Review of The Address Of Happiness @artistsofgod

There came a time in this brief, beautiful book that I sat in my chair, looked out my sixth floor window and wondered if it made sense to continue. A sudden burst of emotion had sprang from the pages to knock me back, to wet my eyes just enough to say it was a glare, and to darken my desire to read further. Such is the nature of this book, I believe — it is, from start to finish, a book filled with deep emotions, questions, and an answer we are in desperate need of today.

There are a few things that pushed me into the river that is this book. The author connects the two loves using the color periwinkle (a flower used as a love potion), mentions Gustav Holst’s The Planets and cites Psalm 139 as an inspiration. Of course, I must mention the use of Somewhere in Time as well. Perhaps this is just my sentimentality, but how could I not dig deep into this book? But, I guess a proper review is in order, before I languish with the sanguine that is my current emotional state.

In a recent article on Huffington Post, either the author or the editor included a slideshow entitled “the best gay kisses.” The article was about the lesbian wedding held next to the Westboro Baptist Church. The dichotomy here is one this book addresses. Whereas we often see gay love as sensational (or exploitable), especially by Hollywood and the porn industry, this book focuses on love — the love between two, normal, beautiful people. The article on HuffPo focused on the same thing, to be sure, but the slideshow included scenes from such movies as Cruel Intentions featuring a deceptive Sarah Michelle Geller seducing her step-sister only for the tantalization aspect of it . Indeed, we are often fascinated by sapphic love. Pornography abounds with women engaged in sex acts with other women. Even laws are written in a biased way. We could go on and mention the rise of pornography viewing in hotels hosting religious conventions, but I think you get the point.

It is a fact that this book does not once mention the words gay, homosexuality, or lesbian – words often used as a labeling feature in order to know who is different from us. In fact, there is not a sex scene, nor anything remotely sexual divorced from the physical manifestation of love (the wedding kiss) in this book. Why? Because the focus of this book is not on the heterosexual abuse of homosexual loving acts and on the beauty of a song of love, the song of all songs, sung between two people who happen to be female. No doubt, this will put many off, that there is nothing controversial here. Well, except…

Except the author has decided to dedicate a few pages filled with poetry, beauty, and something quite divine in our otherwise rather dark literary landscape littered with books on how to dominate, subjugate, and confuse love with torture. I might use some scholarship to argue the biblical Song of Solomon is made in the same mold, to use love and human workings to speak to liberation from (sexual) oppression. No doubt, I would run afoul of the ancient Rabbis and modern Evangelicals who would rather see the book remain only as an allegory of God and his people. The Address of Happiness is rather like both views on Songs – that of a myth, laden with the burden of professing something we would rather not confess ourselves (love is indeed love and should be free of our inhuman mechanizations) and an allegory we wish desperately to be true (God is indeed guiding our love).

Ernest Hemingway was known for this journalist-style writing. Short, succinct sentences carefully designed to deliver the full impact of each and every word. David Paul Kirkpatrick advances Hemingway’s plain sense writing to a new, melodious level. Each line acts like a story within itself, full of imagery demanding its own voice. While the book is overtly prosaic in its form, left out to warm in the reader’s sun is the truly poetic turn of the author’s pen.

There are two voices here — rather two stories told simultaneously for a while. Both voices are given their own style of speaking. This is a rather delightful move — so that we the readers aren’t allowed to sit idly by, repeating the words from the paper to our mind and back to our internal tongue without hesitation. By splitting up the story as he does, Kirkpatrick is able to remind us of the two intense spirits at work here. We aren’t allowed to read both protagonists the same  — but must teach ourselves to see them as individuals. Only when the story is combined do we get a sense of intertwining styles. By then, however, we know our characters and their individual voices. In this manner, Kirkpatrick begs his readers to examine each character as a real person, individually. What does this examination tell us? It is deceptive because it demands us to recognize the beauty of the individual in love rather than the labels we apply to groups of people.

Is this a Christian book? Perhaps. It is a book Christians should read, to be sure. Is it a “gay” book? No more than it is a “straight” book. It tells the story of the Great Singer of Songs who, before time began, sought to bring two souls together. Once enjoined to a body, they start down a path to meet each other. This is a story of love. Do we not all want the same thing?

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10 Replies to “Review of The Address Of Happiness @artistsofgod”

  1. Joel – Thank you for writing such a thoughtful, contextual piece. Rarely does one see a critique of such breadth — religious, literary, and sociological. I appreciate it and you. Kind Regards – David

  2. Joel,
    Intelligent. Thoughtful. Sensitive.
    You may have just become one of my favorite new voices inside the the larger outside.

    We were never comfortable with this love thing. We didn’t like it when the kids were climbing all over Jesus, didn’t like it when he told the story about rescuing the Samaritian, hated when he talked about extending forgiveness 490 times in a single day, screamed about it when he talked with the woman at the well.

    Trouble is, that is all it was ever about. What a beautiful narrative propping that door open a little wider so we can all see inside and take it in.

    Love you, buddy.
    And like you say, that is a very good thing.

  3. Mr Watts, while I agree that there in no less value and purpose
    for a homosexual individual then there is for a heterosexual individual, based on your previous list, and others I cannot accept that homosexual marriage is right. The problem is that the definition of “love” between two individuals is often skewed. What is “love”? Is it what the world defines it as? The union of two individuals that satisfy the needs of each other, at least until it is no longer convenient for the pair, Or is it the Biblical definition of Love? A deeper commitment between a man and a woman to remain faithful, even through good times and bad, in sickness and in health. The latter is what I believe is love, and that is what I believe is true love. Do homosexual individuals really love one another? As you pointed out in your previous list, homosexuals have a much higher rate of being unfaithful to their spouse, also you noted that it was not uncommon for homosexuals to have near 100 partners in their lifespan, which you also pointed out is shorter due to health issues. You also pointed out that homosexuals are more likely to succumb to sexual perversions such as pedophillia. Therefore, I move that homosexual “marriages” should not be given the same significance as traditional marriage because the majority of homosexuals cannot, or choose not, to remain faithful to a single spouse. I don’t hate homosexuals, and I try not to be a bigot, though I do believe in absolute truths/morality, but I fail to see why you regularly argue for those who identify as “homosexual.” If you don’t mind my asking, what is your stance on marriage and homosexual union?

    1. There is a lot of “I believe” in your statement, Curt. It is highly subjective and should be noted as such. Further, I don’t get the “scare quotes” you seem to randomly employ.

      I believe two consenting adults should be allowed to marry, not least because we have a legal requirement to grant equal access (14th amendment and the case law surrounding it). Further, I believe that Scripture is not explicit against our understanding of homosexuality, shows a development in what “love” is, but still promotes monogamy as the ideal. Thus, base on secular and sectarian understanding of rights and human flourishing, I believe two consenting adults who love each other and wish to get married should be able to do so.

      1. But Joel, clearly the bible states that man shall not lie with man and likewise with women. Is it not common sense that if the bible states that man shall not lie with man and woman shall not lie with woman, then it means also not marriage, because of the fact that is one of the many things that spouse do with one another.

        I just never really understood how the government and everyone else expects you to have the same beliefs. If one would ever disagree then they are bigots which isn’t true. I know and understand that people have there right to live however they chose, because that is a God given ability that he has given us, freedom of choice, but the proof is in the pudding like you stated in your last article, it has been proven of the dangers of homosexual marriages.

  4. Yes sir, I understand that my post contains certain “I believe” statements; however, my point was that, based upon your, and other peoples, lists, it seems as though the homosexual agenda is a pure logic v. emotion issue. Logic says to find a significant other of the opposite sexual orientation so that you can produce offspring, while emotion tells you to do whatever you feel like will make you “happy.” I say happy in quotations because the happiness attained in relationships is only temporary and subject to change as relationships often do. As someone as accomplished as you are, I would suspect you probably already know the difference between temporary and eternal happiness. Anyways, Do you think that two homosexual individuals can truly love each other without being unfaithful? Homosexuals are attracted to one another based upon physical attributes and not personality traits that individuals display, otherwise they would be attracted to members of the opposite sex who display those same character qualities as well. Is homosexuality then simply lust based? Your list tells me that it is. Also, why would the Bible denounce the act if it was right?

    I was wondering how it is that you changed your beliefs on this topic? Was it because of this book, “The Address of Happiness,” or were there other reasons?

    1. No, Curt. I changed my opinion because of objective research on the matter via biblical studies, i.e., historical criticism, as well as a deeper understanding of the Incarnation in Christian theology while adding to that Tradition and Reason, not to mention Experience.

      I think you confuse logic here with expectations. If sex is ONLY about precreation, then we should work to limit heterosexual sex not directly geared to procreation.

      Happiness is a subjective term.

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