Goodness, two posts in one day is terribly unfashionable. I should wait an hour and a half.
I was talking to a brilliant friend of mine today about religion and lingering narratives. We talked about the problems with marriage, and the exchange economy that surrounds it, the pressure to conform and perform a gendered role, the appropriation of individuals in the interest of tradition, and, especially, the devaluation of lifestyles that do not involve participation in this sort of economy--whether by judicial force or personal choice. OK we didn't talk about all that, but it's all implicated in what we did discuss.
We talked about the mysterious pleasure of religious ceremony: the reverence of a cathedral, the community of the call to prayer, etc. It made me think of a cute song I had thought of posting without commentary. I initially decided against putting it up because I had little to add to it, and because I get a little trigger happy with the facebook links. With the added context of today's conversation, it seems more worth the time.
Now almost all my friends are non-theists, either because they've thought about it and feel it's the position that best lets them be honest with themselves, or because they have not thought about it and it is simply who they are. My coffee conversation is one of my few Christian friends, which face allows me the delightful opportunity to explore in dialogue experiences that I otherwise overlook. In spite of my recent ramblings on religion, I hadn't thought much of late on what role religion may still play in my life. Because I don't spend any time with Christians in a context that allows faith as an appropriate topic of conversation, I don't get asked why I celebrate Christmas.
Tim Minchin is Australian, so Christmas comes for him in the summer. He is also usually funnier than this:
I think this has something to do with why non-theists still have a stake in marriage, too. The mysterious community of ritual is not merely religious (anthropologically speaking, it casts religion in the light of an accidental appendage). Indeed, in addition to extending beyond the reach of religious discipline, it would too seem to surpass the proprietary structure of the traditional family. The ritual that Minchin sings about is a singularity of support, the bare trace of a religious experience stripped of its judicial baggage. If there is a thread of this in marriage, then there is some hope for divorcing that institution from its sordid past; better put, given this hypothesis, marriage in and of itself needs no help, it simply needs to be let free.
It surely goes without saying that so long as religion remains a negative theology it will not know how to do any good in this arena.