Saturday, August 20, 2011

My Wife, The Heretic

Apologies for the even-lighter-than-usual posting this month. It comes down to a competition with the ongoing job search, as well as other, less soul-killing, distractions which have all combined to siphon my already spotty inspiration to other outlets. I often think that if I wanted to attract more readers, I should fall back on recurring material, like the nooze, or amusing attempts to anthropomorphize my coworkers or something, or Daddy blogging, but those things don't really scratch the right itches, or at least they don't well enough to justify the extra effort, and worse, in a lot of those cases I'd feel like such a bastard for talking about people behind their backs. Hey, speaking of which...

Truth is, I'm breaking a couple of my rules with this anecdote. First, I'm putting an excerpt of personal conversation into the public space, which I try not to do, but to be fair, it's one of those things that I have every intention of developing into one of those entertaining stories to tell at parties and stuff, and I further aim to embellish the hell out of its original version. The other contraindicated item is talking about my marriage, but you know what? I'm proud of the old girl for this one, and I never find myself saying enough good things about her, so here's one.

Here's a vocabulary exercise, which most of you probably don't need. The word "pariah" is an artifact of the Indian caste system. That it got adopted into English suggests that there was a need for it, which is surprising to me, and frustrating with respect to this post. It's not like the west has any shortage of persecutorial social structures, and hell, maybe it says something that the Indians at least admitted it all to themselves. You'd particularly think that some Roman Catholic equivalent should be floating around out there (although a catholic pariah would be an oxymoron), but I had a hard time finding the pejorative for those people who manage to define themselves without a Church at all, it's as if it's something completely outside their worldview. Best I managed was "non-Catholic," which didn't really carry the same punch. Words like "outcast" or "excommunicant" assume prior membership, whereas pagans and witches are people who have competing beliefs, and that's wholly inappropriate here. Even a heathen would need to be someone who's content out on the primitive English scrublands. Who's the official non-participant of the Catholic church? Do the popelings even have a word for someone who just doesn't give a fuck? Let me know if you know the right designation. "Heretic" was the best I came up with, and it's at least a word I do like.

Well, in any case, my wife is one of those. I have recently learned that she has attained some kind of official antithetical status according to the self-nominated assembly of God. I couldn't be more proud.

D makes friends about as easily as I do, but as life has turned out, she was able to bond with another adult student when she went back to re-edjumication camp a few years ago. There, she found an organic chemist making a similar change in her life, a kindred soul to help gleefully blow the curve for the rest of the preplexed little go-getters. Would they have been credentialed enough to work in a medical lab with just the chemistry or the chemical engineering degree and mere years of experience? Well sure, but there's a big step of focusing yourself after a substantial time off, and classes helped them both get into their new groove. Things have worked out so that they're employed at the same place, and they're best buds of the sort I've sorely missed myself for the last 15 years or so. And good for them. It's not like everyone should be this miserable.

We've hung out a few times together family-style, and it hasn't quite gone smoothly. My previous opinion of P's husband was merely as a boringly quiet guy that it's impossible (especially for another quiet guy) to have a conversation with, but I've learned recently that there are deep convictions underlying his essential gormlessness. He is also something of True Believer, of a deeply conservative Catholic stripe, grimacing to digest a wealth of conservative views of women's roles, and, no doubt, every other sort of dyspeptic social convention that used to not fail to put a healthy fear of god into folks back in better centuries. The ironic part is that P, like my wife, has a pretty short delay between brain and mouth, and how she gets by with all this is something of a mystery to me. I think she saves up for the confessions.

Guiding this constant challenge of will is the P family priest, and kindly members of the flock as they are, they have the shepherd over for dinner once every so many weeks. Several months ago, my dear wife was in their area and without calling first, she showed up at her friend's door, during one of those formal and (I assume) joyless little affairs. My godless sweetie is unused to seeing holy men in full evangelical attire, but managed to not comment on the robes. In fact, she tells me, she showed uncharacteristic restraint even as she got whisked away, perhaps as impressed with the inherent dignity of a man who shows up dressed in his office. But she managed to make an impression just the same.

It's come back around. The priest, rather severely, does not approve this devious Sodomite that I married. It is enough for him that my wife always wears pants. And that she drinks wine, enticing P to do the same once a month. Most threatening of all, my darling doesn't give a thought whatsoever about "knowing her place" in the jealous hierarchy of souls. (If this guy knew what we did before we were decently married...) P suffers stern opprobrium from the priest that her "friends" (of which there is only one) are, literally, parading her straight down into the Pit of Fire. And from this end, I think it's a mark of achievement that my someone who consented to marry me is cool enough to have some creepy repressed narrowbrain in a dress actively preaching against her, evidently because she is an independent, confident, and relatively well-adjusted woman, without the fear of Hell in her. How many people get to claim that level of distinction?

I'm on record having a soft spot for Christians. Having known some exceptional ones in my time, I can find myself inclined to think well of them in general, or at least of certain sorts. I think that for all its failings, the good people that the faith manages to attract can sometimes make the whole enterprise look classy, which is probably true of any faith. But on the other hand, people like this priest are still out there, demanding subservience of half the population and then telling themselves that they make the world better though boundless love. Jesus Christ!

6 comments:

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Ben There said...

Congratulations to your person-who-consented-to-marry-you, for that is a high honor indeed. The more independent, confident, well-adjusted human beings (especially womenfolk) that lack the fear of hell the better. And if you're drawing the ire of the likes of that priest, you know you are doing something right. My wife is also a heretic, and one that was raised catholic at that. But I have to take some credit. I'm pretty sure that being married to me has amplified her heretical tendencies. Kinda worries me some times.

Ben There said...

BTW...good luck on the editorial job applications. Not that I'm qualified to make this kind of pronouncement but you definitely have mastered the craft (of writing).

Aaron said...

Let's try that again...

Hmm...

"Apostate" is nicely, if only mildly, pejorative, but since it really only applies to someone who was a member, but isn't anymore (like myself), it might not apply in your wife's case. Personally, it's a word that I'm rather fond of, even though I suspect that I'm a bit too willing to use it in the presence of the faithful.

Keifus said...

Yeah, couldn't really think of anything that the Catholic church didn't define against itself. I like the word apostasy too. It sounds devious, maniacal to me.

Thanks Ben. If I thought she was a pushover, I would have never even asked for her consent.