Speaker for the Dead: pp. 152--158
Chapter Ten: Children of the Mind
This time we open with a delightful Q&A with San Angelo, that not-quite-heretic saint whom I assume is made of wisdom and unicorn giggles since he got Ender’s stamp of approval. San Angelo founded the Children of the Mind of Christ, and while Rule Two is that you don’t talk about Christ Club, Rule One is that Y’ALL GOTS TO BE MARRIED. You’re not allowed in the order unless you’re married, but you also must not ever have sex with your spouse to whom you are bonded in holy chains. (Or anyone else, obvs.) And the explanation for this is hilarious when you consider the kinds of arguments Card has made against marriage equality.
Question 1: Why is marriage necessary for anyone?
Fools say, Why should we marry? Love is the only bond my lover and I need. To them I say, Marriage is not a covenant between a man and a woman; even the beasts cleave together and produce their young. Marriage is a covenant between a man and woman on the one side and their community on the other. To marry according to the law of the community is to become a full citizen; to refuse marriage is to be a stranger, a child, an outlaw, a slave, or a traitor. The one constant in every society of humankind is that only those who obey the laws, tabus, and customs of marriage are true adults.Let's get the obvious point out of the way:
There's so much here I barely know where to start. I mean, Card's views on same-sex marriage are thoroughly documented and helpfully summarised by GLAAD, so it's kind of hilarious to read him here arguing (through the voice of a literal saint who was a personal friend of Ender Wiggin) that marriage is not about children or even about consecrated hetero fucking, but purely about position in the community. From this perspective, where marriage is thoroughly detached from sex and signifies only your commitment to maintaining the community, it would seem like we should want everyone to get married, because that represents them stepping up to responsibility. But then we get to the "laws, tabus, and customs" line and it becomes clear that what Card is arguing for is pure circular privilege. Male/female couples (I don't say 'different-gender' here simply because there's no way Card thinks there are any other genders) get special privilege because they follow the Marriage Rules, and they should follow the Marriage Rules because they will get special privilege. It's amazing; he might as well be saying that you're a traitor to the state unless your favourite colour is red, and if your favourite colour isn't red it's obviously because you have willfully chosen to tear down civilisation if it's the last thing you do with the final sinews of your flesh and shards of your bone. So obviously you couldn't have ever been trusted with the privilege the proper Red-Appreciators have.
(I can't in good conscience recommend that anyone spend their time reading things Orson Scott Card has said, but if you did click on that link there, you'll find the quote where he literally states that marriage equality does nothing to elevate same-sex couples but steals the rightfully-earned privilege of male/female couples.)
I have said all of this without touching on the other patently stupid things that Card asserts in there, like saying that in every culture 'true adults' are the ones who follow the laws of marriage, as if child marriage isn't a thing that has always existed and still exists, as if the Mosuo don't exist, as if the definition of adults haven't been written and rewritten a million times in every different culture. As if it's meaningful to declare that 'not getting married' defines someone as an outlaw, when the privileges of marriage have been denied to so many people so many times specifically for the purpose of declaring them less-adult, less-human than the people in charge. (Marriage for enslaved people in the USA's so-recent past leaps to mind.)
It's so, so appropriate that we get this howlingly stupid monastic law in the same book that gives us the Hierarchy of Exclusion, which is supposedly about empathy but is demonstrated to mostly serve to let people say "I don't understand you, so you're not a person". Card declares groups of people to be traitors and outlaws, then establishes laws that they are forbidden to follow, then declares it's obvious that they're outlaws because they won't follow his laws. It's like watching a particularly malicious six-year-old inventing new rules halfway through a board game, only it results in couples being denied visitation rights in hospital or being deported.
Anyway. I'm like 30% sure this blog is actually about eviscerating terrible books. Don't I have one of those around here? Hey, look, it's Speaker for the Dead!
Question 2: Why then is celibacy ordained for priests and nuns?
To separate them from the community. The priests are servants, not citizens. They minister to the Church, but they are not the Church. Mother Church is the bride, and Christ is the bridegroom; the priests and nuns are merely guests at the wedding, for they have rejected citizenship in the community of Christ in order to serve it.Again, not a Catholic myself, but I'm pretty sure nuns are considered 'married to Christ', even if it's only spiritual and not legal. (Card is on record that "regardless of law, marriage has only one definition", but apparently changing the definition of 'Catholic nun' is a-okay.) But now it's time for the best part: Card's obsession with genetic lineage to the exclusion of all other meaning in life, to the point where it requires a special monastic order just to get a footnote.
Question 3: Why then do the Children of the Mind of Christ marry? Do we not also serve the church?
We do not serve the Church, except as all women and men serve it through their marriages. The difference is that where they pass on their genes to the next generation, we pass on our knowledge; their legacy is found in the genetic molecules of generations to come, while we live on in their minds. Memories are the offspring of our marriages, and they are neither more or less worthy than the flesh-and-blood children conceived in sacramental love.But by God the only acceptable form of non-child-bearing marriage is a sexless union of woman and man and if the state tries to allow any other kind of legal marriage then Card has literally declared that he will devote himself to destroying that government and re-instituting privilege for himself and his kind. (Note: making a lifelong loving commitment to someone you're not allowed to marry makes you a disgusting outlaw traitor who wants to destroy society, but living in a society in which marriage is open to all adults requires that you become an outlaw and destroy society. Don't get those two confused, because they're obviouslly completely different.)
So I'm not sure if the best part of this is the bit where reproductive couples apparently only contribute via genetics, and their intellectual legacy is irrelevant, or if it's the way this whole thing has managed to extensively examine who is not allowed to have sex without actually ever explaining why. Like, you'd think in a page-long dissertation on priests being forbidden to marry or have sex and the COTMOC being required to marry but not have sex, they might get around to the rationale, but nope. I wonder at this point vaguely if this is Card trying to be generous (from his perspective) by presenting gay and lesbian people with a socially-acceptable sexless marriage, since remaining unmarried is also considered literal treason. Speaker is of course almost three decades old; it was published years before his first famous homophobic rants, and he used to occasionally throw a patronising nod in the direction of us queers. Lacking any indication otherwise, I'm just going to assume that every COTMOC we meet is 100% homosexual.
And that's all I can take of discussing Card's views on marriage, so let's move on to the actual chapter. We open with some passive-aggression between a priest and Dom Cristão the COTMOC abbot and school principal, which is too boring to detail; the point is that the bishop wants to talk to him. Dom Cristão follows instantly and obediently, silently predicting what stupid decisions the bishop will have made in response to the rumours about Andrew Wiggin and repeating his monastic name, "Amai a Tudomundo Para Que Deus Vos Ame. Ye Must Love Everyone So That God Will Love You." It's a tradition to name yourself as a warning against your failings, and Dom Cristão hates stupid people. That's not a joke; that's the canonical explanation. Now, don't get me wrong, stupid people frustrate me too, so at first I was going to be totally on-board with this guy, but it turns out he's a colossal jackass
The bishop is waiting with Navio the doctor, whom we are told got fat because he was lazy and is now lazy because he's fat, because fuck you Card, and there is more passive aggression et cetera et cetera. Navio angrily reports on Ender's threats, and Ye Must Love Dogs silently judges him for his hypocrisy when he won't go to mass every week but he gets so incensed about little things like a total stranger threatening to destabilise the entire colonial government and religious contract resulting in forced deportation of its community. No priorities, this guy. Ye Must Love Dogs also doesn't apparently care that Ender literally opened with threats of inquisition, and blames Navio for provoking him and making him more dangerous. Ye Must Love Dogs says that they should strike first to neutralise the threat, pleasantly surprising the bishop.
"The Filhos are as ardent as any unordained Christian could hope to be," said Dom Cristão. "But since we have no priesthood, we have to make do with reason and logic as poor substitutes for authority."
Bishop Peregrino suspected irony from time to time, but was never quite able to pin it down.Oh, please, a stunned duck could spot that insult. To an ever-increasing degree, I appreciate that Ender's Shadow has an antagonist who's actually as smart as the hero and more charismatic. The parade of stupid evil people opposing Our Heroes in these books are exhausting.
Of course, Ye Must Love Dogs' secret plan to neutralise the threat from Ender is to do exactly what he says so that he can't call an inquisition. The bishop is furious and asks if he doesn't see how dangerous Ender is, and Ye Must Love Dogs counters that he does, of course, since COTMOC was founded "precisely because the telling of truth is such a powerful act". They note how the speakers have cleverly made themselves seem like they aren't a religion, by having no organisation, not performing sacraments, and denying that HQ&H is scripture. Almost as if they bear no similarity to Catholicism or most religions at all, and calling it a religion is a weird affectation on Card's part.
They discuss the consequences if there was an inquisition and their Catholic License were revoked: immediate recolonisation by twice as many non-Catholics and immediate deportation of a large part of the Catholic population in order to keep the planetary population below the maximum. There have always been shuttles in orbit ready to cart excess people away, as they expected to start doing in a couple of generations.
"Starways Congress was formed to stop the jihads and pogroms that were going on in half a dozen places all the time. An invocation of the religious persecution laws is a serious matter."Wait, really? Is the primary purpose of Space Congress supposed to be secular mediation of sectarian violence? How have there ever been "jihads and pogroms" in this galaxy when every planet has been colonised by a single demographic and official religions are allowed? Is this book telling me that even thousands of years in the future, when whole planets are up for grabs and colonisation is specifically planned in order to homogenise populations, there is still a Jewish diaspora minority? (I know 'pogrom' doesn't have to refer to persecuting Jews, but 'jihad' just means 'struggle' and refers to the conflict inherent in trying to balance the practicalities of life with religious duties and virtues, so let's not pretend this isn't racialised and bordering on racist already.)
Ye Must Love Dogs says that no matter how much it sucks, Congress has all the guns, so they've got to do what they say. He suggests that the bishop, rather than retract his remarks, announce that he has delegated the task of handling the speaker to the COTMOC, so that the rest of the town can go on ignoring him and Card doesn't have to keep coming up with clever name puns in Portuguese.
"In other words," said Peregrino dryly, "the monks of your order will become servants of the infidel."
Dom Cristão silently chanted his name three times.I increasingly suspect that Starways Congress has carefully orchestrated the colonisation of Lusitania to put all of their most terrible and incompetent people on one planet and then lock it down forever. Getting Ender Wiggin in there was a stroke of luck they could never have hoped for, and even now they're preparing the EMP to burn out all of their shuttles.
This is shorter than usual, but that's all I can handle for this week. Next week Ender meets Ye Must Love Dogs, but it's from Ender's perspective, so we don't get to find out if I'm right that he instantly sees in Ender all of the flawless manly beauty that he joined the COTMOC to get away from.