Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Why Blogs That Start Bully Begin to Slouch

This quote from Mark Twain may explain why blogs that start off well often are not kept up. It's about how practically everyone on the Quaker City ship on its way to Europe started the trip by journaling every night, and what happened next.

"The Writing School"

By 7 o'clock in the evening, dinner was about over; an hour's promenade on the upper deck followed; then the gong sounded and a large majority of the party repaired to the after cabin (upper), a handsome saloon fifty or sixty feet long, for prayers. The unregenerated called this saloon the "Synagogue."

The devotions consisted only of two hymns from the "Plymouth Collection," and a short prayer, and seldom occupied more than fifteen minutes. The hymns were accompanied by parlor organ music when the sea was smooth enough to allow a performer to sit at the instrument without being lashed to his chair.

After prayers the Synagogue shortly took the semblance of a writing-school. The like of that picture was never seen in a
ship before. Behind the long dining-tables on either side of the saloon, and scattered from one end to the other of the
latter, some twenty or thirty gentlemen and ladies sat them down under the swaying lamps, and for two or three hours wrote diligently in their journals. Alas! that journals so voluminously begun should come to so lame and impotent a conclusion as most of them did! I doubt if there is a single pilgrim of all that host but can show a hundred fair pages of journal concerning the first twenty days' voyaging in theQuaker City; and I am morally certain that not ten of the party can show twenty pages of journal for the succeeding twenty thousand miles of voyaging! At certain periods it becomes the dearest ambition of a man to keep a faithful record of his performances in a book; and he dashes at this work with an enthusiasm that imposes on him the notion that keeping a journal is the veriest pastime in the world, and the pleasantest. But if he only lives twenty-one days, he will find out that only those rare natures that are made up of pluck, endurance, devotion to duty for duty's sake, and invincible determination, may hope to venture upon so tremendous an enterprise as the keeping of a journal and not sustain a shameful defeat.

One of our favorite youths, Jack, a splendid young fellow with a head full of good sense, and a pair of legs that were a wonder to look upon in the way of length, and straightness, and slimness, used to report progress every morning in the most glowing and spirited way, and say: "Oh, I'm coming along bully!" (he was a little given to slang, in his happier moods,) "I wrote ten pages in my journal last night--and you know I wrote nine the night before, and twelve the night before that. Why it's only fun!"

"What do you find to put in it, Jack!"

"Oh, every thing. Latitude and longitude, noon every day; and how many miles we made last twenty-four hours; and all the domino-games I beat, and horse-billiards; and whales and sharks and porpoises; and the text of the sermon, Sundays; (because that'll tell at home, you know,) and the ships we saluted and what nation they were; and which way the wind was, and whether there was a heavy sea, and what sail we carried, though we don't ever carry any, principally, going against a head wind always--wonder what is the reason of that-and how many lies Moult has told--Oh, every thing! I've got every thing down. My father told me to keep that journal. Father wouldn't take a thousand dollars for it when I get it done."

"No, Jack; it will be worth more than a thousand dollars--when you get it done."

"Do you?-no, but do you think it will, though"

"Yes, it will be worth at least as much as a thousand dollars--when you get it done. May be, more."

"Well, I about half think so, myself. It ain't no slouch of a journal."

But it shortly became a most lamentable "slouch of a journal."

One night in Paris, after a hard day's toil in sight-seeing, I said: "Now I'11 go and stroll around the cafes awhile, Jack, and give you a chance to write up your journal, old fellow."

His countenance lost its fire. He said:

"Well, no, you needn't mind. I think I won't run that journal any more. It is awful tedious. Do you know--I reckon I'm as much as four thousand pages behind hand. I haven't got any France in it at all. First I thought I'd leave France out and start fresh. But that wouldn't do, would iti The governor would say, 'Hello, here--didn't see any thing in France.'' That cat wouldn't fight, you know. First I thought I'd copy France out of the guide-book, like old Badger in the for'rard cabin who's writing a book, but there's more than three hundred pages of it. Oh, I don't think a journal's any use-do you? They're only a bother, ain't they?" "Yes, a journal that is incomplete isn't of much use, but a journal properly kept, is worth a thousand dollars,--when you've got it done." "A thousand!--well I should think so. I wouldn't finish it for a million."

His experience was only the experience of the majority of that industrious night-school in the cabin. If you wish to inflict a heartless and malignant punishment upon a young person, pledge him to keep a journal a year.

[pages 32-34, Innocents Abroad: Roughing It, Literary Classics of the United States 1984 Viking Press]

I copied this out of the book when I was getting ready to go to Italy in 1999. Twain's description of St. Peter's set me up good.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Marriage Debate in Northside San Jose

At Rollo's Doughnuts this morning, I mentioned to the after daily Mass group that there is a group on the Internet for the Northside neighborhood debating the topic of whether the City has the right to redefine what marriage is to allow gay marriage, as they are doing in Boston (I can't believe it, former Bostonian, as I am) and in San Francisco (that I can believe).
I have been the only conservative. One of the Roses, the one who had the scare when the statue of Our Lady seemed to answer her back one morning when Rose was on her way to Mass, reminded me I'm not the only one opposed. All the daily Mass-goers at those two tables would likely be against this, but the most of them are a generation older than I am, and they aren't on the Internet.

Most of my peers are like I once was: bleeding heart liberals.

The debate started with this email by Lisa to the Northside San Jose yahoo newsgroup:

Subject: [nnasj] Re: Support for the Newly Married!-Urgent!!!!
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 2004

Dear Friends,

I was so delighted to hear Ken Yeager on NPR this morning talking about the proposal he is jointly putting forward to afford married, gay, city employees the same benefits as straight couples. San Jose is a progressive, thoughtful city and it made perfect sense to me.

I was very distressed to read the message below from friend and neighbor Mary *** that Cindy [Chavez] is receiving mail opposing the proposal! Please, lend your voice of support, let Cindy and other council members whom you may know of your support. Mary *** thoughtfully included contact information for all the council members.


Lisa's email included the following quote from Mary ***:

Dear Friends,

As you have probably read in the Mercury News, the Mayor and Councilmember Ken Yeager have proposed that the City of San Jose recognize gay marriages (from SF and elsewhere) for city employees so they can receive the benefits married couples receive. Currently SC County registered domestic partnerships are recognized for some benefits but they are not equal to that of straight married folks. Tomorrow at the San Jose City Council meeting, 1:30, this question will be voted on by the City Council. Please contact your City Councilperson and other council members you may know and express your support for this small step toward equity.

Cindy Chavez's office said today said that phone calls are running 51 opposed and 4 in favor of honoring the unions!! I have seen an e-mail from the minister of a huge conservative church exhorting his members to contact their council members and bus loads of these folks are expected to show up in the Chambers. So you see we need to have our voices heard-and if you can show up at the meeting that would be outstanding! Councilmembers Dando, Williams and Reed are known to be in opposition. The Mayor, Yeager and Chavez are known to be supporting. All the rest need to be contacted, and Yeager and Chavez can probably use some support in their positions. Phoning and faxes are best due to the short time frame.

Mary Helen, the Valentine's Day bride of Lindi thanks you from the bottom of her married heart!

P.S. clicking on the e-mail address below doesn't create a message as I would anticipate - address needs to be typed in-phones calls are probably the best option at this late date. thanks again!!!!

*/ Contact information omitted /*

I immediately sent the following email to Mayor Ron Gonzalez and another a lot like it to Cindy Chavez:

Subject: Please do not call it marriage
Date: Tue, 09 Mar 2004 09:31

To: mayoremail@sanjoseca.gov

Dear Mayor Ron Gonzalez,

I am a resident of Northside, San Jose. My house is on 4** North 17th Street.

I am writing to ask you not to vote for the legalization of gay unions.

Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman, and it is not the right of the state or local government to try to redefine it.

Thank you for your consideration.

Roseanne Sullivan

--------------- end email to mayor --------------

I was afraid to alienate my neighbors in the newsgroup. I've only met a few of them, and one of them I met, a lawyer and an activist I especially like, I think she is gay. But I couldn't help myself, and (with the goal always being "to speak the truth in love") I fired off the following to the newsgroup:

Subject: Does every northside resident think the same?
Date: Tue, 09 Mar 2004

Are you assuming that everyone on this newsgroup agrees with you?

What if I sent an email asking you to all lobby Bush and the Senate and Congress to show your support
for an amendment to the Constitution to wit: Marriage is a union between one man and one woman?

See my point?

Isn't this a political subject that is not within the definition of this newsgroup?


---- end my email to nnasj newsgroup ----

Pretty soon the group received the following reply:

Hi Roseanne,

I don't assume that everyone thinks the same or agrees with me. I would assume that the list groups are a great way to have thoughtful, lively and open discussions that allow us to continue to enjoy conversations and respect each other.

I would assume that folks who disagree may use the opportunity to voice their own opinions.


------------ end email from Lisa -------------

I had been waiting with fear of what kind of a firestorm I might provoke, but Lisa's answer was so moderate, I was emboldened. Okay I thought, alternative opinions are welcomed, are they? Well, here goes.

Subject: Re: [nnasj] Re: does every northside resident think the same?
Date: Tue, 09 Mar 2004 09:52:38 -0800

Hi again, Lisa,

Okay, my opinion is that marriage is a union between one woman and one man. Anything else is not marriage, even if it is loving and committed and faithful.

Whatever you legalize you normalize. Is this what we all really want to do? Redefine what marriage is? I don't think we have the right and I don't think we should. The societal consequences will be huge. We didn't know what easy divorce was going to do to families when it was legalized. It seemed like the kindest thing to do, but the results have brought uncalculable harm to children. And I speak as a woman who divorced when my kids were 2 and 4 and raised them by myself.

It now seems to me, thoughtful person that I am (and I have been on both sides of this issue during my lifetime) that sex goes part and parcel with the creation of new life, like eating goes part and parcel with nourishing the body, and that pursuing the pleasure of either of these things while trying to separate them from their nature leads to harm. A thing separated from its nature is unnatural.

It's like the old Irish priest said, "It's not the homo- or the hetero- that the Church cares about. It's the sexual outside of marriage."

I'm going to duck now.



------------ end email #1 from me -------------

The moderator of the Northside Neighborhood newsgroup weighed in pleasantly enough:

Subject: Re: [nnasj] Re: does every northside resident think the same?
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 2004

Roseanne --

When NNA started this email group it was generally my view, at least, that it would not tackle political issues that did not directly impact our neighborhood. This view was tested on the issue of war in Iraq, as I recall. I protested that anti-war posts went beyond our purpose but the consensus among those on this group was the war and peace is a neighborhood issue. I deferred and offered that the next version of the neighborhood t-shirt would be tye-die.

The upshot is that we as an online community have defined neighborhood issues broadly, more so than I would
originally have anticipated. I hope that this does not dissuade you or others from continuing to participate on this
email group. And I'm glad you felt empowered to express your views with your neighbors, whom I know will all be
respectful of such views, whether they agree with them or not.

By the way, connecting this issue to our neighborhood, I know that at least one Northside lesbian couple took
advantage of the gay civil marriage ceremonies in San Francisco because I am godfather to their two children. (I also attended their church wedding at Unitarian Church on N. 3rd St. a couple years back.) From what I have witnessed, the couple's marriage, far from being harmful, has developed wonderful, happy, well-adjusted kids who, like their parents, participate in their neighborhood and support their community. The divorced father and his parents (the kids' paternal grandparents) support the couple, adding to the nurturing environment. One of the great unexpected benefits of my being a neighborhood activist is that I have gotten the chance to meet and become friends with this terrific, loving family.

Don G.

------------ end email from Don G. -------------

Never one to exit gracefully, I continued:

Subject: Re: [nnasj] Re: does every northside resident think the same?
Date: Tue, 09 Mar 2004 11:59:02 -0800


Thanks for your very good explanation about the widened scope of this newsgroup.

I appreciate your respectful tone to me.

Thanks for your poster-worthy portrait of the Happy Family of the Present and the Future.

It's good that everyone was able to be modern and accepting of this situation, including the pastor of the Unitarian Church.

The divorced father could have been full of pain and anger from the failure of his marriage and the departure of his wife and children. He could have been upset that a good chunk of his wages were (perhaps) going to support a home where he was no longer able to live.

The grandparents could have been devastated.

And his kids could have been upset that their mother violated her marriage vows to their father and left him for a woman. And the mother could maybe have been troubled by guilt.

Not every divorced family where a parent has gone on to form a bond with another lover of any sex is as happy.

I did the same kind of thing. My ex-husband's first ex-wife and her now second-ex-husband were at my wedding in Golden Gate park in the 60s. We were all too hip for jealousy and possesiveness. Now I'm not as sure that we were doing the right thing. As a matter of fact, I'm now convinced that we were treating sacred things profanely.

I'm holding on to see how this works out for our society.


------------ end email #2 from me -------------

I started getting very scared. I was thinking of things hurled through front porch windows, which once happened to me when a handyman didn't like that I was not happy with his work. I'm pretty sure he was the one who tossed a heavy plant through a front porch window of my house in Northeast Minneapolis.

And I really thought I'd be getting hate mail. A mixture of fear with a sincer desire not to hurt people led me to write the following:

Subject: [nnasj] apology in advance
Date: Tue, 09 Mar 2004

I have been thinking about what I wrote today and I know that I'm probably in the minute ["my knute" not "min nut"] minority on this newsgroup.

What is most important, my deeply held opinions may be hurtful to some, and I don't want to hurt anyone. (I know it may be hard to believe but I have come to my current set of values based on the harm I have seen done to people over the years since I was avid member of the generation that helped put the sexual revolution over the top.)

But in order to spare the feelings of anyone that might be hurt or outraged by my opinions I will stop expressing them here.

I would like you all to remember the same thing when posting, that you cannot assume everyone sees the world the same way you do, and that someone like me might be intimidated or offended by your expressing an opinion as if every reasonable person would agree with it.

With best regards for all my good neighbors,


------------ end email #3 from me -------------

Meanwhile, Nicole reacted to my post about marriage being a relationship between one man and one woman.

Subject: Re: [nnasj] Re: does every northside resident think the same?
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 2004 13:21:31 -0800 (PST)

I can't help myself I must add my 2 cents...

Marriage became a rights issue that should be afforded every citizen when it became a legal act that afforded
indivuals other rights within our society.

Marriage within a chuch under their rules and guidelines, without legalities and rights cosidered: should be able to
be defined anyway the church and it's body wants to define it, BUT since marriage has these other rights attached
to it (i.e.: respect, benefits through work, living partner getting legal control of estate upon death, etc) it must be
open to our entire society.


----------- end email from Nicole -------------

And then Carrie replied to my apology email.

Subject: RE: [nnasj] apology in advance
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 2004 13:31:07 -0800


No need to apologize.

Your views, IMHO, are entirely appropriate for our neighborhood news group,especially because it is the City that i s voting on this issue today and we live in the city. And in fact, despite the fact that I completely disagree with you, I completely support your expressing your views in this venue.

A dditionally, I would have no problem with you posting a note re lobbyingBush, etc in support for the constitutional amendment. These issues need to be debated. We have had this running discussion on this email group about what are neighborhood issues, and whether anything other than notices of non-controversial events should be the ONLY items posted.

I have always been of the mind that everything is a neighborhood issue because just about everything affects our neighbors in some way. However, this group has basically voted that perpective down, so those of us who are interested in say, a march supporting out getting out of Iraq, just don't post that stuff. By the way, this e-group is the arguably the most restricted in the downtown area.

And, just because someone posts an email asking that we support a certain proposal, I can't believe that they are assuming that everyone agrees with them. They are simply speaking for themselves to the community. If I post something about saving San Jose Medical Center, I never assume that every single person on this email list supports keeping the hospital. When there was information on our site about the drug and alcohol recovery center going in at Taylor St, there were lots of postings, and there were people in our neighborhood that disagreed with those potings and were in support of some version of that facility. People can either respond or delete it.

And lastly, re your notes about "divorced father", "the good chunk of his wages...not able to live", and "the kids being upset and the mother violating her marriage vows", you are assuming that the mother left the
father, and that she was out as a lesbian at the time, and that she didn't go to him before the divorce was final and beg him to find a way to work this out only for the children and he refused, so maybe HE was the one who violated his marriage vows by leaving HER just because he was going through a mid-life crisis.

Terrace Dr
----------- end email from Carrie -------------

Cate wrote to add to what Don said:

Subject: Re: [nnasj] Re: does every northside resident think the same?
Date: Tue, 09 Mar 2004 13:53:34 -0800

Just to piggyback on Don, I think that use of the emails lists for debates, discussions that go beyond the perameters of "neighborhood issues" is building community. To use this forum to find out about my neighbors
argue, disagree, is making me care about those who would otherwise remain strangers. Like I said, I have lively,
respectful debates with members of CCA. I don't know them face to face, but if they needed my personal help
with dinners for their new moms, a particular garden tool, for example, I would step up because we forged a
relationship on line. I am not so apt to do this for members of my own neighborhood or my SNI group because I
don't for the most part know all of you. There are subtle advantages to having a lively email list. As far ast he
arguement for too much mail, well you get spam, you delete it. This isn't span it is a way to connect with your
neighbors. If you have and respect rules, make a clear heading so people not interested in the strand don't have
to read it then by broadening the perameters you are building community. Robert at JJNa just asks us to put
"offline" on the heading so we know it's not a neighborhood thing perse. I think that is way reasonable.

and she followed it up with another one:

Subject: [nnasj] Re: does every northside resident think the same?
Date: Tue, 09 Mar 2004 14:51

See, my take on this is that having healthy family units, that care for their children, that make the financial, spiritual, sexual,and cultural committment that marriage takes is only good for children. By conveying upon a couple, whatever the sex, the priveledges of marriage then we also convey the responsibilities. Every marriage should be taken seriously. To simply marry for sex, fun, infatuation, or whatever reason is to denegrade the institution. To cheat, abuse, lie, abandon also denegrates the institution. Hetero couples do this with amazing persistence. Any couple who can take their vows seriously, offer kindness, stability, spiritual growth, be the foundation for another person care consistently for their children adopted or otherwise are an asset to our community. Their chromosomes have no bearing on the issue.

Before we had no fault divorce, we also had community sanctioned domestic abuse, adultery, oppressive control over family finances. Marriage as a true and loving partnership among equals has always been a goal, not a norm. It is a myth to think the generation before us had it right. They didn't. Historically, it was an arrangment for property and status, with the enslavement of women and very stifling roles for men.

You couldn't get more immoral than that in my mind. I have a feeling that we heterosexuals who have made such a mess of the institution by treating our partners and our children so shabbily could stand to learn from a loving and equal homosexual partnership.

Cate ( who is happily married to my hubby)

------------ end email from Cate --------------

And 7 minutes later she added this:

Date: Tue, 09 Mar 2004 14:58

By the way nice to meet you!

------------ end email from Cate --------------

I wrote her back:

Nice to meet you too.

------------ end email #4 from me -------------

Lisa responded to my apology too:

Subject: Re: [nnasj] apology in advance
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 2004 15:38

HI Roseanne,

please, don't apologize for having an opinion and finding a way to voice it. our country is based on all of us being
able to express ourselves, thoughtfully and without disrespect.

i do confess that i had to giggle when you mentioned someone might be intimidated by my opinion - simply
because i view myself as one of the least intimidating folks around. formerly shy (yes, everyone who knows me
feel free to guffaw) i found it hard to express myself for years. i truly, truly hope that you, nor anyone else, feels
intimidated by anyone expressing a personal opinion.

in fact, you should feel free to tell me "nonsense" if you think i'm being a dope.

as an aside. i wrote my letters to all the council members since i'm blessed to know all of them. one has written
back with a thoughtful but opposing opinion. i expected to hear an opposing viewpoint from that person so i
wasn't surprised. i adore that particular councilmember (not my own) in spite of the fact that we often disagree
and i have a very deep respect for them. i've helped on their campaign because of my deep admiration and
respect for them - not because we always agree.

thanks for letting me spout,

------------- end email from Lisa -------------

And I kept going.

Subject: Re: [nnasj] Re: does every northside resident think the same?
Date: Tue, 09 Mar 2004 17:03

Lisa and all,

The article at the following link by two professors at McGill University (one of whom is gay) expresses some very
strong counter arguments against all of the current arguments floating around for gay marriage.


They like me believe that to redefine marriage is another social experiment like no fault divorce with consequences no one can imagine.

>> Before we had no fault divorce, we also had community sanctioned
> domestic abuse, adultery, oppressive control over family finances.

Two wrongs (adding divorce to the above list of evils) didn't make things right.

What we all deplore is when people take advantage of something good like marriage. That doesn't make
marriage as a permanent commitment between a woman and man wrong.

And I think it is obvious that we have more disfunction now instead of less. Violence against women is climbing.
Heterosexuals of both sexes in uncommitted relationships have a hard time dealing with the emotions that come up when the real bond they feel is denied. Children have a hard time dealing with impermanent relationships in
their families too.

I think the chances of finding a mate who will commit for life and stay for better or for worse without
adultery (real, imagined, or Internet) are far lower now that divorce is so freely available.

Just because some bad people wreak havoc in their cars doesn't make cars bad.

Adultery is definitely evil. What we have now is legalized sequential adultery. And the male scientists are excusing it away by saying we inherited it from our ancestors the chimpanzees.

Women are just as guilty. I've known of several cases where women have divorced their husbands and become alienated from their children because of fantasies about co-workers. They left because the grass seemed greener, and found the coworkers were just kidding around. "Sex maybe, but commit to you? I don't think so."

Talking about the enslavement of women, here is what I believe, that the sexual revolution has supposedly
made women equal to men but it did it by forcing women to suppress the full expression of their sexuality. The biggest proponents of women's liberation and abortion are exploiters of women like Hugh Heffner.

I think about how one writer (not religious BTW) wrote a poignant article about 15 years ago about how divorce
had impoverished her. Men were left with all the choices. The men she was meeting demanded total equality, dutch treat all the way, and the only option on the table was whether or not the man would be interested in
pursuing a non-committed sexual relationship with the woman. And of course her children were a liability to a "relationship." Nothing about real relationship, love, real intimacy.

And I forgot to add, one bad consequence of same sex parents is that children need parents of both sexes.

As I said, I'm not looking forward to seeing what a generation of children raised by gays with no mothers or by lesbians with no fathers will be like. We already can see in our youth what a generation of children raised in constantly shifting households with new lovers coming in and out are like.



----------- end email #5 from me -------------

Deb jumped in early the next morning:

Subject: [nnasj] love and marraige
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2004 07:28

I am so grateful for the info on who to call re supporting gay marraige in SJ. I appreciate information like this being posted on our list, particularly timely info. If it was info on how to support Bush I would simply bypass it (ok, and maybe mutter a few words under my breath.) I am thrilled to be able to support a movement that is focused on such a positive issue - love and a lifelong commitment to that love.
my 2 cents,


------------ end email from Deb ---------------

And then there is the inimitable long-haired pony-tailed activist and family man, Joe:

Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2004 08:22:22 -0800
Subject: Re: [nnasj] love and marraige

I support gay marriage. Its probably the only liberal idea I do support. That and a... hummm...................mummm. No that's it. The conservatives got this one wrong.

The real issue should be that there is a law that forbids it already and it was voted in by the people of the Great State of California. That law needs to be changed first. I don't think asking council or a rogue mayor to break laws is the right way to get the law changed.

This is the stuff that, frankly, pisses me off. We have the Federal Government getting involved in state issues. We have the city council getting involved in state issues and we have the state getting involved in my wallet.

Liberals, you are right concerning gay marrige but you made this whole thing become a circus.

Is gay marriage a city issue? No. Fix the pot holes.

California, get your act together.

Dear President keep your constitutional ban on gay marrige out of my constitution. The constitution should not be toyed with.

It's all about limited government, lower taxes, individual freedom and responsibility. Never let anybody tell you different or cloud that fact.

------------ end email from Joe ---------------

Nicole came back for more:

Date: Wednesday, March 10, 2004 2:04 PM
Subject: Re: [nnasj] love and marraige

I am a FLAMING LIBERAL and believe that laws witin our state and/or coutry should be within an individual's rights as defined by the constitution. The last court to tackle this issue decided that banning gay marriage was unconstitutional and unless the supreme court overturns this issue, then I think that the problem lies in that Californians attempted to pass a law that does not respect our rights as citizens of this country. Our constitutional rights are what created this country and its greatness, they receive and deserve respect around the entire world; there are very important reasons why these were created and our country and state should contemplate these reasons before we attempt to alter them and/or impose laws that may infringe on them.

Beyond, and more important than, this or any individual issue are the principles that our country was built upon. Altering these should not be done quickly or lightly, without serious and lengthy debate; knowing that the consequences may change what our country in ways that have not been and are extremely difficult to anticipate.

Thank you,

Nicole - Staunch admirer of our founding fathers and (aspiring protector of) the amazingunprecedented work they created in our Constitution

---------- end email from Nicole ---------------

More from Carrie:

Subject: RE: [nnasj] love and marraige
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2004 14:13

I believe this will be the first and only time that a constitutional amendment will be used to restrict the people's rights, rather than support or expand them.

Terrace Dr

----------- end email from Carrie -------------

Subject: RE: [nasj] love and marriage
Date: Wed. 10 Mar 2004 2:18

No. Prohibition restricted citizen's rights to get loaded.


----------- end email from Bonnie -------------

Deb wrote to disagree with my point about children need parents of both sexes.

[nnasj] Re: does every northside resident think the same?
Thu, 11 Mar 2004 00:45:13 -0000

--- In nnasj@yahoogroups.com, Roseanne Sullivan
"And I forgot to add, one bad consequence of same sex parents is that children need parents of
both sexes."

I must respectfully disagree here. While a child may certainly benefit from the love and attention of two good parents, to say that they must be of a different sex makes no sense to me. But that's based on my life experience. My Mom has always been there, always been loving, always been a good, responsible parent. My Dad... let's just say that the bottom line to this argument for me is that I would have LOVED to grow up with two great parents. I would have LOVED to grow up with two of my Mom. But I didn't need to. She provided everything we needed.

So, while I disagree with you, Roseanne, that single women shouldn't be allowed to have or adopt children on their own, this is not about children. This is about adults being married and committed to one another. Whether or not gays are allowed to have children is a completely separate issue. Unfortunately, it gets dragged into this marriage issue over and over, as if the two are destined to go hand in hand.


------------ end email from Deb ---------------

Cate replied to Deb.

Subject: Re: [nnasj] Re: does every northside resident think the same?
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2004 22:02

I think that marriage and raising children to a large extent does go hand in hand. You don't have to raise children if you marry but marriage in most cases does lead to the birthing, adopting and raising of a child or two. Then there are those whose marriage is mightily affected by the nonbearing of children. Those who enter into marriage at a child bearing age without having had a good understanding of what bringing a child into this world means take their roles and responsibilities as a husband or wife too lightly.

I think the question we ask and then kind of circumvent is what is a great partnership? What makes a great marriage? What keeps a marriage working? Rosanne asks us to examine this and I think that is what the
foundation of this conversation is. Marriage and the care and support of the children resulting from tht marriage does affect society. And in today's society, we do take this priviledge and responsibility for granted. With all of the elements battering the institution, and the battering we give each other, marriage as a partnership among loving
equals remains as it has always been, pretty elusive.

Roseanne sees gay marriage as one more hit that the institution takes. But before we put the burden of a battered institution on homosexuals, let's first, as heterosexual couples examine our own responsibility. What have we done to hurt this institution? Let's address that the number one killer of pregnant women in ths country is homocide. Domestic abuse is still the leading cause of death among young women. Over 2/3 of our impoverished children come from homes where they have been abandoned by a spouse and parent. Over 50% of marriages end in divorce. Nearly 60% of married couples have dealt with adultery. Sadly these stats aren't demonstrative of only this generation. One way or another these sorry facts have permeated our history.

I am happily married and know how difficult it is to maintain a good marriage. It takes more work than I ever thought. I say let gay couples join th club and then raise the standard of great married behavior for each and everyone of us married folk. Gay and straight couples need to remain monogamous, speak kindly, work together, sacrifice for the sake of our children, work to better our community, build peace, pray and communicate together, be responsible with our finances, look inward to improve, adapt, resolve issues like adults, let the small stuff go, man the list goes on and on. If we want to fix this institution, I think rather than keep it the exclusive pervue of heterosexual couples, we encourage the outdated pre wedding counceling that Catholics underwent, for example. Before we marry, we voluntarily, but with encouragement talk with a marriage expert for 6 hours. Address those issues that keep a marriage strong. Use all that money that the state is getting on gay marriage licenses to fund therapy, beef up domestic abuse laws and education, offer finanical counseling invest in good daycare for working families, reform workplace routines to be more flexible for families.

OK, Ok I am a bleeding heart liberal. My colors have been revealed. The point is, set the standard, and then invite all couples to meet it and raise it.


------------ end email from Cate --------------

Here I went again.

Subject: Re: [nnasj] Re: does every northside resident think the same?

Date: Thu, 11 Mar 2004 09:56

Hello neighbors,

This has turned out to be a mature discussion instead of a flame war. Thank you for that. I was ready with my fireproof shield and fire extinquisher, and thinking of putting a fire wall up in my basement.

Deb wrote:
>This is about adults being married and committed to one
> another. Whether or not gays are allowed to have children is a
> completely separate issue. Unfortunately, it gets dragged into this
> marriage issue over and over, as if the two are destined to go hand
> in hand.

You're completely redefining marriage. Marriage is not about the fulfillment of two people. It is bigger than that.

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Roseanne and George with a baby carriage.

Did you know that until 1932 all churches were united in proclaiming contraception as an evil? Even Freud
was against contraception. He saw it as a perversion of the true function and role of sex.

The contraceptive mentality has divorced marriage from its natural role as a source of new life and as a structure that supports and nurtures that new life.

Two people alone don't get married, their "tribes" marry too, including their extended families.

I've been reading that studies are being done that indicate that children learn what it is like to be a member of one sex by living with parents of both sexes. Visits or transitory relationships without parent child bonds are not enough.

### And then I accidentally sent the mail while trying to paste in a paragraph that I was sure would
tie it all together.

----------- end email #7 from me -------------

The thread continues in dribs and drabs, but this email from Joseph the activist and family man serves as a cool coda.

Date: Thu, 11 Mar 2004 16:57:48 -0800
Subject: [nnasj] Sing your life

It takes a lot of courage to dance to your beliefs and sing your life. I would like to thank Roseanne Sullivan and Carrie Doolittle. You each have a lovely singing voice.


Thursday, March 11, 2004

Losing George Episode 1: Heat Waves, Tomatoes, Welfare, and Not So Easy Outs

On April 16 in 1987 when the northern plains were having an unseasonal heat wave of 90+ degree temps, my former father-in-law Ted called me from Fargo, North Dakota, to tell me the news that my ex-husband George had disappeared. Nobody had seen him for three days.

The fact that George was missing is the most important part of this story. But for you to grasp what the events in this story all add up to, and what it all felt like, you have to know how unusual and badly timed the heat wave of 1987 was, along with a number of other things I'm going to tell you about as I go along.

First of all, I have to explain that in the five years I lived there between December of 1970 and August of 1976, April in the Fargo area had always been cold. A heat wave in August was so rare that I started to doubt my own memories when I began to write this. But I found corraboration on the Internet. The whole area was baking hot.

Spring usually comes very late to the northern plains. One pertinent rule of thumb is, you cannot put out your tomato plants safely before Memorial Day, because even up until that late date there is still real danger of a hard frost.

I just realized how many assumptions there are in that last sentence. One assumption would be that you garden, that you've maybe even started tomatoes from seeds you covered with planting mix in February inside of washed and cut down milk cartons, as my mother-in-law, Betty, did.

Maybe, like Betty, you've punched holes in the bottoms of the cartons of tomato seedlings, made little trays for them lined with tin foil so they wouldn't leak, put them on sunny window sills, and then watered and babied the seedlings along during the last long months of winter because you wanted to grab the maximum amount of tomato growing time possible in the short summer that only lasts between June the first and Labor Day.

Whether you did any of that or not, you'd still need to understand that to put out tomatoes means to take them out of their temporary milk carton homes or perhaps from purchased flats or six packs and plant them in the barely-warm freshly-spaded earth in a location with full sun exposure.

Betty had a vegetable garden not much bigger than the size of a dining room table. The garden faced the alley behind the unattached garage of their pale yellow wooden house with white trim in Fargo. Betty somehow managed to grow asparagus, onions, lettuce, swiss chard, kohlrabi, green beans, and radishes, along with plenty of tomatoes in that little space.

The love of fresh tomatoes is strong in that part of the country. It stays with you even if you leave, maybe it even strengthens when you leave. I haven't ever quite gotten over the absence of vine-ripened tomatoes in my life along with the lack of a number of other good things I left behind in my post-marriage, post-northern plains existence.

Up there amid the abundance of late summer, the tomatoes are as numerous as the zucchini and both are freely given away, sometimes by the bushel basket, sometimes even left anonymously on a neighbor's back stairs. If you have the right connections, even if you don't grow tomatoes yourself, you can easily come into possesion of a generous quantity large enough for you to make it worth your while to put them up in glass jars for keeping on shelves in the basement for the long winter.

Basements are another given of northern plains life. I only recently realized that some people have never seen a basement. In the part of the U.S. where this story happened, anyone with a house has a basement.

Here in San Jose where I live now in a 107 year old Victorian, basements are so rare and cause for so much exclamation, I have joked about holding tours for the California-born. "This is what a basement looks like. This particular kind is entered from the outside through a pair of wood doors that fold back to reveal a set of concrete stairs that take you below the house . . . "

But it's important to get back to the point, and right now the point is still about tomatoes. I had already learned to can tomatoes before my husband and I and our six month old baby boy Liberty came to Fargo from San Francisco in 1969 in our orange-painted VW van. I wanted to make up for having been raised a city girli in Massachusetts who had spent most of her life believing that canned tomatoes only came in tin cans.

While we lived in San Francisco, our hippy friends all talked about going back to the land, and we all devoured books about being self-sufficient, Living More With Less was one of the titles, and about Indian lore, and we dreamed of organic farming, so when we made the move from the City by the Bay to the city bisected by the Red River of the North, I was eager to become an expert in sustinence farming..

During my apprenticeship in the north country, with my in-laws who were the first generation descended from German peasant immigrants who hadn't made their living off the land, I learned, among a lot of other useful things, how to can everything. I found out that canning tomatoes is a lot less difficult than canning other less-acid fruits of the earth. The tomatoes' acidity prevents the growth of bacteria, so you don't have boil the jars for a long time like you do when you can other things.

You use whatever method you prefer to peel their skins off, stuff the tomatoes into clean canning jars, put the sealing lids down making sure that the edges of the jars aren't nicked, place the screw rings loosely on top of the seals, put the jars into a big kettle on a rack, boil them, cool them until you hear the seals kind of pop into place, tighten the screw rings down, wipe the jars, and put them away on the shelves. Whenever you want to make sloppy joes or spaghetti sauce, you're all set for tomatoes. I can still recall the popping sound the seals made when the jars cooled enough to create the needed vaccum.

It's making me sad to think about how I once had the time and opportunity to put up my own supply of summer tomatoes for the winter. From the weight of the sadness, I know it's not just the opportunity to line of rows of sparkling glass jars full of ripe tomatoes that I lost, and I know that loss stands for other things.

Greg Brown, Idaho troubador, has a song [Canned Goods] about this: Taste a little of the summer, Taste a little of the summer, You can taste a little of the summer my grandma's put it all in jars," which ends, "
'Cause these canned goods I buy at the store, Ain't got the summer in them anymore."

Some time just before I divorced my husband, I was intrigued to read somewhere that you can freeze tomatoes without any fuss, sticking them into zip lock bags in the freezer and taking them out one at a time when you need them. You see I had started to lose my enthusiasm for canning and blanching food for the freezer by that time, even though it had been interesting at first.

We'd started out in our "back to the land" experiment with a lot of zeal for growing thing organically, and our large garden flourished. We rented a house 23 miles southeast of Fargo, four miles outside of a Minnesota town called Barnesville. Our landlord and all the rest of our neighbors were farmers. On the five acres of land surrounding the house, the landlord grew soybeans and sunflowers around us, stored grain in silos, and stored huge combines and other farm equipment in a rundown picturesque unpainted barn and some sheds. An old unused pump with a handle was the central ornament of the circular driveway outside our back door.

When the garden started producing, it was the hottest part of the summer. George would put baskets of whatever he picked in the morning on the back steps, and I would put it away. Putting food away doesn't mean sticking it in cupboards, it means preparing it for long term storage, so when I was putting food away I was either canning it in jars or blanching it for freezing. As time went on, I was liking the hot, sweaty work less and less. Besides I was commuting on most weekdays the 25 miles on interstate 94 up to Moorhead to take college classes.

I was going to school because I felt that George had not kept up his end of a bargain we had made at the start of our relationship. I thought my husband planned to finish his college education when I first met him, and it was only after we were together for several years that I found out he had lost interest. Huffily, I stubbornly determined to realize my own ambitions and finish my own degree. The cost of my tuition, and day care, and gas, and wear and tear on the car, and my absence at home to do my share of the work put a big strain on our finances and our relationship. And I'm sorry to say I didn't much care.

Leaving George closed the door on further experimentation in freezing tomatoes and on a lot of other things I had been free to do. While we stayed together, we had little money, but lots of time. We didn't see eye to eye on most things, but we more or less had divided the work of our family life between us.

Divorce changed everything for us both. When I left, I took the kids. I started going to college full time. I had to go full time to get the money for child care that was available through an extremely generous program at the welfare department in those days.

I had no qualms about applying for welfare. I felt I had to do it, because George couldn't afford enough to support us in separate homes, and I saw my college degree as my only way out. Out of what? Out of being with someone who hadn't satisfied my dreams. Out of the anonymity of a nuclear family on the fringes of a community that didn't know what to make of two athiest former hippies who'd lived in San Francisco and had children named Liberty and Sunshine.

And so I had found my way out, way out, on my own with a 2 year old and a 4 year old, poor both in money and time.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Email: Love in Times of No Sex

Subject: Re: lost in translation
Date: Mon, 08 Mar 2004 10:17:44 -0800

Hi Moonglow,

I'm happy that you continue to write to me, and that means I'm in your thoughts. Not "out of sight, out of mind." Maybe "out of my mind," :-) but at least not forgotten.

Moonglow wrote:
> hi - saw Lost in Translation - you said you found it confusing, or you got lost in it
> what did you mean?

In one of the many things I'm always writing, I think I used the phrase "lost in translation" or a play on it as a reference to the movie's name, but I never actually saw the movie.

Guess what I wrote wasn't obvious. Sorry for the confusion. If I run across where I wrote that, I'll try to revise it to be more clear.

I would like to see it, but I think the movie is probably too sexually charged for me. I am very happy that Sofia Coppola is making a splash as a director. One more step for women!

> here is what I think he whispers to her - what do you think?
> "You know when I said that it never gets easy?"
> "When you write about it, you tell the truth. Okay?

Like I said, I didn't see the movie, so I don't know what he said. But what you wrote reminds me that I love writing because if I'm careful not to rely on precanned phrases and to expand densities as I write, I am able to find out what I really think, and therefore I am eventually able write the truth instead of what some internal script or some desire to please someone external seems to be trying to program me to write.

I've been searching my email to try to see where I might have said something about the movie. I found this in a blog post that I saved:

> Saturday we saw "Lost in Translation," which is the most
> beautiful movie I've seen in a long time.

Do you agree?

The writer of the blog I just quoted (which was titled The Julie/Julia Project) got a big book deal out of her blog. Inspiring . . .. Maybe that's why I now have three blogs? Can't hurt, eh?

> "Life is precious and everything is holy."
> - Jack Kerouac

My counterquote to the Jack Kerouac quote:

Life is precious and love is holy but anything that
isn't from love is not holy. -Roseanne Sullivan

God is love -- 1 John 4:7-21
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
Whoever does not love does not know God, because GOD IS LOVE.

While I was looking for the Lost in Translation reference I also found the article below in my saved email, which is more about what is love and what is not, and which therefore is sin.

This columnist expresses my thoughts about what is wrong about sex outside of marriage: the harm to yourself and to others makes it unloving. I can't imagine how anyone who has danced the "I'll have sex with you but I won't love you" pas de deux, where one person has to pretend not to want to be possesive in hopes of keeping the other person from being scared away, can not be scarred. There is a real union that happens in sex even if the partners don't know, like, or even can stand each other. And it is a kind of hell on earth to have to walk through this life connected that way without real intimacy, to multiple partners.

Even before returning to being a Christian, I made up my mind after my divorce to not settle for anything less
than love. If I only knew what that would mean. Eventually I realized I had to settle for no sex, but that's actually acceptable and preferable to the alternative. "Love will get you through times without sex better than sex will get you through times without love." Don't remember who said that, but I agree. Substitute God for Love, and that works to my satisfaction.

Another of my favorite quotes is:
Mysticism isn't sublimated sex.
Sex is sublimated mysticism.
Mother Theresa Biliki, D.C.

Here is the article:

---------- begin quote --------------------------------
It's Never Over Until It's Over

By Mary Beth Bonacci
HERALD Columnist
We should probably start by defining sin. All sin is, quite simply, a failure to love. God put us on this earth to respect His image and likeness in every human person. That's our purpose, that's what makes us happy, and that's what keeps the world humming along smoothly.

Unfortunately, due to that little original sin problem, we all have a tendency to want to ignore the image and likeness of God, either in ourselves or in others, in order to achieve some selfish, short-term goal that seems sure to make us happy, but ultimately doesn't.

Every time we sin, every time we fail to love, we do damage. We damage ourselves, we damage other people,
and worst of all, we damage our relationship with God. After all, we come closer to Him by doing what He does: loving. And we move further away from Him by failing to do that.


The little sins are called venial sins. Whenever we lie, or gossip,or act selfishly in any of the hundreds of myriad little ways we find to be selfish, we chip away at our relationship with God. We become just a little less like Him. And that hurts us.

The big sins, on the other hand, are called mortal sins. When we do (or risk) serious damage to ourselves or others, we're getting out the big guns. We're cutting ourselves off from God. When we kill, when we steal, when we bear "false witness" sufficient to ruin someone's life, we're in the realm of mortal sin. Sexual sins are also mortal sins. Why? Mortal sin does, or risks, serious damage. Take a look around you. It doesn't take a genius to see the damage sexual sin has done in our society.


Mortal sin, deliberately committed, kills the life of grace in the soul. It cuts us off from God. God still loves us. But we, like the prodigal son, have wandered off. We have removed ourselves from His presence.

The Church teaches that mortal sin, if unrepented at the time of death, precludes us from heaven. What? Just because we commit one little mortal sin, God condemns us to hell? Wrong. When we freely commit a mortal sin, we are making a choice. We are choosing "not God." At he time of death, if that decision still stands, God is simply honoring our choice. He is giving us what we asked for "not God." And, once this world passes away, everything "not God" is Hell.

Of course, remember the overriding principle. God is madly, crazy, head-over-heels in love with us. He wants us ” all of us” to be saved and spend eternity with Him. He doesn't force our hand. He doesn't ravish, but He does woo. He entices us to come closer to Him. And He waits. He waits for us to come back to Him in confession, in the sacrament of love He gave us just for this purpose. In the sacrament, He takes our sin away. He restores His grace "His life" in us. And He gives us the strength to continue in His love.

Yes, mortal sin cuts us off from God. We need to avoid it, and all sin, like the plague that it is. And we need to encourage others to do the same. But if and when we fall, we need to remember His love, confess immediately, and get back on track. Because, with God's love, it's never over until it's over.

------------ end quote ------------------------

With love, from your sister/friend,



Moonglow wrote:
> hi - saw Lost in Translation - you said you found it confusing,
or you got lost in it
> what did you mean?
> here is what I think he whispers to her - what do you think?
> "You know when I said that it never gets easy?"
> "When you write about it, you tell the truth. Okay?
> "Life is precious and everything is holy."
> - Jack Kerouac

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Email from a Friend and My Reply. Any Jobs Out There for Self-Styled Prophets?

Subject: Your purpose in life
Date: Sun, 7 Mar 2004 13:58:50 -0800

Anyway, I was thinking: do you ever wonder what your purpose is here, God-wise? I see you as sort of an Old Testament prophet. They called Israel to account when they strayed from God like you try to get people to follow the Church's true teachings. It's not the most popular calling but it certainly is a necessary one.

For me, the music has always been there in a way that has to have come from God. How many 5-year-olds teach themselves piano? As soon as I learned to read, I picked up my sisters' beginning piano book. My sisters, 7 and 9 years older than I, received piano lessons when they were little. They didn't take to it so they didn't continue and no one else got any lessons. In fact, we were forbidden to touch the piano because my sisters damaged the pedals once when they were little. (They knocked the piano bench right onto them.) I was so drawn to the piano (my mother played and sang -- she studied voice and piano at Eastman School of Music in Rochester) that I used to sneak to it when my mother was at work. I never did anything to hurt it, and by the time she figured out I was using it, it was obvious that I was seriously trying to play it.

So much of my training in college, the extra drama and language classes that my voice teacher insisted on, helped prepare me for liturgical ministry. I certainly would never have signed up for a (speaking) voice and diction class on my own!

I think there's more to come as we progress . . .. I think/hope our paths will become clearer. I'm one of those who chooses to look at the priest shortage as a gift of the Holy Spirit, something that pries people off their butts from the pews and into ministry. The days of Father doing everything are past, and I think that so many people have a damaged image of the Church that sometimes a lay woman has a better chance of connecting with a
fallen-away Catholic than a priest might.



I told my son about the above email last night when I was watching him edit the hours of videos he shot when he was in India and New Zealand. He was busy overdubbing some of the landscape shots he took of where the LOTR was shot with the music from the closing credits of The Fellowship of the Ring. I told him my friend said I'm like an Old Testament prophet.

He cracked, "Old Testament prophet jobs pay much?" Apropos question, that one is, since I am not currently employed.

I am seriously thinking recently that my stance as a prophet may actually be self-ordained. I struggle with this from time to time. I feel obliged sometimes to tell people exactly what they are doing wrong because the Bible says that if we don't warn the sinner, we will be lost, but if we warn the sinner, and the sinner repents, then we have saved both ourselves and the sinner. If we warn the sinner and the sinner does not repent, then we have at least saved ourselves.

I just grabbed the following quote from a website so you can see the words from Ezekiel, if you are not familiar with them:


The person who sins will be punished for his sin.If however you have the wherewithal to effectually rebuke the sinner and perhaps cause him to repent and you do not use this gift then you too will be punished. We are to be held accountable not only for the bad we did but also for the good we could have done and did not do it.


You may not be successful in trying to help others reform themselves but at least you will have fulfilled your duty. It will not be your fault in any way.

The above passages were what drove me to talk to a friend I dearly love a few years ago and tell her to stop telling me about her adulterous affairs. I couldn't stand hearing about how she would be friends with a couple and start sleeping with the husband, all the time guiltlessly being a friend to the wife. She seemed to really enjoy the intrigue of sneaking around and almost getting caught.

Sometime during the 60s, she picked up the attitudes of many men around her that adultery was a kind of sport, and she decided that women too could play that game. Since she has been operating for 40 years on that flawed basic principle that she was making a stand for women, she was ignoring the reality of what she was doing. She still believes in sex outside of marriage, and (in her late 60s) is still trying to find the right man who will appreciate her sexual derring do along with her other truly wonderful personal characteristics.

I told her that what she was doing was seriously sinful and that I had to warn her because of the passage I quoted above. It was terribly painful, but we got past it. At least she doesn't tell me about her adulteries any more, even if she is still doing them.

I've been telling off my friends and my daughter. Lucky for him, in the past 13 years I pretty much stopped telling off my son.

But, it just occurs to me from looking at the first words of the above quote, which I usually skip over, the Lord had appointed Ezekiel his watchmen over the house of Israel. What makes me think he has appointed me? I read some place that one of the tests of a real vocation is if the Church agrees you have a vocation. Who says I have a vocation? Have I been deluding myself all this time?

I hate to actually talk about this but I must. My personal failings (my besetting sins) are so large (no pun intended) they devalue my witness as a Christian.

What I regard as prophecy may be just what the 12 step groups call "Taking other people's inventory," which is an attempt to avoid taking their own inventory.

I have to counter this distressing self-discovery (and self-disclosure) with something positive that I know.

Even Elijah spent three years alone in the Wadi Cherith being fed by ravens and then in an upper room in the widow's house before God sent him to confront the prophets of Baal. Come to think of it, he probably didn't eat much at all during that time. The raven probably wasn't bringing him steaks, and when the famine was at its height while he was in the widow's house, for him to eat more than the minimum would have been to starve someone else.

I truly believe that my isolation and lonliness are God's way of driving me out in the desert so He can make me what He wants me to be.

I think often of how in Hosea 2, God drove Israel/Gomer out into the desert and kept her away from the false Gods she worshipped and from her adulterous lovers.

5 Therefore, I will hedge in her way with thorns and erect a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths.
9 If she runs after her lovers, she shall not overtake them; if she looks for them she shall not find them. Then she shall say, "I will go back to my first husband, for it was better with me then than now." . . .
16 So I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart.
. . .
21 I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy;
22 I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the LORD.

I've got to take this log out of my own eye. Today is the acceptable day of the Lord.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Reply to the Previous Post on Marriage Followed by My Reply, Then Her Reply

A friend of mine wrote "I decided to take a break and just read your piece on marriage. You're right, I think the tribunals are granting too many annulments, but I think the flip side to that is that people aren't taking marriage seriously enough to begin with. It's too easy to get married in our society, in my humble opinion. It's taken as a rite of passage like graduation."

Personal details omitted.

I wrote back:

Subject: marriage and annulments
Date: Tue, 02 Mar 2004 16:39:09 -0800


Thanks for reading my blog of the day. I love hearing from you. And I respect your ideas and am pleased that you tell
me about them.

I believe that the Church teaches what Jesus stated, that a marriage is forever. You become one flesh. You cannot break the marriage bond with your husband or wife any more than you can break the parental bond you have with a child. These relationships are fleshly and real and irrevocable. Even if your child is a monster, that child is still your child. Same thing applies to your spouse.

So what do you do if have a bad marriage? Accept it. If you are not in danger, you live with it. If you have to separate to protect yourself from harm, you can, and you can divorce if the situation requires it, but you can't then get married to someone else, because to do so is adultery. The legal bond can be broken, but the spiritual physical bond cannot.

Bad things happen in everyone's life. Whatever our sufferings are, we need to offer up our sufferings to God. A bad or mediocre or ill-judged marriage is a suffering that can redeem the people in that marriage. Having to live alone when a marriage fails or a partner leaves is similar.

So your brother who was left by his wife, he would be called to live a chaste life in obedience to Christ by this interpretation. There is no way to dissolve away the bond that happens in a marriage irrespective of the worthiness of the partners.

St. Monica was abused by her unfaithful husband. By her humility and prayers she won him over eventually. By her holiness he was saved. That is real love, I think, to love someone that mistreats you so that you can help to save his soul. Today we would say she should have left him, and maybe so. But her staying and praying for him in a world that didn't give her the option to leave sanctified her husband and may have contributed graces that might have led to the conversion of her son. It all comes under taking up our cross and denying ourselves. When we do so, dying to ourselves, we bear spiritual fruit.

St. Monica's marriage was part of her cross. My not being married is part of my cross. If I had been in a valid marriage and the chance came for me to marry again, the fact that I could not would have been a severe cross, but one that I would bear because of my love for the teachings about marriage and trust that God knows best. The simple fact that I cannot find anyone even though my marriage was not valid is also a cross.

Marital happiness is not a right. We don't need marriage for intimacy, or we shouldn't have to. Families and friends can be sources of intimacy, but they aren't much in this society. People grow up and leave the family that loves them (if they are lucky enough to have a loving family) and gamble everything on finding a special person to love them and mate with them.

We hear nothing about how you can be a fulfilled human being without a marriage partner. Divorce without the possibility of remarriage is unthinkable to many of us, but we are culturally conditioned to think that way.

Even if some of us have to live with lonliness (which I do), that is something to be accepted as coming from
God. If it is due to our disobedience then we can see it as a penance.

We think we deserve to make mistakes and walk away from our mistakes. Our early sins (such as not listening to our parents who warn us against an unsuitable mate) can ruin our lives in the worldly sense. But even ruined lives can be redeemed and made fruitful and satisying by the grace of God.

We expect too much from marriage at the same time that we don't recognize it for the unbreakable bond that it is.

We don't expect our kids to fulfill us, or we shouldn't. We give birth to them and then live with who they are. They don't exist to make us happy. Same thing applies to spouses.

The source of our joy is God alone. If we get happiness with another person that is wonderful, but we still need to be careful not to let the other person take the place of God. And even people I know who are in good marriages speak of lonliness. Nobody can fufill the deepest longings of our soul.

So, if I were on a Marriage Tribunal (which there is 0% of a chance I ever will be) I would probably say this: If any of your siblings were raised Christian and married in a Christian church, then their marriages are valid, unless they weren't physically consunmated.

So in the case of the sister who married the abusive man, if she was married in the Catholic Church, she has a right not to be abused, and so she has the right to separate and even divorce. But not to remarry, I would think.

I think your parents had it easier. There wasn't an option for divorce so they stayed and everyone was better off.

The well-to-do girl and the Oakie guy, and their marriage endured. That's great.

I am a real hard-nosed toughy, eh?


Meaderings about the current level of observance of the Church's teachings on marriage

Two funny things about what I know about a certain couple. I hear a lot about them from Annette. She told me that Don left his first wife and one of his complaints was that the wife was cramping his sex life because she had a crucifix in the bedroom. Now he's married to Sue who is an ex-nun and who incidentally is pretty as can be, but the funny thing is that their home is chock full of religious art everywhere you look. She plays a rosary tape so often when she is driving that she wears the tapes out.

Another funny thing is that even though I have never been invited, I have been inside their townhouse two or three times when they are away. Annette takes care of their cats while they are travelling, and so a couple of times I went over with her and read their magazines while she emptied cat boxes, changed the diaper on one of the cats, and fed them.

A few years ago, the McRays went to the Philipines and were upset by the poverty. Sr. C. brought them to an orphanage run by her order there and it pained them the way the kids try to ingratiate themselves, probably hoping for adoption. But it especially pained them how badly the cats are treated.

One time at breakfast at Baker's Square, the subject became a little risque, Sue jumped on the theme and started joking about how Don has four woman rubbing up against him in bed in the mornings looking for a little affection. Three of the four women in question are cats, of course, so Sue doesn't mind.

When I first came to St. John's in 1990, they were newlyweds. I didn't know them, but I could tell. It bothered me to see the big white haired overweight guy and his pretty young wife clinging to each other in the church. I always think of the first wife and the disruption and pain of divorce when I see or hear of such a thing. And about how the Church's position on the indissolubility of marriage is being weakened by liberal marriage tribunals who have a set of exceptions big enough to drive a truck through.

The McRays have the blessings of the Church on their marriage, so Sue must have been excused from her vows as a Dominican, and Don's first marriage must have been annulled. Even though they have done the right thing according to their lights, I think the Marriage Tribunals are going too far these days and are far too liberal in how they dispense annullments.

"In the old days," annulments were granted only for non-consumation of the marriage. Now the liberal marriage tribunals grant the annulments for "impaired consent," saying that a marriage that wasn't freely entered into isn't valid. As examples of "impaired consent" I see "the couple was too young," "they were pressured to marry." So if they conceived a child and married while pregnant, that can be used as grounds, for one example.

Or if they decide later that they really didn't mean it . . . . Or the wife is cramping the husband's sex life with a crucifix in the bedroom, stuff like that

Monday, March 01, 2004

Lousy Singing and Beauty Parlor Gossip

At 8 a.m. on Sunday, the choir went over the songs we'd practiced on Thursday a.m. for the 8:30 Mass. For the first two hymns a few people started weakly before the rest chimed in. During two different songs, Frank, one of the old Italian tenors, accidentally hit the cymbals twice. The first time, it sounded like he might have done it for emphasis at the end of the hymn. The second time the cymbals clashed it was just a joke. After uncounted additional disasters, we closed with Amazing Grace, during which half of us sang verse 2 while the other half sang verse 5.

Friends of the choir members were waiting downstairs. [This is one of the few remaining Catholic choirs you are going to see up in a choir loft with an organ.] "You stank today." "We did." "Most of us didn't show up for practice," said Sally by way of explanation, "including me." I saw the priest take the choir director aside on the way out. Just when I was starting to think singing in the choir is a gratifying part of my week . . ..

Saturday I got a haircut, eyebrows tidied up, nails done at the Vietnamese run beauty salon K Hair Today in Milpitas. Kim, the owner, was entertaining customers with talk about the gay "weddings" in San Francisco. I record these without comment:

"You know about the gays getting married in San Francisco? Two men with beard and mustache kissing each other. Two women kissing that's okay. I don't mind that. But two guys! And Rosie O'Donnell. Her girlfriend hair so short. But Rosie say she the wife. "

I said, "Yah, Rosie has the long hair, and her girlfriend has it short. Shouldn't the one with the long hair be the wife?"

Kim said, "Roseanne, you think that's funny, eh?" "What is this world coming to," I said. "I don't mind," Kim said. "If that's what they want. Some of them together 20 30 years. They cry." Kim's customer spoke up from the shampoo bowl, "Whatever floats their boat."

Hungarian Ingenuity in Fires of Kuwait

While my son is travelling, I'm watching videos from his Netflix account. Before he left, he was nice enough to add some films I wanted into his list. One I want to tell you a little about is an IMAX film on video called "Fires of Kuwait." You might get a kick out of the scene with the Hungarians the way I did.

The film shows the efforts of the crews who labored to extinguish the 700 oil well fires that Saddam Hussein ordered to have set as his troops retreated from Kuwait at the end of the first Gulf War. 5 million barrels a day were burning. Kuwait looked like the landscape of hell. The sky was covered with dark clouds of smoke and poisonous gas and soot. Plumes of flame shot up to the heavens. "Everywhere you looked was a burning oil well."

Left to themselves, the fires would have burned for a hundred years. Nobody knew how long it would take to put them out, 5 maybe 10 years.

The movie first showed the great efforts from American teams from Texas, who used dynamite and venturi tubes and a lot of other ingenious techniques. They put out enough of the fires so that one day they were able to see the sun rise again. But the job was far from done.

Then some international crews came in, each with its own expertise. I've got to tell you about the Hungarians, they were something else.

The film shows the Hungarians driving to one of the burning oil wells in a protype contraption made with a refurbished Russian Q34 tank. They had replaced the turret with jet engines taken from MIG 21 fighting planes.

The crew is dressed in matching red jumpsuits and white helmets, looking stylish and coordinated like a pit crew at a road race. The driver shuts the red tank hatch, and then, as Rip Torn said with admiration as he described the scene, they inject water into the jet stream and "They just open the throttles and blow the fire out."

When I've told this to a couple of women they said, "You can't put out an oil fire with water." We've all been taught this as a basic principle of how to deal with kitchen fires. However, we were also taught that you can put out an oil fire by smothering it. The blasts of water from the jet engines separate the oil from the flames long enough for the fire to die by being deprived of its fuel.

Just a little boasting about the cleverness evinced by some members of the Hungarian half of my ethnic background.

BTW, the oil well fires were extinguished in nine months, four years and three months ahead of the most optimistic predictions.