Friday, May 11, 2012

My President and John Irving

Today I need to get a tad political and give a high five to President Obama for finally coming out (no pun intended) in support of gay marriage. Ya gotta love Joe Biden for inadvertently giving the nudge (Don thinks it was all choreographed) last Sunday on the morning talk shows.

 Like so many of the social issues we're facing heading into the final stretch of this long, long, presidential election season, this is one that should have been settled long ago. Yes, I did get out my checkbook to let the Obama team know that I unequivocally want a president who takes a stand no matter the consequences in the voting booth.

Ironically, on the same day that President Obama was speaking with Robin Roberts, one of my all-time favorite authors, John Irving, was speaking on the Diane Rehm show about his new novel In One Person. (Yes, I'm on the wait list) This interview moved me almost as much as it moved Irving who, at one point, seemed to choke up with his anger and righteous indignation. You can listen here:

At one point he told the listeners that he's almost 70 years old and can't believe that he's still having to write about the issue of sexual identity and acceptance almost 25 years after A Prayer for Owen Meany. Irving, I think, even shocked Diane when he stopped just short of calling Americans neanderthals - I believe the word troglodytes may have been broached - when it comes to sexual mores.

After my book discussion group disbanded for the summer yesterday afternoon, a few of us hung around to talk politics and this very subject came up. The new president of France who ousted Sarkozy happens to be in a long term relationship with a woman to whom he is not married. So, will they inhabit the presidential palace as a couple? Do you think the French care a whit? Can you imagine an unmarried American man or woman running for election? Dogcatcher perhaps?

I'll never understand why so many seemingly intelligent folks are more offended by the beauty of the human body than by the horror of body bags. Why are breasts and buttocks celebrated in the glorious artwork of the Greeks and Romans (yes, even in the Vatican) but draped and hidden in the U.S?
We profess to be a Christian nation (the Founders must be rolling in their graves) yet we seem to abhor the body "made in his image and likeness" (see, I remember my catechism) and deny the amazing feelings it can produce. It's enough to make one's head explode!

1 comment:

Belgie said...

I heard an NPR interview with John Irving in which he took a strong stand in support of same-sex marriage, following the release of this book. Having enjoyed his past work, and being gay myself, I enthusiastically ordered this book and fully expected an enjoyable, if not easy, read. I have now slogged through 1/3 of the book and I'm quitting - a rarity for me. Not only has Irving not made me care about the characters, he hasn't made me believe in them. I'll go further - I am relieved to be done with them. Irving continually insults the reader's intelligence by repeating plot details, as if assuming that we haven't really been paying attention. If we haven't, it would likely be because the story drags so badly, repeats itself and is just not that interesting. It strikes me that this is an old straight man's take on what he imagines gay/bi culture to be.