Friday, October 30, 2009

I Hate Tradition

     My throat was raw.  The rat-like mass of hair glued to my smooth sixteen-year-old face itched.   I had to pee, but the twenty pound homemade fat suit had me captive.   There wouldn’t be a window to get out of the fly-lacking fat suit until intermission, and it was only the first scene of act one.  All I could do was breathe through the pain of my burning bladder and sing:

Who day and night must scramble for a living, feed his wife and children, say his daily prayers, and who has the right as master of the house to have the final word at home?  The papa!  The papa!  Tradition!  The papa!  The papa!  Tradition!

     I hate Fiddler on the Roof, and I hate Tradition. 

     In Fiddler, Tevye (the papa) struggles against the encroaching modern world to get his daughters married off in the appropriate traditional manner (matchmaker, dowry, Jewish husbands, etc.).  He fails, and his daughters’ new fangled idea of marrying for love, wins out.  I hate Fiddler, because generations of conservative Christians across America have flocked to the show and failed to get its message: tradition is relative!

     I hate tradition, because people use it as a weapon against people who are different or as an excuse to continue their own ignorant ways.  Most arguments from tradition are narrow minded and fail to be hermeneutically grounded in any real sense of the diverse historical tapestry that makes up human experience and tradition.

     Which tradition is the ultimate Tradition?  GreekRomanJewishNative American?  Islamic?   BuddhistCatholicHinduAmericanEuropean? AfricanAsian?  Etc. etc.  And within each of these groups, which subgroup’s tradition takes precedence?  Which historical period?  How far back does one go to find the ultimate Tradition?   When did tradition start?  With Lucy?

     Tradition is historically, culturally, and religiously relative.  Tradition is the favorite tool of the religious elite for keeping the lesser masses in check.

     When people use tradition to make their argument against my right to be married, they need to learn a lesson from Fiddler’s Tevye.  There is no single governing “tradition” that defines marriage.  History proves this, and, yes, even their bible proves this.  So, all you tradition-loving conservatives, keep your tradition and your religion out of my civil rights.

Postscript:  For a whirlwind (and humorous) tour through what the bible has to say about “traditional marriage,” click below to watch Mrs. Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian.

Post-postscript: I did make it through Act I without wetting myself.  Thespis was proud.