What about love…a late & slightly obscure rant

Too late for Valentine’s day, but here’s another of my many ranty mental meanders. This one starts with a Bible verse. Not big on Bible things? No worries. Got the source material right here:

Corinthians 13:4-7 New International Version (NIV)
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Yeah.  That right there is The Most Popular Wedding Reading In History.  (don’t go all facty-citey on me. It’s called hyperbole.)

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: If you adore this particular bit of bible wisdom, I suggest you stop now and go look at something else, because it’s okay to agree to disagree, but I have MAJOR issues with this passage and its use as “accepted wisdom” advice about love.

Not that I’m against love. Far from it. Thirty-odd years ago now I indulged in a wedding myself and am still married,  still ridiculously in love with my superhero Spouseman.  In addition to being a marriage veteran,  I’m also a sappy lover of romances and happy endings. (Heh. I wrote “happy endings,” heheheheh. Ahem.) Anyway, I love love.

But I loathe that whole passage packed with advice about What Love Is. Not because it’s about love. Because it gets love WRONG, insisting love is about always anything, and so its use in a marriage ceremony is BEYOND WRONG.

The usual defense of 1 Corinthians rests on the foundation of “Oh, well, this passage isn’t insisting people be perfect. It is setting out the ideals to which couples should aspire. Of course God knows we’re going to fail, but we’re supposed to try hard & ask forgiveness when we fail.

I CALL BULLSHIT. Not about the asking forgiveness part. (You might have to do that a lot in a loving relationship.) I’m talking about the essential interpretation. 1 Corinthians is not advice for couples. It’s about religious love. God love. Not people love.

How do I know?

I’ve read that whole danged book, and it’s as clear as day that 1 Corinthians is a letter to a congregation, not a couple. It spells out in no uncertain terms that it’s about God’s love. The writer (Saint Paul, for those interested)  is reassuring a group of people that they don’t have to be perfect to be loved because God’s love will shore them up. Its whole point is specifically that they will never be judged unworthy for failing because God is the only perfection there is.

Now, belief in God aside, this blows the whole, “ideals” defense out of the water. It’s taking an inspirational team coaching speech with the message “Yes, you’ll screw up, but don’t beat yourself down, it’s okay,” and turning it into an aggravating, “This is what love is, so if you aren’t doing these things you don’t really love your partner and/or you are a failure. But no pressure because God loves even total screw-ups.”

Better than a sharp stick in the eye  (I suppose) but hardly inspirational or even aspirational. It’s setting couples up for a lot of poisonous powerplay arguments that start with, “IF YOU REALLY LOVED ME THEN YOU WOULD_______________”

Those rarely end well. Advice that promotes bitter divisiveness is not good marriage advice in my not so very humble opinion.

Because ya know that whole “to err is human” thing? That’s reality. We are flawed. We are imperfect. We will screw up. It’s in the blueprints. We all make mistakes full stop.

So to say that love is always be this or that or does anything at all without mistakes is…dangerous at best. It says mistakes mean it isn’t really love…

…which is baloney, as anyone who has had to pick up their spouse’s socks or put down a toilet seat or transport abandoned dishes from bedroom to kitchen for the millionth time knows. If I get envious, if I get angry, if I doubt or shirk my responsibilities to my partner, it doesn’t mean I don’t love them. It simply means I’m human.

Human love is as infinitely individual as we are, so there cannot be a single perfect iteration of it. A thing I do not need in my life is another righteous lecture on The Only Way To Do A Thing.

Me, I want a passage about how love is telling jokes and doing laundry, tolerating toenail clippings and holding the line against dirty clothes on the kitchen table. Love is trying hard to avoid hurting and letting go of old hurts, it is being honest about likes and dislikes, and about valuing the needs and joys of someone else.

Love is complicated. Love is compromise. It ebbs and flows like the tide, and it does not demand or require perfection. That’s my version, at least. Someone else’s might be entirely different.

I still cherish the look on our pre-marriage counselor’s face when I went on a rant about that verse when it was brought up as a possible reading for our ceremony. Startled does not begin to describe his expression. Gobsmacked comes close.

Understandable, of course. He was a priest. An Episcopal priest, to be sure, but still.  PRIEST. Ripping apart popular Bible verses is just not a thing one does in front of members of the clergy.

Of course one usually doesn’t petition the busy, important bishop of a diocese to perform marriage ceremonies either. (Never occurred to me to be intimidated until too late. Story of my life.) Hey, he’d been a chaplain at the summer camp where I worked, and my parish had no priest in residence at the time, so I had to ask someone. Turns out he loved doing weddings but no one had asked him in forever because he was a Bishop…

ANYway. After realizing I was dropping a Bible rant on a priest I sat waiting for him to shake his head in disappointment or maybe kick us out of the church office. (Soon-to-be-Spouseman was not at all shocked by me going off like a rocket. He was mildly amused.  Go figure.)

Did we get chastised or “corrected?” Nope.

The priest in question found the attitude quite refreshing and mentioned h’d given like, six sermons in his career discussing that point in far more scholarly terms.

Ah, sweet, sweet vindication. 1 Corinthians is NOT advice about how to properly exercise mortal love, and couples mistaking it as such only set themselves up to fail.

I can’t even remember what set me off on this particular road of remembrance, but here we are. End of another long meander.

Go forth and love as impatiently & proudly or as kindly and softly as you damned well please.

Random post about sleeping.

Seriously. Random thoughts. Expect more oddball posts like this–and shorter ones as well–as I feed less and less personal material to Facebook.

This topic came to mind while I was relocating some stray pillows this morning.

I have piles of throw blankets & pillows in every room of my house except the kitchen and bathroom. And my floors are layered with multiple rugs too. I’d like to attribute this eccentric decorating scheme to personal taste, but no. The blame rests on bad joints & a natural biphasic sleep schedule.

Slight digression for a definition.  Biphasic means it’s natural for me to wake up and prowl around in the middle of the night. Sometimes I putter quietly, other times I read, occasionally I will fire up the computer and write. Often enough I just get up from where I fell asleep, brush my teeth etc, and go to bed for a snuggle. In the summertime, I might crawl under the covers for second-sleep after the sky is light and birds are chirping. But that’s normal…for me.

One major problem, discovered early in co-habitating, is that other people don’t sleep the way I do, and they don’t appreciate me waking them up in the middle of the night.

Getting out of bed disturbs Spouseman unless I exert a lot of mental effort to be stealthy about departure. So if I’m in bed with him when I hit my wake-point, I have a choice of 1) lying there getting steadily more awake and annoyed until morning, which is actual insomnia, 2) exerting mental effort and ending up wide awake rather than properly sleepy-peaceful…which leads to insomnia, or 3) disrespecting my partner’s needs by waking him up with my stumbling and fumbling. None of those options appeal.

I can successfully slide into bed in the dark of night while sleepy-active without issue. It’s getting out of bed & out of the room without bouncing off furniture while drowsy–or worse, absentmindedly turning on a light–that causes conflict.

Thus my whole house is sleep-ready. I sleep where I get sleepy, and go to bed at Some Point later.  Spouseman has a much more traditional sleep schedule and long ago got used to kissing me goodnight wherever I happen to be drowsing.

I know, I know, all this still doesn’t explain the affection for multiple rugs. That’s where the joints come in.

On bad nights, one hip and the opposite shoulder both act up. This makes side-sleeping on either side uncomfortable without additional support. Solution: pillows!  On the worst nights my neck and back also get cranky, and only a hard surface will appease them. The floor! But not a cold, super-hard floor. I need a slightly cushy one. Rugs to the rescue!

Those worst nights are the ones when Spouseman will come up from gaming on his way to bed & find me curled up in a happy blanket nest in front of the coffee table with the cat sprawled out all over the couch above me.

It never fails to entertain him.

There it is. More than anyone needed to know.  I was just in an over-sharing mood.

Last doing-things post of the year (mostly movies)

Hard to believe, but I’ve kept up this semi-regular documentation of media consumption for over a year now. Consistency may be the hobgoblin of small minds, but in this case, I’m happy to be small. Any day I get to say, “I have done the thing,” is a good day.

So what have I been doodly-doing? Mostly socializing, baking, and eating holiday food. But also the usual reading & watching. This is a long post since it’s been a LONG time since the last one.

Books: Lots of fantasy fluff–errrm, that is to say historical romance fluff. Many reprints, which meant plenty of squirmy “wow, that’s not a good behavior to promote,” moments. Elizabeth Boyle (good stories, but a lot of recurring phrase tics and sketchy themes) Sarah Maclean (great dialogue, fun alterations to history, good job with consent) Julianne Maclean ( similar to Sarah Maclean ) I plan to read/re-read all of N. K. Jemison’s ouvre in January as my hibernation treat.

Television: I’m watching less and less TV. NCIS will definitely be off the schedule after this season. Ditto Lucifer. They’re both okay, but okay isn’t enough to justify my time these days. Supernatural is ending, and that’s cool. Mostly I’m watching Netflix originals & DVD sets from the ‘brar

Punisher: A punishing experience, pun intended. (Bwahahahahahaha…ahem…sorry.) I’m not a fan of gore, and this spilled over my tolerance threshold, but it avoided the origin story trap, and it didn’t stretch for a redemption arc. I have Major Issues with people giving heroes a pass on murder just because they’re killing bad guys, but this mostly dodged that trap too.

Defenders: Origin story could have been forgivable if they hadn’t taken so MANY episodes setting up the team. Also I could do with a LOT less Iron Fist. And even less “throw every supporting character from every series into this because why not?” plotting. It wasn’t bad. It should’ve been better.

Movies:  This has been a bad year for catching movies in the theater. So I’m grabbing them from the library as they hit DVD. (Have I mentioned lately how much of a library fan I am? PUBLIC LIBRARIES RULE!)  Ahem. Anyway. I watch a lot of movies in midwinter. So, grab a cuppa. This gets long.

The Great Wall. I almost liked it. Loved that a white guy was the Exotic Dispenser of Magical MacGuffins (contrary to many viewers, I didn’t see Damon as White Savior nearly so much as “barbarian dude barely tolerated the whole time.” The smart dude who engineered the victory was Chinese, as was the heroine who delivered the final blow. Never was Damon’s arc the focus of the plot.) I say “almost liked it” because OMG it was stupid. Fantasy siege battles are all fun and games except the engineering is JUST AWFUL AND COMPLICATED FOR NO REASON and war doesn’t work that way. I felt like Sigourney Weaver in GalaxyQuest for over half the movie.

Transformers Last Knight. Watching this made me wonder if the writers and producers  got lost in a props department and came up with lame excuses to use everything they ran across. Possibly they were also intoxicated at the time? King Arthur. Aliens. Transformers in all shapes and varieties. Add in massive amounts of voice-over and awkward failed attempts at “snappy” dialogue, stir with a huge cast of cardboard cutout characters and pretensions everywhere. It’s a painful, boring, overblown, disjointed mess. Not as bad as Battleship, but close. It made fine background viewing for three batches of cookie dough, but I would have been royally ticked off if I’d spent money on it.

Thor: Ragnarok.  Did I mention this one already? No, my November posts were all about food. So here’s my Thor report.  I prepped for the new movie by watching the first two back-to-back on Thor Eve, and was once again annoyed by all the oportunities missed in both films.  Thor 1 was not an origin story.  That’s the best I can say about it. Well, that and a shirtless Hemsworth. Ragnarok was worth the theater prices and made up for all the prior missed opportunities.

I adored seeing Thor as an earnest straight man constantly stumbling into comic situations. I always liked him better in the graphic novels when he was played for comic relief.  I am evidently in the minority when it comes to not missing the formal forsoothian Asgardian language and grammar.  The “main” villain didn’t impress me, as well-acted as she was, and the plot felt like they trid hard to cram two movie’s worth of plot into one, but hey. Loki & Thor banter. Dr. Strange banter. Hulk banter. ALL THE BANTER AND GIGGLES.  I like it. Another!

Star Wars Episode 8. For this one, too, I made the effort to hit a theater, and I’m glad I did.

Kong: Skull Island. Hooyah, I’m glad I didn’t spend popcorn money on this putrid mess. Not even Hiddleston & some other great actors could save it from its “Heart of Darkness meets Jules Verne plus Jurassic Park with a 70’s retro feel” premise. Too many flavors went into the smoothie blender. The result was horrible: gritty, lumpy and with a bad aftertaste. The only redeeming quality: seamless integration of the CGI. Never once did Kong or the other critters remind me they were merely imaginary.

Alien:Covenant. Um. The crew were not as fundamentally, hatefully stupid as the crew of the Prometheus, and the dual dose of Skaarsgard was scenery-chewing, over the top fabulous, but…it was still a problematic mess of people behaving so ridiculously I was rooting for them all to die much faster than they did. And the demonstrably incompetent captain’s faith being played as a beneficial trait misunderstood as a flaw by the foolish secularists bugged the shit out of me almost as much as the “superior intelligence equals emotionless also equals evil” theme.

Get Out. This one would have been too intense for me in the theater. Right at the painful edge of scary. So good. So creepy.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Does adding a subtitle subtract quality from a movie? Just asking. This might have been a decent, albeit anachronistic fantasy movie a la Knight’s Tale, (which I hated on first viewing because I was told it was historical, hah, lols NO) but the producers just had to slap King Arthur’s name on this, and it so very much is not true to the King Arthur legend, not even tangentially or as a “re-imagining of the themes.” Also WTF with putting in magical war mommoths. EPIC EYE ROLLS.

Baby Driver. I can see why it’s so well-reviewed. Fantastic cast of fine actors giving it their all, razor-sharp direction, solid writing. More happened in 20 min of this movie than in the first hour of King Arthur. I didn’t like it, I generally don’t seek out the “I’m only bad to protect other people” not-really-a-redemption-arc tropes. It just didn’t wow me. But I can see why other people adore it. (shrugs) It’s quite a brilliant film.

The Last Jedi. I enjoyed it from opening credits to final fade to black. There is much I loved. Don’t get me started on the flaws. Just don’t. My objections are all storycraft fails and/or internal consistency issues, nothing to do with changes to the mythology, vioating tropes or departures from canon. I’m on board with all those things. Also, to my surprise, porgs.  I love most the way the story is treating its own history like a spiral that keeps coming around to the same touchpoints but with changes & development each time.

The Christmas movie tally: both the Christmas Die Hards, Meet John Doe, (instead of It’s A Wonderful Life) Bell, Book & Candle, Lethal Weapon, and A Christmas Carol.

…and that’s a wrap.

Upcoming plans include getting my hair buzzed off because it’s past time, and buckling down on the new book (which I have shamefully neglected in favor of Doing All The Other Things this month) plus beginning revisions on Heartwood.  I’m try to aim at weekly or bi-weekly updates here. Shorter reports are happier reports.