Saturday, February 21, 2004

Body Language

Inhabiting the TV screen for his 15 notorious seconds, he looked quite ordinary -- a middle aged, crewcut man, dirty blond and of intermediate physique, casually dressed in sweatshirt and jeans. He was standing in a crowd, and shouting. This was, we were told, an anti-gay marriage rally in San Francisco. That explained his peculiar stance -- arms raised, palms upward -- as an attitude of ostentatious prayer. It also explained the icy blue hardness in his eyes, a piercing unblinking gaze readable instinctively, wordlessly, pre-cognitively as aggression and anger.

There had been another image, wierdly similar, a few weeks back. It was another anti-gay marriage rally, this one at Boston's State House. This time it was a woman. His counterpart, in fact: middle aged, clad in jeans and sweatshirt, neither fat nor thin, elaborately, blondly coiffed. She could easily have been his wife. She was sitting crosslegged on the parquet floor of the State House. Her arms, like his, were raised heavenward. Prayerful, palms up, splayed fingers heavily beringed and terminating in long, incurving, stigmata-red fingernails.

Invoking her deity. Inviting him down from an aerie somewhere vaguely above the Massachusetts State House's gold dome. Keen for his endorsement, his imprimatur. And certain that she has it. She's inspired by it, puffed up with divine afflatus, armed with scripture and faith. She is carried on a wave of something that feels transcendant, more than herself, sanctified. She tingles: Holy Spirit or hyperventilation ? Arms outstretched, she seems to plead to be overtaken: Leda summoning her Swan.

Under the banner of her particular version of Christianity -- a constitutionally illegitimate banner -- she would institutionalize her primitive prejudices, her fear and distaste, the feeling in her gut. She would make it legal scripture of the highest sort -- constitutional scripture.

Gut paired with God. A dangerous project.

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