I got in some serious hot water with my last post -- which was not an installment of the Marriage Chronicles but a screed against the Catholic Church. I offended two people who are very important to me: C’s brother and my friend M in Syracuse. I know more about my friend’s -- who has a long history of peace activism, prison ministry, and social justice work, and whose home is now a Catholic Worker House devoted mostly to hospice care for people with AIDS -- than I do about C’s brother’s faith, but I am certain they are very different types of Catholic. Regardless, they are both deep believers and they were both offended, and, looking more closely at my words in light of their reactions, I was embarrassed by my lack of nuance.
I want to talk about the wedding, so I won’t try to recast my argument here and now except to address one thing. Religious folks often respond to agnostics’ or atheists’ criticism of their beliefs and institutions by saying, “you just don’t understand faith.” What I want to say is that I absolutely do understand faith. I might not have faith in a particular story or institution, but I have a deep, unshakable faith that human beings are good and that our ultimate purpose is to figure out how to love each other and the world we live in as best and as much as we can. I doubt these things every day, which is why I know I have faith in them. My anger at religious institutions comes from that faith, not from some desire to tear people down or be right or smarter or to get attention. Just wanted to say that.
OK, the wedding: RSVPs are trickling in. We invited about 95 people and we have room for 75, maybe 80.
When we first started talking about a wedding, we both said we wanted something small, “just family and close friends.” The picture I had in my head was maybe 20 or 30 people. But everyone on the list is someone we couldn’t imagine not inviting, and there are still many I feel terrible about leaving off the list. As we all know C’s family is huge. He had to leave out whole branches of it. I don’t have a lot of family besides my mom and dad and siblings, but after all the traveling and moving around I’ve done, and just being so damn old, I have dear friends everywhere.
Time and geography played a part in the selection. I gave preference to friends who’ve been more present in my life lately, leaving out some whom I’ve been very close to at one time or another but don’t keep in touch with as much any more. And I invited friends from New York who are more likely to be able to come over friends whom I care just as much about but who live far away.
One of the things I’m most looking forward to is bringing all these people together. Not just mixing C’s world with mine, but mixing together all the worlds within my world. It makes me smile to think of my parents hanging out with my friend M and his partner who have the Catholic Worker house in Syracuse where I stayed so many times during the years when I was touring. So many people who’ve been such an important part of my life for so many years have not met each other.
And that reminds me that we still have to decide where everyone sits for the reception dinner. I have this vision of stimulating conversation based on groups of people with mutual interests but possibly different points of view and life experiences, but whenever I spend a few moments thinking about who to put with whom I get a little crazy. We want people to meet new people but we also want to seat people who know each other together and not separate families.
C and I decided that we will sit at a table with just our parents, since there seemed to be no other clear line of cutoff short of having 30 people and their kids at our table. Everyone says not to worry too much about where we’re seated because we won’t spend much time sitting.
I’ve started reading up on Istanbul for the honeymoon. We booked a cruise from Istanbul to Venice, and we have a day and a half in Istanbul before the boat leaves. I bought a book called Strolling Through Istanbul (the maps are impossible to read on the Kindle) and another called American Writers in Istanbul. I’ve never been to that part of the world. I’ve never taken a cruise (though I’ve taken a 14-hour ferry ride from Aberdeen, Scotland to the Shetland Islands, one of the most thrilling and memorable things I’ve ever done), but I love the idea of being stuck on a boat with very few decisions to make. I don’t know if it’s a personality trait of mine or if I’ve just reached a point in life where I’m wearing of making decisions but the idea of being free of it is immensely appealing.
Cross-posted at The Bilerico Project.