Monday, January 30, 2012

Guess Who Came to Dinner?

We had a wonderful evening last night with the future in-laws of my son who is engaged to be married in May. He and his fiancé are a great match for each other. Her parents and brother and sister are great people too. We felt an instant connection with many shared life experiences--even knowing some of the same people as the mom grew up just a few blocks from our present home.

Cultural Mormonism can be interesting because there are so many things in common with people you may have never met before. And while a clear sub-culture of its own, it is not homogeneous. There are many varieties of belief and practice and life-style. And there are a lot of Mormon families I wouldn't feel the same level of comfort with my son marrying one of their daughters.

The night before, my son, his fiancé, and I watched the 1967 film Guess Who's Coming To Dinner as it popped up on Netflix. It's been quite a few years since I had seen it which was some time after its original release. It is very interesting as a clearly progressive vehicle for its day--a retrospective of liberal '60s Hollywood sentiment. And I mean that in a good way.

I'm well aware of the concept of the "Magic Negro" represented by the very charismatic Sidney Poitier and the sympathetic characters he portrayed and how that has been exploited by the likes of Rush Limbaugh in the 2008 election and thereafter. I may be late to this observation, but there are some very odd and striking coincidences with our current U.S. President in that movie. Maybe it was part of the Hollywood-elitist plot conspiring to create the Presidency of Barack Obama from way back in the 1960's. You know, after they created that fake long-form birth certificate and planted those birth notices for baby Barack in Honolulu so he could someday grow up and fool us all to become President.

But it is pretty weird: the young couple in the movie met at the University of Hawaii; they joked about their children growing up with the chance to be president; and perhaps oddest of all, the Katherine Hepburn character's meddling friend from the art gallery opposed to the mixed-race couple is named "Hillary." The love-struck daughter says, and I think I got this quote right, "Hillary can be such a b----." Yikes! (Just for the record, while I had my reservations about Hillary Clinton and certainly preferred Candidate Obama over her, she has turned out to be a very good Secretary of State. And I don't think she's that "B" word.)

The movie ends well after the Spencer Tracy character comes to grips with his own prejudices eventually overcome by his "love-conquers-all" philosophy and we can suppose that everybody lives happily ever after. Maybe a son or daughter of Sidney Poitier will yet be President. Stranger things have happened.

Marriage and happy families are in reality a bit more challenging than what can be met with a "love-conquers-all" philosophy. Yet, the love is essential; as are families. Yesterday morning I read a very interesting article from a hospice chaplain who reported that what people on their death-bed talk about is not so much religion or God, but family. Of course, in LDS belief and practice, those connect up pretty well. The highest degree of glory in the presence of the Father of us all is in family groups.

I think my son and his fiancé have a pretty good way forward.

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