Rotors & Religion

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I learned two things this weekend:
  1. I can do my own brakes.
  2. 9-times-out-of-10 Christians will piss me off.
Let's start with number one.

The estimate from Brakes Plus was $1200. I paid about $400. That is the cost of parts (all new pads, all new rotors), a few new sockets, piston compressor tool, brake cleaner/fluid, and a piece of piping to act as a sissy-bar for those hard-to-budge nuts. Anything else (like jack and jack-stands, garage space, extra arm strength) was provided by my closest friend.

With the exception of a few false starts - wrong-sized front rotors - the job was cake. Literally, it's just a matter of swapping things out and making sure things are tight. Sounds simple, because it is. Just takes a little elbow grease and the willingness to learn from your own error. Oh, and the internet helps. After a few trips to AutoZone all the pieces came together. The last snag had to do with low-pad warning tabs on the rear pads keeping the brake caliper from sliding on completely. This was solved when I eventually I realized the pads came in specific pairs (one pad from each pair is equipped with a low-pad warning tab). Since the pads were just thrown into the box I had no way of knowing and figured nothing set them apart. After I figured this out the brakes were soon-to-be-done.

And for number two.

I really do my best to not be condescending when it comes to serious matters. When someone broaches the subject of religion I back off, nod or smile, give my version of to-each-his-own, or do something equally unobtrusive. I spent enough time debating religion when I was a teenager. During that time I realized no religious person wants to have their faith challenged – even if it is the very subject of the conversation. So, when a friend asked me to read a book that seemed churchy and hokey, and in the same conversation asked why I don’t believe in God, I should have known better than to indulge.

The book in question was The Purpose Driven Life, which seemed to have a vague parallel with Joseph Campbell’s Hero With A Thousand Faces.* The difference is that Campbell’s book deals with mythology. And few Christians, regardless of disclaimer, can deal with the fact that the story of Christ can be considered mythology. Nevertheless, I suggested she give it a read, because it is interesting, and gives insight into the concept of personal growth – but with a dramatic, grandiose sensibility.

It must not have gone over well, because the next time we spoke I asked her if she had started reading the book we spoke about. She said no, because she had no interest to do so. I was confused at first and then realized my flaw: I didn’t point out that I was referring to The Purpose Driven Life. For whatever reason she thought I meant Campbell’s book. Or maybe she just wanted to think I was referring to Campbell’s book so she could take the opportunity to further cement her convictions by railing against my suggestion to – wait for it – learn something new. Wanting to be sure my suspicion was correct I asked what changed her mind. She said:

I have no doubt in my heart or mind about Jesus' existence. I don't want to put garbage into my mind about things I do not believe.

When I pointed out that I meant The Purpose Driven Life, she laughed, and we moved on. I, however, found her reaction rude and uncalled for. Because, fuck that. When the “garbage” in question is a highly-regarded book by a much-lauded scholar on the subject of mythology – a harmless exploration, to say the least – I find it very hard to avoid pointing out to the person applying such ignorant labels just how shaky their faith must be. Then I realized her defensiveness presupposed that not only would I suggest a second time that she read it, but that I have the audacity to think she would have gone out and bought the book.

But, I let it go. Because I’m all grows up.

So, what do we have? No matter how old, or wise, or intelligent, religion has the power to penetrate your head and make you a moron. No, I don’t believe this is steadfast. In fact, I have recently made the acquaintance of someone who seems to break all the aforementioned insecurities when it comes to faith. It is refreshing, to say the least.

Conclusion.

The concept of faith is not a foreign one. I get it. While I may not exercise or internalize it in a way that deals with the supernatural, I do exercise it in a way that is applicable to reality. And so does every person who drives a car, religious or otherwise. With my recent brake job I have upped the ante a bit, because now I require faith in myself. Did I follow directions properly? I hope so. If I didn’t I could die. But, even if I paid the $1200 for a professional to do it, I’d still be driving, and I’d still have to harbor some amount of faith in my fellow drivers. Will they look before turning into my lane? Are they drunk? Are they angry enough to have poor judgment?

Just as they could be thinking: do you think the asshole in the white Cadillac has good brakes?

Where my psychology differs is that I’m fine without having answers to those questions. I simply continue to drive and not worry about it. If you’re not picking up on the metaphor, let me be clear: I control my own path and deal with the things which may come smoothly/recklessly into that path, as they arrive, and with as much foresight as my perspective allows.

Now, I don’t know who is driving the cars of all the Christians on the road, but it seems a lot of them are willing to close their eyes and take their hands off the wheel.

*What I know about The Purpose Driven Life is only what came from that first conversation.

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