Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Dirt Church

Chestnut Ridge - Winter

Chestnut Ridge - Spring
Chestnut Ridge - Summer
Chestnut Ridge - Fall
The pictures above were taken in roughly the same spot at my favorite mountain bike trail.  The trail is at Chestnut Ridge Metro Park and this particular spot is at the top of the hardest climb - the "Apple Barn Climb."

Because it's at the top of a large climb and because there are some pretty good vistas from there, it is a pretty popular rest stop on the trail.  And because I'm fat and out of shape, I frequently stop there.

I love the trail.  See, I have a stressful life.  I have recently moved from big city of Boston to a small southern town, after the death of my mother.  The local preacher and town council have banned teenage dancing and loud music.  But, I need to relieve my stress and anger, so I have stood up to the preacher, and danced at the local drive-in movie theater.

Oh, wait, that wasn't me.  That's the plot of Footloose.  I get confused sometimes.

I'm pretty sure this is a picture of me
Kevin Bacon during the same time period
But back to the matter at hand.  Karl Marx is attributed with the quote "Religion is the opium of the people."  I'm pretty sure he's wrong.  I think opium is the opium of the people.  Or maybe it's crystal meth.   

A typical "religion den" from Marx's time

But, I think I know what he meant.

Whatever makes you feel that way is your opium - your escape.  For Marx, the idea was that the peasant's time in church was an escape.  In church, the senses were exalted and the spirit lifted, parishioners were surrounded by the beauty of the church - the symbols, paintings, and stained glass.  The drudgery of life was lifted for a little while, and one could lose one's self in the feeling of connectedness to something bigger than the self.

Of course, Marx was also kinda judgy about the whole "religion thing."  But that's not what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about the escape.

It's like Walter White said in Breaking Bad: "I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And, I was really... I was alive"

Chestnut Ridge is my Dirt Church.  For a little while, as I'm rolling along in the dust, I am connected with something bigger than myself.  The troubles of the day float away.  And, when it's really good, I'm not aware of the bike anymore, or my own hands and feet.  There's just movement through the world.  And what a world!

People make fun of Ohio mountain bikers - there's no mountains here, the soil is wet and loamy, it's cold for half the year.  But I see it differently. 

If anybody's looking for me today, I'll be in church.  Come worship with me!

Your beer pairing today:

Elevator Big Vic

An imperial IPA with 8.6% alcohol.  It's named after Elevator's brewer Vic Schlitz who, given his name, had no choice to become a brewer.  And he's a good one.  How the hell they stuffed 8.6% in this smooth, wheaty IPA is beyond me.  But I thank him.

Maybe beer is the opium of the people. 

Be brave.  Just do it in church.  I love you!

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