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I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of the culture wars.

The battle over (ostensibly “for”) marriage is a case in point. On the one side are geniuses who seem to believe that God is pleased when we deny others basic human rights and refuse to respect their basic human dignity. On the other are brilliant minds who don’t seem to understand fundamental differences in human anatomy.

One side insists that marriage be “defended” and its meaning officially defined and delimited by the State. The other demands that that definition be inclusive and accepting, however nonsensical the end result.

Call me a simpleton, an extremist sectarian or rudderless liberal, but I don’t think it’s that complicated. I don’t need the State or anyone else to reassure me.

Marriage is sacred. The sacrament of marriage is sex. And when I say “sex,” I don’t mean to discount various other means of enjoyment, but the act to which I explicitly refer is the copulatory sacrament involving complementary male and female organs. Please don’t make me get any more graphic than that. If, in fact, the singularity and rightness of that exquisite pleasure doesn’t make sense to you, well, you need the kind of help that I’m not going to be able to give you. And truly I pray that you find the help you need.

I implore my conservative brethren to, once and for all, recognize that our feeble–and, let’s be honest, narcissistic–so-called “defense” of the sacred does little other than dishonor precisely that which we pretend to protect.

I implore my liberal brethren to find another word. “Marriage” is taken. I’m all for granting committed couples of every assorted kind (especially those involved in the raising of children) all kinds of legal rights; just don’t expect me to consider them “married,” except maybe in the most diluted, metaphorical sense. And, frankly, there’s far too much dilution of marriage in the heterosexual community, so don’t hold your breath waiting for me to endorse even more of it from the LGBTs. For whatever it’s worth, I’d rather not know what you do in private and I think we can all agree that we don’t want the State poking its nose in your bedroom either.

But y’all go ahead and keep shouting at each other like the idiots and bigots you seem determined to be. I realize that my words are unlikely to dissuade you.

Here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to continue celebrating marriage. Please refer back to the aforementioned definition of marital sacrament. I plan on spending the rest of my life celebrating repeatedly, with great abandon and uninhibited joy with the woman who is more beautiful to me each new day than she had been the day before. That, it seems to me, is the best that any of us can do if we mean to express our belief in, support of and gratitude for this greatest of gifts.

Thanks, Chrissy, for being the minister of God’s grace to me–in more ways than I can count, “marital” and otherwise.

With the same finger you might use to fly the universal symbol for defiance and violent disdain (yes, that; yes, the), you can instead bring peace, harmony, cooperation and communication to the world.  With little more strength than you possess in your daintiest appendage (the pinkie, I mean), you can control–yea, even hold back–one (perhaps many) of man’s mightiest implements of mass destruction.  All that with a single finger on your left hand.

One simple device grants you such power.

I refer, of course, to the noble turn signal–overlooked, underused, quite often despised and prejudicially ignored.  I’m convinced that this erstwhile lowly afterthought of automotive genius is one of man’s crowning achievements.  I believe that its habitual and rightful employment would significantly improve the condition of this sick, sad world.  Who knows, we might even hasten the second coming.  O yes.  For reals.

I can’t say for sure that it was one of my proudest moments, but I was certainly quite proud and felt an unusual warmth in my soul the day I witnessed my grown-up daughter express her own ardent affection for this underestimated instrument of pure goodness.  It went something like this (note that the actual dialog is somewhat interpolated and may be a mash up of more than one instance; there have been a few):

Christine (speaking with uncommon conviction to the rude driver ahead of her on the road): “A turn signal would have been nice.  Does your fancy car not have them?”
Me (hopefully): “So, you feel pretty strongly about turn signals?”
Christine (incredulous that I would even ask): “Duh.”
Me (barely containing giddiness but wanting to be sure): “Well, it’s just that so many people don’t quite recognize how important they are.”
(Brief pause.)
Christine: “I’m not an idiot.  They prevent accidents.  They’re a means of communication.  Th-”
Me (unintentionally–in my exuberance–and ironically acting like the cause of our frustration by cutting her off): “They’re a way to be polite to your fellow drivers. . . .”
(Conversation continues.  By this time I’m glowing and hoping she doesn’t notice my inordinate enthusiasm.  It embarrasses her when I’m too proud.)

Perhaps it’s to be expected.  My devotion has surely spanned more years than she’s been alive.  I did help teach her to drive and before that she was a frequent passenger when I drove.  But it’s not the kind of thing I remember making a big deal of.  Her recollection might be different (sigh; it often is).  Really, though, the turn signal is almost something I take for granted.  You’re going to turn?  You’re about to change lanes?  You signal your intentions.  To do otherwise would be akin to taking your hands off the steering wheel and closing your eyes while you accelerate.  Sure it could be done.  It probably is done . . . by idiots.

Maybe it’s even genetic.  Or maybe she’s just wise.  I don’t know, but whatever its cause, it’s one of many things about her that make me happy.  And it’s one of those things that convinces me that we share DNA.

So convinced am I of the worth of this glorious and brilliant light amidst the sea of darkness that is the American roadway, so committed am I to the cause of its proper appreciation and use that, I pledge to you, this isn’t the post that I write about turn signals; this is, in fact, merely the introduction to a recurring feature in this blog.  Indeed, in my mind, this is a spiritual issue.  You heard me.  I have much to say about the turn signal–much, especially if you’re scoffing even now, that you need to hear.

Previously, in Joel’s blog, we (a guy named Hafiz, to be precise) suggested that “complaint is only possible while living in the suburbs of God.”

I like that for many reasons . . . most of which I’m not going to discuss right now.

The thought that’s stuck like an earworm in my neocortex is that proximity to God is not necessarily the antidote to complaint, but may in fact be its prerequisite. I’m not saying that God inspires complaint. . . . Um, okay, I guess I sort of am.

A fundamental discontent stirs as we awaken to the presence of the Holy One. When our discontent responds in gratitude and hope, I believe it manifests in an increasingly insatiable desire that propels us toward Him, that motivates all of the illogically, incomprehensibly sublime acts of faith.

On the other hand, the awakening is also a realization of everything that’s wrong–with ourselves, with the world, with life as we know it. We feel many of the same core emotions; it’s just that sometimes we’re looking the wrong way.

The best I’ve been able to work it out so far is that complaint is the buttward approach to the Throne of Grace.

Both of the following came to me today and I don’t believe it’s an accident. From “A Place Apart“:

“The Suburbs”
by Hafiz

Complaint
Is only possible

While living in the suburbs
Of God.

And, on my iGoogle homepage, from “Quotes of the Day“:

Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.
– Bill Vaughan

I’ll surely end up contaminating this beautiful juxtaposition with my thoughts later. But, for now, well, there they are.

Grace, grace.

If you don’t know yet, my daughter is amazing. I’m so thankful for her. You should read her blog.

Here’s her latest.

In responding to what she wrote, I stumbled on some words that I like, so I thought I’d repeat them here. They fit.

As much as I’ve accused Him of not taking account of my frailty, it turns out, after all, that He has–He is still holding me and I am still here to be held.

Which is not to say that I no longer doubt, because I do; or that my anger has entirely abated, because it hasn’t. Despite grace–ouch, that’s truer than I’d like it to be and maybe I’m rolling with the self-revelation–I’m still quite a bit of a mess. But He is still God. And His being God matters more.

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