Saturday, July 7, 2012

Old Pickup Trucks

I Love Old Pickup Trucks. In fact, I have a great fondness for old vehicles in general, but there is something unique and special about old pickup trucks. The stark, simple functionality of them appeals to me. In fact in the same way, I find that old horse-drawn farm wagons - the pickup's direct ancestor - have the same effect. I suppose it is that are really the essential vehicle for hauling around a man's goods and produce. And if you look closely, their evolution over the past 100 or so years draws a pretty good parallel with our evolution as a society. In fact, even in the past 60 years the size, complexity and overall fanciness of the vehicles has grown incredibly. Especially the size! A 1946 Ford Pickup was positively tiny compared with even a regular-cab new Ford F-150. Leaving out entirely, of course, the fact that there are now crew-cab versions as well as larger heavier duty models. I suppose we just have so much more stuff to haul around - not to mention fatter asses - that we need bigger vehicles to do the job. Oh, and bigger egos too!  But I digress.

The thing is, that while so many of my generational peers love old pickups, they love them in a different way.  While I like them to be the way they were, be used the way they were meant to be, and enjoy them for that, pretty much everyone else sees them as a vehicle (no pun intended) to creating their own preferred ego (and falling testosterone) driven ideas.  It is nearly impossible to find one that has not been made into some sort of hot rod.  Bigger motors, bigger wheels and tires, loud exhausts, souped up motors, and interiors partially (or wholly) transplanted from some late model sedan. All in some baby-boomer youth obsessed attempt to produce - decades after the fact - an ideal representation of their teenage dreams.  Yet in the very process of producing their "ideal truck" they are in fact destroying the essential beauty of what was there before.

It occurred to me this morning the similarities between this and the evolution and changes and conflict within the Church over the same time period.  The traditionalists want the Catholic Church and her liturgy to be exactly the same as it was in 1946 - they are loathe to take the truck out of the museum or garage lest something happen and it would "never be the same".  The modernists want to take the 1946 Model, strip it to the bone, and transplant everything on their wish list into it until it is nearly unrecognizable, yet are never really satisfied with the finished product, and so are always willing and ready to "do it over" when they see a cool trick that some other "hotrodder" has come up with.  This updating process must take place every few years or the truck will begin to look "dated".

I prefer the same approach to the liturgy as I do with old pickup trucks.  Keep them the way they are, yes.  But keeping them essentially the way they are does not mean that you should not use modern lubricants (to make the parts work better or last longer) or modern tires (instead of old blowout-prone designs), or even newer better paint when it becomes time to repaint.  These things do not change the essence of the truck, they merely enhance its functionality.  And so keep the Mass the way it was, but don't be afraid of a few changes every now and then, as long as the essence of the Mass is the same.  Let the readings be in the vernacular, for example, but not the prayers themselves.  Add new saints as needed, but don't wipe out the whole calendar.  Add more and diverse readings, but only where it will enhance the mass.  In other words, to the casual observer the Mass and the pickup truck should both look the same. If they don't, they are ruined.

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