Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Kidman-Cruise: it never happened!

Celebrity gossip hasn’t been Internal Monologue’s specialty, but when there’s an opportunity to trackback to Sullivan and make fun of the ridiculous rules of the Roman Catholic church at the same time, how can I resist?

Now, I was always skeptical of the Cruise-Kidman marriage. I’m skeptical of all Hollywood marriages. I think they’re publicity stunts. Or at any rate there’s an enormous incentive to turn them into publicity stunts. You get magazine covers when you get engaged, magazine covers when you marry, magazine covers when you have kids, magazine covers when you divorce, magazine covers devoted to who you and your former spouse are seeing now. You can’t buy that kind of publicity. Well, you probably could, but it’s much cheaper just to get hitched. And publicity is the currency of celebrity. How could they not take advantage?

Now maybe some of those celebrity marriages are real, but given the incentives that exist (to say nothing of the celebrity divorce rate) my skepticism meter shows a pretty high reading. Whether these stunts are arranged by the celebs themselves or by managers/PR flaks I don’t know. Neither do I know how self-deluded the participants are: I can picture anything from utterly cold and cynical calculation (“We could use this get an extra 2.3 million each on our next contracts with our studios.”) to complete and utter self-delusion (“We really love each other so much!”). And each partner may be in a different place along the scale. But every time I see some wedding announcement plastered across those magazine covers at the grocery store checkout stand, I smell bullshit. That visual real estate is far too valuable to let something as quirky and unreliable as actual human love determine who gets to park their face there.

And of course there’s the ubiquitous rumor that Cruise is gay. I have no particular information on whether this is true or false, but I admit it does color my perceptions and makes me even more skeptical of his nuptial antics (with women at any rate).

Well, guess what! For once, I, an atheistic reductionist Unitarian, am going to be outdone in skepticism by none other than the Roman Catholic Church, of all institutions! You see, the church is even more doubtful about the validity of the Cruise-Kidman marriage than I am. In fact, they think it never happened at all! A scientology ceremony, 10 years of legal marriage, and adopting 2 children just doesn’t constitute a real marriage in the eyes of the Mother Church. Now I’m no fan of Scientology, but c’mon. We let any wacko sect perform marriages. The moonies, the Universal Life Church, you name it. But if you’ve been baptized Catholic, I guess those aren’t real marriages, according to canon law! I guess my marriage isn’t real either, since I was baptized Catholic, but got married by Unitarians! What will I tell my not-wife? What a horrible surprise for my yet-to-be-born child when he discovers his parents are not really married! Andrew Sullivan (who gets his usual hat tip for pointing me to this story), comments on the absurdity of this:
I love my church. Its rules are inviolable and eternal, except when they're not. Kidman was legally married for ten years, had two kids, but, as far as the Catholic church is concerned, her marriage to Cruise did not exist! She didn't even have to seek an annulment. But the stricture against a Catholic's divorce and remarriage is absolute - and a Catholic who obeyed the rules all along, and got married in a Catholic first wedding, would be denied the sacraments and barred from re-marrying in church. I guess because I am deemed objectively disordered by my own church, I haven't been as aware of this transparent nonsense as I should have been.

(Now comes the part where I demonstrate that we Unitarian Universalists can be as smug and arrogant as the most self-satisfied born-again Christian who is convinced that they are going to heaven and you are not.) Is the Catholic Church trying to make itself into a ridiculous joke? The Leno monologues practically write themselves. With rules like this, is it any wonder that they’re having trouble getting enough priests? People are supposed to respect the august moral authority of an institution that thinks like this? All I can say is: BWAHAHAHAHAH! ROTFLMAO!


Blogger App Crit said...

The one important distinction to note is that this is a rule, not a ruling, i.e. it was not decided out of convenience for Kidman, but rather it's always been this way. Catholics know the rules. And if they don't, that's what pre-cana is for. Now Kidman wants to get married in the Church and learns her first marriage was not recognized under Church law. She should hardly be surprised at this. There is some pretty strange stuff in scripture, but Xenu?

The Church's rules on marriage/divorce are pretty simple really. People, however, aren't simple.

NB: the RC Church is hardly the only religion not to recognize marriages of those within the communion conducted outside of its rites.


10:16 PM, June 27, 2006  
Blogger Zachary Drake said...

OK, I agree that Xenu is way weird, and that what little I think I know about the alien-possession doctrine of Scientology (which is only from South Park) equals anything in Revelation.

I agree that the church didn't make a special rule for Kidman. The Sullivan quote implies that it was, and that is wrong. Church law is consistent and it would apply to anyone else in the same way. I agree that those church rules have been like that for oh-such-a-long time, and that other denominations, sects, cults, religions, etc. have very similar rules. I even agree that the rules are pretty simple and straightforward.

The point I'm trying to make is that despite their consistent application, clarity, and similarity to rules in other religions, the RULES ARE STUPID.

According to the Catholic Church, you can have a Christian marriage ceremony, get a legal wedding license, fuck each other silly, live together, raise seven wonderful Catholic children together, love each other deeply, form a nexus of support and connection between your families, share property, be life companions, have a deep friendship and spiritual connection, grow old and take joy in your greatgrandchildren together, and yet as far as the Church is concerned your marriage never existed because that ceremony wasn't Catholic and when you were a baby someone baptized you into the Catholic Church.

What inspires such ridicule and contempt on my part is the presumption that a certain bit of bit of ritual (a "sacrament") performed by a person with a certain position within a certain institution has more power to make something "a real marriage" (or not) than anything that actually happens in reality between those two people and their families. It is almost as absurd as the Catholic Church not recognizing a death as "valid" because a priest didn't administer last rights. (I can almost hear in my head a version of the "Dead Parrot" sketch illustrating this.) This priviledge of ritual over reality ("It really does turn into the flesh and blood of Christ!") is what makes much of what passes for religion out there seem so daffy to me. It certainly doesn't seem to merit the respect it commands.

Our legal system has the notion of "common law marriage", which basically says if you act married with someone long enough, the state is going to treat you like you're married, whether or not you completed the legal ritual normally required. This is a concession to reality, an admission that the formal structures of the law do not always capture what's really going on. But the Catholic Church (along with numerous other religions) has never felt the need to concede anything to this "fallen" (i.e. real) world. Thus it can say with a straight face that Nicole Kidman was never married, even though every gossip magazine reader in our culture knows that is not, in fact, the case.

12:03 AM, June 28, 2006  
Anonymous Sarah said...

I love knowing that we are actually living in sin, my not-husband.

5:23 AM, June 28, 2006  
Blogger Anthony said...

Here's my take.

The -problem- with any discussion about marriage is that the term means very different things to very different people.

Marriage has cultural, legal and moral implications. It stands to logic that the presence of marriage, therefore, is also subject to different cultural, legal and moral norms.

The problem with applying a definition steeped in different cultural, legal and moral norms is that while such rules are generally (but not always) internally consistent, they are almost always ridiculous applied outside it's own internally consistent universe.

For example, if a couple lives together in a jurisidiction that recognizes common law marriages suddenly moves to a jurisdiction that DOESN'T recognize common law marriages, does their marriage suddenly take on a Schroedinger's Cat-like state where it both exists and doesn't at the same time?

I don't think it's possible to apply RC logic to a universe external of RC and still have it make sense. The same applies regardless of whether you are Unitarian, Chinese, Mormon and a D&D player wanting to get married by a level 20 Cleric of Sune Firehair.

That -some- practices are also consistent with what the plurality considers common sense is irrelevant. I'm fairly sure I'm capable of dredging up some doctrine that will be inherently inconsistent with what the plurality considers common sense, regardless of what doctrine it is.

So, does that mean rules are inherently stupid? That's a different question altogether.

8:36 AM, June 28, 2006  
Blogger grishnash said...

My own beliefs don't allow me to recognize any marriage of Nicole Kidman that doesn't involve me.

9:53 AM, June 28, 2006  

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