Faith. Feast. Washing Machine. TV.
Darrell and Wendy, recent converts to Catholicism, have both been writing excellent essays on their faith. Darrell especially, citing specific passages from the bible, has taken a strong academic approach. At times, some of what he's written and the ensuing debates in the comments strain my brain like the intellectual explorations over at Rey's Bible Archive. I've always been a Catholic. I was baptized, had my first communion, was confirmed, and I was an altar boy. I studied religion each week and my parents sent me to a Catholic high school. I chose to go to a Catholic University. I've missed mass maybe five times in my life. Once we were snowed in, thrice in college I was in the middle of the woods on a camping trip, and once I was bleeding to death in the hospital. I think God might forgive that last one. Seriously though, going to church each week doesn't make me any better than people who were raised Catholic and stop going entirely, except perhaps on holidays. Many times I'm there....but I'm not there. I don't hear the gospels or the sermon. My mind drifts to trivial things like work or food or television or the internet. Suddenly, an hour that used to drag when I was a child now flies. *NAME HIDDEN* spoke of “born-intoism” on one of Darrell's posts:
”Around here, there are a lot of people who call themselves Catholic. They don't go to mass, they don't go to confession.”
One person can live his life by Jesus’ teachings and example and not go to church, while another might follow ceremony rigidly but merely be going through the motions. I fear falling into the latter trap. I've always had trouble with the academic approach, especially in high school when we studied the history of the church. History in general always bored me, and having to take two courses each trimester for a few years was worse. Maybe I was too young, or maybe I'm just weak, because I still haven't pursued it to the point where I can maintain an intelligent debate about what I believe. I believe in the holy trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. I don't kill, I (try to) honor my parents, and I remain meek and humble. I do unto others as I would have them do unto me. What? What pages are those “rules” on? Which chapter? Which author? Sadly, things fall apart and crumble a bit when faced with those questions. I can rattle off the resume of the most obscure actor, tell you the names of comic book artists and cite issue numbers in which key plot developments happened. At work I retain the code numbers of various catalogs I design and reference past issues for information with frightening accuracy. But I don't speak Latin, and I can't tell you what the numbers on the guy's sign at any random football game mean. Even watching Wedding Crashers this week, I noticed Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn's character's had a better knowledge of scripture, betting which passages will be read at a particular wedding. Of course, in their case, they simply attended so many that they had a specific knowledge of ceremony, versus someone like Rey who seems to have the book memorized.
I have my faith. I try to do good, failing at times in my humanity, and praying for forgiveness. Faith is more than the sum total of believing and trying to follow a set of rules, though. I worry when theological discussions fly so far over my head. Sects of Christianity differ far more than I realized when I was younger, and it wasn't until I had friends who took different things from the bible than I did, and when I started reading up on things on the internet, that the differences shone through, sometimes overwhelmingly. The academic approach is hard, but it's probably more important than the things I spend my energy on now. It's something I'll have to work on.
July is always my busiest month musically, especially the 15th and 16th. I have to be in Brooklyn this afternoon to play for a few hours, well into the evening, I'll be back there early tomorrow for about seven hours, then after a 3 or 4 hour break there's another two-hour segment in the evening. I’ll probably have to attend a mass in the neighborhood on one of our breaks. If I'm unusually brief in my writing, or lacking substance, it's because I'm not going to be home much this weekend and didn't write in advance to prepare for that fact. Of course, I've already written a lot more about my faith than I expected to when I started typing, so I guess I've already written a “real” entry. Tomorrow though, expect me to be lazy and simply post a new M.C.F.A.T.
Does anyone know anything about adjusting a washing machine? I came home from work early yesterday, thanks to our company's Summer option to leave early on Fridays, only to find a note from my parents that the washing machine was busted. By the time I finished mowing the lawn, they had returned with new belts. I helped my dad take it apart and install them, but the large one had way too much slack. I ended up disassembling most of the motor and replacing the springs in it that are supposed to pull the larger of the two belts taut. When the machine runs however, it still won't spin and there's a smell of burning rubber. There's only one place I see to adjust the belt, by moving the pump assembly, but we have that back as far as it will go and that only tightens the smaller belt. We have a Maytag top load similar to the one in this diagram. I probably need to replace the motor mount glides as well as the springs, but couldn't get the motor pulley apart to get to those and nearly broke an Allen wrench trying to do so. The instructions that came with the belts were woefully inadequate. The machine is less than ten years old too. I guess Monday my dad will have to check with the company if the belts were the wrong size, even though they seem to match the ones we took off. I'm stumped, even after extensive research online this morning and we don't have more time the rest of this weekend to spend on the problem.
The last few days my mom's television hasn't been turning on all the time, and after plugging and unplugging various devices to test the outlet, we concluded it's definitely the television, even though that too isn't that old. When it does work the remote works, so it's not the switch. My best guess is that there's a fine break inside the wire, which doesn't come off but is itself a little loose where it joins the set, and it's located in a bad spot, on the bottom in the center in the back. When you slide the television around on top of a table, the cord will experience friction as well. It should come out of the back, not the bottom, and that's poor design. Last night, jiggling it didn't even work, and my mom started hitting the top of the television, which granted worked on our old black-and-white ‘60s standing model when I was a kid, but probably isn't good for a modern set. I started taking the thing apart with a screwdriver, very conscious of all the “risk of electrical shock” warnings. I took it apart, put it back together, and jiggled the wire while pressing the cord against the set and holding the power button. Pleasantly, the familiar sound of power coming on was heard and my mom was able to watch her tape of her soap opera last night. I may be utterly useless when it comes to washing machines, but I felt better that I at least got my mom's television working. A few months back I convinced her to let me get her a new VCR when her old one perpetually devoured tapes, so maybe it's time to look into new televisions. It's only a small dresser model, and those can't cost that much these days either.
“Are you still sure you still want to buy a house?” joked my mom, in light of the day’s challenges. There’s an old saying that God never gives us more than we can handle. Sometimes tasks unexpectedly fall in our laps. Other times, there’s a more gradual increase. The older we get, the more we have to do, and we adapt to whatever comes. When I was in elementary school, it was tough and I had no idea how I would pass middle school. In middle school I worried about high school, and in high school I worried about college. In college I worried about finding and keeping a job. Worry does no good, and in hindsight we see that we’ve survived everything that has come before. Sometimes you just have to turn off your brain, and go to work.