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This is a very old genre of humor. The darndest things that children say have, I suppose, elicited adult chuckles from the beginnings of human language. In any event, these examples were sent by a source that certifies they were written by children in a Catholic school and have not been edited.

• In the first book of the Bible, Guinessis, God got tired of creating the world, so he took the Sabbath off.

• Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree. Noah’s wife was Joan of Ark. Noah built an ark and the animals came on in pears.

• Lot’s wife was a pillar of salt by day, but a ball of fire by night.

• The Jews were a proud people and throughout history they had trouble with unsympathetic genitals.

• Samson slayed the Philistines with the axe of the apostles.

• Moses led the Hebrews to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread which is bread without any ingredients.

• The first commandment was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple.

• The seventh commandment is thou shalt not admit adultery.

• Moses died before he ever reached Canada. Then Joshua led the Hebrews in the battle of Geritol.

• David was a Hebrew king who was skilled at playing the liar. He fought the Finkelsteins, a race of people who lived in Biblical times.

• Solomon, one of David’s sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.

• When Mary heard that she was the mother of Jesus, she sang the Magna Carta.

• The people who followed the Lord were called the 12 decibels.

• The epistles were the wives of the apostles.

• A Christian should have only one spouse. This is called monotony.

I usually agree with, and always learn from disagreeing with, Charles Krauthammer. Writing in the Washington Post , he takes on a subject that is, quite suddenly it seems, being mainstreamed, as they say.

Polygamy used to be stereotyped as the province of secretive Mormons, primitive Africans and profligate Arabs. With “Big Love” it moves to suburbia as a mere alternative lifestyle.

As Newsweek notes, these stirrings for the mainstreaming of polygamy (or, more accurately, polyamory) have their roots in the increasing legitimization of gay marriage. In an essay 10 years ago, I pointed out that it is utterly logical for polygamy rights to follow gay rights. After all, if traditional marriage is defined as the union of (1) two people of (2) opposite gender, and if, as advocates of gay marriage insist, the gender requirement is nothing but prejudice, exclusion and an arbitrary denial of one’s autonomous choices in love, then the first requirement—the number restriction (two and only two)—is a similarly arbitrary, discriminatory and indefensible denial of individual choice.

This line of argument makes gay activists furious. I can understand why they do not want to be in the same room as polygamists. But I’m not the one who put them there. Their argument does. Blogger and author Andrew Sullivan, who had the courage to advocate gay marriage at a time when it was considered pretty crazy, has called this the “polygamy diversion,” arguing that homosexuality and polygamy are categorically different because polygamy is a mere “activity” while homosexuality is an intrinsic state that “occupies a deeper level of human consciousness.”

But this distinction between higher and lower orders of love is precisely what gay rights activists so vigorously protest when the general culture “privileges” (as they say in the English departments) heterosexual unions over homosexual ones. Was “Jules et Jim” (and Jeanne Moreau), the classic Truffaut film involving two dear friends in love with the same woman, about an “activity” or about the most intrinsic of human emotions?

To simplify the logic, take out the complicating factor of gender mixing. Posit a union of, say, three gay women all deeply devoted to each other. On what grounds would gay activists dismiss their union as mere activity rather than authentic love and self-expression? On what grounds do they insist upon the traditional, arbitrary and exclusionary number of two?

What is historically odd is that as gay marriage is gaining acceptance, the resistance to polygamy is much more powerful. Yet until this generation, gay marriage had been sanctioned by no society that we know of, anywhere at any time in history. On the other hand, polygamy was sanctioned, indeed common, in large parts of the world through large swaths of history, most notably the biblical Middle East and through much of the Islamic world.

Krauthammer says he is not going to go to the barricades in opposing gay marriage, but he thinks its advocates should be more candid, or maybe just think more clearly about, its ramifications. With divorce, widespread cohabitation, single parenthood, and other developments, marriage is already in deep trouble. “Marriage has needed no help in managing its own long, slow suicide, thank you . . . The minting of these new forms of marriage is a symptom of our culture’s contemporary radical individualism—as is the decline of traditional marriage—and not its cause.”

Whether or not marriage as a union between a man and woman should be redefined is a matter, Krauthammer concludes, that should be decided politically and not by court fiat, as in the disastrous case of abortion. Part of the political process, it might be noted, is the adoption of a federal constitutional amendment banning the redefinition of marriage, which, it is argued with considerable cogency, is the only way to prevent a few maverick states from making a hash of marriage and family law nationwide.

In addition to which :

We all know about the seven year war and the hundred year war, but few are prepared for the two hundred year war. In the April issue of F IRST T HINGS , Father Richard John Neuhaus examines an important new book on the religion-driven “jihadism” of radical Muslims. In Knowing the Enemy , Mary Habeck of Johns Hopkins helps us to listen to them rather than just listening to ourselves talking about them. Americans are uncertain about whether we are at war, but the enemy has no doubts at all on that score. Isn’t it time for you to become a subscriber to F IRST T HINGS ?

The book is Catholic Matters: Confusion, Controversy, and the Splendor of Truth. Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal says this:

"This is the story of how one priest discovered the way of grace and glory that is being Catholic. Writing with eloquence, deep intelligence and wit, Father Neuhaus guides us past all the confusion and controversy and lets the splendor of truth shine through. If you’re a serious Catholic, if you want to be a serious Catholic, if you want to know what it means to be a serious Catholic, read this book."

Catholic Matters can be ordered from Amazon by clicking here .

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