“I now pronounce you friend and friend”

Now that homosexual relationships are winning legal, binding status, some people are calling for similar laws ratifying friendship:

Now, a number of scholars are seeking to shore up friendship in a surprising way: by granting it legal recognition. Some of the rights and privileges restricted to family, they argue, should be given to friends. These could be invoked on a case-by-case basis – eligibility to take time off to care for a sick friend under an equivalent of the Family and Medical Leave Act, for example. Or they could take the form of an official legal arrangement between two friends, designating a bundle of mutual rights and privileges – literally “friends with benefits,” as Laura Rosenbury, a law professor at Washington University, puts it. One scholar even suggests giving friends standing in the tax code, allowing taxpayers to write off certain “friend expenditures.”

Such changes, proponents say, could contribute to a shift in how our society values personal relationships. In part, they say, the point is to acknowledge that society has already changed: as more people are living outside of marriage, friendships have become the primary relationships on which many Americans rely. But a broader aim is to recognize the universal social and psychological benefits of friendship, which rival those of other relationships, notably marriage, that receive active state support. New laws could elevate friendship’s status, recasting it as an essential part of our lives, rather than a luxury often sacrificed to other priorities.

Changes of this kind would “allow you to say, these are people who matter deeply to me,” said Rachel Moran, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley who is one of the thinkers in favor of friendship law. “I want that to count, not only in my own intimate life, but in the eyes of the law.”

That’s all single people need! It’s hard enough to find someone to marry. Think of the agony of rejection when you can’t even find a friend willing to commit to you. Notice also how this ties into the deconstruction of marriage into its component parts that we blogged about recently.

This is also a creepy manifestation of the revived religion of the state, in which some people really do want the government to ratify, control, and regulate EVERYTHING. That is, to become “totalitarian”; from the word “total.”

HT: Motte Brown at Boundless

Old America vs. New America

John McCain is old; Barack Obama is young. McCain looks back; Obama looks forward; McCain represents the past; Obama represents the new. See how Peggy Noonan frames the election in terms of two mindsets already at work in our culture: the Old America vs. the New America:

In the Old America, love of country was natural. You breathed it in. You either loved it or knew you should.

In the New America, love of country is a decision. It’s one you make after weighing the pros and cons. What you breathe in is skepticism and a heightened appreciation of the global view.

Old America: Tradition is a guide in human affairs. New America: Tradition is a challenge, a barrier, or a lovely antique.

The Old America had big families. You married and had children. Life happened to you. You didn’t decide, it decided. Now it’s all on you. Old America, when life didn’t work out: “Luck of the draw!” New America when life doesn’t work: “I made bad choices!” Old America: “I had faith, and trust.” New America: “You had limited autonomy!”

Old America: “We’ve been here three generations.” New America: “You’re still here?”

Old America: We have to have a government, but that doesn’t mean I have to love it. New America: We have to have a government and I am desperate to love it. Old America: Politics is a duty. New America: Politics is life.

The Old America: Religion is good. The New America: Religion is problematic. The Old: Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. The New: I’ll sue.

Mr. McCain is the old world of concepts like “personal honor,” of a manliness that was a style of being, of an attachment to the fact of higher principles.

Mr. Obama is the new world, which is marked in part by doubt as to the excellence of the old. It prizes ambivalence as proof of thoughtfulness, as evidence of a textured seriousness.

She goes on in this vein. . . .What do you think of her categories? Is the New America inevitable?

The vocation of the critic

Some thoughts about the controversy over movie reviews that we discussed yesterday, occasioned by the Christianity Today critic giving “Sex & the City” three stars. . .(This blog seems to have become THE place to talk about this, with even one of the parties to the controversy, Ted Slater of Focus on the Family weighing in, as well as other movie critics. I really appreciate that, Mr. Slater and the rest of you, for your stimulating discussion.) But here are some of my principles for reviewing:

(1) A review is not an advertisement or an endorsement but an analysis. Just condemning or just praising a movie or other work of art is not enough. A good review should yield understanding, not just of the work but of what the work is about.

(2) The word “good” has different senses. It can be used in a moral sense (“helping the flood victims was a good deed”) or an aesthetic sense (“that movie had good acting”). A movie can be good aesthetically and bad morally. Or, to bring the other absolutes into the discussion, a work of art that is true and good may not be beautiful; or one that is beautiful and good may not be true; or any of the other possible combinations. Part of the critic’s job is to sort all of that out.

(3) Not everyone should watch every movie, and thanks to the vocation of the movie critic, they don’t have to. Recall the principle that what is lawful for one vocation may not be lawful for someone without that vocation (e.g., soldiers, police officers, and executioners are called to do what civilians may not). Just as physicians must deal with repulsive diseases, critics may sometimes have to deal with repulsive movies. Not that even critics may fall into sin. If watching a movie is an occasion for sin, the critic should stay away, but experienced professionals usually get pretty detached, like a physician operating on a naked body. But if you can’t be detached, this may not be your calling.

(4) In the case at issue, Mr. Slater reviewed the review in a way that was overly inflammatory. Even if the critic is going to condemn something, there is a right and an effective way to go about it. The purpose of every vocation, as we have discussed, is to love and service to the neighbor, so a sense of compassion can make negative criticism sink in more. And, again, the goal of a review should be to increase understanding, both of truth (as the Focus review does, rightly, in condemning sin) and the work being discussed. While still attacking the review for minimizing the movie’s sexual immorality, the Focus on the Family critic could have zeroed in on what the review both discusses and exemplifies: the plight of single Christians–such as the reviewer herself who raises these issues–who get so little support from the church and are thrown back to the resources of the world, such as “Sex & the City.”

(5) The original review could also have given us more analysis, which might have defused some of the controversy. We are told that the movie has the characters wrestling with relationships. Tell us more about the content of those struggles. What, I think, emerges (based on snippets of the TV series that I have seen) is that what these young women really want is MARRIAGE, and yet their promiscuity undermines that quest. They treat men like they treat their shoes, as consumer accessories for their own gratification, and yet they want much more. What they yearn for is, in fact, God’s design. With that kind of specific analysis, the reviewer could fully engage the movie–praising its artistic qualities, taking it seriously by arguing with it, and leaving the reader with understanding, not just of the movie, but of issues of truth, goodness, and beauty.

So you think you can dance

Then don’t measure yourself against Cyd Charisse, who died this week. Notice how in “Singin’ in the Rain” with Gene Kelley, she projects two polar opposite feminine archtypes: the temptress (the dark lady) AND the romantic ideal (the fair maiden):

A gay Lutheran bishop?

What the Episcopal church in the USA is going through, the state Lutheran church in Germany is facing: Prospect of gay Lutheran bishop divides Germans . He hasn’t been elected yet, but he is one of two candidates.

We confessional types have pretty much written off the state Lutheran churches of Europe. Having a gay bishop is the least of their problems compared to (and related to) the watering down of Scriptural authority and related liberalisms.

HT: Glenn Moots

Christians reviewing movies

Hey, thanks for carrying the blog yesterday. You alerted me to lots of interesting things, some of which I might blog about. For example, thanks to Tickletext for this:

Is anyone following the mini-controversy over Christianity Today’s 3-star review of the Sex and the City film? Basically, a writer for CT Movies gave the film a qualified, moderately positive review. On the basis of that review, some outraged Christians questioned CT’s commitment to scripture, and CT published a response accordingly. Ted Slater of Focus on the Family then accused CT of “relishing sexual perversity” and endorsing pornography, and called for the magazine to “repent.” Many of the comments on his blog post echoed his sentiments. Others have responded critically to Slater.

CT’s review

CT’s editorial response

Ted Slater’s condemnation

A response to Slater which includes links to other responses

There are interesting questions here. Does a positive review amount to a promotion, as Slater says? In Areopagitica, John Milton says that truth and falsehood grow up entwined together in this fallen world, and we Christians must work to discern the true and the false. When engaging works of culture, is it possible to praise what is good without reveling in what is bad, or must Christians throw out discernment altogether? Furthermore, when another Christian praises what we regard with spiritual or moral dubiety, what should our attitude be?

I want to weigh in on this, as a long time movie reviewer for WORLD, but I’d like to hear what you have to say first.

UPDATE: See the take in Patrol Magazine.


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