|Fig. 1. Not so exciting for the sardine.|
One of those blessings was the attendance of a very special wedding. One of my former students, let's call her Lily, a dramaturg, was joined in holy matrimony to her longtime beau, who happens to be an Episcopalian priest. This presented Lily's family with something of a pickle - they are devout Catholics. The happy couple asked me for advice many months ago, because they knew that Mrs. Doc and I had confronted a similar conundrum when we wanted to get married, back in the late Cretaceous period - Mrs. Doc is a Muslim, and I am Jewish. Our solution (to elope, get married in a parking lot, and present our detractors with a fait accompli), seemed not preferable in this case. I was optimistic - at least they were both Christians, and him a man of the cloth no less, and also they didn't have to worry about Tyrannosaurs.
Now, apart from the fact that I am a theatre history scholar with a particular interest in religious practices, I have a special attraction to wedding ceremonies because I became ordained in the Church of Universal Life many years ago in order to conduct weddings for my non-religious and gay friends. Weddings are at their cores performances of a hope for the future, and opportunities for communities to come together and affirm their specific hopes for the couple's happiness within a context that re-inscribes their shared hopes for their collective futures. For most people, this context is described by their religious practice, so it seems natural for weddings to be celebrated in a religious context. But religions, while very good at nurturing their internal communities, seem to me historically to be very very bad at integrating the practices and beliefs of other communities. It's to be expected - as Hayden White observed, it is difficult to identify the content of one's own felt humanity, and much much easier to ostensibly self-define by negation. To wit: "well, I don't know what I am, but I know I'm not THAT." So religious communities define themselves in opposition to one another. How to reconcile that? Well, for Catholics and Protestants, the historical solution is to make hot and cold war on one another for centuries.
|Fig. 2. You know you want to.|
The point is, I applaud these families for figuring it out, because finding hope in a world in a lot of the evidence seems counterindicative is a tough job. It requires compromise, and compromise requires a sacrifice, of one's ostensible identity if nothing else. That's hard to do, particularly when you are frightened of losing something dear to you, like your faith, or your daughter. And yet, those dark shapes in the water are getting closer, and it's not like we have a lot of options. Like the wily sardine, we're gonna have to work together to survive.
What's that you say? Sardines actually don't work together? Correct. That's why they die.