beauty that descends upon you -- beauty that is not of this world. The video above is the first that begets the second.

Imagine that your pregnant wife dies in her sleep. Imagine that this occurs months before her due date. Imagine that your little son is born of your dead wife via an emergency C-section. Where would you find the strength to do what we see here and do it so beautifully?

One place.
THERE have been times when I have summoned the strength, strength that was not my own, to endure what I might find unendurable and react to it in a manner not of my own nature. Still, I cannot imagine serenading my dying infant son after losing my pregnant wife -- or at least I can't imagine doing so without collapsing into sobs.

The singing father is Chris Picco of Loma Linda, Calif. His wife was Ashley Picco. Their son is Lennon James Picco. Lennon James died in his father's arms the day after this video was shot.

People often wonder where God is when things go horribly and unjustly wrong. The answer is that God is standing beside you, holding you up if you'll let Him. It's a beautiful thing, as you can see above.

If you'd like to help God out in holding up Chris Picco as he endures the unendurable, you can do so here.

Here, too.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Culture vs. anticulture

It reflects what it means to be human, what it means to love.
It calls us to be fully ourselves -- or at least our best selves.
It touches the heart as it engages the mind.
For a moment, it's as if we can see the face of God . . .
and we are shattered, for who can withstand the divine?

This is who we are. Or should be.

This is anticulture.

It reflects the deviant and devolved of our society.
It is ugly. It is banal. It celebrates urges detached
from both love and reason. It is less than human . . .
and barely more than animal -- if that.

What this tells us about humanity, we don't want to hear.
Looking at Miley Cyrus throughout this silly dispatch
from Dante's Inferno, the word "estrus" comes to mind.
This child who (I presume) was born human . . . 
well, she's presenting like an orangutan.

This is who we are. But shouldn't be.
This will not end well, though end it will.

Kyrie eleison. (But not on Robin Thicke.)

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Because we're so #*@!& brilliant

This is the part of the blog where I commit cultural suicide in the Age of Political Correctness by acting like a Catholic who actually believes all that sh*t.

This self-immolation moment was prompted by Rod Dreher's blog post correctly calling out "progressives" who have the gall to disingenuously hector social conservatives that if they'd only been nicer in opposing same-sex marriage. . . .

Yeah, right. Now we're getting lectures on civility from folks whose default position involves employing the word "hater" or "bigot" when referring to people like me who think marriage may be many things, but that none of them involve, nor ever in human history has involved, a union of two men or two women.

Human dignity is one thing. But recognizing the inherent dignity and rights of persons never has precluded society denying them any number of heart's (or groin's) desires for the sake of the greater good. Throughout history, sometimes "the greater good of society" has meant something as simple as not cracking open Pandora's box.

The long span of human history has taught us a few things about what works in building a stable, healthy society . . . and what doesn't. Sometimes this wisdom comes to us through the mists of time as part of the teachings and taboos of our great religions. Think of the Ten Commandments, for instance, as God's way of telling His children "Don't put your hand on the hot burner of the stove."

Eternal 2-year-olds that we are, this is rarely compelling. Likewise, as we see today, rarely do we find ancient religious teachings and societal taboos against any manner of things -- like homosexual activity and, now, gay marriage -- compelling.

FOR A COUPLE of centuries or more, we've treated the earth itself as another thing with which we might do as we will. As if all creation belonged just to us, to use as we will and to abuse as we might, laying aside the consequences for another day.

Another day has arrived. The consequences now asserting themselves include a radically warming climate, which we now know is a direct result of centuries of wantonly belching carbon emissions into the air in pursuit of industrial might, ever more creature comforts and three automobiles in every garage.

In 1870 or 1912 or 1957, we merely thought we were building a better life through industry. Prosperity through petrochemicals. Greater happiness from greater consumption.

In 2057, our children and grandchildren will be paying for our ignorance -- and arrogance -- with brutally hot summers, vicious storms (and more of them), wilder winters and coastal cities slipping under the whitecaps of the swelling seas. Who knew?

Well, 60 years ago, we certainly had no idea. We possessed more hubris than knowledge and more optimism than ecological imagination. This was reflected in our actions, and actions have consequences . . . which someone will have to pay.

REGARDING society's wholesale acquiescence to the "gay agenda" and the acceptance and normalization of same-sex marriage, we're now hell-bent on turning taboo and societal norms upside-down within a generation. What we today proclaim as normative and just, 25 years ago was deviant and unthinkable.

With that kind of overturning of the wisdom of the ages -- with that kind of societal rush to judgment -- what could go wrong?

What could have gone wrong with the explosive growth of no-fault divorce? The normalization of procreation outside of marriage? The resulting explosive growth of single-parent households?

What could have gone wrong with the attempt to fix some of the above with more and more legal abortion? With creating a contraceptive mentality instead of a let's-build-a-family mentality? Yes, we have our "freedom," but someone has to pay the bill for it. Oftentimes, that would be our children.

Every time, it's the taxpayer. If there's a recipe for widespread poverty and social instability, "First, you have a kid but not a husband . . ." is the sociological equivalent of "First, you make a roux. . . ."

But in 1960, or '65 or '72, who the hell knew? Well, yeah, those religious nuts, but they're hardly an objective source.

"Haters" never are . . . until we're counting on them to help us clean up one of those "Who knew?" messes we've made for ourselves and now can't escape. Not only are we arrogant and ignorant, we're also presumptuous.

Good thing those Jesus-freak Gumps are too hatefully stupid to catch on to that, right?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bonne anniversaire à moi

Happy birthday to me.

A wonderful three-martini and duck à l'orange dinner on the town with my honey and dear friends.

Kicking back and listening to the 1957 Julie London album I bought from the used-record bins earlier in the day.

No, it wasn't exactly akin to Don Draper's surprise party on Mad Men tonight, with the big crowd of people, hepcats smoking weed on the balcony and the ooh la la burlesque en français. If it were, I'd probably end up, at age 51, having a heart attack just like Roger Sterling did a couple of seasons back.

And -- as the paramedics loaded me into the rescue squad -- I'd be thinking "Well, that was stupid. And I don't even like slutty French burlesque."

No, I'm a quiet roast duck and martinis kind of guy, content to spend the evening with friends and with my new wife . . . of almost 29 years. (No, seriously, I don't think the woman ages. Let's see Draper's trophy wife in 1994, eh?.) That suits me -- just like the '50s jazz on the old record player.

And I don't have to worry whether the rescue squad will let me take my martini to the hospital in a go cup.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mrs. Hansen to Chris: 'Why don't you take a seat?'

Chris Hansen, the Dateline NBC exploiter of criminal perversity for titillation and corporate profits, recently has gotten a National Enquirer-administered taste of his own medicine.

It would seem that a guy who, to all appearances, enjoys all too much mining the sordid depths of fallen humanity for the "entertainment" value of it all under the guise of "journalism" has a lot more in common with Lester the Molester than with this picture of a love untouched even by death.

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THIS IS "the Chris Hansen Treatment."

And this, as reported by the
Daily Mail in London, is Chris Hansen undergoing an ironic bit of gotcha:
Hansen, 51, has allegedly been having an affair with Kristyn Caddell, a 30-year-old Florida journalist, for the last four months.

Last weekend he was recorded taking Miss Caddell on a romantic dinner at the exclusive Ritz-Carlton hotel in Manalapan, before spending the night at her Palm Beach apartment.

Hansen, who has two young sons, was caught in an undercover sting operation arranged by the National Enquirer.

Secret cameras filmed the couple as they arrived at the hotel for dinner and then drove back to her apartment - where the pair left, carrying luggage, at 8am the following day.

Hansen lives in Connecticut with his wife Mary, 53, but he has been spending more and more time in South Florida investigating the disappearance of James 'Jimmy T' Trindade - and allegedly sleeping with Miss Caddell.

A source told the newspaper the pair met in March, when they were both out with friends at the Blue Martini Lounge in Palm Beach.

Miss Caddell, who was once an intern with NBC in New York, introduced herself to Hansen in the VIP area, and 'there was an immediate physical attraction between them', according to the source.

The source alleged: 'Chris and Kristyn got on so well that she ended up going back to his room at The Colony Hotel in Palm Beach - and later boasted to pals about staying the night with him.'

The couple have allegedly continued to meet up in Miami and Palm Beach over the last few months, with Miss Caddell and her friends even flying to New York to spend a weekend boating with Hansen, the Enquirer reports.

According to the source: 'Chris sends Kristyn flowers and tells her he loves her, but he still doesn't seem all that motivated to leave his wife for her.
HE ONLY sent flowers? Gee, that other guy on Dateline brought strawberries, whipped cream and a stuffed animal.

Some groomer Mr. Hansen is.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The president's new clothes

So . . . the Obama Administration literally is taking the law into its own hands and decreeing heterosexual marriage, in effect, discriminatory.

Meanwhile, 6,000 years of civilization just texted to ask "WTF?" as America's cultural war just "kicked it up a notch."

Probably a big notch.

The details come in this report from

The decision announced Wednesday represents a big victory for gay rights activists.

Obama's Justice Department has been arguing to preserve the Defense of Marriage Act for two years in courts all over the nation. Government lawyers said they were acting out of a sense of legal precedent, not moral obligation.

Everything changed Wednesday when Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress that Obama had determined that the administration can no longer defend the federal law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman.

"After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the president has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny," Holder said in a statement released Wednesday.

At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said Obama himself is still "grappling" with his personal view of gay marriage but has always personally opposed the Defense of Marriage Act as "unnecessary and unfair."

From now on, the Justice Department will no longer fight to support the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act in court. But the government will continue to enforce the law across the executive branch unless Congress repeals it or a federal judge throws it out.

I REALIZE I'm not a constitutional lawyer, and I don't play one on the Internet, but what the hell does the definition of marriage have to do with not throwing gays out of the military?

The definition of marriage predates not only the constitution of the United States but also western civilization itself, leading me to wonder whether this has more to do with the king's new clothes than civil rights and constitutional order.

As much as the nekkid-as-a-jaybird monarch wanted to believe he had a fine new outfit, it just wasn't so. There is a difference between delusion and reality -- one which "progressives" think they can wish away just as facilely as they do the normative definition of matrimony.

Legally, if the administration unilaterally decides that a law that has been on the books for 15 years -- one which it has been defending for all that time -- suddenly is constitutionally indefensible merely because times have changed and the law is slave to societal whimsy, shouldn't it, logically, be asking what other laws are invalid because they make distinctions based on gender or "conventional" notions about the right role of sexuality?

Shouldn't Holder's Justice Department be filing civil-rights lawsuits against every local jurisdiction that allows men to go topless but forbids women to? Shouldn't we be eliminating the legal tyranny of laws based on what may well be outdated concepts of "underage" sex?

And don't we owe fundamentalist Mormons and traditional Muslims a big apology and a legal free pass to marry however many women as they will?

THE ONLY WAY out of this, I fear, is just getting the state the hell out of the marriage business altogether. Give any two consenting adults a civil union if they want one, and leave marriage as a religious matter.

Barring any reassertion of authority by society's dwindling cadre of "grown-ups," America will not end well, though end it will.

Frankly, I don't know why Glenn Beck is all head up about the pending global takeover by the coming Islamic caliphate. If and when it arrives on our shores, I predict we'll be about ready to embrace a little order -- any kind of order -- to make the mayhem stop.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Not suffering #$@*&%! fools gladly

Last Saturday, after Nebraska's football coach left a blue cloud wafting over the scorched moonscape of the Husker sideline in the wake of a ref-assisted loss at Texas A&M, I mistakenly mentioned to my lovely and charming wife that "I get Bo Pelini."

"Really?" she asked. "You get Bo Pelini? Really?"

I am not a bright man, but neither am I Forrest Gump. I was starting to think there might be sarcasm in play here.

"You understand Bo Pelini? Really?"

Yeah, it was sarcasm, all right. You don't have to throw a yellow flag with "SARCASTIC" written on it at me and hit me right in the eye with the weighted end and scratch my cornea or anything. I'm not Nancy Pelosi, for pity's sake.

"Honeybun, you
are Bo Pelini."

The woman always goes for the kill. Every time.

And after 27 years of marriage, the woman also still doesn't understand those of us with a majority of Mediterranean blood hotly coursing through our bulging veins. I blame the Swedish blood treading cautiously, yet efficiently, through hers.

ON THE OTHER HAND, after watching this press conference this evening after Nebraska's 45-17 final beatdown of Colorado, she may have a point. If you're in a hurry, skip to the 4:55 mark.

Here's a transcript of the relevant exchange:
Reporter (who really should have known better):Do you tell the guys to just, to celebrate this? I mean, do want them to enjoy tonight, or is it something you don't even want to. . . .

Pelini: No, I want 'em to be pissed off and feel like they got their butts kicked.

I mean, come on. Yeah . . . yeah I hope they would enjoy it. They earned it. They did a lot. They've won 10 football games -- that's not easy to do, it's nothing to sneeze at, you know? I'm proud of these kids. They better enjoy it.
I WOULD HAVE said exactly the same thing. Exactly the same way.

I even may have added a gratuitous
"Are you some kind of @#$&*#! nut???" as an exclamation point. Maybe not. I don't know.

All I do know is that Coach Bo might be the brother I never had.
Now, #@!* you, you #@$%!&% #$*&!. No, really.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Your Daily '80s: With this ring

About this time in 1980, Broadcasting readers were getting sold on how a program about weddings and marriage could help radio stations rake in the advertising dollars.

Thirty years later, I would imagine With This Ring is just as obsolete as 39 percent of Americans think marriage is.

A society without marriage, or at least one where the institution is about as significant as the next Harry Potter movie? (Check that, less significant than the next Harry Potter movie.)

What could go wrong?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Hey! We have our standards!

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Let me see if I have this straight. Or gay. I forget.

The country is in an uproar over gay marriage, because that's all weird and stuff, because the gays found out that everybody else was married to somebody else on
Facebook and all they had was a crappy little ceremony in the San Francisco courthouse, when everybody else gets a destination wedding in Italy -- and then one at Disney World, complete with fireworks but no divorce, which is so easy today that half of all married couples get one (So what's the deal with forgetting that common little detail?) -- and that's, like, bigamy, only the lawyers say they're just being drama queens, because nobody sexted them pictures of their junk like Brett Favre, who supposedly texted pictures of himself playing with his while wearing Crocs -- Crocs? -- because Jenn Sterger is hot and kinda looks like his wife, only 16 years younger and not a grandma.

We know Sterger because she's got a show on
Versus because she used to go to Florida State football games damn near nekkid, which got her enhanced physique into Maxim and Playboy -- before she took her implants out, because she wanted to, like, totally go countercultural here -- which led to a Sports Illustrated column and a gig as a New York Jets sideline reporter, which is what apparently intrigued Mr. Retirement's penis, and now Whoopi Goldberg is all pissed off and cussing a blue streak at gate crashers, if not penis posers, which makes Michaele Salahi cry, because somebody's gonna be irate when pictures of your wanger end up on Facebook for your other wife to find, and why should gays have to miss out on that kind of wedded bliss?

AND WHY DID Michelle Obama ditch the prez on his birthday anyway to spend hundreds of grand on a Spanish vacay with the kid?

I ask this because we are a sensible, sober and moral people who think marriage is sacred and not to be trifled with by just any Tom, Dick or Harry.
Or any consenting combination of the above.

IT IS the very sanctity of marriage and the spiritual and cultural gravity of sexuality (and how we use it) that is what's behind the monster effin' rush you get by boinking pert little interns less than half your age. Or sleeping your way up the corporate food chain.

Or so they say over at

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Till hubby decides you're good as dead

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"What is going to happen to me, Father?" I ask before he gets away altogether.

"Oh," he says absently, appearing to be thinking of something else, "you're going to end up killing Jews."

"Okay," I say. Somehow 1 knew he was going to say this.

Somehow also he knows that we've finished with each other. He reaches for the trapdoor, turns the rung. "Give my love to Ellen and the kids."


At the very moment of his touching the rung, there is a tapping on the door from below. The door lifts against his hand.

"That's Milton," says Father Smith in his workaday ham-operator voice and lifts the door.

A head of close-cropped iron-gray hair pops up through the opening and a man springs into the room.

To my astonishment the priest pays no attention to the new arrival, even though the three of us are now as close as three men in a small elevator. He takes my arm again.

"Yes, Father?"

"Even if you were a combination of Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronltite, and Charles Kuralt rolled into one—no, especially if you were those guys --"

"As a matter of fact, I happen to know Charlie Kuralt, and there is not a sweeter guy, a more tenderhearted person --"

"Right," says the priest ironically, still paying not the slightest attention to the stranger, and then, with his sly expression, asks, "Do you know where tenderness always leads?"

"No, where?" I ask, watching the stranger with curiosity.

"To the gas chamber."

"I see."

"Tenderness is the first disguise of the murderer."


-- Walker Percy,
The Thanatos Syndrome

Did you watch the CBS Sunday Morning video from Barry Petersen? Good.

At least we have a starting point -- a frame of reference. The ending point is that this story is as monstrous as it is tender.

It is all the more monstrous because I can understand his anguish . . . the thinking . . . the rationalization . . . all wrapped in heartfelt tenderness. This tenderness leads -- if not, alas, to the gas chamber for poor Jan Chorlton -- at least to whitewashing her objectification. Her dehumanization.

This is because -- you will note that she is referred to in the past tense -- everyone seems to see her humanity, all that makes her Jan, as being wrapped up in her mental function. In her memory, which Alzheimer's has stolen from her.

And it all makes sense, doesn't it? We observe that she is slipping away. We don't know her anymore, just as she doesn't know . . . anyone. Scientists can explain this.

Scientists also can explain the angry outbursts Petersen described. There's a name for them -- Sundowners Syndrome, being that the episodes generally happen toward the end of the day.

I KNOW a little about this. Alzheimer's killed my mother in law. We watched, my wife and I, as her mom began to act -- for lack of a better term than the indelicate -- stupidly. We watched as she tried to cover for her mental lapses and bizarre behavior.

My wife struggled to make heads or tails of the retired bookkeeper's now-chaotic finances, as Mom fought her every step of the way.

We did the whole take-away-the-car-keys thing.

We watched as her personality changed, as she began to slip into a second adolescence, as she began to mindlessly shoplift from the corner convenience store. As her id began to overtake her superego. Then it was time for assisted living.

It was time for spending down the last of her meager assets on her assisted-living bills. For my wife, her eldest surviving daughter -- the only child still in Omaha -- to get conservatorship, to deal with nursing-home and Medicaid caseworkers.

For trying to find humor in the increasingly bizarre behavior, because if you didn't laugh, you wouldn't stop crying.

For feeling guilty because you felt angry, because you didn't know who the hell this person in front of you was. She sure as hell wasn't Mom.

AND FINALLY, it was time to be so overwhelmed as to feel nothing, because you were just another stranger Mom knew not. Another stranger she barely would acknowledge or look at with eyes that revealed. . . .


Absolutely nothing. Nobody was home, and the lights were fading fast.

It was an ongoing wake, only without the socializing in the funeral-home coffee shop.

Her life ended in a darkened room in the locked "memory wing" of Douglas County Hospital -- the only option left when the assisted-living folks, unable to deal with Mom's increasing aggression, piled her into a taxicab on a snowy day and sent her there.

Without that bit of heaven-sent socialism, God only knows what would have happened to her. The staffers at that charity hospital are saints. They do -- and do cheerfully -- what you and I can't . . . or won't.

WE WATCHED Mom die -- my wife, my brother- and sister-in-law and me -- during the wee hours of a wintery mid-March morning in 2006. She turned gray, with her skin mottled, from the feet up. Her breaths grew shallower and farther between. And then they stopped.

Mom didn't have Alzheimer's anymore. And we could start to remember what she was like . . . before.

And we also could begin to be gripped with fear every time we have a "senior moment." Is this it? Am I next? Is my wife -- Mom's daughter? Oh dear God, how could I bear it?

One way or another, Jan Chorlton and Barry Petersen are living our worst nightmare.

Well, not exactly.

No, my worst nightmare is that I would succumb to what tormented Petersen, then put what I longed for before what my dear wife deserved. What she deserves is for me to fulfill the vows I made to her and to God almost 27 years ago.

What she deserves is for me never to abandon her -- nor for me to offend her dignity by screwing another woman with impunity, with her powerless to object, then making like we're some sort of bittersweet, loving ménage à trois (albeit one where only two of us would be having any fun). Damn it, love is not just an emotion -- it is an occasion of grace and (sometimes) an agonizing, brute act of one's fallen will.

But this story . . . it's all so tender, no? No doubt.

Tenderness that justifies betrayal. Tenderness that makes adultery seem so . . . reasonable . . . civilized . . . compassionate . . . open-minded.

Petersen's is a tenderness that I can get my head -- and my heart -- around. You want to cut the lonely, hurting guy a break. And that scares the hell out of me.

Because it all offends the human dignity of the helpless person we've all just dehumanized here -- Jan Chorlton . . . Petersen. Who is still Barry Petersen's wife. And who we
-- tenderly, of course -- regard as figuratively dead, if not technically so.

I mean, it's obvious, isn't it?

AND THAT right there is the g*ddamned lie. And the God-damned one, too.

Because if you can buy that bit of utter dehumanization and objectification in the name of compassion and tenderness, it ain't that far a trip to the gas chamber.

HAT TIP: Rod Dreher.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Understanding the important things

You want to know why The Best Years of Our Lives is my favorite movie ever?

It's because it gets so many things right. It's because there is truth in it -- lots of truth in it. I think that's because it's a story about struggling veterans of a horrible war -- men with newfound and profound impatience for all the pleasant lies and platitudes in which a society immerses itself.

In this respect, it's probably notable that the original story was written by a former war correspondent, and that director William Wyler had seen his share of aerial combat as a filmmaker in the Army Air Forces.

IN THIS FILM, which I watched yet again last night, there is no room for the self-absorbed or the self-righteous. I'll bet most people today would hate the hell out of it.

For example, the view of love and marriage you get from The Best Years of Our Lives isn't one for the squeamish. The clips above and below convict us and all the assumptions we've lived by in the decades since the film's release in November 1946.

IN THE FILM'S no-bull worldview, love is a verb. In the sentence "I love you," "love" is the action born of a decision made by "I." The object of the verb is "you."

And being that "love" is an active verb, it's implied that loving requires significant effort.

In today's world -- created by children who couldn't quite grasp what their postwar parents took for granted -- love has been recast solely as a noun. "Love" is this free-floating, self-actualized thing requiring nothing but to receive it.

Suddenly, the sentence "I love you" is like a sprinkler system without a backflow valve. Things flow the wrong way. We don't love so much as we're "in love" -- that is, until we're out of love again.

It's all about us. And that's not love -- or marriage -- at all. For the theologically inclined, the Catholic catechism puts it this way:
God who created man out of love also calls him to love — the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love. Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good, very good, in the Creator's eyes. And this love which God blesses is intended to be fruitful and to be realized in the common work of watching over creation: "And God blessed them, and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.'"

Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another: "It is not good that the man should be alone." The woman, "flesh of his flesh," his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a "helpmate"; she thus represents God from whom comes our help. "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh." The Lord himself shows that this signifies an unbreakable union of their two lives by recalling what the plan of the Creator had been "in the beginning": "So they are no longer two, but one flesh."
AND THERE'S this as well:
This unequivocal insistence on the indissolubility of the marriage bond may have left some perplexed and could seem to be a demand impossible to realize. However, Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy—heavier than the Law of Moses. By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to "receive" the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ. This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ's cross, the source of all Christian life.

This is what the Apostle Paul makes clear when he says: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her," adding at once: "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one. This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church."
A CULTURE that could create a film like The Best Years of Our Lives still knew some things. Took for granted some concepts we find totally alien today.

I fear that we may understand the words recorded onto a soundtrack almost 64 years ago yet find that their meaning eludes us completely.

And if, somehow, our powers of comprehension continue to fail us so profoundly, the following scene will become a powerful metaphor for a whole new generation . . . and the country it has created in its own image.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Louisiana's biggest deficit crisis

Deficits are killing Louisiana, which happens to be where I was born, raised and educated (but don't tell anybody).

You have your revenue deficit in these hard times, which has devastated the state budget and lots of things that hardly could stand more devastation -- like education, public-health and social services.

You have your infrastructure deficit, which leaves Louisiana with an above-average amount of crumbling roads, schools, sewers, jails and public facilities.

You have your peace-and-quiet deficit, which manifests itself in astronomical rates of violent crime and murder.

You have your knowledge deficit, which leaves the Gret Stet with a spectacularly underskilled workforce, an abysmal high-school graduation rate and a corresponding lack of residents with college educations.

And, of course, you have your wealth deficit in a state that, ironically, is incredibly rich in natural resources and economic potential. (See DEFICIT, PEACE-AND-QUIET and DEFICIT, KNOWLEDGE above.)

BUT THE DEFICIT Louisiana perhaps is best known for -- and which, in its own way, directly impacts each of the above deficit categories -- is its integrity deficit. This manifests itself in a certain Pelican State disdain for bourgeois American standards for a functioning civic society . . . and reasonably honest, functional self-government.

Unfortunately, the state has had many opportunities to showcase its glaring integrity deficit over the years, but perhaps none ultimately will prove any more glaring than the sad, racist soap opera playing itself out in Tangipahoa Parish. That's where the morally and judicially pornographic Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell has been refusing to marry interracial couples for 34 years now . . . and getting away with it.

Of course, if all you had to go on was the superficial coverage in the national and local press, you'd hardly know this. You would know a lot about this or that outraged advocacy group, and you'd know that Bardwell is defending his indefensible bigotry to the last white sheet, and you'd know that Gov. Bobby Jindal and U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu (but not U.S. Sen. David Vitter) have issued pro-forma denunciations of this throwback to Jim Crow, as well as demands for resignation, removal, etc., and so on.

What you wouldn't know -- at least not without a lot of reading between the lines -- is that lots of people (and elected officials) knew about Bardwell's official racism for a long time yet did nothing.

They didn't even complain -- at least not in any way that got anybody's attention.

IT'S THE EVERYDAY, ongoing integrity deficits that set the stage for the really spectacular ones Louisiana occasionally stages to grab the world's attention. (See Edwards, Gov. Edwin and Duke, David. Oh . . . and let's not forget Jefferson, U.S. Rep. William of cold-cash fame.)

What's unusual about the Bardwell case is that this long-term, ordinary travesty of justice and pedestrian (remember, this is the old segregated South we're talking about) offense against common decency somehow morphed into an Edwin Edwards-sized scumbag spectacular. And that the reason for that was how very, very ordinary Bardwell's Jim Crow show was in that corner of Louisiana.

Thirty-four-years-and-running ordinary.

An unrepentant racist being returned to public office unopposed all those years ordinary.

Nobody lifting a finger in favor of Christian decency, fairness and the U.S. Constitution ordinary.

"Hey! Why so upset? What's the big deal, anyway?" ordinary.

THE REST of America, oddly enough, finds it quite extraordinary. Much of the Western world finds it extraordinary, too. We find it extraordinary that virtually no one in the entire state of Louisiana, during this man's decades-long reign of error, ever tried to "do the right thing."


We Americans historically have taken a lot of pride in our foundational notion that no man is above the law. And we find it extraordinary that a piss-ant jurist in a piss-ant Louisiana burg somehow got his knickers in a twist about race-mixing, decided that longstanding constitutional law (and the teaching of every major Christian denomination) was full of crap, then set about putting one man's errant opinion above the law.

Call me an N-word lover -- and, trust me, someone in Louisiana will -- but I find that highly offensive, both as a Christian and as an American.

AND THE PREVAILING MEME in Louisiana . . . that is, apart from pro-forma political hand-wringing and the "Booboisie for Bardwell" knuckle-draggers? It's this: You'll have a difficult time getting rid of a backwoods judicial bigot in the Gret Stet.

That integrity deficit is a real killer. You get too far in the integrity hole and you start finding it amazingly easy to dismiss "no man is above the law" as just another quaint Yankee notion.

You start to find all kinds of reasons that Bubba not only should be above the law, but should be able to make it up himself -- especially when it's only black folk and (Negro)-lovers who get screwed over in the process.

And that's the point at which you transcend mere Louisiana Hayride graft and skulduggery and begin to plumb the full depths to which a sociopolitical freak show such as the Gret Stet can sink.

If you have the stomach for it, it's going to be a hell of a show. Literally.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Louisiana's real problem

To the world, it seems as if Louisiana has a justice of the peace problem -- the Tangipahoa Parish official who refuses to marry interracial couples.

Indeed, that's the problem the state's elected officials want people to think they're trying to address. Gov. Bobby Jindal and U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu have condemned the practices of Justice of the Peace Keith Bardwell and want his resignation . . . or his removal by a judicial commission.

But the problem the press reports and the problem Louisiana pols addressed isn't the real problem in the sad case of some bumpkin JP suffering from a case of arrested moral and legal development. As I said on this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth, the problem is that Louisiana tolerates the likes of Keith Bardwell.

Citizens of Tangipahoa Parish's 8th Ward have tolerated Bardwell for 34 years -- he has run unopposed every election.

Interracial couples whom Bardwell has refused to marry -- he says he's declined to officiate four mixed-race ceremonies over the years -- have tolerated illegal discrimination against them, going quietly elsewhere to be married by another justice.

Other justices of the peace -- who well knew the score in Robert, La. -- never made a stink about blatant violations of state law and the U.S. Constitution.

AT LEAST one past Louisiana attorney general (according to Bardwell himself) knew, too. According to the Hammond (La.) Daily Star:

Bardwell said a justice of the peace is not required to conduct a marriage ceremony and is at liberty to recuse himself “from a marriage or anything else.”

He said the state attorney general told him years ago that he would eventually get into trouble for not performing interracial marriages.

“I told him if I do, I’ll resign,” Bardwell said. “I have rights too. I’m not obligated to do that just because I’m a justice of the peace.”

THE OFFICIAL charged with enforcing the state's laws (and I'd love to know which attorney general it was) told the racist JP he'd eventually get in trouble. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.

But the AG -- like every other Louisiana official who knew what Bardwell was up to (or, rather, not up to) -- couldn't be bothered to report the errant official's discriminatory ways to the state's judicial board . . . or to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Dat's Louisiana for you.

See, in Louisiana, you have priorities -- good food, strong coffee, juke joints, hunting and fishing, getting your bass boat in the water, beer, Mardi Gras, graft and LSU football. Then, way down on the list, you have justice and other silly crap.

And that's the problem -- Louisiana's bass-ackwards priorities and its tolerance of the kind of social and moral retardation that makes the Western world go "HUH???"

The Constitution of the United States -- as amended by Congress, ratified by the states and interpreted by the Supreme Court -- is pretty clear about some things. And since 1967 and Loving v. Virginia, the right of Americans to miscegenate in wedded bliss has been the law of the land.

Even in backwoods Louisiana.

WE KNOW a minor cog in the stripped gears of the Louisiana judiciary has a problem with that. And we also know, from reading the comments on various news stories, that other Louisianians do, too:

Brian B
You hand wringers are so pathetic. Boo hoo for the poor couple. Well, if their parent's had raised them right this wouldn't even be an issue because they wouldn't be together in the first place. If you bleeding hearts don't like the values of us "backwards racists" then feel free to pack your crap and leave. I55 is a direct route out of here as is I12. Amtrak comes by every day and they can haul you too.

Where is the Klan when you need 'em? Time to drive the membership upward again and reclaim our country!

The races should be separate but equal. Negro men should leave the white women alone and stick to their own race. No mulatto children should be happening. It's the browning of America. I stand by Mr. Bardwell's decision.

I am from Louisiana and can tell you that what Mr.Bardwell has said and done has not embarrassed me or my state. He is saying exactly what we are thinking. Even Obama, is NOT black but half white and then again,his black father and family disowned him.But then he was forced to marry a black woman,even though he was raised by whites.Very few people would condone their children marrying a part black person and bringing biracial children into this world. They Do NOT fit in or are welcome most times and that is a fact. If course it is different with movie stars and others with money and especially in CA where that is an everyday norm. Very few blacks marry each other and choose to have children out of wedlock. Why are they so focused on marrying white women?Even Mr. Bardwell makes that observation. On the other hand, according to the black women I have spoken to,they are furious when a "good" black man marries a white woman as there are so few young black men alive or not incarcerated.Having equal rights does not mean that we have to accept biracial marriages.

first of all, who contacted the news for publicity? this sounds like a stunt to yell "RACISM", this is where it is wrong. I personally think this couple just wants attention. No harm done, really,they did get married after all. If the JP did not want to marry them, he should have said so.......... thats right, he did. So what is the real problem. People are turned away by one person or the next everyday and noone says anything. This is not racism, it is sicknening. The man should not have to be asked to resign because he does not want to marry someone. If that is the case, we need to have most of the preachers, judges, attorneys and our own parents resign from their duties because they would not do what we wanted. give me a break!!!! Everytime I look at the TV there is someone yelling racism for some reason, rather it is because a store says "we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason", or because someone looked at someone wrong. Things are getting out of hand with the racism cards. I am not saying the man is totally right, but he is not totally wrong either, let it go, we have enough people trying to steel the lime light. you have had your fifteen minutes of fame.

Gaynell Holmes
LEAVE THE JUSTICE ALONE! Finally we have a decent Godly human being! Someone who stands behind his beliefs. Martin Luther King stood behind his that was ok.

Bobby Jindal I DID NOT vote for you and now NEVER will. I think WE THE PEOPLE should do an online petition in the Justice's behalf. And one asking for YOUR resignation Bobby Jindal!

Gaynell Holmes
Hey I am white and I think we should stay with white. not any other as you've listed.

These white girls are traitors to their white race!

I'm sorry I think this guy had every right to deny marriage to this couple. He didn't tell them they couldn't get married, he said he wouldn't marry them & referred them to another person who would marry them. How many churches refuse to marry people because they are different religions or have previously been married or because they don't believe they are compatable after completing pre-marriage counciling? Why should this be any different. I support inter racial marriages, but I think this man should have the right to refuse marriage to any one he chooses to do so, especially when the church does it on a daily basis.

keeping it real
This day in age, marriage is a joke anyway. If God was truly at the center of any marriage, this wouldn't be an issue. Bardwell has been an elected leader for over 30 years....just maybe, he's on to something....even if it's not the most popular thing according to mainsteam America? Why penalize a man for his convictions?...oh yeah, that has become the American way!

All I gotta say to the couple is....Prove Bardwell wrong. The odds are against you.

If the Justice of the Peace would have been African American, Al Sharpton, Jessie Jackson, and/or the couple was white and Italian, Italian and Indian racism would not be an issue. History is repeating itself, when someone gets their little feelings hurt they want to cry racism every time. Keith Bardwell has his conscience to deal with as well, even though he is an elected official. If and I say if, Mr. Bardwell broke the law then deal with that issue. Just because there is a law doesn’t mean the law is the right thing to do, after all when there is a jury convened they have the right to Jury Nullification if they think the law is a bad law and Mr. Bardwell has the same right. Seems to me if he were a racist he would not have performed ceremonies for black couples in the past nor would he have guided the couple to some one that would have performed the ceremony. That does not sound like a racist to me. Personally I think they do have the right to be married. Mosses married an Ethiopian I don’t have a problem with that.

Did it ever occur to anyone that this may all be a ruse. The New World Order controlled media likes to promote a stereotype of a "racist south" to keep us divided. Perhaps someone in the media paid off the Justice and the couple. I assume the Justice will not be charged even though he committed a crime. He will be asked to resign , which he will do. All three will be paid a hefty sum in secret and the media will have the race-baiting story they wanted.

HERE'S THE DEAL. Especially since Hurricane Katrina, Louisianians have been keen on collecting as much federal aid as Congress can be persuaded to appropriate. Something about them being Americans, too . . . yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah.

Of course, being "American" presupposes one is subject to American law, shares certain "American" values, adheres to basic tenets of American democracy -- you know, all the stuff we take for granted in Places Not Louisiana.

So maybe Louisiana needs to decide. Is it American or is it not?

I mean, you know how those mixed-nationality marriages are . . . they almost never work out. And who the hell wants to waste good money on a bad marriage?