I just read a very eloquent and thoughtful letter from a librarian to a patron asking that the children’s book “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding,” by Sarah S. Brannen be banned. I feel strongly about reading, freedom of speech, and even gay marriage, so this was a good read for me. The librarian, Jamie Larue, basically states that he will not pull the book from the shelves because of free speech (but the letter is so much more than that). He also makes an important point that if parents feel that a certain issue is wrong, or sensitive to the values they are trying to instill in their children, don’t read that book to them. It’s as simple as that.

This is like parents that get upset when their children start swearing or getting violent from just having played 17 hours of any Grand Theft Auto video game. How can they be upset when they bought it for them, silently endorsing the game by their purchase of it.

So while I may not agree with gay marriage for religious reasons, I certainly agree with the library’s decision to stock this book. Comments?

  1. Nat G. says:

    Thanks for pointing me to that letter. It is indeed well-written (and, I suspect, longer than the text of the book it discusses!)

    Here’s something to chew on, though: might much of the same argument used to defend the placement of this book be also used to defend the legalization of gay marriage? When he wrote “our whole system of government was based on the idea that the purpose of the state was to preserve individual liberties, not to dictate them”, might that echo with gay marriage as well? One can be against gay couples getting married without being against gay couples being allowed to get married — goodness knows, I’ve been against certain marriages for people I know, but that doesn’t mean I think they shouldn’t be allowed to be married. If I want them not to get married, that’s something that I should achieve by convincing them. We see that all the time in matters of speech – we say that people shouldn’t say X or write Y, but we don’t confuse that with people not being allowed to say X or write Y, because we know that freedom is more valuable than our concerns over the specific material.

    And speaking of that freedom: good luck with NaNoWriMo! May you achieve a satisfying completion. Just throw yourself into it and stick with it no matter how ugly it is – once you’ve gone over the edge of the falls, its too late to get off the boat, so you may as well ride it all the way down!

  2. alpinmack says:

    Thanks Nat. You make a good point. I disagree with people who want their gay marriage to be recognized by the church as legitimate, but if they want the same rights as hetero couples in a legal/ civil liberties union, that’s a different matter. Even though some people might see me as bigoted, I believe this is the most loving view I can take on this and still remain true to my faith. I have a very close relationship with someone who this issue is very important to. If they want to get married to their same sax partner, let them do it in a civil union, but do not think that God will bless them in a church.

    Some people might say that the government has no right to dictate morality. Really? What about our system of laws? The government says that killing someone is immoral, hence, wrong, hence, against the law. Voltaire is widely attributed as saying, ” I disagree with what you say but I will defend to death your right to say it.” So yes, I agree that people should be allowed to do certain things, but gay marriage sanctioned by the church is not one of them.

    As far as NaNoWriMo goes, thanks for the encouragement. And I like your metaphor since I’m a whitewater kayaker! I already have one novel under my belt, but that took four months to write, and the next year to revise and rewrite. One month is going to be crazy. I’m just going to do all my plotting and characterization before hand so I can just bust it out. Have you done it before?

  3. Nat G. says:

    That’s the beautiful thing about a land where the church is not the state and the state is not the church. The state can serve to allow us liberty; the church can tell us where we should limit what we choose. With the choice to pick a church that matches our views, to make our own church, or to choose no church at all, these are quite compatible. So certainly a church should be able to choose which marriages to endorse with their blessing; the church should be about belief, and even though there are some churches whose belief I find abhorrent (still some very racist churches out there, for example), they no doubt find some of my beliefs abhorrent, yet we’re still allowed to hold onto.

    In an odd way, free churches are the ultimate form of capitalism. Each brings to market their beliefs and system of support. Some will stay steadfast in their product, and the very solidity of that will draw adherents. Some will market-test themselves, adjusting what they say by what their practitioners want to hear… and some will thrive doing that, while others will just flake away, having no true core to hold onto. And some will find that the market does not want what they offer, and will disappear. Over time, the good product tends to win out.

    When government is working well, it’s not so much legislating morality as legislating interference with others. Killing is obviously the most extreme example of such interference. It doesn’t stop us choosing for ourselves, but choosing for others. What we choose for ourselves, that would seem to be the core of religion; the ten commandments tell us not what we should allow others, but what we should choose ourselves. It’s thou, not they. While the Bible does have some on what we should allow others to choose — “Suffer not a witch to live”, for example — the bulk of its commandments are on what we choose for ourselves. Someone once noted that Jesus taught us to look after our own sins and on the hunger of others (this someone was noting that large portions of Christianity seemed focused on just the opposite.)

    No NaNoWriMo for me, but that’s because I’m largely a short story guy, and would rather take the time to do something short well rather than something long poorly. I’m a successful enough writer that I don’t feel the need to prove myself. (I have a long one or two inside me, but they’re waiting for when I can do them well.) And besides, my favorite intense creative event — shorter, but grueling over its short period. It’s 24 Hour Comics Day, and its coming up this Saturday, October 3rd. The goal is to create 24 pages of comics in 24 straight hours. So at the moment, I’m storing up sleep and getting ready for a tough, fun weekend.

  4. alpinmack says:

    Interesting analogy Nat. I agree that we have to choose for ourselves. Nothing is less effective than trying to shove your beliefs down someone’s throat. I have enough trouble looking after my own sins, as you say. I need to take care of the plank in my eye, before complaining about the sawdust in my brother’s.

    Separation of church and state is a different issue. I think that everyone thinks that it’s an official doctrine in the Constitution, but the first mention of the phrase in America was in a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to a group of baptists in 1802. In it, he said that government should make no law governing religion. So prayer in schools shouldn’t even be an issue since government can make no law governing how people want to worship. But, I understand that public school is a secular institution that cannot be required to hold prayers over the loudspeaker or things like that. The same thing goes for marriage, I believe. The government cannot say whether gay marriage should be legal or not, in a church setting. But it can certainly dictate civil policies. Whether a church want to comply with that is its own choice, but it should not be prosecuted for its decision one way or the other. Some people might argue that that view is homophobic or hateful, but I disagree. My faith just believes that it is wrong, but it also teaches us to love others, regardless of their own faults. Many people would be shocked if a high profile pastor was found in a whore-house today, but that’s where Jesus spent some of his time doing ministry.
    Um, I guess I lost my point, but you can see where I’m coming from.

    I wish you success with the comic. I draw a little bit myself. You can see my tribal tattoo designs and some watercolor paintings I’ve done on the past on here. I also have a short story about little boys and pirates at the link below:

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