The Politics of Marriage

I finished Committed. If it had been a similar book as Ms. Gilbert's first one -- a story about a personal venture -- it wouldn't require three posts. But Committed is a political book any way you look at it, even though it's not packaged as such. It still tells a story, but the story is more of a backdrop to the main theme: the politics of marriage. Here are some sentences from the book:

"Our wedding vows were administered by a nice man named Harry Furstenberger, the mayor of this small New Jersey township. When Mayor Harry first walked in the door, my father asked him "Are you a Republican or Democrat?" because he knew that was important to me."

'I'm a Republican.'

There followed a moment of silence

I'm sorry, but who gives a crap about the political leanings of one's wedding officiator? And this...

"Gloria Steinem was 66 years old on her wedding day and just as brilliant as ever..."

"I loved the title [of The Subversive Family] and was certain this text would relay inspiring stories of couples who had somehow figured out the ways to beat the system and undermine social authority, keeping true to their rebel roots. Perhaps I would find my role models here!"

"We Greeks don't feel comfortable sacrificing the Self upon the alter of Tradition; it just feels oppressive to us."

Ms. Gilbert's Greek reference follows her analysis of politics in America. Rather than use the terms "conservative" and "liberal," she uses the terms Greek vs. Hebrew.

"The entire bedrock of Western culture is based on two rival worldviews -- the Greek and the Hebrew -- and whichever side you embrace more strongly determines to a large extent how you see life. The Greeks gave us our notions about democracy and equality and personal liberty and scientific reason and intellectual freedom and open-mindedness. The Greek take on life, therefore, is urban, sophisticated, and exploratory, always leaving plenty of room for doubt and debate."

"On the other hand, there is the Hebrew way of seeing the world. The Hebrew credo is clannish, patriarchal, authoritarian, moralistic, and suspicious of outsiders. Hebrew thinkers see the world as a clear play between good and evil, with God firmly on our side. Human actions are either right or wrong. There is no gray area. The collective is more important than happiness, and vows are inviolable."

Liberals like Ms. Gilbert, by the way, are the reason media bias has become what it has. These folks truly, honestly believe their way of viewing the world is "sophisticated and open-minded" -- and that people who are religious, or traditional, or who simply live by a set of principles (which is to say, most of America) aren't "sophisticated," "exploratory" or "intellectual." This is a deep seated arrogance, bordering on disease. It's one thing to believe you're right and state your case (I do this all the time!) -- and another to suggest you're superior.

And this is my favorite passage from the book, as it truly sums up not just Ms. Gilbert -- but every single modern liberal in existence:

"My yearning to have everyone in the world be best friends, combined with my near pathological empathy for underdogs..."

I appreciate Ms. Gilbert's honesty; she certainly has that going for her. But she has no clue that her worldview is what gets in the way of her longings, confusions, and angst. It's the emotional desire for "everyone to love one another" and the overly obsessive empathy for the downtrodden that keep liberals from being able to think objectively and wisely about how to solve problems.

The politics of marriage is a fascinating subject, but rather than ruminate over "who's" at fault for why marriage is so difficult (i.e. "conservatives), Ms. Gilbert would do better to read books about marriage that are uplifting -- books that highlight what makes marriage work or introduce couples who've made it work. I find it astonishing that Ms. Gilbert did all that research on marriage and overlooked one of the most important books ever written on this subject: The Case for Marriage, by Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher. This book successfully challenges most of Ms. Gilbert's arguments.

Conclusion: I do not recommend Committed, by Elizabeth Gilbert -- that is, unless you like what you see here. Ms. Gilbert has officially "come out" as an America basher with this new book (indeed, she refers to Canada as a "sane" place to live), and I suspect this won't score her any points. I could be wrong, of course -- but I have yet to read a positive review of the book.


1 Response to “The Politics of Marriage”:

  1. Anonymous says:

    I read COMMITTED and loved it so much I read it AGAIN. Your need to bash the book and its writer only exposes the fact that the book clearly stuck some kind of emotional chord in you. You shot yourself in the foot when you ended your rant with "..I have yet to read a positive review of the book." Any mature intelligent adult knows that its easy to find people out there that agree with you. In short: look for a bad review of the book and you will find one, look for a good review of it and you will find that too.