Thursday, February 22, 2007

Faith Works 2-24-07
Jeff Gill

Bridal Tips From "The Officiant"

Today is the Advocate sponsored Bridal Show out at Indian Mound Mall.

Nope, no one asked me to help flack the company event, I was just reading my
Bridal Show insert last weekend. There were tips on booking the reception hall,
finding a photographer, picking the color of your dresses.

But who performs the wedding?

Now, right there, I’ve always wondered. How did the term of art around this
legal function become "perform a wedding"? Although many of the clergy, judges,
and mayors who have done more than a few know that images of a circus come to
mind, quite often.

The legal truth is that the Secretary of State issues the certificate that
allows one to "solemnize a marriage" (now I can agree with that term!), in
whatever county of Ohio. Mine is signed by Sherrod Brown, as it happens, before
he became our US Senator.

The county Probate Court issues a license, checking the legal status of the two
to enter into this legal state, and it is "good for" thirty days.

Within thirty days of getting your license from the courthouse, you have to
find someone who is willing to authorize it. That means a person who is a
judge, mayor, or clergymember (with a certificate from the Sec’y of State) who
will verify you are the two listed on the license, will ask and witness to the
answer of "do you commit yourselves to one another in marriage?" and will sign
and return said license to the Probate Court, where on arrival it becomes
registered and you are now legally married.

Wait, you say, what about the church?

Don’t need one. That’s the answer. Now, if your religious tradition requires
the use of sacred space, a specific ritual, and particular acts, that is what
constitutes "duly married" in the church, but it is completely separate –
except in practice! – from legally married.

For instance, as is best known, there are many couples, even within Catholic
parishes, who are legally married, but are not "married in the eyes of the
church." Their status is not in question under the law, but their freedom to
receive the sacraments of the church or hold certain offices in parish life is
subject to limitations.

There are also situations, admittedly rare, but by no means unheard of, when
couples get married by an officiating clergyperson, but are not "legally
married." Think "Romeo & Juliet" and Friar Lawrence.

Some older couples have asked their pastor to hold a wedding ceremony for them,
but for legal or financial reasons choose not to become a legal couple. That
rarely makes as much sense as people convince themselves it does, and I’ve
never done one, but I hear about these all the time.

And many of you heard about the young woman last fall who had a terminal
disease, and a fiance who had no health insurance, so they married at church,
moved into the young woman’s parent’s home, but did not get a legal marrige so
she could stay on her dad’s policy. That’s a tough one, and I would not dream
of criticizing the clergy who officiated there.

But the point I’m wanting to make for all the bridal planners out there: no one
"has to" perform your wedding. If you book the photographer, the reception
hall, that crazy cake baker from Baltimore on The Food Network, and the band
(even "The Band"), and then go to your friendly neighborhood pastor . . . um.
They might have a family vacation planned, there might be another bride who got
there first, or they may not do weddings on three weeks’ notice.

Many churches, in fact, require both a certain period of notice, and meetings
with the minister or classes along with other couples. Six months is not
unusual. Some churches simply don’t do non-member weddings at all.

And if you don’t have a church home, but want a church wedding, here’s a
thought for you both. Talk through *why* you want a church wedding. Make sure
you know why, and have communicated about it.

No pastor likes to say "no" to a couple, truly. But when you’re talking to
folks who get hugely upset at the news that you won’t do it on less than three
months’ notice, that they have to meet with you, or that you can’t redecorate
the sanctuary from apse to nave or pick exactly the music you want . . . you
just say "no" and try to save everyone heartache.

Add in that many clergy won’t do wedding services other than in a church, and
you may need to be planning as carefully for an officiant as you do a caterer.
You should, and you won’t regret it. That gives them a chance to help you keep
in mind that the wedding is just the prelude to a marriage. The marriage is
what this is all about, anyhow.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio,
and he’s performed a few weddings. Tell him your wedding tales at
Notes From My Knapsack 2-25-07
Jeff Gill

This Week On the Red Carpet

Oscar Night is this weekend, and we’ll read all next week about the winners for
best picture, best actors and actresses, cinematography, and "the buzz."

Clearly, "buzz" isn’t just for apiculture anymore. Bee hive keepers know about
buzz, and now the contestants on "The Apprentice: LA" do, too, with their
venture into apiculture.

But if you work with honeybees, and are around the hive, their tone, their buzz
really does change. And I’m told, though blessedly have never been in earshot
to know personally, that you never forget the sound of an angry hive.
I’ve heard what I was told is the tone of a happy hive buzz, and it made me
profoundly nervous. So that’s all I need to know about angry.

"Buzz" is what drives the debate on the Iraq war, the ’08 presidential
nominating contest, and Oscar picks. There is, apparently, a tone of the
discussion and topics and attitudes that can be read to point out the ultimate
winner. Read the buzz, the logic goes, read the hive.

My problem with Oscar buzz is that for me, Best Picture is "Casablanca," Best
Actor is Bogie or Bing or Cary Grant, and Best Actress is (hmmmm) either Eva
Marie Saint or maybe Katherine Hepburn.

You could throw up "North by Northwest," Nobody’s Fool," or "Leap of Faith,"
Paul Newman or Steve Martin, Rene Russo in "The Thomas Crown Affair," or "A
Canterbury Tale," even "State and Main," and Phillip Seymour Hoffman and
Rebecca Pidgeon. The point is, I have no idea who’s made movies *this* year.
That’s not entirely true: the Lovely Wife and I took the Little Guy to see
"Cars," which was a delightful ripoff of "Doc Hollywood" if you ask me (did
they pay royalties to the doctor who wrote that, I wonder?).

And we had a grandparentally provided opportunity to see "The Nativity Story,"
which will no doubt win just as many Oscars as "The Passion" did (i.e., none,
with a consolation minor, non-TV show award). The guy who played Herod was
brilliantly evil, though, and having played many wise men through the years, I
delighted in Caspar, Balthasar, and Melchior, perhaps more than I did the Holy

Anyhow, none of that qualifies me to comment on the Oscars. I know that the
trophies will go to a number of people who are in very expensive clothes who
are deeply concerned about hunger and global warming . . . before they drive
off to the post-party in Escalades, catching a chartered Gulfstream to make the
morning shows in New York, pumping Lord knows how much carbon into the

If they aren’t giving Longaberger gift baskets to the presenters anymore (they
dropped the whole basket idea once it got thirty thousand dollars worth of
lavishness, embarrassing even Hollywood publicists), why exactly do we care?
The buzz, such as there is one, is around the fate of Hollywood itself. Younger
audiences are watching clips and movies on portable media (read iPods and their
clones), downloading movies to laptops, wifi-ing them into the big screen only

So studios no longer control the taps, so to speak. Visual media comes across a
wide variety of settings, and people of all ages are getting used to amateur
content as more of the norm (read YouTube) from news update footage from
cellphone shots to churches with inhouse productions showing on their

If they don’t control the taps, they don’t control who pays – or if anyone is

And the aesthetic side is even bigger. "Lawrence of Arabia," for all David Lean’
s beautiful photography and Peter O’Toole’s acting, doesn’t work on a two inch
screen. It just doesn’t. The sands of the Empty Quarter and the rocky cliffs of
Petra aren’t more than colorful smudges on a DVD player screen, and Omar Sharif
riding towards the camera from dot to mounted Prince has little impact on a

Will this mean movies will start getting made less for the silver screen, and
more to the micro-formats? What does that look like? More talking heads?
And you can’t think about any of this without remembering that we’re now a full
decade into the era where all videogames make more money than all movies put
together. Talk about making your own story, within a broad framework delivered
by the designer/director.

Movies have long been a crucial element in how we tell our stories about
ourselves to each other. So when we talk about the buzz around where Hollywood’
s going, we’re talking about our own stories.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio,
and he’s used to using movie images in preaching. Tell him how the changes in
cinema might change your story at