Ask An Uptight Seattleite

Questions about God and leaf blowers.

Dear Uptight Seattleite,

I accept that Seattle is more of a yoga town than a church town, but why are people so antireligion here? I'm a Methodist, and I feel like I have to hide my faith from my neighbors and co-workers. I may see their shapeless, feel-good brand of "spirituality" as trivial and self-indulgent, but I have manners enough to shut up about it. They, on the other hand, feel no compunction at all about blathering on about "organized religion," which in their minds is a monolithic force for the oppression of their precious individualism. Which, as far as I can tell, is hardly worth oppressing anyway.

Closeted Christian

Dear Closeted,

Have you ever read Joseph Campbell? The Hero With a Thousand Faces and all that? I haven't read him, either, but I saw him on TV with Bill Moyers, and he pretty much said all there is to say about religion. I got the entire DVD at the Channel 9 Store. You can think of God as a mountain with many paths, but only one summit. Each man and woman may attain the summit in his or her own way. There are big paved roads, which are the popular religions of the world, and rocky side paths that an individual may find for herself or himself. All are legitimate ways to find God—or however you prefer to refer to any higher power that you choose to believe in or not believe in. As is your right. If you choose to exercise it. Or not.

Of course, you don't have to climb the mountain at all. You can gaze at it from a distance, or take a picture of it with the digital camera of your spirit. Sometimes, in the visualization/meditation portion of my yoga class, I think of the mountain as a kind of theme park. A warm place with pretty lights, where I can choose to just sit on a bench and watch the people go by, or stroll over to ride the Ferris wheel. I guess I can understand it if you feel the need to be part of a group that is all about "rules" and "tradition," but I'm on more of a vision quest kind of thing. It's my own personal Zen, with a little bit of Tao karma, if you know what I mean. But then again, I'm a Sagittarius.

Dear Uptight Seattleite,

I recently moved to Seattle from a horrible suburban wasteland, so I'm happy to be in this enlightened oasis. But I've learned that Seattle has its flaws. Specifically, leaf blowers. They've been banned by many progressive communities for their horrible noise and air pollution, but Seattle permits their use as if they were a harmless recreational drug. I sent my neighbors a note explaining the evils of these machines and constructively reassured them that brooms can work just as well. A week has gone by and these leaf blowers are still in use. Please provide some guidance on my next steps.

Living La Vida Tranquila

Dear Living,

Are you sure you just moved here? You are like a true Seattleite in your talent for issuing friendly reminders and in your laudable urge to improve other people's behavior. But I hope you don't mind if I point out that you show yourself to be a beginner in your lack of understanding of some very basic things.

This is going to be hard for you to grasp, but it's actually OK for us to do some things that may seem to sort of—what's the word?—"contradict" our progressive beliefs. How can I make this clear to an outsider? I guess you could imagine a kind of invisible magic cone hanging over these things. These things that we're entitled to do because we really, really want to. A Cone of Entitlement. Leaf blowers are covered by the Cone of Entitlement, as is producing as much wood smoke in our brick fireplaces as we want and eating endangered forms of sea life. We are good people, and what we do is therefore good.

Maybe I need to make this a little more clear: Stay the fuck away from my leaf blower. OK? And my granite countertops, my perfect gleaming pyramids of produce, my petroleum-based Gore-Tex clothing, and my slug poison draining into the gutter. Don't mess with my dog's right to foul the beaches of Lake Washington, or my right to discard as many cell phones, MP3 players, and iMacs as I want, and to water my herb garden all summer, every summer. Just back the fuck off. Got it?

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