Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Shades of Today in Yesterday's News

1911 article Montreal Gazette

I stumbled upon this article, from June 1911, the Montreal Gazette, declaring that "mixed marriages" were out for Presbyterians.

As if it wasn't hard enough to find a husband in those days, for Edith, Marion or Flo.

Although Herb dated French Canadian girls from what I read, I don't think there ever was a question of either of the girls marrying a Roman Catholic. Or "RC" as they often wrote. Edith's great love, the one she lost in a Cornwall, Ontario fire was named Charlie Gagne, but he probably was an anglo.

That's despite the fact E.W. Tobin, an Irish-Canadian was the Member of Parliament for Richmond Wolfe, and of course a Roman Catholic. (This probably helped him get French Canadian votes.)

On Easter 1908, the Pope came out with a decree declaring that all RC marriages are null and void unless performed by a Parish Priest, and the right Parish Priest, at that, the Priest in the parish the woman was born.

Gee, that sort of keeps women at home, doesn't it?

The Presbyterians responded to this by saying no mixed marriages...Not that there was anything wrong with it ;)

And the points they make in support of their argument are most interesting in the context of gay marriage, today. They say civil marriage takes precedence over religious marriage, and no one religion can decide for the others, who is legally or illegally married. (Sounds like a good argument for separation of church and state.) The church says it is grateful for the state in that the state allows religions to conduct marriage in the way they want.


At the same Presbyterian Meeting, another very interesting thing is stated: Someone complains that the state has 'an insane love of statistics" because it decides how to solve social problems on numbers, whereas evangelicals merely sound the call, rouse their fervour, and get out there and do good. As I wrote earlier, in the 1910 era, evangelicalss were progressive, in many ways. For instance they were all for women's suffrage, although this was primarily in the hope of pushing temperance through.

Hmm. Scrapping the Long Form Census is in the long tradition of Evangelicalism. Except our esteemed leader isn't supposed to be a fanatical religious type. He pretends not to be. Building more prisons when violent crime is going down is also typical of this line of thinking.

That's the problem with emotions, they can be used to do good and do bad, in equal measures. And certain issues always 'incite partisan extremes' - a term I steal from a Lowenthal who writes that 'heritage can incite partisan extremes' (in an essay I am reading for my course.) Because heritage is about ''symbols' and sometimes about "myth" (tangible and intangible heritage) and both symbols and myth motivate mankind more than logic and ideas.

Which is to say, the heritage crusade (the title of the paper) is like a religion and has the potential to do great good and great harm.

Yes, statistics can be interpreted in different ways, but that is a good thing in a democracy. But they tend not to inspire love or hatred, (just yawns). And bored people tend to do little harm to others.

You know, I am a magazine writer, and the 'quote, anecdote, statistic' method of journalism reflects the fact that people cannot identify with numbers, but it is very IMPORTANT to back up anecdotes with numbers - and a range of opinions.

Anecdotal evidence cannot stand alone, for 'an anecdote' can be anything from an astute observation by a sage who has learned to channel his objective observer and check his or her emotions to a blatant fish tale by a madman or sociopath or, ah, someone who has a hidden agenda.

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