Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tolling Bells And Sleeping Well

A few days ago on Facebook I shared the John Donne meditation often referred to as "For Whom The Bell Tolls".  I was prompted to do this when a heterosexual male friend informed me that gay marriage was not his fight. I haven't thought about the meditation since high school but it keeps repeating in my mind as I am inundated with the media storm surrounding the Chick-Fil-A public stance on Gay Marriage. I respect that Chick-Fil-A chooses to run its business based upon religious (Christian) principals. I wish morality were more prominent in corporate America. I'm proud that in the USA individuals and groups are free to express opinions. More so I'm relieved that people are encouraged to respond with their own statements and actions.

There are many ways to interpret any document, especially the Bible. Chick-Fil-A representatives have the right to their dogma. Like the company’s president, I am a practicing Christian. My understanding of most major religious doctrine is that they state that humans are obligated to treat all creatures with dignity and fairness. I work hard to uphold these standards. Basic equality issues are my fight. However, there’s no need for me to babble about this when John Donne and the United States Supreme Court eloquently have stated my feelings.

This year we celebrate the 45h anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, the definitive answer to the constitutionality of mix-race marriages. In the 1967 case the United States Supreme Court declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, unconstitutional. By doing such the Court overturned Pace v. Alabama a precedent setting case on the topic and ended all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States. In its decision, The Court wrote:

“Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very
existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so
unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these
statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality
at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's
citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment
requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious
racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not
marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be
infringed by the State.”


Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions

Now this bell tolling softly for another, says to me, Thou must die.

PERCHANCE he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill as that he knows not it tolls for him. And perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me, and I know not that. The church is catholic, universal, so are all her actions; all that she does, belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concerns me; for that child is thereby connected to that head which is my head too, and ingraffed into that body, whereof I am a member. And when she buries a man, that action concerns me; all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again, for that library where every book shall lie open to one another; as therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come; so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness.

There was a contention as far as a suit (in which, piety and dignity, religion and estimation, were mingled) which of the religious orders should ring to prayers first in the morning; and it was determined, that they should ring first that rose earliest. If we understand aright the dignity of this bell, that tolls for our evening prayer, we would be glad to make it ours, by rising early, in that application, that it might be ours as well as his, whose indeed it is. The bell doth toll for him, that thinks it doth; and though it intermit again, yet from that minute, that that occasion wrought upon him, he is united to God. Who casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? But who takes off his eye from a comet, when that breaks out? who bends not his ear to any bell, which upon any occasion rings? But who can remove it from that bell, which is passing a piece of himself out of this world?

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Neither can we call this a begging of misery, or a borrowing of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbors. Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did; for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath afflicion enough, that is not matured and ripened by it, and made fit for God by that affliction. If a man carry treasure in bullion or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into current moneys, his treasure will not defray him as he travels. Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it. Another may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell that tells me of his affliction, digs out, and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another's danger, I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.

*Thank you Wikipedia for the source material used in this post

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