Saturday, March 31, 2007

To Be Or Not To Be

If you are reading this hoping for Shakespeare, sorry. I am not feeling that literate today. I am thinking about fads - those things whose mention is followed by "Thank God that is over." You know what I am talking about - excessive blue eye shadow, disco, pet rocks, streakers, "Baby On Board" signs, beanie babies, dashboard hula dancers, Furby. Aren't you glad that these things are history? Fads are things that seemed like a good idea at the time but in hind sight it is patently obvious that they weren't.

Then there are the things that disappeared only to return again - Care Bears, platform shoes, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. What makes anyone think that what was not such a good idea 10 or 20 years ago is a good idea now? Besides, it makes me feel really old to see them come back again.

I am waiting impatiently for some of today's fads to disappear. And, I will do my part to make sure that they never have a second chance. Do we ever want to see low rise jeans and reality TV again?

Why bring this all up today? Two seemingly unrelated things happened today that made me think about the life expectancy of those things that fall into the category of "fad".

It has been ten years since BK and I wrote and published the first edition of Holding Your Prayers In Your Hands. At that time, our spiritual director said to us, "You know that this Anglican rosary thing is just a fad and will probably not last." What is the proper response to such a statement? The Catholic rosary has been around for 600 years; maybe we will be as lucky? All we could say was that that was a risk that we were willing to take. I am happy to say that he was wrong.

Ten years later, the books are still selling. The only advertising we have ever done is by word of mouth and we sell roughly 100 books per month. Some of those sales are to bookstores who are repeat customers. Others are to individuals who are just discovering the Anglican rosary as a personal prayer tool.

We had a phone call yesterday from a man here in Denton who was interested in the book. Sparing many of the conversation's details here, the upshot was that we met him for coffee this afternoon. The enthusiasm with which he met us and our book was evidence that the interest in the Anglican rosary is still alive and fresh. We had a wonderful conversation about the book, the Episcopal Church, the spiritual life, and a mutual interest in St. Francis. As it turns out, our sharing culminated with this person saying that he has been researching the Third Order of the Society of St. Francis and he wanted to know if we knew anyone involved with this group. One would have to be blind to not see God's hand in bringing us together this afternoon. And it was all made possible through our book, the potential fad.

The other thing that happened that furthered my thinking on fads was the result of a trip to the sewing machine shop. (No, I am not going back to making my children's clothing like my mother did!) BK and I went to pick up our machines that were being serviced. We were about to leave when we saw what looked to be needle felting on a work table. No knitter will resist the urge to comment on seeing a hunk of roving and the accompanying felted project. Innocently we asked the woman working who was doing the needle felting. She got all excited and said that "that machine right there does it." Machine? Why does one need a machine? You can go to Hobby Lobby and buy all of the necessary implements, none of which is a machine. Okay, I'll bite. "How much does this machine cost?" $349. "Three hundred and forty-nine dollars?!" You can buy the materials to needle felt by hand for about $25 and have the satisfaction of beating the heck out of the fiber yourself. Why would anyone buy said machine? Here is where the fad thing comes in again.

We all know that needle felting is a "craze". You got it; that translates to fad. Once the fad is over, what do you do with this machine? Maybe it will earn a place in a museum next to 8 track tape players, rotary telephones, and televisions with picture tubes.

I will continue, as long as it is cool, to needle felt by hand saving myself more than $300 by not buying the Needle Felting Machine. Plus, I will enjoy the therapeutic value of pushing all those needles into the wool as a means of releasing tension. As for our book, we will relish in the satisfaction given us by "the fad" as long as it is to be.