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May 10, 1999: heaven kicked you out, you wouldn't wear a tie


I mentioned a week ago how we get programmed as children. The wedding I was at this past weekend was a Catholic wedding (er, at least I assume it was, it had all of the trappings), although, unlike the last one I attended, seven or eight years ago, it was not a complete mass.

As I sat there through the religious parts of the ceremony, I couldn't help but be struck by how much of it was geared to programming its audience. In a way, it's just glorified peer pressure: believe this because everyone else around you believes it. Oh, and if you believe it, you'll be happy and live forever. (They don't tend to say what happens if you don't believe, preferring to imply that no sane person would fail to believe.) Then they get into a lot of recommendations for how to live your life, and they're pretty pro-other-people and would tend to create a pretty nice civilization, so I can't complain about that stuff. (In fact, they very neatly match my moral system, but it's not really surprising, since I was raised Catholic--that's just the programming I haven't gotten rid of.)

In this case, there were a few modifications to the traditional ceremony, presumably made by the bride and groom. The thing I was most conscious of was that they avoided gender inequality for the most part. I don't know if that was really their intention, or a side-effect of some other desire of theirs; and one could argue whether there's really gender inequality or not. There is traditionally an asymmetry between the bride's role and the groom's role, in small ways, and this they almost entirely removed. Most obviously, the bride and groom entered together, rather than the bride being "given away" by her father. Some small asymmetries remained: the best man had the rings whereas the "matron of honor" was tasked with straightening the train of the bride's dress. Indeed, the asymmetry of fashion was as visible as ever: the males of the wedding party were resplendent in their identical tuxes, while the females were quite variously plumed. But, hey, you can't right all of society's bizarreness at once.

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