This week my beloved backpack blower blew a piston and went to Husqvarna hell. I received the news from the repairman over the phone. He was kind enough to not leave it on my voicemail. When I called him back expecting an estimate for the repair he surprised me with the baffling news that it was cheaper to buy a new one than repair the broken one. The husky is my baby and the only legitimate yard tool in my man shed. It was complete overkill for my plot in Shandon. The wife gave it to me for my birthday last year after I complained for 12 consecutive months about the two boring dress slacks she tried to give me the year before. The pants weren't even hemmed and they had gigantic pleats. I'd be more excited about a subscription to Readers Digest. Or a gift certificate to S&S cafeteria taped to a complete box set of Golden Girls DVDs.
Two years later I'm still underwhelmed by the slacks. But that's not the point of this post. I'm still trying to understand how it's cheaper to buy a brand new man-blower than it is to repair one that's not even a year old? Even more perplexing is that the problem was obvious enough to be diagnosed but not worth the trouble to repair. If I knew what a piston was, I'd repair it myself. But small engine repair and anything else that requires a basic knowledge of combustion, friction, gravity, weight, mass, density, acceleration, volcanoes, chemicals, velocity, e=mc², planets, math, numbers, the moon, or magma is not my speciality. I failed physics twice in college. That's right, the same course, twice, in a row. I was failing physics for 7 months of my life, that's depressing.
But that's not the point of this post. How did this happen? When did it become cheaper to manufacture a commercial grade backpack blower than fix one with exactly one broken part that's only a year old? I know that China's making stuff cheap and driving prices down for consumer goods, but I think the problem might also relate to the diminishing pool of knowledgeable,experienced repairmen and women right here. Who do you know that's apprenticing as a plumber, electrician, or auto mechanic right now? Exactly.
What does this mean for the church? I think it's going to be difficult for us to translate the tactile, hands-on narratives of the Bible in a cultural context that is geared for production (and concurrently, consumption) rather than re-production. Taking old things and making them new is a common theme in the scriptures. If it's always cheaper, more efficient, and easier to start over I think the narrative of transformation will eventually require subtitles. The sacred metaphors that once dressed the possibility of re-birth will be tired, out of style, hand-me-downs to us.