I never thought I would see a book in favor of same-sex marriage that I disagreed with, but Jonathan Rauch managed it.
His basic premise is that marria...moreI never thought I would see a book in favor of same-sex marriage that I disagreed with, but Jonathan Rauch managed it.
His basic premise is that marriage is the fundamental institution of society; it provides the main mechanism for harnessing the recklessness of young males, provides the most stable environment for raising children, and is the gold standard of commitment in a relationship. In the process, he puts forth an argument which is racist, classist, sexist and profoundly homophobic, all in the pursuit of homosexual “equality”.
He asserts that it is marriage, or the promise of marriage, that allows young men to “settle down” and temper their impulses towards aggression and promiscuity. He points towards the gay male culture of the 60s and 70s, and the advent of AIDS, as an example of the consequences of denying gay people the right to marry. Not only is this homophobic (sounds a lot like what Jerry Falwell was saying back in the 1980s), but it’s deeply sexist. Are we to believe that men are so inherently flawed that, without an entrenched social institution to hold them in check, they’ll fight and sex themselves to death? I’ve heard that argument before, too-- from Andrea Dworkin.
Marriage is the most stable environment for raising children-- because social institutions systematically punish women who have children outside of marriage. Saying unmarried families are unstable is like saying homosexuals are liars: the oppressed group is blamed for the effects of their own oppression. It’s one of the most pernicious forms of bias, and it’s beneath the dignity of any serious social scientist. If you think marriage is the most stable environment for raising children, then find out *why*, and try to bring those advantages to children being raised by unmarried parents.
He states that marriage is the gold standard of commitment in relationships, again mistaking effects for causes. Yes, married people are less likely to break up, because divorce is harder than just moving out. But simply remaining married doesn’t mean you’re still committed to one another. Plenty of on-paper-married couples live separate lives, have separate lovers, and have no real “relationship” anymore. The gold standard of commitment is commitment. Marriage isn’t a shortcut to the real thing.
In all of these arguments, he largely ignores the case of lesbians-- who have been settling down, raising children, and maintaining long-term relationships without the benefit of marriage for at least 100 years now. Gay women need marriage for the same reasons all women need marriage-- to provide a safety net against lower lifetime earnings, especially if they devote some of their efforts to maintaining the home. In pushing the benefits of same sex marriage for men, he dismisses all the women in the marriage equality movement.
And marriage has always been a class privilege-- the barriers to marrying, staying married *or* divorcing to pursue a happier marriage with another partner, have always been substantial for people lower on the socioeconomic ladder. The benefits of marriage to happiness and health are most accessible to the rich. By maintaining the primacy of marriage in the social order, Rauch maintains the class inequality that marriage supports.
Reading this book left me hungering for real equality. The kind of equality that doesn’t care if you’re married or not, how many people you have sex with or what gender they are, whether you have children and with whom. The kind of equality that this sort of marriage “equality” only puts further away. I actually felt kind of ashamed to have married my wife, and supported such an unequal institution, which is defended by people with whom I disagree so profoundly.
I’m glad I read the book-- it was well reasoned and well written, and it was a spin on things I hadn’t seen much of. But since I disagreed with pretty much everything it said, I don’t feel like I can give it 4 or 5 stars.
All I can say is, with friends like this, who needs enemies? (less)
This book is not for a general audience; it's not a basic book. This is not a book about theology or magical theory. This book won't tell you who the...moreThis book is not for a general audience; it's not a basic book. This is not a book about theology or magical theory. This book won't tell you who the Gods are, or teach you how to cast a circle, do a spell to get more money, or read a tarot spread. And if you don't already know those things, this is not a book you should be reading.
This is a book of religious and magical rituals that may be useful for people who have been walking the path for a while, rituals that can be used by themselves or as part of a larger working. The rituals would best be described as "High Magic", theurgy rather than thaumaturgy in Bonewits's terminology. They're not explicitly religious rituals, though they could certainly be used in a religious context, and they're not directed at concrete goals, though they could certainly be adapted for this. But in the end, they're just tools or techniques-- the use is up to the individual. Most of the material in this book I have never seen any other place, and a truly original set of rituals is fairly rare in the small world of occult publishing.
Dominguez inspires me to go do some more research on topics I've been sorely neglecting for a while. I would recommend this book to any Pagans or ritual magicians who are interested in taking their magical and ritual practice to the next level.(less)
I really didn't like this book. It's basically a collection of rituals for life transitions, which is a fantastic idea and something we need more of....moreI really didn't like this book. It's basically a collection of rituals for life transitions, which is a fantastic idea and something we need more of. But it was poorly written, factually fuzzy, and painfully heteronormative. That applies to most stuff written on Wicca but, somehow, this got under my skin more.
While she says "the rituals in this book may be adapted to the circumstances of any group or family," the fact is that these rituals are predicated on the special sacredness of male and female gender roles, and heterosexual sexuality. The ritual for a blessing of conception includes such priceless lines as "through our love you have given me your seed to bring new life to this world". The puberty rituals are sex-segregated: the boys' ritual starts with a vignette about strength, the girls' ritual is introduced with an image of a little girl sewing, and being taught sexual modesty. And so it continues. Saying these rituals can be adapted for the queer, the poly, the non-biological parents, or even for modern life, don't make it so.
The book includes a ritual for emotional recovery from an abortion, but not one for emotional recovery from a rape.
Maybe it's that I know something about the author's life, know that she's *not* just presenting rituals based on her own experience. She's leaving a lot of her experience out, and a lot of the rituals she writes are for things she never went through or witnessed. Knowing that, the absolute way she presents her rituals falls a little flat.
I don't really have anything good to say about this book. I hope that, at some point, someone else will have a more useful review.(less)
This is one of the few books I have consciously decided not to finish in recent years. I agree wholeheartedly with Jensen's basic premise-- that we ar...moreThis is one of the few books I have consciously decided not to finish in recent years. I agree wholeheartedly with Jensen's basic premise-- that we are rendering the world uninhabitable and committing atrocities against its human and nonhuman residents, and that our ability to do this depends on our denial of reality and our disconnecting from the people around us. I cannot, however, support the belief structure he builds up around this premise. Jensen equates studying science with raping children, and treats public schools as analogous with genocide. He condemns all modern western social structures and sources of knowledge, and offers only eco-terrorism and unverified personal gnosis as alternatives. I was reading this book hoping for solutions I could apply in my own life, and I found only contempt for my not having found them already.
In my opinion, A Language Older that Words leaves the most important questions unanswered. If medical animal research can never be justified, should all the advances of modern medicine be reversed? If factory faming is never acceptable, must every person (including the entire continent of Africa and most of Asia) who does not have access to sustainable farmed staple foods starve? Does Jensen actually believe that every human whose children, pets, or livestock have been killed by a wild animal simply failed to communicate with the predator?
And if he believes that we participate in structures of oppression by participating in society, just how far has he dropped out? He owns a car-- how does he justify driving it? Does he wear clothing whose fibers were cultivated on industrial farmland or synthesized in a third world factory, whose threads were spun by children in China and whose pieces were assembled in a sweatshop? Or does he go naked? Does he use only products (silverware, cleaning products, furniture?) whose origins are ethical and verifiable? He turns such a condemning eye to everything he sees in our society, and yet never presents a viable alternative, or turns his scathing contempt on himself. Jensen's own fatalism, hatred and hypocrisy are as sickening to me as is the abuse he experienced as a child. Two wrongs don't make a right-- hatred and rage in the name of the environment is no less damaging than hatred and rage in the name of the ego.
In the end, one absolutist ideology is much like another. Jensen is an environmental fundamentalist-- he believes that there is no room for compromise or even discussion with conflicting viewpoints. As such, I see no reason to continue reading his opinions; he would have no interest in mine.
I give this book two stars because I think it has something to teach. I'll leave it at my local coffeehouse because I hope its ideas may be valuable to some people who can use them constructively. I, alas, wasn't able to find anything constructive here.(less)
The great advantage to this book is that it has a section that includes a "literal translation" of the Tao. "Translation" is a misnomer-- what it actu...moreThe great advantage to this book is that it has a section that includes a "literal translation" of the Tao. "Translation" is a misnomer-- what it actually has is a table of all the possible meanings of the characters and phrases in the Tao Te Ching. You can't sit down and read that section like it was text, but it allows interested readers to really delve into the complexity of the original language (as much as anyone can, without learning ancient Chinese. . . ) Having this book on my shelf has added immeasurably to my understanding and appreciation of the Tao.(less)
First, a disclaimer. I do not read the Tao To Ching as a Taoist, a student of Chinese philosophy, or a secularist. I don't read it within its own prop...moreFirst, a disclaimer. I do not read the Tao To Ching as a Taoist, a student of Chinese philosophy, or a secularist. I don't read it within its own proper social context. I read it as a Wiccan, and I look to it to inform my practice of my own, separate religion. But that being said, I think the Tao has principles which are applicable to everyone, and which provide a valuable counterweight to the baffling complexity of modern society.
As a Wiccan, I've found that the tao provides a necessary element that is largely missing from the overt teachings of my religion-- a key to the attitudes and personal disciplines which accompany a veneration of the Earth, balance, and the natural world. Incorporating these teachings into my life has enabled me to live my faith more fully, and I think it has helped me to understand some of the deeper mysteries of my own religion.
LeGuin's edition of the Tao Te Ching is not a translation. The author is not sufficiently fluent in Chinese to be able to translate the Tao from scratch. In preparing this edition, she was working from other published materials, and from decades of her own experience interpereting and living the Tao in her own life. She has succeeded in putting out an edition that is (I believe) as true to the meaning of the original Tao as any book in English can be, and which is a good deal more poetic than most. This is an excellent start for anyone interested in reading the Tao Te Ching.(less)