Joining Cake Wrecks and Awkward Family Photos on the list of sites that make me chuckle (see below right) is Awful Library Books, a blog by two librarians (Mary & Holly) that documents actual library holdings. Explain the site's authors, "The items featured here are so old, obsolete, awful or just plain stupid that we are horrified that people might be actually checking these items out and depending on the information."
The timing of my discovery of this site is quite appropriate, since just this past Friday Travis and I applied for our Oak Park Public Library cards. I didn't have "Awful Library Books" in mind as I combed through the selection of wedding related titles, but now I want to go back and reconsider the offerings in light of this blog...because I know I passed over several volumes based on their apparent obsolescence. (They say you can't just a book by it's cover, but really, sometimes you can. If it's pink and decorated with doilies, I'm gonna say it's probably not the wedding reference book for me, and that it likely wasn't printed in this century.)
One book I was pleased to find on the shelves (and subsequently checked out) was The Complete Book of Christian Wedding Vows: The Importance of How You Say "I Do". Travis and I have started working on the various elements of the ceremony, and one of the tasks related to that (though "task" seems too laborious a word to describe a very meaningful and enjoyable activity) is writing our vows - those promises we will make to one another that will bind us together in covenant commitment.
With my own wedding approaching, I find that news of others' engagements, marriages, separations, and divorces affect me more--or maybe just differently--than they used to. Several "friends" (the Facebook kind who were legitimate friends at one point in my life and are now merely acquaintances who share a common history from a past season of life and spy on one another's lives via the ubiquitous social networking site) have gotten married in the last few weeks and months. I find that I am so very happy for them, in a sappy, cock-my-head-to-the-side-as-I-click-through-their-wedding-pictures-and-sigh kind of way, and yet I am also sobered by the statistics that tell me that one out of every two of their marriages will not last till death does them part.
When I heard (also via Facebook) that my high school youth pastor and his wife celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary, I couldn't have been happier for them. I clapped my hands in delighted applause, breaking the silence in the solitude of my office.
When I heard the news that Jon & Kate Gosselin are separating I was deeply saddened, willing them to instead demonstrate to a watching world that a marriage is worth fighting for, that it's worth the hard work of salvaging and forgiving and rebuilding. That what's best for their children is not a household atmosphere devoid of tension and conflict, but a family intact with two present parents who are fiercely committed to the vows they made 10 years ago (and incidentally just renewed very publicly on an episode that aired last season).
And when I saw the headline of this article from Time Magazine (Is There Hope for the American Marriage?), I found that I wanted to read it...to find out what the author thinks the answer is. Here are a few notable quotes:
"In the e-mails exchanged between the governor [of South Carolina, Mark Sanford] and his girlfriend, they trip over themselves to praise the other's virtues. She was 'special and unique,' 'glorious'; he was a man of emotional generosity who 'brought happiness and love to my life.' These two humanitarians were engaged not only in worshipping each other's high-mindedness but also in destroying another woman's home, hobbling her children emotionally and setting her up for humiliation of a titanic proportion. The squalor and pain that resulted from the Sanford and Ensign midlife crises make manifest a bleak truth that the late writer Leonard Michaels once observed in his journal: 'Adultery is not about sex or romance. Ultimately, it is about how little we mean to one another.'"
"There is no other single force causing as much measurable hardship and human misery in this country as the collapse of marriage."
"Think of the touching moments on Inauguration Night, when at ball after ball, crowds of young people swooned at the sight of Barack and Michelle Obama dancing together, artlessly but sincerely and clearly with great affection. They are an immensely appealing couple, and it was a historic night, but what we saw reflected in the faces of those awed young people — and in the country's insatiable appetite for photographs of the First Family's private life — was wonder at the sight of a middle-aged man and woman still together, still in love."
'What we teach [our children] about the true meaning of marriage will determine a great deal about our fate."