Thursday, March 22, 2007

A New Format; Marry the Man Today

Well, I have been doing some reflecting and self-imposed ass-kicking as of late for a variety of reasons. It was the confluence of two "events" which have brought me to this exciting day for the blog. First of all, I started listening to a podcast by Newt Gingrich and was astounded by something I noticed about the podcast itself. While we may disagree on some of Gingrich's policies, ideas, and actions, I think we can admit that, flawed as he may be, the man is intellectually talented. Therefore, when I noticed that his podcast was merely 1.5 minutes long, every day, I thought, "Wow, Matt. You have always said that constriction breeds innovation. No doubt ol' Newt's doing that with his podcast." Therefore, I have decided to make my blog entries smaller (contained within 250-500 words with an occasional "extended editorial" more of the length of my older entries). The second event was while watching the video podcast for Glenn Beck's television show. (Yes, I get my news from other sources than iTunes. Don't worry!) Glenn referred to how he pontificates on everything, and I thought, "You know, Matt, your blog is really nothing more than your own pontifications on everything. Maybe you should start writing shorter podcasts on a variety of topics more frequently." Therefore *drum roll*.... We have the newer, more concise Pontifications of a Coding Catholic!

Pontification of the Day: Marry the Man Today

In the musical Guys and Dolls, the final non-ensemble song is a piece between Adelaide and Sarah Brown called "Marry the Man Today." (See: for the lyrics. Enter at your own risk. I did not get any spyware but will not guarantee anything!) Two years ago, when we were doing this show at Saint Vincent College, Kimberly Andrews and I used to bemoan this song’s lyrics. With a little thought, however, I decided in passing time that I did not dislike this song as much as I thought I did, and here's why.

We often say that those who get married must love their spouse as they are, accepting them as they are. I think that implicitly, this means what I'm about to say, but would like to be more specific. I most firmly believe that love is an ontological reality, that is a reality of being, one in which the lover and the beloved share in each other's very being (in a communion of sorts). Therefore, I do indeed think that one should love someone for who they are, but this love does not require that you love what somebody does. Instead, love demands that the lover always shape the beloved in the Truth, perfecting his/her being, therby making their interpersonal more intense.

"Marry the Man Today" is a mixed bag with respect to this. While it is somewhat fatalistic in the "codependent relationship" way and is manipulative, the song does have a golden kernel: That if you love somebody, you should want to perfect them. Since this is a musical, the scope of the song is much smaller than a personal reflection, but it goes without saying that both parties must be open to these acts of perfection. However, the kernel is this: If I love you for who you are, I will pursue you to my heart's content, even if I don't always agree with what you do. However, I love you for who you are precisely because you are a good person and will not completely scoff at my attempts to help you better yourself.

So, in the final analysis, it's not a bad thing to love someone but what to change what they do. Of course the spheres of ontology and praxis, that is the sphere of practical action, are not completely separate. It is quite possible that the lover may desire to change something the beloved does, with that change only being possible by changing who the person is. Now, this presupposes the belief that humanity, no matter how decadent, is good at its core, although fallen. When I say who someone is I mean moreso "what makes that individual a unique person, capable of loving in a particular way." Since evil is a lack of being, I refuse to even slightly misconstrue it as such.

And so, I stand someone ambivalently for "Marry the Man Today," a song which has its weaknesses but is perhaps not as bad as I once thought.

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