A lot of us guys love to build stuff.
Not so long ago, it was cars.
Cars provided an endless opportunity for building and rebuilding. You started with a car, then souped it up with all kinds of things. You could add on parts, rebuild parts, and, for that matter, add on rebuilt parts.
It wasn't what you started with that was important.
It was what you cobbled onto it.
All of which made your car a high-maintenance vehicle.
Because, in cobbling on parts, you were basically asking the car to do things that it was never designed to do.
And so, in a short period of time, things would start to come apart.
But that was not a pain. That was a highly desirable thing.
It meant that you would have the joy of spending a good chunk of your weekend putting the parts back together again.
And the end product was a thing of beauty, even if it only lasted for a week.
You could pick up your girl, who would be highly impressed with your rod; and, while you were out cruising and strutting your righteous stuff for all the other guys to see, she could show off your stuff for all the other girls to see.
If you’d a mind to do so, then later on you could pick up a few of your buddies and “take care of business“.
Maybe a little competitive dragging. Grab the bone and growl.
Maybe cruise around and roll a few drunks.
Bust a few (add any old-fashioned euphemism for gays).
Show a (add any old-fashioned euphemism for a lesbian) a really good time.
Hassle some (add any old-fashioned euphemism for any ethnic group).
All of which would take a considerable toll on your rod, but what the heck.
Next weekend you could devote more time to your labor of love.
After all, idle hands are the devil’s playground.
Oh, for the glory days of the fifties.
So say some of us, who carry a misty-eyed nostalgia for a time when the country was so overwhelmingly Christian.
So say a smaller number of us, who believe that our increased understanding of diversity has brought the wrath of God upon us.
With the blind terror of bygone ages, they would cleanse their communities of impurity by casting transgressors into the volcano of their fire god, lest they incur the fire themselves.
Truly a mission that was more possible in the glory days of the Christian fifties.
I will concede that point.
Traditional Christianity has a checkered history. It has provided time-honored tools for “taking care” of that kind of “business“.
And it has provided an atmosphere that thoroughly sanctions, if only by silence, all manner of behavior.
But, like the hot rod, it is a high-maintenance indulgence.
As I have said before, I am no fan of the idea of “hidden wisdom”.
To me, the height of Christian wisdom resides in the two commandments proclaimed by Jesus. Since he said that there are no commandments greater than these, I hold them to be inviolate.
Yet we have a long history of tinkering with those statements.
We have a long history of cobbling irreconcilable beliefs onto those statements.
But, like the parts of a hot rod, they do not fit together; they do not belong together.
So, every weekend, some of us report to the garage, where lovelessness is spot-welded, duck-taped and forced by outright violence onto a message of love.
In our more conservative traditions, this work is performed primarily by men, whose everlasting tuning and tweaking provides a constant source of admiration and bragging rights for their partners.
And, in the trips to and from the garage, as well as in the community work of gathering at a variety of places, ranging from interchurch councils to local watering holes, the overt and covert opportunities for righteous strutting and competition are many.
Nothing like witnessing.
Nothing like going forth with a weekly mission.
Which will add our mite of light, salt and yeast to our community.
And in that fermentation, some will rise to “take care of business“.
And so we will have enabled the unthinkable.
Whether or not we, personally, have shirked our manly responsibilities for hands-on work.
Oh, for the glory days of the fifties.
The bad news is that, for some of us, those days are far from dead.
Of course, the language changes.
But the attitudes remain.
We don't soup-up the rod; we pimp the ride.
We like our women as we like our cars, thoroughly tricked-out and tarted-up.
In word, thought, deed and prayer, we continue to bust (add any newfangled euphemisms for gays, lesbians and any ethnic group).
Cruising our towns and our world in our rattletraps, bent on our make-shift, make-do missions of chastisement.
Oh, for a lovely chassis with unlovely add-ons, thoroughly pimped.
A righteous machine.
A truly hot rod.
Hell on wheels.
I post new articles twice-monthly in "Author's Corner".
If you live in or near the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, and you would be interested in meeting with others for discussion or prayer, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. All are welcome, regardless of identity or personal choices. Please understand that I do not have the resources to guarantee that I will be able to read or respond to all other correspondence.
Toward Dawn is a privately funded outreach, and it neither solicits nor accepts contributions.
Rob Wright holds advanced degrees in education and performing arts, and he has been a professional teacher for over sixteen years. In his home denomination, he has served as a lay minister in liturgical, educational and ecumenical activities. He lives in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire with his spouse of twenty years and their daughter.