Thursday, October 16, 2008
Articles of Faith - Part 2 (conclusion)
2. The Fools of 'Dingley-Dell'
So this is my catechism and at times it is suffocating. Despite the oppression of it, in my youth, I posted pictures on every inch of the bare boards of my attic-bedroom walls. Pictures of spiral staircases, lovely brick houses surrounded by paradise gardens, furniture and home accents of color and unsurpassed beauty, and divinely tall and fair looking ladies in long flowing gowns of lace. All of which were representative of me, my hopes, and my dreams.
Of course, the conflict in all this is that the love of money, thought of money, aspiration for money, all form still another context of sin.
As I’ve already said I must mimic my mother’s simplicity for my own redemption and to be as certain as she was of her paradise, money must have no context in my life. Mother never carried money (except that small bit on a Sunday that my Dad gave her for the collection plate). She spent no money, or asked for no money. All because she was so solidly convinced that it was a sinful act to participate in the dispensation or gathering of money. When money was offered to her, she turned her back and curtly stated, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and onto God the things that are God’s.”
And so, my dad made the money and spent the money. He bought the groceries and household needs without input or communication with her as to cost or deferred payments. And it was only when my father walked past the clothesline on his way to the biffy, and saw a ratty display of mother’s underclothes, that he would finally purchase a few new under-things for her to wear, or a swatch of cloth to make a new dress.
And now the foregoing contemplations remind me of another curious ritual. I don’t know whose benefit it was for. Maybe it was just because of my mother’s strong disdain for money. But when my Dad opened his wallet he turned his back and moved into a corner of the room. I have never seen hell, I have never seen heaven, and the other thing, as I child, I never saw, was the inside of my father’s wallet.
And so I have grown up with an underlying current deep within my psyche that money matters are disgusting. That money is a necessary evil, but an evil nonetheless. Couple that with the curse of my forbears, and I guess I’m as forever lost as someone who was stupid enough, foolish enough to wash sand from a stone three times.
If ‘evil thought’ equals ‘evil deed’, I am up there with the most extreme villains of all time. Particularly when I watch CNN and the never-ending-story over money matters. I’m left wondering if it is just me. Maybe I’m the dumb one. Maybe articles of faith are supposed to include money matters. Maybe life is not about purity of thought and deed. Maybe it is about playing the game of Monopoly and playing it well.
And then I watch the closing bell at the stock exchange and see that silly-looking group of the rich and famous from ‘Dingley-Dell’ decked out in their finest, standing behind a railing on a raised dais. Someone rings a stupid bell and then I observe them clapping their hands like ‘a bunch of brain-dead stupid fools’ – whether the market is up or down or stable.
I gaze in dismay, thinking impure thoughts of disgust and wondering what their catechism or articles of faith are, or if they have any.
[Acknowledgement: ‘Dingley-Dell’ is a name borrowed from Charles Dickenson’s novel “The Pickwick Papers”.]