Yachting news

Suppose, for the sake of having an argument, that gentle reader has his legs chomped off. We are to understand that this was not a voluntary action; or not entirely voluntary. He had foreseen the use of his legs for the rest of his mortal existence, and was sincerely committed to keeping them attached. He had done nothing more than dangle them over the side of his yacht, when the great white shark came along. The sort of thing that could happen to anybody.

Why can’t he have a new pair of legs? Surely this is an injustice. A man needs legs, to this way of thinking, and God must be mean and spiteful, to prevent him from growing replacements. It is so unfair: everyone else has legs, why not me?

The only way to get them back, is to make some incident on the yacht unhappen: to get it “annulled” as if it had all been a bad dream. An interesting bad dream, I think, if there are children not otherwise to be explained.

I have a long list here, of things I’d like to be unhappened, myself. But then I get lost wondering what happens after all those unhappenings have happened; or what else might require unhappening until I get back to the unhappening of my birth. At some point one becomes reconciled to the unhappening of all unhappenings, and starts thinking in terms of forgiveness and absolution, instead. And just living with it.

Which is to say, I’ve never had “a problem with” the Catholic teaching on marriage; my (intellectual) “problem” has rather been with the annulment of it. At root, I don’t “get” it. I can sort-of see the annulment of a coerced marriage; or even an unconsummated one; or a marriage somehow contracted between parties who were, um, batwhoop insane. I cannot sort-of see the annulment of an uncoerced, consummated marriage between two not in need of psychiatric intervention. But let me pass on that; there are lots of things I don’t get; I am rather slow-witted. Maybe some day the penny will drop, and the whole of Canon Law will be revealed to me. Maybe Holy Church knew what she was doing, even when it appeared she did not. …

Maybe it wasn’t the legs that he lost, maybe something else that was a part of him. Perhaps his head came off, while he was dawdling on the Internet, and he lost his mind. Or his heart: men often lose their hearts. “Lord, the woman thou gavest me to be my companion …” did one darn’d thing or another, and, well. …

“Moses, for the hardness of your heart, permitted you to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. But from the beginning, it was not so. … God made them male and female,” et cetera.

If I am quoting from, or alluding to Genesis a lot, lately, it is from my sense that we, too, must go back to the beginning; that we have wandered so badly off course that we must almost start again from scratch. We are losing even the concept of “male and female.” But it is late in the day now, and going back to Eden isn’t an option. Can we still master the concept of “yes or no”? … (Can even our pope do it?)

The “problem” with the Catholic teaching on marriage is that it isn’t complicated. We rather wish it were. It is simple like having legs, or not having. “They two shall be one flesh.” It is not a mix-and-match proposition. There is, to be sure, serial monogamy in the world around us. And, serial polygamy I have noticed. But it is not allowed aboard the Church Catholic. If you want that, you will have to step off. For it is one of those “yes or no” propositions, like the Resurrection.

Rather, this is what we have onboard: “What God hath joined let no man put asunder.” … (I should think “no man” would include the participants.)

In case the meaning of this arguably abstruse phrase were to cause confusion, our Captain added: “Whosover shall put away his wife and marry another, committeth adultery against her.” And then He spelt that out, in words that would be hard to misconstrue. … (O ye bishops of Malta!)

Sin happens. This is nothing new. It has been happening for some time now; and if it’s possible to retrieve someone gone overboard, Holy Church is bound to try. She will need some cooperation from the drowning party, however. He (she, they) need to be “accompanied” back to the yacht. The sort of gooey, slobbering sympathy that proposes to follow them to some other destination will not do.

A person floundering in the water may have no clear idea what is to be done. The person trying to rescue him must have a clear idea, however. This is something I once learnt in lifeguard class.

Bad luck also happens. But you get used to it after a while. There are some things you, personally, can’t have (legs after the chomping were just one example), and the thing about things you can’t have, is that you can’t have them. So you might as well make the best of it. Better to have what’s left of you on the yacht, instead of in the water, is what I am suggesting here. (I think Christ said something similar.)

Yes, yes, it’s a mess, modern life. The teaching about “living as brother and sister,” offered by Saint John Paul, was for extremes. Now it is interpreted as if the hard cases were the commonplaces; to which is added, “Let’s be merciful and make it easier for them.” Let’s just allow the lady and the gentleman their death clutch, while they drown; and do this for the sake of their children, as they also go down. After all, the modern world is messy.

Verily, why do we need the yacht? Why don’t we all hop in the water, and swim wherever we want to go? For the yacht is so confining. Surely this will make everyone happier; and the sharks, too.