Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, July 17, 2021

How could I have gone to see Wedding Crashers last Friday and not referred to Stephanie Coontz’s new book, “Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage” ?

Well, I guess because I haven’t actually read it. Nor to I intend to. But I did read a general synopsis of the book, and interview with the author, and feel I’ve gotten a good feel for the subject matter: The evolution of marriage from an arrangement of economic necessity to a personal endeavour, with the idealized ’50s setups representing one of the more radical departures from the matrimonial norm.

Even more revealing was the idea that, for centuries, marriage wasn’t even sanctioned by church nor state:

In Europe, marriage has had a varied reputation. For the first thousand years or so of the Christian era, the church considered marriage an inferior state compared to the higher spirituality of celibacy. “St. Paul said it was better to marry than to burn, but not much,” Coontz says.

Weddings blessed by clergy were uncommon; most couples simply moved in together and declared themselves wed. It was only after the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century that religion and marriage became closely intertwined.

Even then, Coontz says, “Not everyone was allowed to get married. The poor were not considered qualified, so they weren’t permitted to marry. Neither were slaves or servants.

Practicality was supplanted by invented propriety, it seems.

All this has added significance in light of today’s gay marriage wrangling. You could consider the preliminaries to the current debate — coming out of the closet, cohabitation, the “longtime companion” arrangements — to be a condensed parallel to the heterosexual evolution of marriage.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/17/2005 04:57:15 PM
Category: Society, History | Permalink | Feedback (1)

So I dub the people of northeastern Arkansas. Especially the ones sporting woodpecker-inspired haircuts.

I don’t mean that derogatorily — far from it. In fact, with the way those folks have embraced the rediscovery of the long-thought-extinct ivory-billed woodpecker, capitalizing on the event for the potential eco-tourism opportunities, I’m guessing Arkansans would wear the name proudly.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/17/2005 04:32:20 PM
Category: Business, Science | Permalink | Feedback (1)