Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Mr. Jingles, Mr. Springsteen, and the Lightning Ride

I am always happy when I reach home on a Friday afternoon.  There are countless times in my day-to-day, as I am certain there are in your own, when navigating the work week without killing another or inflicting significant (perhaps irrevocable) damage on your ability to continue to earn your livelihood represents a win.  In the words of the great British philosopher, Mark Knopfler, "Sometimes you're the windshield.  Sometimes, you're the bug.

This past Friday, my sense of elation at having reached the week's end was further buoyed by the fact that I received mail that - for once - I actually wanted to open:

Contrary to Margaret's rather cynical prediction, I did not finish Mr. Springsteen's autobiography prior to bidding the weekend farewell on Sunday night.  Truth be told, I am not yet through the first one hundred pages.  That which I have read so far has engrossed me.  I recognize the fact that if you are not a fan of Springsteen's music, then reading what appears to be an almost entirely unabridged recitation of his life to date is not something that shall appear today - or any day for that matter - on your "To-Do" list.  I get it.  It is not my place to make an attempt to talk you into or out of anything, including reading this particular book.  While I cannot state with certainty where "reading habits of others" falls on the list of things about which I give not even one teensy, weensy rat's ass, it holds down a spot on that list.  Of that, I am certain. 

The third chapter of "Book One" (entitled "Growin' Up") is "The Church".  And it is in that chapter that I stumbled across Springsteen's explanation of his relationship with Catholicism, the religion in which each of us was raised, that summed up accurately what I have been inadvertently misstating for a number of years.  It is language that spoke to me immediately upon reading it, so much so that I used a yellow Post-It note to mark the passage:

On my eighth-grade graduation day, I walked away from it all, finished,
telling myself, "Never again."  I was free, free at last...and I believed it
...for quite a while.  However, as I grew older, there were certain things 
about the way I thought, reacted, behaved.  I came to ruefully and bemusedly
understand that once you're a Catholic, you're always a Catholic.  So I 
stopped kidding myself.  I don't often participate in my religion but I know
somewhere...deep inside...I'm still on the team. 
- "The Church" 
("Born to Run" - Bruce Springsteen 
(c) 2016) 

Much to the chagrin of my long-suffering, Italian Catholic wife (and several hundred miles away, my even-longer-suffering Irish Catholic mother), I hold firmly to the idea that there is a God and he and I belong to a mutual lack-of-admiration society.  So much so that I spend as little time as possible poking around in his day-to-day and invite him to return the favor.  There are two beings in whom I have placed - and remaining willing to place - absolute faith.  He ain't either one.  

Too much incomprehensibly horrible shit has happened to people who I have loved - and continues to happen to those I do love - to put any stock in the notion of some type of omniscient,benevolent Overlord, reigning somewhere above us mere mortals, and keeping a watchful eye out for us.  Quite frankly, I cannot fathom how anyone does.  For me, to do so is not an expression chock full of faith but, instead...I am not sure exactly what it is other than it is something that is beyond my ability to comprehend.   

I regret to admit that I believe enough in the specter of the Old Testament God (the "I shall drown all you sons of bitches who cannot tread water for 40 days and 40 nights!" God) that I understand that my sins are ones for which I shall be required to pay.  I anticipate that divine vengeance will come for me in a form akin to how it came for Paul Edgecomb in "The Green Mile".  

It is what it is.  I have neither the will nor the inclination to chart a new course.  Besides, Springsteen's autobiography is over five hundred pages in length.  I may need all the time I can get simply to complete it. 


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