Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Book review: The Commitment

I just read The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage, and My Family by Dan Savage. I was going to write a short review, but I like the blurb on by Publisher's Weekly better than what I was planning to write:

The author of the internationally syndicated column "Savage Love" brings much-needed humor, and a reality check, to the bitter gay-marriage debate with this polemical memoir. As Savage (Skipping Towards Gomorrah) and his boyfriend, Terry, neared their 10th anniversary, Savage's mother put on the pressure for them to get married. But, Savage notes, there were several other points to consider before deciding to tie the knot: among them, the fact that marriage doesn't provide legal protection in Washington State; Terry prefers tattoos as a sign of commitment; and their six-year-old son declared that only men and women can get married. Furthermore, Savage himself worried that the relationship would be jinxed by anything more permanent than a big anniversary bash, though the one they plan quickly assumes the proportions and price of a wedding reception. While documenting the couple's wobble toward a decision, Savage skewers ideologues, both pro– and anti–gay marriage, with his radical pragmatism. Disproving Tolstoy's dictum that "happy families are all alike," he takes a sharp-eyed, compassionate look at matrimony as it is actually practiced by friends, his raucously affectionate family and even medieval Christians. When he explains to his son what marriage is really about, you want to stand up and cheer, and the surprise ending is both hilarious and a tear-jerker. As funny as David Sedaris's essay collections, but bawdier and more thought-provoking, this timely book shows that being pro-family doesn't have to mean being anti-gay.

That write-up is right on target, in my view. And the book is funny. It's the kind of book you end up reading in a single sitting, even though you don't mean to.

Also of interest is Savage's earlier memoir called The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant about the couple's adoption of their son.

It's not too late to think about those last minute stocking stuffers!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Two Fathers

I dedicate this to John and Goran, prospective foster dads.

The video is in Dutch with English subtitles. The Dutch lyrics are quite touching, a bit warmer in tone than the English subtitles. (Yes, speaking Dutch is a side effect of my missionary days.)

Anyway, this one's for you, J G-W and G. Best wishes for this new chapter in your lives.

Holiday Party

Tobi and I will be spending Christmas in Salt Lake City this year with some of my friends and family. (We ruled out Japan.) If any of you will be in the area and would like to get together with us, send me e-mail. (Address in profile.) I'm thinking brunch on 12/26 somewhere in SLC.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

More about Suicide

The Bee in My Bonnet

J G-W said:

Anger is not so functional when it comes to communicating across difference. In fact, anger is dysfunctional for that. It frightens and intimidates. It shuts people down and closes off communication. I've also found that while anger got me to a very important place in my life, it also closed me off from important things that I needed to learn, and cut me off from very important aspects of myself that I've needed to integrate in order to evolve as a human being.

My dilemma is that while I want to build bridges and have meaningful (and compassionate) exchange with people on all points of the spectrum, there are a few areas where laissez-faire fails me.

It's almost impossible for me not to be angry about moral outrages like tacit ecclesiastical approval of suicide in gay youth or the encouragement of ill-advised marriages that almost always cause suffering and misery.

I am not angry about my own experience in the church. The past is what it is, and my memories are mixed. They include some very warm, wonderful moments.

I am not angry with those who continue to believe and practice their religion. It is the right of every person to chart his or her own course through life, and it is the responsibility of us all to treat each other with respect and civility.

I am not angry with those whose intolerance of injustice encourages them to speak with candor and passion and jolt us out of our comfort zone.

I give my best wishes to all who read this, whether your views line up with mine or not. I hope there will be something here that you find useful and that we can continue to engage in ways that help us all.