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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A Blasphemy, a Spectacle and a Witness

Turn off my music at the bottom of this page to watch these next videos.

Regardless of one's opinion of either iconography or Harry Potter, this image is offensive, though I hold out hope that the artist didn't know quite how offensive. It is, of course, safe to offend Christians as they won't make death threats or riot in the streets over this, so you won't hear a peep from those who were so outraged at our European friends who offended another religious group by making a blasphemous (to them) cartoon of Mohammed. Look how brave this artist is! Slapping the people who are commanded to turn the other cheek and forgive.

This was going around the web for a while last month. People seemed to think it was clever and funny. I would be with them, if this were the opening of their reception.

Doing this during the actual wedding, in a church, is appalling and a scandal. Once more, I am so glad that our church did not allow secular vocal music during the ceremony nor pagan instrumental music (we couldn't use the Lohengrin March, which was fine with us). A Christian marriage in a church is a holy covenant, the wedding is form and matter through which the covenant is made. This is just as reverent and respectable as those messages written on the groom's shoes or the minister joking about s*x.

Contrast what this couple's actions said about themselves with what this next couple's actions say about them. Make sure you have tissues ready and are prepared for your heart to be broken. They are examples of Christian heroism, as Mark Shea has said. I pray for them and their son. Elijah saw this and wanted to make a card to send to them. Does anyone know of a way to contact them?

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Hey Ranee,
As you know, I am only minimally familiar with Orthodox Christianity and as such can't comment on the Harry Potter thing with any validity. I'll just state I too hope the people involved didn't realize how offensive it could or would be.

Regarding the wedding entrance - for me, that's a whole separate thing. Clearly the clergy ok'd this. The person standing in front of the couple at the end of it seems happy in any case! Who are we to suggest that the leaders of that particular church aren't allowed to have dancing down the aisle if they want to? I figure whatever goes on in someone else's house of worship don't confront me, as they say.Unless there is some sign somewhere in there that I missed which indicates that this ceremony took place in the church of a denomination that forbids this kind of thing, I really don't see what the big deal for us as outsiders is.

I didn't look at the next couple's video. I am not prepared to have my heart broken, sorry.
I watched and didn't find it appalling and scandalous as much as inappropriate, boring and self-indulgent.

If the entrance was meant to depict joy...it didn't. It looked more like the end of a high school movie. They all looked stiff, mechanical and slightly uncomfortable.

What on earth was the couple thinking?
It always amazes me how so many people presume to know what Jesus would and would not be offended by. And further, that the assumption (contrary to evidence) is that Jesus would not be offended by war, resource-draining SUVs, or large companies taking water from indigenous people in parts of the world to bottle and sell it to rich people in other parts. Instead, they assume Jesus would be offended that a clearly in love couple and their clearly loving friends would dare to make a unique expression of love because it did not accord with the music that some people wrote hundreds to thousands of years after his death and arbitrarily declared that somehow Jesus directly approved of that, and only that music. Or that music and joy can only be expressed at a dining hall. There is no evidence in the bible to suggest that Jesus ever sided with the Pharisees on their strict rule-mongering. This couple and their friends have genuinely expressed love for each other. The song is about being together and in love forever, a sentiment which I can find nothing wrong with. Their dancing is full of joy and love- something else I have a hard time justifying taking offense at. If Jesus is offended by that because some ecuminical rule created hundreds of years after his death forbids it, yet he is in favor of war and the hate-spewing, sign waving judgment of non-Christians, then I fear that heaven is not the full-of-love place that it is touted as.
Webhill: I am sure that there are all sorts of clergy who would approve of much that goes against basic Christianity. Reverence and respect for the sacrament and covenant going on being on of those things. The reasons I find it appalling and scandalous are the same reasons Gloria finds in inappropriate and self-indulgent. A Christian wedding is supposed to be about the couple's love, yes, but it is also, primarily, about the joining of the couple in a covenant that is supposed to reflect the union of Christ and the Church. It is a religious ceremony, not simply a party.

That there is such confusion over what passes as a Christian marriage (not in the particulars, but in the general, as in your comment that these people obviously allowed it) is what the scandal is. It is no longer a clear statement about faith and covenant marriage because so many people have decided to turn it into a spectacle that is indistinguishable from the secular world surrounding it (except perhaps for the pretty set, props and costuming so kindly provided by the Church).

I know it goes against bridezilla law, but a wedding (regardless of the religion) is not about being self-indulgent. I wouldn't presume to tell a Jew how to have his or her wedding, but I can imagine that there are some basic standards that are considered essential and without which it would be a pretend Jewish ceremony or a mockery of such. Likewise for Muslims or Buddhists or Hindus, there are some defining characteristics and basic rules about what constitutes their marriage rites. Self-indulgent performances are not one of those things in Christianity.
Van: I don't believe I've ever explored my feelings and thoughts about the war here. Neither do I have to appeal to any eccumenical council to confirm my conclusions about Christian marriage.

By definition the Christian marriage service is a religious event, not a show, not a party. The reception is the party. Although the marriage covenant is what is being made in it, it is not actually the central point of the service. In liturgical traditions, it is the eucharist, in non-liturgical traditions, it is the declaration of the word and the public witness of a private conviction.

As for Jesus, or decisions being made 1000s of years after his death (and resurrection, I may add), one only has to look to his words to find his thoughts on marriage: In Matthew 19 and in Mark 10, Jesus treats marriage as indissoluble and holy. He calls it becoming one flesh. He does not say it is a big celebration of love and happiness. That is not to say it is not those things, or that Jesus did not recognize those things (see the wedding feast at Cana, as well as several descriptions of wedding feasts and celebrations in his parables), but that the main idea and purpose of marriage was the bringing together of two into one into a holy union that was ordained by God and not to be dissolved by man.

St. Paul wrote in Ephesians of the relationship between husband and wife being a reflection of Christ and the Church. This is also not about self-adulation or showmanship.

People can reject these principles as they wish, but they are Christian principles. They are the Christian basis for marriage.

Had that wedding entrance been in a non-Church setting, I still would have found it in bad taste, treating marriage trivially, but it would not have created a scandal to the Church.

Now, that said. I have noticed, Van, that you are willing to throw out criticizing shots without being brave enough to allow contact with you. That you have not been willing to answer questions I have had of you, or to write with the same level of respect toward your opponents as I have tried to have (for instance calling people by their preferred names/titles/associations). As this is one of millions of blogs out there and nobody is forcing you to read, I do not know why you feel you have to vent your spleen with me.

You have taken what might have been a simple disagreement and turned into something involving name calling and vitriol. It is unbecoming and shows you to ill advantage.
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