Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Wedding Script

Written by Brandon Henander

In Collaboration with Mary Henander, Andrew Lord
Glenn Rehn & Angela Henander

Research Cited of Dr. Iddo Landau Professor of Philosophy at Haifa University, and Dr. John Gottman of the Gottman Institute & Professor Emeritus at The University of Washington, among many others.

Performed by Rev. Andrew Lord

With Poet Laureate James "The Liar" Ross

Andy: Before I begin Mary would like to acknowledge that while the following is wholly secular, it is undertaken in the presence of God and would not be possible without God bringing us together here today. And Brandon would like to acknowledge that there will be vegetarian meal options provided for dinner.

Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to witness the marriage of Brandon and Mary Henander. Who, as it turns out (Andy: examining script, looking confused) … are already married. Alright then, that’s a wrap. (Andy: closes book. Brandon: takes Andy’s arm and whispers in ear and points to script). I see… there’s more. Brandon and Mary enjoyed getting married the first time so much they’ve decided to do it again! Well not exactly. We are gathered here today to celebrate the marriage of Mary and Brandon Henander and witness a more meaningful ceremony.

A successful marriage necessarily cannot rest on the simple ceremonious act of declaring “I do” to certain legal precepts. If that were the case then Paul McCartney would be happily married to this day. A successful marriage cannot rest on the simple pledge to love one another for eternity. Sidestepping the problems created trying to agree on a uniform concept of eternity, I ask ‘how can you pledge love at a future time?’ The simple answer is that you cannot. Peoples’ feelings are subject to change. A love, no matter how strong, can cease over time; as evidenced by the high divorce rates among Western nations. Indeed, Martin Lawrence posited that there might actually be a Thin Line Between Love and Hate. Fortunately that holds true only for individuals suffering extreme affective disorders such as depression. Nevertheless people pledge their undying love for each other everyday. Certainly their motives are not misplaced yet they are making a pledge they have no way of assuring its fulfillment, which, makes it no pledge at all. Some philosophers have taken this paradox and declared the institution of marriage a sham. As it happens, philosophers’ motives are almost always misplaced. Marriage need not be a declaration of obedience under law, nor must it be a false commitment of eternal love, through thick and thin, sickness and health. Marriage should be a commitment “to invest work in performing certain acts that are likely to sustain” love. We will return to this later. But the idea is that two people commit in marriage to work toward happiness together. For marriage is an active endeavor and not a passive state. You may “get married” but you must first declare “I do”. And what it is that you are willing to do is not to commit to the conventional, romantic, even maudlin pledges such as ‘till death do you part’, but it is to give your all for as long as you can; to act as often out of altruism as out of self-preservation; to respect the happiness of your partner more than your own emotional psychoses; to give the benefit of the doubt even when there may not be much benefit to doing so. This is hard. Much harder than expecting to be in love with someone forever just by saying you will. And that is why this ceremony is more important to Mary and Brandon because it is not naively jumping into a covenant they expect will be something it is not. It is pledging to work for the rest of their lives to make the love they possess today, flourish. And now because they want us to, we will all awkwardly listen to a song.

Bob Dylan – “Wedding Song”

I love you more than ever,
more than time and more than love,
I love you more than money,
and more than the stars above,
Love you more than madness,
more than waves upon the sea,
Love you more than life itself,
you mean that much to me.

Ever since you walked right in,
the circle's been complete,
I've said goodbye to haunted rooms
and faces in the street,
To the courtyard of the jester
which is hidden from the sun,
I love you more than ever
and I haven't yet begun.

You breathed on me and made my life
a richer one to live,
When I was deep in poverty
you taught me how to give,
Dried the tears up from my dreams
and pulled me from the hole,
Quenched my thirst and satisfied
the burning in my soul.

You gave me babies one, two, three,
what is more, you saved my life,
Eye for eye and tooth for tooth,
your love cuts like a knife,
My thoughts of you don't ever rest,
they'd kill me if I lie,
I'd sacrifice the world for you
and watch my senses die.

The tune that is yours and mine
to play upon this earth,
We'll play it out the best we know,
whatever it is worth,
What's lost is lost, we can't regain
what went down in the flood,
But happiness to me is you
and I love you more than blood.

It's never been my duty
to remake the world at large,
Nor is it my intention
to sound a battle charge,
'Cause I love you more than all of that
with a love that doesn't bend,
And if there is eternity
I'd love you there again.

Oh, can't you see that you were born
to stand by my side
And I was born to be with you,
you were born to be my bride,
You're the other half of what I am,
you're the missing piece
And I love you more than ever
with that love that doesn't cease.

You turn the tide on me each day
and teach my eyes to see,
Just bein' next to you
is a natural thing for me
And I could never let you go,
no matter what goes on,
'Cause I love you more than ever
now that the past is gone.

Andy: As long as we are waxing philosophical I must ask ‘what is marriage?’ Webster’s Dictionary defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman… just kidding. It takes two people a lifetime to define for themselves what marriage is and that definition changes over time. At this time Brandon and Mary would like to recognize the marriages of family and friends in their lives. They have all had different dynamics but what they’ve all had in common is to show Brandon and Mary how the people they love act when they’re in love. Tolstoy said that “What counts in a marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility”. O.J. Simpson disagreed saying “It’s not the amount of love in your heart, it’s the number of knives in your kitchen.” While a scientific correlation between knives and marital longevity has yet to be found, psychological research over the past forty years seems to reinforce Tolstoy’s argument. Couples that listen to and are affected by what their partners have to say stay married longer than couples that don’t, even if they have more conflicts. Successful couples know how to negotiate and do not have one-sided relationships. They do not make generalizations in their criticism. They are not defensive and they hold no contempt. Happy couples validate each others’ existence
This brings us back to the idea of marriage as a commitment “to invest work in performing certain acts that are likely to sustain” love. We now know marriage cannot just be a commitment of love, it must be a commitment to love. There is empirical evidence of certain behaviors couples can engage in that will increase the likelihood of sustained love and happiness. Therefore if these two are to speak vows that hold any relevance to the reality of marriage let it be these:

Do you Brandon and Mary commit to work as hard as you can to foster and augment the love that you currently share with each other and that you both share with your beautiful daughter Iris and any future Henanders?

Mary & Brandon: I do.

Do you Brandon and Mary commit to engage each other in meaningful ways, to constructively air grievances, and to validate each others views and feelings even while in disagreement?

Mary & Brandon: I do.

Do you Brandon and Mary commit to basing all aspects of your marriage in your deep love, friendship and respect for each other?

Mary & Brandon: I do.


While we have rationalized marriage and enumerated the characteristics that make marriages successful, we have overlooked arguably the most important aspect of a marriage – irrationality. No marriage could exist without it. For it is the irrationality of faith which makes us able to love. It is the source for that leap into uncertainty which allows us to give our hearts to someone else. For even if we can make arguments to rationalize the institution of marriage (through personal and sociological benefits), or even the very essence of marriage (which we have done here today), we cannot explain what makes two bright young people such as Brandon and Mary decide to forego all previous ambitions, in the prime years of their adulthood, to build a life with each other at the expense of all potential benefits of a more self-centered existence. Some call it chemistry. Others say foolishness. Ultimately, it is love. And love is the antithesis of reason. It is the sole reason why we are here today – to rejoice with two people deeply in love (and to rejoice in their free food and beer). And now to consecrate this sentiment we are privileged to have Poet Laureate James Ross read a decidedly anti-rational poem “Since Feeling Is First” by E.E. Cummings. James:

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
than wisdom
lady I swear by all flowers. Don't cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

Andy: It is said that the roundness of a ring symbolizes the unending love of one spouse for another. As it happens the ring is round because it is the shape most conducive to fitting on the finger. Since you both already have rings you may now exchange kisses.


And now by the power vested in me by the website of the Universal Life Church, I re-pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss again!!



The Beatles – “All You Need Is Love”

There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It's easy.

There's nothing you can make that can't be made.
No one you can save that can't be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be in time
It's easy.

All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

There's nothing you can know that isn't known.
Nothing you can see that isn't shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.
It's easy.

All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.