Children of the Corn
There was line dancing, but it didn’t look like this…
There are times when you have an experience that’s so sane you think you’re crazy. Yup, I went to a wedding in Nebraska.
As the song goes, “I’m as corny as Kansas in August.” Well, I passed many a corn field this weekend in parts of Kansas, Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska. I was among farm folk, so I commented that I thought the corn looked good this year. (That’s code for “It looks tall to me and I have no idea how to start a conversation with you…”) I got some smirks and talk about a late start and a cool spring and not a lot of really hot summer days for the ears to ripen. “It’s less about height than how mature they get.” Yup. I nodded along with them, bluffing.
This Saturday was my first trek to Omaha. ( I am a bad parent, since we have lived two years in Northeast Kansas and my kids have still not seen the Omaha Zoo.) But this trip was to a wedding, the wedding of a former student and 2013 Benedictine College graduate. Two people in their early twenties getting married, without a shotgun. And they were not alone. Several couples were there who will be married in the next few weeks or months. All just out of college.
My East Coast sophisticate standards made me feel like I was in some creepy Stephen King story, like the Nebraska setting of “Children of the Corn.” But it was marriage instead of murder they were committing for their crazy concept of Jesus.
I mean, you’re physically adults, but are you ready for marriage? What about affording a house, having a nest egg, playing the field, being able to give 60 hours a week in the ground floor of a career without entanglements? What about what the modern world would call prudence and knowing yourself and a million other excuses?
Young people who have discerned their vocation to marriage and who are ready to take that step, who are articulate, knowledgeable about the Faith, committed to living out the Church’s wonderful vision of Holy Matrimony… it is as freakish to many people as Stephen King’s cultish cornfield kids.
And yet, the contemporary hook-up culture that fears commitment would seem, as the subtitle of the film adaptation of King’s story boasts, “an adult nightmare.” Those same East Coast sophisticate objections are fueling a culture that puts off marriage, and often shuns it altogether. The years after college are often a lot like college, where jobs (for the lucky ones who get them) become what classes used to be, ways of passing time before one can go out at night, and this time without the pesky RAs bugging you. Today’s yuppiedom is often merely a continuation of frat life. (See Tarek Saab’s brutally honest Gut Check .) Much time is spent cultivating habits of selfishness which do not bode well for married life.
They may have grown up tall, but it’s less about height than how mature they get.
This weekend I spoke to young people who looked me in the eye, who spoke of prayerful discernment, of striving for purity in their dating lives, of their desire to live their marriages as icons in this world of Christ’s love for the Church, his bride. They want to scrimp and save and struggle together because they know it will cement their commitment to each other. They know that love is sacrifice. And they know that the standard of love is set not by Cosmo but the Crucifix.
I watched Mr. Jeff Forman announce that he was forgoing throwing a garter since it is a silly tradition that would be demeaning to his wife. Instead, he spoke of how he wants to be her servant in Christ, and, in the middle of the dance floor, knelt down and washed his lovely bride Amanda’s feet.
I hope the newlywed Mr. and Mrs. Forman live up to the promises they have made. But I also know that they trust in God’s grace and are grounded in the theological hope that, since they have prepared well for a sacrament that they will minister to each other every day, God will give them the grace to overcome any adversity.
In a world that seeks to redefine marriage, the living out of a truly Catholic marriage will look a lot like insanity. But the world desperately needs the witness of these children of Nebraska corn. Otherwise, the years may get so lean we won’t remember what maturity looks like.