And the Answer Is…
I have it all figured out. The answer is: gargoyles. The question is related to how the fine folks at Righteous Rides can fix all of the little holes in the roof. If you paid any attention to my previous missive (Hey, some people do….) you may recall that I mentioned there was a bit of a leaky roof problem at RRHQ.
It was in evidence recently when the various hub coordinators from all over the country came into town for a training/encouragement get-together. It rained. The buckets were brought out. Business was conducted. At least they didn’t have to break out into smaller groups for a water polo tournament (although I doubt we could have rounded up enough horses to go around…) But we definitely have a leaky roof issue. So how do we fix it?
We could, of course, just grin and bear it. That’s an acceptable attitude for an organization dedicated to helping out missionaries. Many of those brave souls have it a lot tougher out in the field than we do, so a little extra water here and there isn’t so bad. The next time a weather front comes through, just drag the Crocs out of the back of your closet, grab an umbrella and join us in the break room for an impromptu rendition of “Our God Rains…err, Reigns.” (Side note to the high muckety-mucks: you used to have a jet ski parked where Van #1 now resides. Can we get that back?)
No, the engineering-types that run Righteous Rides are all about efficiency, proper procedure, and other scary mathy-sciencey factual-type things. So we can’t just leave the problem unsolved to come back and bite us in the hindquarters at some future date. The smart play is to fix the roof.
I am told that we could take an approach where we patch things up short-term (somewhat expensive and very time-consuming) or find a more permanent fix (much more expensive, but we let the professionals deal with it.) I’m thinking the second choice would be preferred. I can’t imagine there would be a long line of folks waiting to volunteer to slop tar up top every year or so…and for some of us, the only things we know about tarred roofs is how to fall off of them.
So, I put my considerable intellect to the problem. (I’m not bragging. I have it on reliable authority that many people regularly consider my intellect…) As I mentioned, I do have a solution. I’m just having a bit of trouble getting in to see the Grand Poohbahs to discuss it. Strangely enough, they never seem to be around whenever I stop by. I pull into the parking lot, hear the intercom announce: “Code P!” and nobody seems to know where they went. So, I thought I’d just bypass them and speak directly to you. I’m reasonably certain they’ll be just as excited with my plan as I am.
I had the gargoyle thought because those critters are most often found on old roofs. And old roofs are on a lot of people’s minds nowadays. Many of you may have watched not long ago with horrid fascination as the top of Notre-Dame de Paris went up in flames. Let’s face it, major damage to a world-famous landmark is a pretty big deal…no matter how one feels about Victor Hugo (You don’t have to be a whiz on Jeopardy! to know what book he wrote, but I’ll give you a hint: Disney made a musical about it and many, many professional singers auditioning for the role of Clopin severely injured themselves trying to hit that High D on the theme song.) Yes, THAT Notre Dame.
Anyway, everybody’s talking about repairs, wondering how much it will cost, and how much time it will take. The answer? Probably a lot. One bit of heartening news was that a number of people immediately came forward and pledged ridiculous amounts of money to repair the damage. Sadly, we all suspect things will be tied up for another 850 years while bureaucrats bicker (apparently some are concerned that the repaired cathedral will be too “church-y” … but that’s a discussion for another day.) That did get me thinking, however, about the Righteous Rides roof problem.
Now, understand that I can’t really equate a former auto dealership built in the early 2000’s with a medieval cathedral from the 1100’s. As it stands, it’s not much of a competition.
We don’t generally average 12 million visitors each year. Hardly anybody is ever seen dabbing for a selfie out front. On the plus side, nobody at Righteous Rides will give you the French version of the “stink-eye” if you use flash photography. I’m pretty sure the French invented “regard noir…”
Last time we checked, we didn’t have an overly large stash of historical works of fine art and/or sacred artifacts. Fred is rumored to have a few rare hubcaps he’s rather fond of squirreled away somewhere in the back of the shop. Renee and the rest of the goody-bag ladies may also have some donated items that would qualify as “relics.” (Shame on whoever dropped off that box full of parachute pants…) But there are no crypts filled with the bones of ancient saints buried under the hydraulic lifts in the shop. (As far as we know…but if somebody stumbles across a secret trap door leading to some catacombs, don’t look at me. I’m not going down there. I don’t even like cats…)
We don’t have a 13th-century organ. We have a few folks around who can speak at length about old organs and the cost of repairing them, but I suspect we’re not talking about the same thing…
Sadly, Righteous Rides HQ is not exactly a major work of architectural significance. No majestic ribbed vaults or awe-inspiring rose windows. We can’t even get the boys in the shop to stop giggling whenever somebody mentions a “flying buttress.”
But it could be.
Form vs Function
It’s really the classic “form vs. function” argument. A long time ago some folks decided that “form” was what was important. In order to honor God, we should put forth our highest artistic efforts. God deserves nothing less than our very best. That way of thinking is still around. Some folks are concerned that $400 million won’t be enough to restore Notre Dame to its former glory. I honestly don’t know what it would cost to put back up a lead-covered wooden roof that closely matches the original. I only suspect that the European version of the Environmental Protection Agency is going to have a whatever the French term is for “conniption fit” over all that lead.
Righteous Rides is admittedly more of a “function” approach. We want to serve missionaries, who are out in the far corners of the world serving God and their fellow man. Quite a bit of church planting. Fancy cathedral planting? Not so much.
For Righteous Rides it’s not about glory, former or otherwise. Just a never-ending need for more vans. We’re in the 140’s. Somebody better at math figures we need closer to 700 or so just to meet all the requests. And we need to do something about the roof.
Back to Gargoyles
That’s where we get to the gargoyle part. We hire an expert in French Gothic. There’s got to be a few Art History majors starving to death out there somewhere. Stick up a bell tower or two (but skip the lead roof.) I don’t think we actually have to pour boiling oil on some revolting peasants. (insert the classic joke here. You know the one…) But opening a gift shop would be a must, to capitalize on the millions of tourists who surely would be stopping by to see who would be crazy enough to build a cathedral out in the middle of Warren County. And add lots of gargoyles. Who doesn’t love a gargoyle? If you believe the Disney folks, they may be ugly, but they sing and dance, and deliver snappy one-liners. I’m betting there’s somebody out there just waiting to cut a fat check to save some snarky gargoyles.
Admittedly, my grand plan does sound a wee bit convoluted and time-consuming. Perhaps some folks could just cut a few not-so-fat checks to help out with fixing the roof. Pretty sure we don’t need $400 million. That way the Righteous Rides folks could get back to concentrating on doing what they do best: maintaining and growing the fleet of vans and figuring out more ways to help missionaries on furlough. Focus on the function and leave the form to others. If you could help out, we’d appreciate it. Maybe Fred would even show you some of his hubcaps…