- - Sunday, August 29, 2010

Vocational abuse

“Just as Dan Brown capitalized on ignorance and prejudice to sell copies of his bestselling ‘The Da Vinci Code’ novel, some historians have tried to sell gay marriage by claiming that the early Christian martyrs Sergius and Bacchus are an example of Church-sponsored same-sex marriage. … With Judge Walker’s recent decision to declare same-sex marriage a ‘constitutional right,’ gay-marriage proponents are in overdrive trying desperately to convince people on the fence that gay marriage is the wave of the future — as well as the suppressed reality of the past. …

“The claim that Saints Sergius and Bacchus represent an example of Church-sponsored same-sex marriage was first put forward in 1994 by John Boswell in his book ‘Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe.’ Boswell’s claims have been completely debunked by David Woods, Robin Young, and Brent Shaw. …

“We can identify a pattern among examples such as John Boswell and Judge Walker. Both men have violated the principles of their vocation (as a historian and judge, respectively) in order to further a personal, ‘activist’ goal. Boswell’s arguments have been called into serious question by other historians, and even powerful supporters of legalizing same-sex marriage are uncomfortable with how Judge Walker has tried to force the issue.”

Thomas Peters, writing on “Sergius, Bacchus, and the growing myth of ‘early Christian gay marriage,’” on Aug. 24 at Catholic Vote Action

Not from Korea

“So did ‘M*A*S*H’ make military life look both glorious and familial, or was the series so irreverent that it bordered on the unpatriotic? It’s worth comparing ‘The Interview’ to the ‘See It Now’ episode that inspired it, in which [Edward R.] Murrow tries once or twice to get the troops to say that their work in Korea is wasteful and pointless, though he never pushes too hard, and the Marines never stray off-message.

“In ‘The Interview,’ by contrast, Hawkeye talks about writing a suggestive letter to Bess Truman, and complains that in the Army, ‘the clothes are green, the food is green … except the vegetables,’ and says that in a war, to stay sane, ‘One thing you can do is to get out in the road when the jeeps are coming by, and everybody sticks their foot out in front of the jeeps, and the last one to pull his foot in is the sane one.’ His contempt is palpable.”

Noel Murray, writing on “M*A*S*H: ‘The Interview,’” on Aug. 26 at the Onion AV Club

The Outsiders

“With their choices for this year’s Governors Awards, the AMPAS board came up with a roster that is decidedly unusual, un-Hollywood and undriven by TV ratings. The eclectic quartet — Francis Ford Coppola for the Thalberg Award, and Kevin Brownlow, Jean-Luc Godard and Eli Wallach to receive Honorary Oscars — were presumably chosen for merit and merit alone. But the choices also serve as a reminder that there are advantages to having a separate, untelevised ceremony.

“For one thing, there’s the number. Until last year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences board was wary of too many special awards in one year for fear of lengthening the Oscarcast; its running time is always a concern. Secondly, the quartet stands as an unspoken rebuke to criticisms that the Academy is Hollywood-centric. Coppola has worked at many of the major studios and even began his own studio in Hollywood, but he’s always been a maverick based in the Bay Area. Godard has made the bulk of his 70 films in his native France, while historian and documentarian Brownlow is based in England and Wallach remains a New York actor.”

Timothy M. Gray, writing on “Unusual choices for Oscar’s honorary awards,” on Aug. 26 at Variety