Monday, March 31, 2008


Another week begins and another music video is in order. Last week I posted Club 8, a wonderful band from Sweden. Today, I figure that I will continue with a tour of Scandinavian bands (so you can expect music from Norway, Denmark, and Finland in the coming weeks), picking an artist from Iceland. I first discovered Emiliana Torrini during my backpacking trip through Europe in 2004. I met a nice Icelander in a train station in Oslo, Norway who recommended many bands from Scandinavia--Emiliana was among the list offered. Some of you may be familiar with her work without even knowing it. . . after all, she is responsible for Gollum's theme song in Lord of the Rings.
Anyhow, this particular song is titled, "Heartstopper." I hope that you enjoy it!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A Reflection on Mayakovsky

In May of last year I had the privilege of making the acquaintance of an individual who has since become a great friend. She introduced me to the works of Vladimir Mayakovsky and I had the pleasure of meeting with her this past Thursday to read and discuss more from the poet. I cannot help but feel a profound sense of gratitude for a friend who is willing to take time out of her busy schedule simply to read and discuss poetry with me (the natural result is an intriguing discussion on life as it relates to ourselves and the world in general). There is a particular pleasure that comes with reading and discussing poetry with someone who is sincerely interested in it and willing to expound upon her own interpretations and thoughts. The experience was truly gratifying and a welcome change from the realm of daily activity and thought. I wish that I could spend more time with people exploring the ideas of poets and in turn developing our own ideas and exploring them.
Needless to say, I should like to take a minute and share a few excerpts from Mayakovsky's "The Bedbug":

"Formerly I believed / Books were made like this: / A Poet came, / Lightly opened his lips, / And the inspired fool burst into song-- / If you please! / But it seems, / Before they can launch a song, / poets must tramp for days with callused feet, / and the sluggish fish of the imagination / Flounders softly in the slush of the heart. / And while, with twittering rhymes, they boil a broth / of loves and nightingales, / The tongueless street merely writhes / For lack of something to shout or say."

"What can such a clod desire? / Though a clod, many things! / The self does not care / Whether one is cast of bronze / Or the heart has an iron lining. / At night the self only desires / To steep its clangor in softness, / In woman."

"On the windowpanes, gray raindrops / Howled together, / Piling on a grimace / As though the gargoyles / Of Notre Dame were howling."

"Almighty, you concocted a pair of hands, / Arranged / For everyone to have a head; / But why didn't you see to it / That one could without torture / Kiss, and kiss and kiss?!"

"Mauling your suede gloves, / You declared: / 'D'you know, / I'm getting married.' / All right, marry then. / So what. / I can take it. / As you see, I'm calm! / Like the pulse / Of a corpse."

"Rain has drowned the sidewalks in sobs; / The puddle-prisoned rogue, / All drenched, licks the corpse of the streets by cobbles / Clobbered, / But on his grizzled eyelashes-- / Yes!-- / On the eyelashes of frosted icicles / Tears gush from his eyes-- / Yes!-- / From the drooping eyes of the drainpipes."

My apologies for taking these quotes from Mayakovsky's work, placing them out of order and out of context, and then choosing not to expound upon them. The truth is that I would be doing a great disservice to attempt to recreate the insights that are shared in person, in the moment. An epiphany is always so much more profound when it is presented in the moment. My humble advice to those who would like to know what magnificent insights my friend shared with me. . . read some poetry yourself, find a friend who loves it, and share your ideas with one another--there is no substitute for such human connection.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

If I were. . .

Let me begin by stating that I have great students. They are intelligent, lazy at times, but intelligent young men and women. I am in awe when I think upon the potential that each of my students possesses. It is sad sometimes to see them squander the opportunities that they have to learn and grow, but it is also exhilarating when I have the privilege to see them apply themselves and excel. But this is not the subject of this evening's blog. No, tonight I shall write about all that I would be if I were what some of my students perceive me to be.
So I decided to buy school lunch today, and on my way over to the lunch line I came across one of my students speaking with one of the Assistant Principals. I stopped and spoke with the two for a short time, and the AP mentioned how the student had just informed her how "smart" I am. The reasoning, that I had memorized all of the dates for the births and deaths of the major poets of the British Romantic Period. I naturally smiled, not from pride in my achievement, but in humor that my student unjustifiably thought so highly of me. I had to correct the perception immediately. No, I am not so smart--I do not have the dates of their births and deaths memorized. . . I simply know who was the oldest and which died the youngest and was able to place the order of births and deaths chronologically (it is rather fascinating to think upon the five major Romantic poets and how the order of their births is reversed for the order of their deaths). Anyhow, this led me to reflect upon another comment made from another student in the same course.
About a month ago I walked into one of my classes and a student asked, "Mr. Hall, how many languages do you speak?"
I replied, "One."
"What? You told us that you spoke seven languages!"
"I did? I don't recall ever claiming to speak seven languages. . ."
The fact of the matter is that at the beginning of the school year I had mentioned that languages have families, and that English is a Germanic language, and that it would be easier for a native English speaker to learn German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, Dutch, or Flemish than it would be to learn Spanish, French, Italian, etc. because those languages have more things in common. I'm guessing that because I had made mention that seven different languages are related to English that some students, half-hearing (I'm sure that you are all surprised that many of my students have selected hearing!), assumed that I spoke all seven languages.
I tell you, if I were what my students sometimes believe me to be, I would be an interesting character. These two examples would make me brilliant, but there are more without such a positive light.
For example, in one class I had jokingly said that I spend my weekends going to clubs wearing a fanny pack--that is what I use to store my business cards with my phone number that I give out to the ladies! Of course, the students who were paying attention understood that I was not being serious. Nevertheless, there are some students who whole-heartedly believe that I think it is cool to, first of all, own a fanny-pack, and, second of all, go around giving out cards to ladies and collecting women's phone numbers in it. It has since become a running joke with students in that class. Come Fridays I often have students ask, "Are you going to bust out that fanny-pack tonight?"
And of course I reply, "You had better believe it! Watch out ladies--Mr. Hall is on the prowl with that irresistible fanny-pack!" Ah, if only I were so "cool" as some of my students think me to be!
Needless to say, I have countless experiences where students have a misconception as to who I am. Some are humorous while others are simply jaded, but it makes me smile either way with the "creative" mindset that leads to such beliefs.
There are also times that students come to a true understanding of what I am. . . this can also be humorous. It seems inevitable that at some point in the year my students discover that I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or more commonly known as "Mormon"). This is usually the result of a student asking about whether or not I smoke or drink (students have often mistaken my wallet in my front pocket or a pack of gum in my shirt pocket for being a pack of cigarettes and I show them what it is and explain that I don't smoke or drink). They never believe me when I say that I don't partake of either (smoking they believe but they cannot seem to grasp that there are people who don't drink) and this is usually how they learn that I am "Mormon" because "Mormons" aren't supposed to drink or smoke (this is also humorous as my students always associate what members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka LDS, refer to as the word of wisdom as being "can't" do it--I explain that there are members of my church who choose to smoke and drink, but in so doing they are choosing not to follow the teachings of the church--I, on the other hand, wish to be in good standing with the church and practice what I believe, so I choose not to partake of such things). The humorous part is when a student hears from a friend concerning what LDS call "The Law of Chastity," namely, that we are not to have sexual relations with anyone except the husband or wife to whom we are lawfully wedded. It generally takes students a while to put two and two together, but before long I will get a statement/question such as: "Mormons don't have sex until their married, right?" followed by a question like, "You're not married, right?" Which, once the connection is made is followed by, "You are how old Mr. Hall?" and then is followed with a lot of giggles! Ah, high school! I am glad that many of my students have finally learned what it means to infer and how to use deductive reasoning!
If I were. . . and what I am. . . each day becomes an adventure in my profession. Who knows, tomorrow I may be known for my intimate friendship with Dr. Frankenstein or my immaculate knowledge of the Chinese canon of poetry in its original language. . . all I can say is "that is FANTASTIC!" (that is a story for another day).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!!!

From a religious point of view, Easter has got to be the greatest holiday that exists. Yes, I am saying that Easter is in fact greater than Christmas. According to Christianity, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ--the beginning of his earthly ministry. Easter is a celebration following the death of Jesus Christ and more especially His resurrection. In other words, Easter is the celebration of Jesus Christ conquering death, having been crucified, laying in the tomb for three days and rising from the dead--having his spirit and body reunite never to be separated again. Hence, all mankind, regardless of religion (or lack thereof) receives the free gift of the resurrection following this life--we will all be resurrected, having our spirits reunite with a perfect body.
But has Easter always been the celebration of this miraculous event? No. Easter is actually named after the Norse goddess Eastre, whose pagan festival was celebrated at the spring equinox (see Bible Dictionary). Christianity, when converting the pagans, simply converted pagan holidays into Christian holidays, so instead of celebrating Eastre, the Norse pagans turned Christians celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Of course there are still elements left over from the pagan celebrations even today. Think about it. . . the Easter Bunny, eggs, spring, etc., it is all pagan symbolism of fertility which is directly associated with spring. Nevertheless, just as the pagan holiday celebrated new life, the reality is that Jesus Christ has offered new life to all.
Of course, the stamping of the Christian Easter makes sense when we consider that the resurrection occurred during the same season (in this case the Jewish festival of the Passover). This is clearly stated in 1 Corinthians 5: 7 "Purge out therefore the old leaven, that Ye may be a new lump, as Ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us." In this verse the apostle Paul states our need to become new beings in Jesus Christ, to make a positive change in our lives to become more Christlike (or in other words, to become more like God). This is only possible through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Paul, in his epistle to the Hebrews, stated: "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels (or according to the Hebrew translation, a little lower than the gods) for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren." (Hebrews 2: 9-11). Not only are we redeemed (saved) from our sins through the atonement (if we repent), but we are redeemed from death as well. Mosiah states, "For behold, as in Adam, or by nature, they fall, even so the blood of Christ atoneth for their sins (Mosiah 3: 16). Furthermore, Alma, speaking to his sons concerning the importance of the atonement for all mankind, testifies: "But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God. But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy hath claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice." (Alma 42: 22-23).
What a great message to all mankind! Easter is simply a holiday, but the message that is associated with it--the atonement of Jesus Christ--is the greatest message that mankind may receive! To know that through Jesus Christ, his suffering, death, and resurrection (known as the atonement), we are able to repent, become better people, have our sins forgiven, and live again with a perfect physical body in the presence of God--this is a message in which I rejoice! This is the message behind the holiday that we celebrate. And so it is that I wish you all a happy Easter! Or more appropriately, I thank my Heavenly Father for sending his only begotten Son to perform the atonement on my behalf (and yours). A Happy day indeed! I hope that you all enjoy it.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Pendulum Swings

Over half a lifetime ago, when I was in middle school, I was one of those kids that was closed minded to music. I listened to 106.7 FM--KROQ, and I thought that anybody who listened to anything other than music from this station was lame. One had to be "cool" and KROQ played the cool music of the day. I have since grown up, and while I still like the "old" music, my tastes overall have changed and I am more suited to independent and original music. I rarely listen to the radio these days simply because I do not care for commercials or commercial music. I really don't care for the idea of businessmen deciding for the masses which bands deserve airtime and which are neglected. I simply like good music, wherever I can find it. And so the pendulum swings, and I am the opposite of what I once was, now being open to all types of music and not really caring about "cool" but caring about what I actually like in spite of what is popular.
Needless to say, I will, on occasion, post a video of some music that I have come across that I don't believe one will find much on American airwaves, but is nevertheless great music. In this way we may all be exposed to different and interesting musicians. So, this evening's feature is from a Swedish band called Club 8. The title of the song is "Jesus, Walk With Me" and it is from their most recent album. This video is a live version filmed at a church in Sweden. I have purchased the entire album, and while there are many great songs, this happens to be one of my favorite--it is simply so soothing and beautiful, and I find the message to be quite intriguing--one's desire for faith. I hope that you enjoy it (and if not, just turn on your radio and let corporate convince you what music is worthy of your time)!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Classical Performance

I have just returned from the Alex Theater in Glendale where I attended a classical performance by The Glendale Youth Orchestra with guest artists, The Southern California Mormon Choir. They performed Mozart: Symphony No. 35 in D "Haffner" and Handel/Mozart: Favorite Choruses from "Messiah". I was amazed by the performance of the Youth Orchestra; I was literally in awe of the skills that these young men and women have worked diligently to master. What talent! What beauty they were able to create! And the choir--excellent! I am proud to say that my good friend, Liz Long, is a part of this choir. I have always felt that Liz has an amazing voice and I am happy to see that she is putting her talent to good use.
It may be well known amongst my good friends that Edvard Grieg is my all-time favorite composer (and some of his work shall be performed next month at the Disney Concert Hall--I'm not going to miss that!). I have often joked that if I could find a woman who can and will play Grieg I would instantly drop to a knee and propose marriage! But in all seriousness, while Grieg is my favorite, I have to give due respect to Mozart and Handel--they are excellent composers. I have heard Handel's "Messiah" before, but tonight was the first time I actually had chills run up and down my body--it occurred when the choir sang from Isaiah 9:6. It was both beautiful and powerful.
Thanks Liz for informing me of your performance; it had been a while since last I attended a classical performance, and it was exactly what I needed this evening. (I'm still awestruck by the Youth Orchestra--at that age I was still doodling on paper and merely day-dreaming of becoming the next great wide-receiver for the Seattle Seahawks; kudos to those young men and women whose talent and drive for success at that age far exceeds my own).

Monday, March 17, 2008

So it is St. Patrick's Day and I am not Irish. How am I supposed to justify celebrating a holiday that isn't in my blood? Is it even legal to celebrate a holiday to which one doesn't have a connection? Granted, I put on a green shirt and went to work today, half-heartedly celebrating what is not mine to celebrate. Then, it suddenly occurred to me that I do have a connection to Ireland. My ancestors were intimately acquainted with the Irish. . . in a sense. . . I mean, there has to be a certain amount of intimacy between a man who takes another man's life, right? Or a man who fathers an illegitimate child with a stranger, right? So hundreds of years ago my Viking ancestors raided Ireland and I am sure that somewhere there is a distant cousin who was fathered by some Viking who happens to be my progenitor. Hence, many of the Irish are like brothers, or cousins, or something. HECK YES! I am about as Irish as someone who isn't Irish can be! Long live St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Night Hiking Photography

About three weeks ago I went for a little hike through the hills of Bonelli Park in my hometown of San Dimas. As I I was hiking along the backside of the hills, which leads one right above the 10 freeway, I noticed a particular spot that I thought would be brilliant for photography. My hope this evening was to capture that image that I had created in my mind--green hills covered in wildflowers with the streaming head-lights and tail-lights of cars passing on the freeway. Unfortunately, I arrived too late this evening to get the ideal shot for which I was hoping, but the few shots that I got will have to suffice until I find the time to make it to the area before sunset. Needless to say, it is a great location for simple hiking, and very beautiful this time of year, especially on the front-side of the hills where one may see puddingstone lake, Mt Baldy (and the other local mountains), downtown Los Angeles, distant peaks, such as Idyllwild, Big Bear, and Lake Arrowhead, and, of course, the surrounding communities. I had ought to get a group together to enjoy a little saunter--it is an easy hike and a great place for a picnic. Anyone game? :)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

In Forty Years. . .

In forty years time I will be retired and beginning second childhood. . . is anyone willing to come out and play?!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

In Defense of the Traditional Values of Marriage

Bigotry (noun)--Bigoted attitudes; intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.  

It will not surprise me if some will label me a bigot because of my belief in the traditional values of the marriage covenant.  It will not be the first time; after-all, I was labeled such back in 2000 due to my support of California's Proposition 22, which added to the state constitution the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.  The irony with those who point the finger and cry "bigot" is, according to the definition of bigotry, they are bigots themselves--intolerant of someone who simply has a differing opinion.  In 2000 I was a Junior at Cal Poly Pomona, majoring in English Literature.  I wrote an article in defense of marriage, supporting Proposition 22, which was published in the school newspaper.  Following its publication, I attended my Spanish class, and as the professor took roll, she came to my name and said, "Brett Hall--are you the Brett Hall that wrote that article in the paper?"
"Yes," I replied.
"Shame on you!" my professor scowled as she pointed an accusatory finger.  
Some students on the campus went about making signs that essentially stated anyone who was in favor of Proposition 22 was a bigot, and other articles arose in the school press denouncing my position.  So be it.  We live in a country that values freedom of speech, and I have no problem with people freely expressing their opinions in opposition to my own, even if I am falsely accused of being a bigot.
Needless to say, Proposition 22 was voted upon by the citizens of California and it passed with overwhelming support.  The people of the great state of California had spoken, and marriage was officially declared to be strictly between a man and a woman.
So, one might imagine my surprise when on the news yesterday I learned that special interest groups within the state of California have brought the issue of legalizing same-sex marriage to the California Supreme court.  There are a minority of citizens within the state that feel differently about the issue than what the majority has legally added to the state constitution.  I have no problem with these individuals and groups expressing their opinions, that is their right.  What I do take issue with is their attempts to override the fundamental principals of democracy by imposing their ideology upon the majority by changing the laws through the courts.  This is a dangerous move that should concern every citizen, regardless of one's position on the issue of same-sex marriage.  If judges are allowed to create laws, rather than to interpret and enforce laws (which is their true role and authority), then we create a society for ourselves that is governed by the elite rather than by the people.  If the courts create and impose law, what then is the role of democracy?  What then is the value of the peoples' votes?  Who then is left to stop judges from implementing additional laws that run contrary to the will of the people?  Is such action far different from fascist, communist, or dictatorial rule--the ceding of power from the people to an elite group of individuals who in turn decide what is and what is not best for the people?   This is a scary development which potentially could lead to the downfall of American Government as we know it.  
Aside from the issue of government, what I wish to address is the defense of the traditional values of marriage.  I wish to be clear that I have no animosity towards gays or lesbians.  I respect all human-beings, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or sexuality.  I honestly believe that everyone is a child of God and that God loves every person.  It is my aim in life to become like God; therefore, it is a logical conclusion that I should not hate anyone.  As such, I plead with my readers to not misinterpret my position or intention on this issue.  I sincerely believe that it is possible to be in disagreement with someone without harboring ill will or feelings towards the person.  So it is with my defense of the traditional values of marriage.

To understand the defense of traditional marriage, we must first explore the history and purpose of marriage.  Marriage is a seemingly universal rite.  It is not unique to a single, or even a few, cultures.  The rite of marriage springs from various cultural religious ceremonies.  The concept of civil marriage followed the example of religious marriage.  The question becomes, what is the purpose of marriage?  The answer may vary dependent upon culture, but being that our roots are Judeo-Christian, we shall explore the fundamental purpose accordingly.  

The Religious Argument
If one were to ask the average citizen what is the purpose of marriage, I imagine that the response would be something to the effect of, "to manifest one's love for another individual."  While this statement may be one modern reason for marriage, it certainly was not the fundamental purpose traditionally.  The real purpose of marriage is three-fold: (1) to provide a fundamental unit (the family) through which couples may pro-create, offering children a stable environment from which to be reared, (2) to uphold chastity according to the Law of God, (3) for a man and woman to enter into a covenant with one another to love, support, and cherish one another, whereby they may work together in the process of perfecting one another in the pursuit to become like one's Heavenly Parents.  The concept of civil marriage followed suit, focusing less upon the laws of God and the religious pursuits associated with marriage, yet still upholding the purpose of providing the stable environment in which children could be reared and husband and wife may experience true fidelity.
Hence, the fundamental problem with same-sex marriage is that it does not meet the criteria for any of these purposes.  First, same-sex couples do not have the power to pro-create.  Second, the same-sex couples are clearly in defiance of God's stated laws regarding sexuality (that sex is justified only between a man and a woman who are married together--this does not mean that God loves these individuals any less; rather, it manifests his love for them by allowing them to choose for themselves--God does not force anyone to follow his laws, but he provides his laws as a guide on how to become like Him).  Third, same-sex couples fundamentally cannot emulate their Heavenly Parents.  
One key argument that might be made by some same-sex couples is that they do not believe in the traditional concept of God and His laws; hence, such laws are not applicable to them and their relationships.  If such is true, why then do they feel compelled to be married (marriage being a law of God)?  Why would they desire to be a part of a tradition (or law) in which they fundamentally do not believe?  From a religious standpoint, it is clear that homosexuality is opposed to the teachings of the Judeo-Christian religions.  Marriage, according to this tradition, stems from Adam and Eve, with the first and great commandment to multiply and replenish the earth (in other words, to have babies and rear children in order to populate the earth).  Homosexuality runs contrary to this commandment, thus defeating the primary purpose of marriage.  The second purpose of marriage, to preserve chastity according to the law of God, would also be defeated through same-sex couples.  If chastity is defined as having no sexual relations with anyone other than his or her husband or wife of the opposite sex, then homosexuality is unchaste, just as fornication is unchaste and contrary to the will of God.  Simply masking this behavior under the banner of "marriage" is not going to suddenly make homosexuality any more chaste according to the law of God.  On the contrary, it mocks the law of God just as "common-law-marriage" mocks true marriage (the law of God).  Same-sex marriage would be a marriage in name only, lacking the substance of true marriage according to Judeo-Christian principles and doctrines.  Hence, from a religious perspective, same-sex marriage is fundamentally wrong.  
What then of those who believe that they are homosexual by birth--the argument that "this is the way God made me"?  Well, this is certainly a debatable point.  But let us imagine that this argument is true--that there is a natural disposition that is beyond one's control.  Could not others make the same argument?  Pedophiles could make the same claim, yet we do not justify their actions.  Serial killers could make the same claim, yet we do not justify their actions.  And the list could continue on and on, yet we require such to curb such "natures."  Of course, this is an unfair argument on my part.  Killers and pedophiles pray on innocent victims whereas homosexuality is a behavior of consent.  I do not wish to classify homosexuals with pedophiles and murderers.  However, the point is that "being born this way" does not always justify one's actions.  It certainly does not justify the need for same-sex marriage.
I am not here to debate the nature vs. nurture argument.  The truth be known, I believe that some people are born, by nature, homosexual while a greater number become homosexual by nurture (which explains the explosion in the numbers of gays and lesbians, particularly among people who claim to be bisexual).  For example, I have an acquaintance who is gay who says that he has always been attracted to other men.  He doesn't want to be gay, but he is.  This is an example of nature, yet he has made a conscious choice not to practice his homosexuality.  Since he is not attracted to women he simply chooses to be celibate.  This is a tough choice, no doubt, yet it is his choice, despite his nature.  I'm not saying that all homosexuals should choose to be celibate.  People may live as they choose--that is the agency that God has given to each of us.  I may not agree with the practice of homosexuality, but I am not going to treat an individual unfairly as a result.  In my view, God does not approve of the practice of homosexuality, but He still loves the individual, and therefore it is my obligation to love and care for the rights of the individual.  Yet, this does not justify changing the traditional practice of marriage as being between a man and a woman.  No rights are being violated in upholding this practice.  

The Evolutionary Argument
Of course, there are many who will reject the religious argument and steep their beliefs in nature and the scientific theory of evolution.  Such may dismiss God and Adam and Eve and place their beliefs and trust in evolution and the learning of man.  I have heard some point out that through the observance of the natural world we may view other species involved in homosexual activity.  They use this point to argue that homosexuality is natural, and thus justified.  Let us say that we concede this point for arguments sake.  Could we not make the counter-argument that other species do not marry? Could we not also argue that other species have multiple partners or different partners dependent upon the season?  If we use this nature argument, could we not also justify the killing of our own children (after-all, have we not observed some species of animals to do just that)?  Can we not also justify incestuous, polygamous, and other untoward practices that are observed in the animal kingdom?  Can we not also justify the abandoning of orphaned children through the example of the natural world?  It is obvious that this argument does not hold up against scrutiny.  Of course, this is a neophyte argument.  Let us look at something more advanced within the nature argument.
A more sophisticated argument might be made by some same-sex couples that they are homosexual by nature (not the same nature referred to above that deals with the lesser animal kingdoms, but born with the natural disposition to be gay--in other words, they cannot help but feel the way that they do.  They are by nature gay but also by nature more advanced than other mammals).  The validity of this argument has been, and continues to be, debated, yet I will concede this point for arguments sake.  Let us say that homosexuality is natural.  Does this alone justify same-sex marriage?  After-all, if it is natural, and we are so advanced, why would one want to submit to a man-made institution such as marriage?  If we are merely advanced mammals in the evolutionary chain, would it not make more sense to follow the natural course of mammals--namely, the reproduction of the species without the institution of marriage?  What reason then to bind ourselves to such an institution?  This would be counter-productive to the freedom that we have by nature.  Ah, but we are more advanced than other mammals and marriage is a sign of our advancement, one might say.  So be it.  But if we are so advanced, why have an institution without a purpose?  What then, by nature, is the purpose of marriage?  Would it not be to provide the best possible means by which to rear children in order to offer them the best chance at success in life?  Is it not true that children fair better when they are reared in a two-parent home.  So, even by nature, marriage becomes important, but really it is only important as it relates to family life.  By nature, same-sex partners cannot have offspring.  If nature wanted it so, would human-beings not have evolved in order to do so?  Hence, even the argument by nature does not justify same-sex marriages.  By nature, marriage fulfills the needs of heterosexual couples with the ability to reproduce.  It does not fulfill any such need in same-sex couples.  

The Social Argument
What about same-sex marriage as a social issue?  Is it possible to make the argument that we are denying one's civil liberties by denying them the right to marry?  The problem with this argument is that maintaining the traditional definition and practice of marriage does not impede one's civil liberties.  Will entering into a marriage covenant make a homosexual any more free than what he or she already is?  There really are no rights or privileges that would be advanced for homosexuals through the legalization of same-sex marriages.  There are already laws in place that protect homosexuals from prejudice.  Some may argue that offering same-sex couples the opportunity to be married would provide a perception of "normalcy" rather than "other" within society.  Yet if we buy into this argument are we not admitting that homosexuality is something other than normal?  And if it is something other than normal, why then should it pretend to be normal (that would be fundamentally deceptive)?  And if we already view it as being normal than why the need to cloak it in marriage (that would fundamentally be a sign of insecurity)?  Homosexuality is what it is--it doesn't need to pretend to be something that it is not.  It does not need to pretend to be a part of a tradition whose roots are religiously based and whose practices have been fundamentally opposed to the nature of homosexuality for thousands of years.  It does not need to go against what the majority of Americans define as the true definition and practice of marriage--a covenant between a man and a woman.  Besides, cloaking homosexual relationships within the title of marriage will not truly change people's perceptions of it.  Those who are biased will remain biased and those who are accepting will remain accepting.  

The Economic Argument
What about the economic impact of marriage--are same-sex couples being financially discriminated against?  There are already laws in place that prohibit such discrimination and having same-sex couples marry will not resolve any such issues that may still remain.  The one exception might be tax deductions, but such deductions are designed to alleviate the burden of families with children (children obviously not having the means to care for themselves).  Homosexual couples who are old enough to marry are also old enough to care for themselves.  By nature, they cannot have children of their own, so they have no true dependents, whereas heterosexual couples have an added expense with children who cannot contribute financially to the family.  Another argument might be concerning insurance coverage.  Once more, medical, dental, vision, and etc, may be, but is not always, extended to spouses and children.  Homosexual couples may not be able to claim one another on such coverage through their employers, but then again, what is keeping a homosexual partner from working and obtaining coverage for himself or herself?  In a heterosexual relationship, a spouse may forgo full-time employment in order to rear the children, and as we have established children cannot work, so it makes sense that such coverage would be extended in behalf of a spouse and children.  Even if one feels that homosexuals are not being treated fairly on these two issues, attempting to become equal through the redefining of marriage is an awful way to address the issue.  Why change a tradition that has been in existence for thousands of years simply to promote monetary gain?  There are other ways and means; the people may promote such issues without changing the traditional institution of marriage.

The Concluding Argument
As we see, there is no solid reasoning as to why a tradition that has been in practice for thousands of years and is rooted in religious purpose should have to extend itself into accepting a practice that it fundamentally opposes.  There is no logic behind the adoption of same-sex marriage.  The only argument that exists for adopting the practice would be "we want to be a part of it too."  And the reasoning for this argument: "marriage is an expression of love and devotion to one another."  I concede this point, but it alone does not justify same-sex marriage.  Think on it.  While it offers a couple  a means to express love and devotion, such couples cannot fulfill the other purposes of marriage--namely, to reproduce, to preserve chastity, and to provide a nurturing atmosphere in which children may be reared by a mother and father.  If all that is left is the argument that marriage should be extended to one who wishes to express one's love and devotion--if this were the soul-requirement, then what of individuals who love their pets and are devoted to them?  What of polygamists?  What of incest?  Could not all of these claim the same right to marriage?  Marriage must be and is something more, and it is our responsibility to defend it without being hateful, prideful, or disingenuous towards those who do not understand its true purpose and sanctity.  

Vice is a monster of such frightful mein, 
As to be hated, needs but to be seen;
Yet seen to oft, familiar with her face,
we first endure, then pity, then embrace.
--Alexander Pope (from "Essay on Man")