Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Tag: Shakespeare

Unaltering Love–Happy Birthday Ruth

Sonnet 116 William Shakespeare
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
admit impediments.

They say that you tend to be with someone similar to yourself. I suppose it’s true most of the time. We’re pretty narcissistic people, so we seek ourselves in the people we love.

                     Love is not love
which alters when it alteration finds,
or bends with the remover to remove:

They say unless two agree, they cannot walk together. And that if they start to disagree, they probably are going to have to go off in different directions. Alteration, they imply, alters love.

O, no! It is an ever-fixed mark,
that looks on tempests and is never shaken;

Ruth and I have changed. A lot. I’m not the person she married. I have different goals, different convictions, a different sense of morality. Different ways to love.

It is the star to every wandering bark,
who's worth's unknown, although his height be taken.

We change each other and change by each other’s changes. Our love isn’t based on our personality traits. The thing that holds us together is not ourselves. It’s a kind of transcendent love.

Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
within his bending sickle's compass come;

For about 123 days of the summer, Ruth and I are the same age. Tomorrow she’s older than me again. We’re in the midst of so much change, but we still love.

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

It does not matter how much we grow. It doesn’t matter how much we change. It doesn’t matter that we aren’t the people we married. Love that alters with alteration is not our kind of love.

If this be error, and upon me prov'd
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Happy birthday Ruth. I love you forever.

Hey Ruth, Shakespeare is pretty cool

I’m devouring Othello for English class right now. You’d love it. It’s about an African Muslim guy who marries a Venetian Christian girl–pretty wild for the 1600s. It doesn’t end happy, but it’s a fun ride.

Near the opening there’s a few scenes of angry Europeans talking about how horrible it is that a decent white girl ended up with a dirty Moor. They say it’s immoral. Irrational. Disgusting. The girl’s father, Brabantio, says,

For if such actions may have passage free,
Bondslaves and pagans shall our statesmen be.

Funny thing is, he was right. As soon as we allow people to hook up with whoever they want–regardless of race, sexuality, religion, etc–homogeneity can’t exist anywhere. Diversity reaches all levels of society. Brabantio thought it was a horrible idea. But he never got a chance to see how fun diversity is. Look at this awesome family we are building! Our children have a rare chance of rising above the tangled chains that hold down the people in my culture and the people in yours. Freedom comes through diversity.

Brabantio and the others were concerned with vaporous things like honour and propriety. Those things are all well and good, until they start to ruin fun. I can’t imagine how boring life would be if I had married someone who was like me. I’m thankful that you are so amazingly different and strange. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I miss you and the fun we have together. Here’s a little ditty Othello used to seduce his wife (you know, before he was driven mad with jealousy by his adviser, Iago. Everything kinda turns yucky after that):

Come, my dear love,
The purchase made, the fruits are to ensue,
That profit’s yet to come ‘tween me and you.

I’ll let you decide what profit means. 

Have a diverse sixth day, Ruth. I’ll say Hey again tomorrow.

PS – Remember that awesome version of Hamlet we watched with Kenneth Branagh? He’s in a film version of Othello with Lawrence Fishburn. Looks fun. We’ll watch it when you get back.