The Roseanne Effect
I’ve got my quirks. A couple years ago I was tagged in one of those blog games to list weird things about yourself. One of the things that I mentioned was that I wouldn’t wear anything that proclaimed “Army” while running when I wasn’t at the level that I thought I should be at because I didn’t want to disgrace the service. When I was on active duty, in order to get promoted from Specialist to Sergeant one of the things you had to do was appear before a board of Command Sergeants Major. They’d rake you over the coals and then grant you a certain number of points. Depending on how many points you received you were either given the nod to proceed in the next round of (what seemed to me) arcane steps on the path to promotion or you were sent home, tail between your legs.
The personal appearance board and the points system seemed stupid to me. Either I could (and did) do the job on a regular basis or I couldn’t. If I was a professional, squared away soldier, capable of accomplishing my mission, promote me. If not, kick me to the curb. But test my proficiency, not my ability to withstand 30 minutes of stupid questions. So for years I refused to go to the promotion board, which annoyed my Dad to no end. He’d point out on a regular basis that my stubbornness was only hurting myself, the Army wasn’t changing it’s policies. But damnit, I was a man of perverse principles so I wasn’t changing either. As usual, there were many truths in that situation. That was one of them. Another truth, in hindsight, was probably fear of the board and failure. Not germane to the story, but eventually I had to appear before a board for the soldier of the year competition, realized it wasn’t that painful, got my ass kicked by my Brigade CSM for winning that competition for the company but not being in a promotable status and within weeks went to the promotion board.
Anyways, that’s how my mind works. I’ve got some weird rationale behind a lot of my positions and actions. When I first moved to Denver there was a local Catholic radio station and between the station and some sermons I heard, I got the impression that the local diocese was incredibly intolerant and an exclusive community that in good conscience I couldn’t be a part of. I also felt that as an introvert, I could commune with God on my own, out in nature or on a long motorcycle ride or falling asleep in bed just as well as I could in an uncomfortable church so I left. The funny part was as I kept getting mobilized back to active duty and deployed to war, I kept wanting to rejoin the church. But in my head I couldn’t. I’d made a decision to walk out when times were good, I couldn’t return just because they were challenging and I was scared. I’d made my bed, I had to lie in it.
I love to watch sitcom reruns to wind down before I head off to bed. Shows like Cheers that I watched as a kid and know most of the lines to always make me happy, it’s like seeing old friends. I can shut my brain off, enjoy catching up with them, laugh and de-stress. Most of the shows look/feel the same, but one that’s different is Roseanne. I liked it as a kid, but as an adult I can relate to the show on a whole new level. Not just the humor, but the reality of the stressful situations they faced as adults now feels familiar because I’ve been through a lot of them and I now have a better, deeper appreciation for the humor of the situations they find themselves in.
Good times are here again. And as such, it’s okay by my weird code for me to dip my toe back into the pool of the Catholic church in town. It’s been hit or miss. The church that’s just a couple blocks away has become packed from the last time I was there. In their times of needs, local families flocked back to the church over the last couple of years. The packed pews and aisles are more than I could handle. Other churches in the neighborhood have service times that were inconvenient, traces of the old regime’s intolerant teachings, have gotten really progressive and flamboyant in attempts to draw crowds, and still others have issues with over crowding or touchy-feely congregations that love to hug at every opportunity. Eventually I found an older church with older patrons. Quiet folk who just like to come, worship, and go home. They’ll interact with you if you’re open with them, they’ll leave you alone if you’re not. Traditional in songs, worship styles, and sermons. Just my kind of place.
While I’m disappointed in myself for the gap in practice and I realize that there are probably many “truths” to why it occurred, I’m also thankful for it. The Catholic church, especially traditional ones like this, tend to lead to rote memory. The same readings and sermons tend to cycle around and I sit there in the congregation and tune them out after awhile, start to day dream and get spring fever. The gap has caused a little disconnect, caused me to sit up straight and focus on the sermon more (meds probably help as well!) and I’m getting the “Roseanne” effect. I’m experiencing the sermons on a different level as an adult. Hearing new messages and learning more and having more take-aways that keep me up at night, questioning my life choices, challenging me to do better, to be better.