Mel Gibson’s wife has filed for divorce. His behavior over the years has been provoking both his alcoholism and his remarks that she would not be saved because she was an Anglican. Gibson himself belongs to a schismatic group so the latter remark was especially puzzling.

I have observed over the years that individuals and societies that are overly-rigid tend to self-destruct in a spectacular way. Individuals tend to adopt some ultra –rigid form of their religion. It is misleading to call this form fundamentalist or conservative, because one can conserve one’s beliefs and traditions and adhere to the fundamentals of one’s faith without being rigid.

I think that people become rigid because they fear the chaos that they sense in themselves, and adopt rigidity as a defense against it. I was told the story of one Anglo-Catholic priest who had screaming fits if an altar boy made a slight mistake in the ritual. The priest was obviously gay and was trying hard not to give in to his desires, and felt that the slightest deviation or laxity would lead to chaos.

Northeasterners have resented the implication that they are less moral than the Bible Belt. The Northeast has a low divorce rate; the Bible Belt has a high divorce rate. Northeasterners are much more tolerant of sex before marriage; teenagers in the Bible Belt disapprove of sex before mirage and run off to Gatlinburg for a quickie marriage, which is then followed by a divorce.

A stable society (or personality) can tolerate much more diversity than an unstable can.

The Northeast is much more stable (and also older and more female) than the Bible Belt, which upholds strict standards in a defense against the chaos of human passions.

Rigidity is often accompanied by brittleness, and leads to spectacular downfalls. Such downfalls are not the result of hypocrisy, but of an attempt to control chaos by rigid and unbending rules. Such an attempt doesn’t work very well; a person of inner virtue and strength and stability will not worry so much about minor things, but will trust himself to do the right thing in normal circumstances.

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