Short readings on integrity for a wedding?
June 30, 2009 1:59 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone suggest some passages on the theme of integrity and/or justice, to be read aloud at a friend's wedding? They should be no longer than 2 minutes.

The ceremony has Jewish and nonreligious aspects. Readings of any persuasion are welcome, but being an atheist myself, it wouldn't feel right to be expounding too much about God. I prefer modern prose and poetry - 1900s onward - but older is OK too.
posted by expialidocious to Grab Bag (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure if you have time to go to the library to look things up, but William Sloane Coffin's (posthumous) collection of essays The Heart Is a Little to the Left: Essays on Public Morality has a very good chapter on love that focuses on justice and might have something good. Despite the fact that Coffin is a minister he mostly talks about fairness and justice and compassion so it would still be apropos for someone who is atheist.
posted by jessamyn at 2:22 PM on June 30, 2009

For our wedding we edited together some of the better bits from Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health. Although we're a straight couple, we wanted to make a point about equal rights. It also made for a good reading on its own merits. It doesn't have too much to do with integrity, but it may fit well under justice depending on what you mean by the term.
posted by jedicus at 2:30 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Integrity and justice make me think of Kings Letter from Birmingham Jail, not sure how nuptial it is. We had some John Donne poems at ours. Let me try and track them down.
posted by shothotbot at 2:53 PM on June 30, 2009

The following passage from the beginning of Rawls's Theory of Justice is always a crowd-pleaser (though you'll have to double-check my transcription):
Justice is the first virtue of social institutions, as truth is of systems of thought. A theory however elegant and economical must be rejected or revised if it is untrue; likewise laws and institutions no matter how efficient and well arranged must be reformed or abolished if they are unjust. Each person possesses an inviolability founded on justice that even the welfare of society as a whole cannot override. For this reason justice denies that the loss of freedom for some is made right by a greater good shared by others. It does not allow that the sacrifices imposed on a few are outweighed by the larger sum of advantage enjoyed by many. Therefore in a just society the liberties of equal citizenship are taken as settled; the rights secured by justice are not subject to political bargaining or the calculus of social interests. The only thing that permits us to acquiesce in an erroneous theory is the lack of a better one; analogously, an injustice is tolerable only when it is necessary to avoid an even greater injustice. Being the first virtues of human activities, truth and justice are uncompromising.
posted by paultopia at 7:29 PM on June 30, 2009

From Winter's Tale, by Mark Helprin (who happens to be Jewish):
Nothing is random, nor will anything ever be, whether a long string of perfectly blue days that begin and end in golden dimness, the most seemingly chaotic political acts, the rise of a great city, the crystalline structure of a gem that has never seen the light, the distributions of fortune, what time the milkman gets up, the position of the electron, or the occurrence of one astonishingly frigid winter after another.

Even electrons, supposedly the paragons of unpredictability, are tame and obsequious little creatures that rush around at the speed of light, going precisely where they are supposed to go. They make faint whistling sounds that when apprehended in varying combinations are as pleasant as the wind flying through a forest, and they do exactly as they are told. Of this, one can be certain.

And yet there is a wonderful anarchy, in that the milkman chooses when to arise, the rat picks the tunnel into which he will dive when the subway comes rushing down the track from Borough Hall, and the snowflake will fall as it will. How can this be? If nothing is random, and everything is predetermined, how can there be free will? The answer to that is simple.

Nothing is predetermined; it is determined, or was determined, or will be determined. No matter, it all happened at once, in less than an instant, and time was invented because we cannot comprehend in one glance the enormous and detailed canvas that we have been given - so we track it, in linear fashion, piece by piece. Time, however, can be easily overcome; not by chasing light, but by standing back far enough to see it all at once.

The universe is still and complete. Everything that ever was, is; everything that ever will be, is - and so on, in all possible combinations. Though in perceiving it we imagine that it is in motion, and unfinished, it is quite finished and quite astonishingly beautiful.

In the end, or rather, as things really are, any event, no matter how small, is intimately and sensibly tied to all others. All rivers run full to the sea; those who are apart are brought together; the lost ones are redeemed; the dead come back to life; the perfectly blue days that have begun and ended in golden dimness continue, immobile and accessible; and, when all is perceived in such a way as to obviate time, justice becomes apparent not as something that will be, but as something that is.
posted by charmcityblues at 7:57 PM on June 30, 2009

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