porphyry: (Danaae)
This post was inspired by Benicek, who became concerned from my last post wherein I admitted to being sappy and sentimental, worried that the post indicated some form of marital discord. His concern made me laugh and also made me consider our form of marital discord.

When most couples encounter discord, I can't imagine what they argue about. If I were to take my lead that way from, say, television, that wouldn't help me because I don't watch much television. When I listen to my students talk about what their relationships break up over, it's another line of thinking I find hard to follow even if it's real experience.

It seems to me that relationships this way are quite simple. You make a promise; you keep it. When you make a decision, you ask yourself, "What's good for this marriage?" Then, everything is easy. But of course you have to forget about the supremacy of the personal pronoun I. It's not about what I want anymore.

That much I understand, but I still haven't figured out how to resolve our particular brand of marital discord. I am open to suggestions.

Here's an example of our brand of marital discord for you. This is about as far as we get. This happened this morning and is fairly typical.

"I need to watch The Bishop's Wife," I tell Malkhos. "You need to find it for me."

"Okay," he says, knowing I still haven't figured out his DVD organization method.

"I don't know why I like that movie so much," I say. "It's so sentimental. Well, David Niven does have a pretty nice library. I like to admire that a lot."

"I don't know why you like it so much either," Malkhos says. "It's theologically unsound."

"So what?" I say.

He flaps his hand at me. "You're the Christian," he says. "It should bother you."

"Catholic," I correct him. "Of the sort who never reads the Bible. Of the sort who let others read it for them, divine its mysteries, and present it to me. What's this got to do with the movie anyway?"

"The Book of Enoch," he beings, "Is a text compiled from various older texts about the same time as Daniel, the second century BC. It attempts to account for many of the theological ideas—afterlife, the devil, cosmic redeemer, etc.—that are not present in the Hebrew Bible but which were becoming more important in apocalyptic Judaism and which would form part of the background of the NT—"

"What the hell is the NT?" I ask.

"The New Testament," he says patiently. "So, the section based on The Book of the Watchers builds on Genesis 6 to explain the devil and demons. The sons of god that sired giants on the daughters of men, become the watchers, a class of angels that fall to earth because they feel desire for human women. They fall to the top of Mt. Hermon (now an Israeli Ski resort in the Golan Heights) and swear an oath to bind themselves together in their sin and their rebellion against god. There are two hundred of them and the names of the dekarchs, leaders of squads of 10, are given, together with that of their leader, Semyaza (the constellation Orion). After they rape the women, they proceed to teach them all of the corrupt and sinful arts, such as how to make swords, magical curses, and how to apply makeup."

"Wow," I say. "Makeup?"

"Yes, by the devil Azazael," he says, really getting going now. "Now Cary Grant in the film plays an angel, and the physical desire he feels for the Bishop's wife is palpable. Although he has clearly committed the thought-crime of sin, nothing happens. He does not fall and become a demon."

"Cary Grant a demon?" I say. "That would have been a shame. He dresses so well in that movie. Cary Grant never looked better. You know, if Cary Grant in his prime had come to my front door and asked me to run away and be his love, I might have had to put you out."

But Malkhos isn't done yet. "Grant was a homosexual. But the other matter," he continues, "Is that after Grant uses his angelic powers to perform several miracles, he erases everyone's memory so that no one remembers him or his signs. Before he does so, he explains that this is the standard method of angelic operations. Where on earth did the filmmakers get that idea?"

"They didn't do their research to check for theological soundness?" I guess.

He's undeterred. "Christianity is a religion of signs and wonders. You'd think God and the angels would have enough on their hands with fooling astronomers into thinking the light from distant stars had been traveling more than 6000 years and burying all those fake archaeopteryx and tiktaalik fossils, without wasting their time covering up the miracles that they depend upon to convert the people they refuse simply to talk to."

"Are you making fun of the Baby Jesus?" I say suspiciously. "You know I can't tolerate you making fun of the Baby Jesus."

And so it goes. The problems never get resolved. But I'm hard-pressed to say exactly what the problem is, much less how to fix it. Nevertheless, he's found my movie for me, and we'll watch it together, only after I firmly instruct him not to provide a running commentary on its theological shakiness.

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