Thursday, May 11, 2006

Practicing Scales

Pretty Lady just can't seem to stick to the Topic at Hand. Morgan's round-table gay marriage debate is utterly enthralling, except that the issue doesn't concern Pretty Lady in the slightest. Her opinions on gay marriage were decided on the day she discovered that gay people were, in fact, people. QED.

No, Pretty Lady had to go careening off on a tangent, central to her personal concerns, on the Nature of Commitment. She is passionately, vehemently strident in her opinion that you cannot Park a Person. Nay, this is not an opinion at all--it is Fact. It is a Fact, however, that narcissistic klunkheads persist in denying, to the tragedy of all.

Now, let me explain. Pretty Lady is all for Biblical Law. She considers the Ten Commandments to be basic, obvious practical advice. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment; the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."

(Father Worrell, bless his soul, used to intone this phrase with the emphasis on "HANG all the Law and the Prophets," which gave Pretty Lady a vivid mental picture of the Law and the Prophets twisting by the neck on a scaffold, which might not be such a bad idea. But never mind.)

At any rate, though, Pretty Lady has found, through a life of spiritual practice and study, that these Commandments are merely the beginning. If any one of you has ever listened to a child learn to play the violin via the Suzuki method, you may understand what she means.

The Suzuki method is based upon the rote instillation of principles. One shows the student how to perform a C major scale, and the student saws out C major until her fingers and your eardrums are raw. Then you move on to G. Via the Suzuki method, six-year-olds have become modest violin prodigies.

However, even the most prodigious six-year-old, learning via the Suzuki method, has yet to become a musician. This Suzuki-trained violinist is still the aesthetic equivalent of a monkey playing a wind-up organ. Artistry upon the violin is based upon far more than scales, note-reading, and technique. It is only when these techniques have become second nature that the violinist becomes capable of truly making her instrument sing, with a deeply personal yet universal interpretation of the notes played upon it.

It is Pretty Lady's observation that the Ten Commandments, in terms of spiritual practice, are the C major scale. They are a required starting point in the practice of Divine Love. You are not loving someone, generally, while you are murdering them. Ditto envy, theft, casual sexual betrayal of one's spouse or partner, etc. The Ten Commandments are just good manners.

However, if one limits oneself to the literal, plodding adherence to the Ten Commandments, while steadfastly ignoring signs of subtle distress, or not-so-subtle nervous breakdowns, on the part of one's nearest and dearest, this is the spiritual equivalent of playing a rusty tape of a C major scale loudly enough to drown out the symphony next door. You are then missing the Whole Damn Point.

You see, commitments between individuals are not merely a dry contract between static entities. Human beings, by their very nature, grow, learn, and change. If one marries a person expecting them not to do so, one is a jerk and an asshole and a fool. A person who gets married, expecting that the spouse will continue to cook and clean and bear children, or work and bring home money like a robot, no matter whether or not you listen, consider their needs, support their growth as a person, or communicate with them in a meaningful manner, this marriage is doomed to misery and stagnation. Persons who stay in a marriage of this nature may be adhering to the letter of God's commandments, but the spirit is utterly absent.

No, friends, a true 'commitment' is not a fetter; it is a tool. It is an agreement that at best, gives two persons an incentive to discover more about the nature of love, with the mutual assurance that the partner will not decamp as soon as a prettier bottom marches by. To continue the musical analogy--it is the understanding that if G major proves to be difficult on the violin, the student will not throw it down and take up drums instead.

You cannot, generally, avoid your issues by switching partners. Since the root of most personal problems is in the self, trading partners, or taking extra ones, is usually an avoidance tactic. At best, one is simply stalling for another few years, until one fetches up against precisely the same problem that ended the former relationship.

But then there are those occasions when it becomes obvious that 1) your spouse has Parked you; he does not share, he does not communicate, he stares at a glowing screen all day while you tear at your face with your fingernails and throw breakables against the wall; or 2) you selected a partner in your youth, with more of an eye toward pulchritude and malleability than intellect or character, and, ten years out, find that her endless repetition of bland platitudes makes you want to push her face mercilessly into a banana cream pie; or 3) the two of you simply have no interests, goals, or conversational topics in common any more. You have come to the end of the marital line.

What do the Ten Commandments have to say about that?

Well, principally, they say to Love thy Neighbor as Thyself. Love, in these circumstances, could be a lot of things. It could include things like couples counselling, antidepressants, separate dwellings, night classes, or a screaming tantrum. If there are children involved, it definitely includes a great many more considerations. As a last resort, it might even include divorce. But only after all other options have been sincerely exhausted.

What Love does not include, in Pretty Lady's opinion, is locking a miserable person in a cage and throwing away the key; then telling them that this is God's Will, that they are going to Heaven as a reward for their misery, and turning back toward the flickering screen.


Anonymous said...

Ummmm/... Does this mean that gays have biblical rughts to getting married?


Pretty Lady said...

Bane, I will make allowances for your being under the weather at the moment; otherwise I would say that was most lame. The individuals you mention were strangers to the attempt at loving their neighbors, hmmm? Unlike your precious self? And unlike most of the lovely gay persons I have known?

BillyD, 'emotional abandonment' is a most apt, useful and expressive term. Thank you for supplying me with it.

And I did read most of the comments, but there were so many of them.

Rlh, I do not, largely, concern myself with the concept of 'biblical rights.' I concern myself with the concept of loving my neighbor, with hopefully ever-greater virtuosity.

Pretty Lady said...

Taos! You lucky boy. Is that place along the highway still there, that serves those to-die-for sopapillas? That are all huge and hot and puffed up, with tons of honey and butter on the side?

Anonymous said...

Rlh, I do not, largely, concern myself with the concept of 'biblical rights.' I concern myself with the concept of loving my neighbor, with hopefully ever-greater virtuosity. - PL

However,... I don't think love thy neighbor meant getting in the sack with them. I think love thy neighbor means respect, kindness, loyality and honesty. You know, how you want someone else to treat you! "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you."

Pretty Lady said...

I don't think love thy neighbor meant getting in the sack with them.

Gracious! Neither do I. I give you my solemn word, dear rlh, that I will not get into the sack with you, or any one of my other neighbors on this blog. Not the gay ones either. Unless they're cute, and ask very, very nicely.

Pretty Lady said...

Why do I have to see all this homo crap?

Rlh, this is what is known as a Rude Comment. I do not allow Rude Comments on my blog. This is your first and only warning.

Anonymous said...

First and only? Well, ok. sorry about that.
Did not mean to be rude.

(No rudness intended...) However, why on earth does it seem like everytime I turn around there is something that is gay, or black, or latino, or something else that is politically correct in some form of the media - newspapers, tv news, sitcoms, movies... or even universities doing an "awareness (minority du-jour) event".

Several times in my life I made the terrible mistake of speaking up when asked what I thought about "whatever cause it would be" and I gave the perspective of my upbringing and beliefs. And the first thing that come out of peoples mouths are "you are a racist and bigot". Now please, I was raised to hate blacks. that was the minority in my area where I grew up. The KKK was also big in the area at the time. However, after I grew up I noticed that minoroties (in this case a black man that I worked with) were a lot like the whites. You had your good workers and your lazy workers, your good law abiding and crimnals.
What I didn't understand is the whites were overlooking their lazy workers and praising the good warkers. But when it came to the blacks, the lazy ones were scolded and the good workers were overlooked. Seemed a bit of hypocrasy there.

And that is the position I find myself. If someone finds out I am a WASP, then I am treated with suspicion.

PL, please accpet my apology. I don't intend to be rude, it is the place I work at. We must make rude comments toward one another or no one will respect you. Hard to explain... not many women work there. I have a tendency to make rude comments without even realizing it.

if I come accross as being rude, it isn't meant and alls it take get me to rethink what I said is a "That was rude!". however I will try my best not to be rude.

BoysMom said...

Pretty Lady, if more people thought the way you do about working through problems in marriage there would be many fewer divorces and a great many happier people.

Two very stupid statements I have heard many people my age make: "Love means never having to say you're sorry." and "If you truly loved me you would understand what's wrong without me telling you." Which probably reveals just how young I am, and certainly reveals how clueless my peer group is about love and the nature of love.

Pretty Lady said...

the two greatest commandments are to love God and then love others. One is the natural extension of the other.

Absolutely. Thank you, Scooter. I have thought long and hard about those two commandments, having heard them every Sunday for who knows how many years, and I have concluded that they at least imply that we, and our neighbors, are natural extensions of God.

Two very stupid statements I have heard...

How lucky I am, to have such wise readers. You can either have a happy relationship, or you can have your pride; rarely both.

Your courage and sense of honor are an example I hope many can learn to aspire to.

I would definitely say the same of you, my dear Dandy. I, for one, am glad that the less clueful element of my fan base has not permanently disgusted you.

Roland said...

Very nice post Pretty Lady.


Anonymous said...

I must add, this sounds a lot like feel good stuff. I am ok, you're ok. God is love, yes, but he also disciplines his own. He won't let you carry on in sin. If he lets you go on in sin your whole life, It might be smart to evalute if you are saved.

Please, don't take this as rude. But there are militant gay activists out there. And I think they have been very successful in changing american attitudes toward gays. I think they will get their rights for marriage fairly soon. I am opposed to that in a strobg way. But they will get it.

Judt a few years ago homosexuality was considered a mental illness by psychiatrists.

If gay people get their right to marry, whats to stop other sexual suns that are very debased from getting rights?

NAMBLA is already pushing for some kind of reconignition. But how can you justify a man marring a little boy?

Depending on how you look at it, gay rights could be opening a very ugly thing.

And remember, I have no say in this. Because I will/have been branded a racist.

Because I don't agree.


Pretty Lady said...

we are to hate sin.

Now, now. I am glad you brought this up; it is something that I take most severe exception to, and I hear it often from otherwise excellent Christians.

Observe, my dears, the effects that Hate, any kind of hate, has upon oneself. One's blood pressure rises. One's stomach clenches. One's brow lowers, one becomes obsessed, one's heart seals shut like an airlock and one ceases to see the beauty all around. Hate is not a healthy thing.

Focus on hate, however well-intentioned, is counter-productive FOR THE HATER, leaving out any effects it may produce in the world at large. If one feels hate of any stripe, it is a warning sign, like anger; it is a message, 'you need to look at this.' But you need to look at this for your OWN sake, and take whatever information you need from it, and act accordingly to remove the ill-effect PRODUCED BY HATE from your OWN life.

You DO NOT, EVER need to go lashing out at another person, no matter how much of a sinner you perceive them to be. You connect with them in love. You see them clearly in love. When you see in love, you see with the eyes of God.

Pretty Lady said...

how can you justify a man marring a little boy?

Depending on how you look at it, gay rights could be opening a very ugly thing.

Gracious, rlh. How strongly you do feel upon this issue.

I cannot, of course, justify a man marrying a little boy, because a little boy is not a grown person with the ability to knowingly enter into a voluntary commitment. This is where I, and any sane person, would draw the line. Even more ridiculous are 'bestiality' arguments. An animal is not an individual capable of understanding commitment, ever.

It amazes me how many people assume that marriage is solely, or at least most importantly, about sex. As I have explained above, a proper commitment is an agreement between two mature, complete individuals, entered into for the purposes of partnership and mutual support in the growth process. This marital commitment includes sex, but if it is primarily about sex it is doomed to failure, regardless of the ages or genders of the individuals involved.

Science, dear rlh, has firmly established that homosexuality is not a mental illness; it is genetically programmed and largely unalterable. This is borne out among the many gay persons I have had the privilege to be close to. They were born that way, they knew it from a very early age, it was obvious to sensitive people around them before they even declared it, and was not to be tampered with.

Sexual orientation has little to do with how mentally and emotionally healthy a person is, otherwise. Gay people run the gamut, as do straight people.

Given these facts, of which Pretty Lady will not admit argument, it is natural and inevitable for gay persons to enter into long-term commitments for the purposes of partnership, mutual growth and support. Exotic and unhealthy sexual perversions do not enter into it at all.

Anonymous said...

Pretty Lady,
I do feel strongly about this issue. I never did before until the past few years. I don't hate 'gay' people. I try not to hate anyone. However, I don't think it is correct to say homosexuality is programmed in the genes. If that were true, they would no longer exist. The gene pool for homosexuality would be eradicated because they wouldn't be able to reproduce. So I doubt if it is in the genes. I DO however believe (just an opinion) that everyone is capable of homosexuality. Some people decide to be that way.

If God had decided that homosexuality was ok, he would have never warned against it. But Jesus died for all sins except one. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit can never be forgiven. Homosexuality isn't blasphemy. It is detestable. But not unforgivable. I think people are making the mistake that it isn't a sin. Just like adultery and fornication are sins. Murder is a sin. All forgiveable. I can not sit here and say who is saved by the grace of God and who isn't. i can only say if I am or not.

However, I still feel gay people shouldn't be allowed to enter into marriage. Some people have declared that a "hate crime" for me to say something like that. But I don't hate them. it isn't out of hate I say that. It is out of right and wrong.

Sorry, but that is reality... Now you can say that is my reality. And perhaps you're right. i can't think that deeply. I might just be a shallow person. Or thick headed.

But just wait, when gays get the right from a judge or voters or legistlation, watch the mess it creates. I bet it will get ugly. There ARE people out there that hate. However, I am not one of them.

Terry_Jim said...

Hope I'm not too rambling and long-winded, Miss PL and others,
the hour is late.
However, the quote you mention, with Father Worrell' emphasis,
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment; the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." Matthew 22:40 "
are not the Ten Commandments, rather, a summation of them given by Jesus in reply to a Pharisee lawyer who tried to trip Jesus up
and get an incriminating sound bite. The 'Ten' are listed in Exodus 20.

Our relationship to God is also no mere dry contract in which we obey , then God opens Heaven.
As if the Creator were a cosmic, robotic vending machine.
We are incapable of the commanded obedience because of our fallen nature, in fact the commands themselves stir disobedience in us.(For example , would the sign "Do Not Throw Rocks At This Picture Window" in front of my home provoke obedience ?)

Love God, love thy neighbor.
We all fall short of that love.
God doesn't grade on a curve, placing say, adultery, over gossip on some sort of sin ranking. Sin is sin, God hates sin . Yet, while we were sinners,
Christ died for us.
Accepting His provision for our sin is like having our strings tuned, to borrow your violin analogy.
Turning the bow over to Him to play His song of love to God and to my neighbor through my actions and attitudes follow that surrender .
So true, your words on committment.
Certainly not a fetter, paradoxically, nothing is so liberating as committment!

Another possible picture painted by the Teacher in this chapter :

Look at the command to love God as vertical and the command to love thy neighbor as horizontal.
The commands pictured symbolically this way form the beams of a cross, on which hang the Law and the Prophets- that is, The Word of God.

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14)

Regards to All, Terry