When I was going to University of California, Berkeley, I was seated on a long table in the University Library with students like myself on either side. I was a little tired in the library, and put my head down on my book to rest. When I raised my head up, an attractive dark-haired girl seated across from me was looking at me, smiling, asked “Do you study by osmosis?” (Some people say one can absorb a book by resting their heads upon a book!).
Amused, I started a conversation with her. Her name was Barbara.
Later, we spent a lot of time together. I had a car and my own apartment. She lived in San Leandro, about 25 minutes south of Berkeley. One time we stayed up all night to see the sunrise. We never consummated our relationship, but came close. She had incredibly soft skin, especially in the neck and shoulder area. She was very intelligent, and we coincided in liberal thinking, in a time of social germinating upheaval. It was 1958. We attended a meeting against the hydrogen bomb, among others.
I eventually asked her to marry me.
First, she wanted to meet my family. Both of my parents had died, but I had brothers in Northern California. We went and visited (briefly) my brother Bob and his wife Mary in San Francisco, and my brother Tom and his wife Shirley in Santa Cruz, and my sister Kay, in Santa Clara County, as I recall.
I believe Barbara truly loved me, but there was an obstacle to our being married, other than her family being wealthier than my family.
Barbara’s father owned a factory in San Leandro. There was something else. She was Jewish. My remaining family at the time were all Christians. As it turned out, her very rich grandfather did not want her to marry a gentile, and if she did, she was told that he would dis-inherit/disown her. She would be an outcast to an important part of her family. But wait, later a surprise turned up about ME that could have possibly turned the outcome completely around.
I seemed to get along very well with Barbara’s mother, and didn’t see much of her father.
So because of religion, two people in love, couldn’t marry.
The irony of the story is that I found out later that my grandparents on my father side are both buried in a Jewish Cemetery in New York. My mother was full blooded Norwegian. Her mother was a lady in waiting to the Queen of Norway. My mother’s father was a Lutheran minister.
My mother, I heard, told my Jewish father that she would marry him only if he agreed to bring up the children as Christians.
My father agreed, and his Jewish background was suppressed.
My mother, Catherine Dahl Butler, eventually had 6 children, me being the last. I didn’t know I was part Jewish until I was 18.
Later, doing genealogy, I found out that I am probably close to 50% Jewish!
Maybe her grandfather wouldn’t have dis-inherited her if he was informed of that information.
If I had known of my Jewish background at the time that I asked Barbara to marry me, would Barbara’s grandfather have approved ? This will always be a mystery.
I do know religion kills and/or poisons potential marriages between otherwise compatible lovers.
I later married Marcy, the mother of my son Matthew. Marcy was brought up Catholic, but she was not devout. We needed a facility in which to get married, but we were forbidden to marry in the Catholic Church, because she had a previous divorce. We were married by a Justice of the Peace in San Francisco City Hall instead.
In a perfect world Beyond Religion, many potential marriages between very otherwise compatible potential partners wouldn’t be arbitrarily blocked. In many religions, to marry a person of a different religion means being ostracized from your church/temple and even family. It means death in certain parts of the Middle East.
Does this odyssey matter to me, today?
I am now happily married after several attempts at a lasting married relationship. Besides that, Barbara’s family (grandfather?) would probably have tried to make me convert to Judiasm, and I would be a captive INSIDE religion, not FREE and BEYOND ALL RELIGION.