June 18, 2005

"Same As It Ever Was"
    - from "Once in a Lifetime" by the Talking Heads

I was a groomsman at my brother-in-law's wedding yesterday and it was quite an event (as one could expect from a groom with such a theatrical bent). The ceremony was emotionally uplifting, as weddings usually are, and they'd done some spade work for the reception. The wedding party was introduced not just with names but with mild "roasts", toddling out individually to a hand-picked song. The song they chose for me was the Beatles "Paperback Writer". (Ironically, later I would meet a real writer, whose girlfriend was a bridesmaid.)

But the intended reason for this entry is what happened before the wedding. It was 3:55, just thirty-five minutes before the wedding began, and I was wandering around this Lutheran church when I came across the empty pastor's office. And there were books inside. Lots of them. And it drew me like a flame and so I was in there all of twenty seconds before the pastor came in, looking surprised to see me.

I immediately explained that I love books, especially theology books, hoping that was adequate justification to a fellow bibliophile for such a brazen trespass. And I explained how I'd overheard him talking to my daughter-in-law at the rehearsal dinner about a book he strongly recommended.

He was the type who really likes to talk, so we talked about his current read that explains why Pilate was so quick to execute an innocent man despite the reputation Roman law had for being thorough and fair. And then we talked about why the Jewish high priests and scribes didn't see Jesus as the Messiah. And then out o' the blue - an apparent nonsequitor to my ear - I hear something about Jesus having brothers. I didn't respond (he didn't know I was Catholic) but then he mentioned it a second time and I said, "well, the word could also mean cousins".

I think y'all can predict the rest.

It was all very friendly, which was cool. It helped that I felt like I had the weak side of the argument and so wasn't the least bit annoyed at him. It's when I feel I have the strong side of an argument that I get annoyed. Still have to work on that. (Fortunately he wasn't too much annoyed at me.)

I brought up Jesus giving Mary to John and not his brothers and he says that Jesus couldn't trust his brothers since they thought He was insane. I said that might be true but did that mean they wouldn't care for their mother? And he said I was extrapolating my own beliefs on the text and it was all very friendly. He said why on earth would Mary & Joseph not had other children and I said that vows between married people not to have sex were not unheard of at that time, when there was great expectation of a messiah. Plus John the Baptist was an Essene and they were into virginity.

Basically it's not an argument much worth having, which he tacitly admitted when he said that he thinks Roman Catholics and the Orthodox are surely wrong for believing in the perpetual virginity of Mary but that if he gets to Heaven and finds out he's wrong he won't mind being wrong one bit and that he expects I wouldn't either.

There's something humorous about having an argument that might've happened at least three hundred years ago. (I would say 500 years ago but I think Martin Luther was pretty orthodox concerning Marian beliefs.) It had a theatre-of-the-absurd aspect to it as if this pastor and I were acting in parts of a play that have been continually re-acted with almost the same words for hundreds of years. Same as it ever was. The thing I regret is not having read Tom of Disputations's recent post& once gigantic thread on the topic...

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