Posted by: Mark Nielsen | August 6, 2009

Speed Racer in a Monk’s Cowl

Most of my writing energy this week has gone into preparation of a guest sermon I’m giving at church this Sunday. It’s partly on a book called Death by Suburb, by David Goetz. My main theme is envy, and how to stay out of the trap of comparing oneself to others. But I also managed to drag in the Seven Deadly Sins, St. Francis, first graders on the playground, and evil alien accountants.

As research, I walked the dog today in one of the toniest suburbs in America: Winnetka, IL –site of some of those Brat Pack/John Hughes movies of the Eighties, like The Breakfast Club (I drove right past that school on the way over there).

There’s a certain ravine there that Sheridan Road runs right through, and the road twists and turns sharply through woods for less than a quarter mile. Yet it’s the only spot for hundreds of miles that even remotely resembles the dozens of steep, fun switchback roads we were driving on in Italy last month. So Winnetka will have to do in a pinch, when I wanna play Speed Racer in my boring four-cylinder automatic Pontiac Vibe that my neighbor says feels like driving a toaster. (I drove a rented BMW manual 6-speed in Italy, not a high end model, but a more interesting car nevertheless.)

And as I drove and then walked through Winnetka, rubbernecking the fine architecture and carefully groomed gardens, I realized that while I’m no longer as envious as I once was of these people in their lakefront castles, I’m not entirely over it either. I want to be both a monk AND a millionaire. As usual, I want to have my cake and eat it, too.

Maybe next week I’ll post some or all of the sermon.


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