Sunday, April 17, 2022

Happy Easter, etc.

             "Happy Easter" by Urban Janke 
               (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

   For many years my column ran on Sundays, which means I have plenty of old Easter columns I can share, and thus avoiding the necessity of thinking of something new.     
     The column below does more than indulge my double Seder-stuffed torpor. It is from when the column filled a page, and the opening nod to Easter leads to a reflection on gay marriage that could be ripped from the headlines, applied to transgender teens. A considerable cross-section of Christians just aren't happy unless they're kicking somebody weaker, a neat inversion of their supposed faith that would be funny if it weren't so tragic. Speaking of which, the last part is evidence I was mocking Donald Trump seven years before our nation decided to make him president. For all the good it did.


     Happy Easter! After I wrote the item below, it struck me, "Oh. Right. Sunday is Easter. People are going to think this a deliberate anti-religious rant penned intentionally to blaspheme the most important holiday in Christendom, and it's not."
     To be honest, I never thought of Easter. The holiday isn't on my radar because I don't celebrate Easter. No eggs. No bunnies. No fancy hats. Nothing. For me, and people like me, it's just another Sunday.
     That might be a simple point, but I think it's one worth making because so many act as if their religion is the only belief in the world. That's natural, I suppose — if you think you possess the universal truth as set down by the Lord God Almighty, it can seem insulting to suggest that your truth might somehow be comparable to these grubby belief systems and overgrown cults that have the nerve to also exist, and manifest themselves in that uncomfortable period before their believers all die and go to hell.
     Frankly, just that recognition — there are other people living here, inexplicably permitted by God to exist and cling to their heresies — is a start, and enough for a fine spring Sunday. We've made progress; maybe even a breakthrough, and we'll work on accepting those other people as equal human beings in future sessions.


     Opposing gay marriage is Bible-based bigotry. There's no other way to justify denying homosexuals the basic human rights non-gays enjoy.
     The argument that gays somehow undermine the sanctity of marriage is unsupported by any actual evidence. The divorce rate doesn't climb in nations where gays are allowed to wed. There is no data that suggest that gays make unfit parents or are bad neighbors.
     The sole objection to gay marriage is that God doesn't approve, and because gays are a small enough part of the population, they can be stepped on (God doesn't like fornicators, either, supposedly, but they're allowed to wed because there are so many).
     The whole wrecking-marriage argument really falls apart when we ask what other groups also undermine marriage — do murderers? No, society allows murderers to marry — even marry each other, in prison, if they like — without ruining marriage in some ineffable fashion.
     The very old? We find marriage among the elderly sweet — nobody starts talking about the ability to reproduce when grandma remarries the way they raise "nature" as an objection against gay unions.
     Atheists? Fine. Liberals. Ditto. No, these arguments were especially concocted for use against gays, and realizing that, it's hard to understand how they were given credence for so long in a supposedly free society.
     Habit, I guess.
     This subject arises because last week Vermont became the first state in the union whose legislature legalized gay marriage, as opposed to the dodge of civil unions being considered in Illinois. Allowing gays to have civil unions but not marriage is a step in the right direction but also a sop to bigots.
     Hiding behind civil unions is as if, in 1965, the nation didn't pass the Voting Rights Act because too many Southern racists felt the sanctity of the ballot box is corrupted if blacks use it. So instead we passed the "Registering Elective Choice Act," which allowed African Americans to participate in elections though not technically "vote."
     The only thing that keeps this subject from being thoroughly depressing is the certainty that someday we will get beyond it, the way they have in places like Spain (Spain!) where gay marriage is legal. Someday this will be just another inexplicable historic American prejudice, like hatred of the Irish. As with Tipperary, it's a long way to go, but we'll get there someday.


     It was before 6 a.m. Wednesday when the e-mails began to arrive regarding my item on the inadequacy of the Trump Tower spire.
     "Every single woman will have this same response," wrote a prominent female Chicagoan whose identity I will take to the grave. "That's because over the years we have learned that the most bombastic guys are always hiding a 'dinky!!' "
     Thus the day went, with women insisting that my item on the little stick atop Trump Tower was some kind of clever commentary on the Donald's anatomy, or lack of which.
     I can't say this aspect didn't occur to me, fleetingly — while I was mentioning Trump's "mustard seed of a soul" I considered speculating upon a different kind of diminution.
     But this is a family paper, and I figured, "Don't go there." That was it, truly — those detecting a subtle dig are reading too much into it. I've only met Donald Trump once, and though completely unimpressed, I don't hold him in greater contempt than does any other thinking American.
     I didn't expect readers — men and women — to revel in what one called "the Freudian implications" of the spire expose.
     "I'm not buying it," wrote David Schmittgens. "I think this is your transparent way of getting back at The Donald. Don't deny it. I think what you are really saying is, 'Trump has a . . .' "
     Well, enough of that. And probably enough of this subject. I'm sorry I raised, umm, I'm sorry I brought it up — whoops — let's just forget the whole thing. Freud never actually said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar," but I'll say it: Sometimes a spire is just a spire.

      —Originally published in the Sun-Times, April 12, 2009


  1. I'm against the government recognizing marriage.
    The government should do the same as they do in the UK, they recognize civil unions only.
    A couple goes to the registrars offices & fill out a form & they are legally a couple.
    If they want a marriage ceremony later, they have one, but the civil union is enough to be considered a married couple.

    1. civil unions have largely been phased-out in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Before this ruling, civil unions were introduced specifically for same-sex couples who wanted to get married but were denied the institution. Prior to the Obergefell ruling, 13 states had laws on the books banning same-sex marriages or civil unions, all of which were overturned by the Court. Even some cities and municipalities dove into the debate by passing local same-sex marriage ordinances (which are now void). The next thing the rights list would be to over turn Obergfell. I assume that would throw civil unions out the window.

  2. Well, you certainly went 3 for 3 on this column.

    "I don't hold him in greater contempt than does any other thinking American."

    To me, the question raised by reading that line 13 years later is how much more contempt can a thinking American hold for somebody who's been contemptible for decades? Whatever the answer is, he's definitely pushed the envelope beyond what I would have even thought possible.


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