Monday, March 30, 2015

My Birthday and the Mess in Indiana

Today begins the "week of my birthday." That's right, one day isn't enough. It's more like a festival of celebration. The highlight of the week will be Wednesday, April Fool's Day, the one day all year where my default personality type is in vogue and my behavior is acceptable. 

 57. Such a large and foreboding number. Can I even say that I'm in my "middle fifties" anymore? The weird thing is that some times I feel better than I ever had. For one thing, I'm in better shape than ever what with all of my working out. But other times, I can feel the years. It's a mixed bag.

On the actual day of my birth, Friday, Pam and I will be hitting the road to Nashville to spend the long Easter weekend with our son who we haven't seen since Christmas. It's on these long car trips when I feel the years most acutely. When I get out of the car after a nine hour road trip, my hips feel like they are made of concrete. But it will be worth it to see my boy.

I suppose I should have something to say about this business in Indiana. The "religious freedom restoration act" is the sort of story that makes me want to sell everything and move to New Zealand. The problem is that I can easily see both sides clearly. I have sympathy with the proposition that religious expression should not be dictated by law. If we keep going down our present path will the government some day force a Catholic priest to perform a gay wedding ceremony? But on the other hand, why must a conservative Christian baker or florist feel compelled to deny services to a gay couple? Do they feel equally compelled to deny those services to formerly divorced couples or atheist couples? It's all a terrible mess.

It seems to me that if I were a baker and a gay couple asked me to bake them a cake, I would be grateful for the business. Agreeing to bake the cake no more suggests that I endorse their lifestyle than agreeing to bake a cake for a bar mitzvah suggests that I'm Jewish. Imposing personal belief boycotts is part of what has gone wrong in our country over the past twenty years or so. Political, social and religious differences have suddenly prohibited us from being nice to each other. If we have big, important disagreements on big, important issues, this does not give us the right to forget our manners. If a gay couple gets turned down by a florist, something tells me that there are dozens of gay-friendly florists out there who would love the business. And if a gay couple walks into a baker and wants a wedding cake, would it kill the Christian baker to thank them for the business, bake the best cake ever, and wish them well? Must a literal "federal case" be made out of everything?

In 2015 the answer is, yes...yes it must.