Category: marriage

on marriage

by Andrea Elizabeth

In the chapter on Lust in Therapy of Spiritual Illnesses by Dr. Jean-Claude Larchet, it is nice that he does not say the sole purpose of sexual union is procreation, which would be the equivalent of his saying that the only purpose of food is to nourish the body and not enjoyment.

“However, this end goal, as essential as it may be, is neither the only one nor the most important. In the human race, procreation can seem more like a natural result of sexual union rather than its very purpose. Sexual union is first of all one of the modes of union between man and woman; it is one of the manifestations of their mutual love and translates this love to  certain level of their being – that of the body…. However, we must make clear that conjugal love is seen from the Christian perspective as the union of two persons – that is, two beings thought of in their wholeness, on the one hand, and in their spiritual nature on the other – in Christ and with the Kingdom in mind; a union sealed as to its nature and purpose by the grace of the Spirit conferred in the sacrament of marriage…. Sexual union must thus be preceded ontologically by the spiritual union that confers meaning and value on the physical one. Only on these grounds can the end goal of sexual union be respected as well as that of the nature of the beings brought into relation by it.” (p 161, 162)

I think this is a little like Kierkegaard in its insistence on the perfect circumstances. I’m sure that the above union is most blessed and most symbolic of Christ and the Church, or at least His Saints, but I don’t like that he says no other situation can be respected. So we cannot respect a non-Christian marriage? That’s harsh. Are arranged marriages not respected if the two don’t “love” each other?


The second “why”

by Andrea Elizabeth

In Kierkegaard’s Either/Or Part II is to have children to continue one’s family line. He is shorter on his argument this time saying that to marry for other than love is to wound and alter the woman even if she is won over. But that having a child is a separate blessing beyond all others.

The first “why”

by Andrea Elizabeth

I’m up to page 64 in Kierkegaard’s Either/Or Part II. He has just finished his argument against the first, most respectable, but not justifiable, reason given people marry: to build character. At first I had in my head an argument, ‘what about the idea of Marriage as Salvation, and the reason the Orthodox ceremony includes a martyr’s crown?’ He gives an example of a man who married an older, plainer person than himself, causing one to think “that the ‘why’ must be an eccentric one.” Playing into stereotypes much, Mr. Kierkegaard? That men are only naturally interested in pretty young women? But the man stated that one marries to build character, “to the slight edification of his [listening] wife.” I can see his point, though, that one’s preconceived notions about character building can make the spouse a guinea pig. They are there solely for the upbuilding of the other person. It reminds me of a certain Calvinist posture where others are dung that God miraculously and monergistically uses to his own, and vicariously, the Christian’s ends. There is a bad way to view martyrdom that removes oneself too much from the cause and effect.

Rich Mullins’ “Divine Obsession”

by Andrea Elizabeth

speaking of Kierkegaard’s First Love in Either/Or, here’s an article comparing the ethical God to the aesthetic God. http://kidbrothers.net/release/sepoct95.html

that which endures to the end

by Andrea Elizabeth

Not that an engagement breaker can’t know about love. Some quotes.

Although [romantic] love is based essentially on the sensuous, it nevertheless is noble by virtue of the consciousness of the eternal that it assimilates, for it is this that distinguishes all love from lust: that it bears the stamp of eternity. The lovers are deeply convinced that in itself their relationship is a complete whole that will never be changed. But since this conviction is substantiated only by a natural determinant, the eternal is based on the temporal and thereby cancels itself. Since this conviction has undergone no ordeal, has found no higher justification, it proves to be an illusion and therefore it is so easy to make it ludicrous. (p. 21)

Therefore, the true eternity in love, which is the true morality, actually rescues it first out of the sensuous But to bring forth this true eternity requires a determination of will – but more on that later. (p. 22)

Like all depression, it is defiant and is conscious of it; it thinks: Perhaps just this, that I bind myself to one person with an indissoluble bond, will make this being, whom I otherwise would love with my whole soul, become intolerable to me, perhaps, perhaps, etc. (p. 25)

Therefore, a marriage based on calculation [convenience] is to be regarded as a capitulation of sorts that the exigencies of life make necessary. But how sad it is that this seems to be almost the only consolation the poetry of our time has left, the only consolation that of despairing; indeed, it obviously is despair that makes such a connection acceptable. Therefore, it is usually entered into by persons who have long since reached their years of discretion and who also have learned that real love is an illusion and its fulfillment at most a pious wish…. Consequently the eternal, which, as already indicated above, belongs to every marriage, is not really present here, for a commonsensical calculation is always temporal.  (p. 27)

This is why in a recent play a commonsensical little seamstress also makes the shrewd comment about fine gentlemen’s love: They love us but do not marry us; they do not love the fine ladies, but they marry them. (p. 28)

yet it would be beautiful if the Christian dared to call his God the God of love in such a way he thereby also thought of that inexpressibly blissful feeling, that never-ending force in the world: earthly love. p. 30)

those for whom romantic love has an appeal do not care much for marriage, and on the other side, so much the worse, many marriages are entered into without the deeper eroticism that surely is the most beautiful aspect of purely human existence. Christianity is unswervingly committed to marrkage. Consequently, if marital love has no place within itself for the eroticism of first love, then Christianity is not the highest development of the human race; and surely it is a secret anxiety about such a discrepancy that is laregely responsible for the despair that echoes in both modern poetry and prose. (p. 30-31)

Seems he doesn’t think romantic love is an illusion after-all. Sustaining it may be another matter.


Why women don’t like Kierkegaard

by Andrea Elizabeth

Inspired by yesterday’s article, this morning I again, after a long hiatus, picked up Either/Or Part II. Part I was from the point of view of the aesthete, and Part II is from the point of view of the ethicist. Aesthetics by nature are more interesting than ethics. Do is more interesting than don’t. Do opens the realms of possibilities, don’t closes the door. This is probably why Part I is a lot thicker than Part II. I think I must have quit reading after this: “but there is one thing for which I thank God with my whole soul, and that is that she is the only I have ever loved, the first, and there is one thing for which I pray to God with my whole heart, that he will give me the strength never to want o love any other.” (page 9)

To all who find themselves in this ideal arrangement, good for you. Preach on against those of us who did not. Club us over the head for our instability, recklessness, waywardness, dangerousness, immorality, and deservedness of being shunned. There, that was a self-indulgent pity party.

The third reason I’ve put this book at arms’ length is that Kierkegaard was never married. He courted Regina for four years, finally proposed, then dropped her immediately after she accepted. How can he preach about marriage?

But, he is a complicated fellow and deserves more query. Maybe he’s chastising himself as the aesthete? Maybe Part I is his loving himself and Part II is his hating himself? If that’s so, I can be more sympathetic. But this goal, “But now to the subject. There are two things that I must regard as my particular task: to show the esthetic meaning of marriage and to show how the esthetic in it may be retained despite life’s numerous hindrances.” (page 8) Have your cake and eat it too? Sounds like a women’s magazine cover article on keeping your marriage sparkly. So did he break off his own engagement because he didn’t think the aesthetic immediacy of attraction could really be retained? Was this next part himself?:

“You, however, actually live by plundering; unnoticed, you creep up on people, steal from them their happy moment, their most beautiful moment, stick this shadow picture in your pocket as the tall man did in Schlemiel and take it out whenever you wish. You no doubt say that those involved lose nothing by this, that often they themselves perhaps do not know which is their most beautiful moment. You believe that they should rather be indebted to you , because with your study of lighting, which magic formulas, you permitted them to stand forth transfigured in the supernatural amplitude of the rare moments…. If one dared to hope that the energy that kindles you in such moments could take shape in you, distribute itself coherently over your life, well, then something great would certainly come of you , for you yourself are transfigured in such moments.” (page 10-11)

My current theory is that Kierkegaard did try to sustain the transfigured energy – but he chose to do it through philosophical writing, not marriage. I don’t think he liked the physical as much as the intellectual, thus his decision not to marry her, but to devote himself to his work. But he did have an emotional bond to her, which he found that he could sustain without marriage. He believed in constant transfiguration, and for a while had the patience for it. But eventually he fulfilled this prophecy, “you who once wrote to me that patience to bear life’s burdens must indeed be an extraordinary virtue, that you did not even have the patience to want to live. Your life disintegrates into nothing but interesting details like these.” And this is why he died so young after getting more and more negative. Why do the brightest lights die so young? I do like Kierkegaard.


Love all men equally

by Andrea Elizabeth

How does Jane fit with the following?

From St. Maximus’ 400 Chapters on Love

13. The person who loves God cannot help loving every man as himself, even though he is grieved by the passions of those who are not yet purified. But when they amend their lives, his delight is in­describable and knows no bounds”.

14. A soul filled with thoughts of sensual desire and hatred is unpurified.

15. If we detect any trace of hatred in our hearts against any man whatsoever for committing any fault, we are utterly estranged from love for God, since love for God absolutely precludes us from hating any man.

16. He who loves Me, says the Lord, will keep My commandments (cf. John 14: 15, 23); and ‘this is My commandment, that you love one another’ (John 15:12). Thus he who does not love his neighbour fails to keep the commandment, and so cannot love the Lord.

17. Blessed is he who can love all men equally.

18. Blessed is he who is not attached to anything transitory or corruptible.

19. Blessed is the intellect that transcends all sensible objects and ceaselessly delights in divine beauty.

Besides the criticisms in the previous posts, she does wait for Rochester to repent of his flirtation with Blanche and his deception and rule-breaking with his wife. She also works very hard to forgive and not hate Mrs. Reed and Mr. Brocklehurst and to see Lowood school as part of the shaping her character. She does resist Rochester’s sensual advances. I think she still has a ways to go in loving all equally and delighting in divine beauty. But there are developmental steps it seems where one does need to love and be loved uniquely by a parent or a spouse or perhaps someone else so that they can progress to loving others correctly and dispassionately. Until then it is hard not to vilify those who seem to stand in the way of this love. Hence Blanche is banal and Mrs. Rochester is crazy and cruel.

According to Ashley Madison, women are obsessed with passion

by Andrea Elizabeth

I just rewatched Jane Eyre with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender. It was hard to step outside of the storm and look critically at Jane’s emotional journey. What does pain make you deserve? Rochester thought it was pleasure and escape from banal people. He said he loved Jane’s purity. But was she? Leaving him because he was technically married, conveniently to a crazy cruel woman, is supposed to prove it. But her pride had been stoked by his untoward attention to her for being above banal. She said she was just like any other governess, but when Blanche comes to visit, she is obviously very jealous of their flirting because she thinks it is owed to her alone. She does not criticize his flirtatiousness, especially when directed at her. She later calls him on being deceitful about his wife, but he was deceitful to Blanche and herself as well.

This desire for his exclusive attention is stoked by her extreme loneliness. Mrs. Reed had hated her for being of a passionate nature. This nature did seem to set her apart. She was shunned because of it by everyone she had been entrusted to. She could not take being shunned by Rochester when he insisted she watch his attention being directed elsewhere. But why was romantic attention all that could ease, or if directed elsewhere, cause her pain?

I can’t find an icon I used to use as a profile picture elsewhere of a female Saint, I thought her name was Elizabeth, but not one of the famous ones. I think it was Russian. She is in the midst of a storm, clouds and her dress swirling about her, but in the corner is Christ and that is where her attention is directed. The Church gives examples of women with such a nature who went in seclusion because all the men they encountered were attracted to it. Jane loved St. John like a brother, but he desired her and would not consent to not loving/possessing her fully. She said it would kill her to live with him like that, so she follows Rochester’s voice across the stormy moors instead. I’ve heard Charlotte Bronte originally ended the story with Jane going to India with St. John as a brother. Who knows why it was changed, but it is dissatisfying. Sort of like how relieved you are in The African Queen when Katherine Hepburn doesn’t have to live with her brother anymore and finds Humphrey Bogart. Or when C.S. Lewis finds Joy after Malcolm. But Jane’s going to India as a sister does let her keep the pure reputation, instead of the convenience of the wife being mad, murderous and at last suicidal, which Rochester nobly tries to prevent. What if she had been sweet and innocent? Maybe Rochester wouldn’t have been so needy. Or maybe he would have anyway, because saintliness, in he or his wife, is hard to come by. I bet she would have had faults. But these are not excuses for where the heart goes. The heart goes places anyway. And no one wants to kill their heart. Some women, like St. Katherine, naturally and exclusively loved Jesus more than anyone.

The three eunuchs come to mind. Matthew 19:12 “For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others–and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.”

home sweet home

by Andrea Elizabeth

Punchline with Tom Hanks and Sally Field is a blast from 1988. We believed in our heterosexual racist liberated narcissism. And there is a smart, if not as funny as they thought it was, way to do it. But Tom Hanks is still brilliant and Sally Field still gets you lost in the moment. White culture was brilliant if unnatural. And I guess that’s why I’m sad the Confederate flag has been hijacked to represent racism and not a culture that is home. I am at home in the south and not in the north. It is a different place. You don’t have to be racist to love it, but I think you have to be a self-hating person to want it desecrated. And since I don’t believe in total depravity, I think they’re wrong to hate where they come from. And I’m also a quarter German and don’t think I have to disavow that just because of one guy who hijacked a few nations.

Imagine how many rabbits there would be without predators

by Andrea Elizabeth

“Of the 102 passengers of the Mayflower, 24 males produced children to carry on their surnames. And although approximately half of the Mayflower passengers died at the plantation during the harsh winter of 1620-21 (one passenger had died at sea while another was born before landing), today, a staggering 35 million people claim an ancestral lineage that runs all the way back – sometimes through fifteen generations – to the original 24 males. That number represents 12 percent of the American population.” http://historynewsnetwork.org/blog/

To see if my estimate yesterday works I’ll use yesterday’s table which says that a person has 32,768 potential 13th great grandparents (15 generations), though less given the ancestral repetition that occurs after going back 10 generations. Yesterday I gave a projection that if ancestors average 2 children each, which would give the original couple of that generation 4 children, each person would have the same number of descendants after 15 generations. So then multiply each of the 24 Mayflower males x 2 (because they had mates and it’s easier that way than figuring 4 children because the backwards projection is based on couples) then that by 32,758 (assuming non-repetition) and you get 1,572,864. That means each couple averaged way more than 4 children to get to the claimed 35 million descendants.

Myles Standish and his wives had 7 children and 19 grandchildren. I quit counting at 500 when my scrollbar was in the middle of the page, so in the 5 generations listed, there are at least 1000 Standish descendants. The page links say some of the grandchildren are unknown. It’s all also complicated when you figure in the wives who not only bring in different surnames, but mess up the math because you can’t just divide or multiply by 1 or even 2 as couples make individuals who may or may not get married. Only 3 of Myles’ children got married and only 2 of those had kids, but all 7 count. So even with infant mortality and lack of mates for the Pilgrims, population boomed.