Carpet Rebuttal

In reading Walter Jowers informative Helter Shelter piece on the virtues of wood flooring [Mar 21], I'm thinking that he barely touched on two of the main reasons that folks choose pre-finished hardwood floors over the unfinished. No sanding and no finishing.

Sanding and finishing your own floor might seem like a reasonably straightforward homeowner project - Who wouldn't want to save a little money and have the satisfaction of doing it his/herself? But for the uninitiated, wielding a floor sander is a physically punishing, humbling experience that more often than not sends one running to their local wall-to-wall carpet dealer to cover up and otherwise banish all memories of their horribly gouged floor.

Those that survive the sanding ordeal, then concentrate on removing the incredible amounts of dust that are now in every crevice of their home. Note: any latent dust is incompatible with the ultimately desired lustre.

Then comes the finishing. That's when you lovingly slather your floor with petroleum distillates, long-chain polymers and a host of other known carcinogens and toxins. Please safeguard the cerebral cortex of any resident life forms: send pets to the kennel and pitch a tent out back for the kids.

I'm a wood-lover myself, but I would not recommend that anyone finish their own wood floors. Leave it to the professionals (they've already committed their nervous systems to the cause,) or go with the simple and easy pre-finished. Incidentally, most of the pre-finished woods today are high performance aluminum-oxide coated, not urethane.

Insider's note:

Shag carpeting is making a triumphant return to the vanguard of home fashion.

Jeff McDanald

[who discloses that he works in the flooring industry]

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Mass AppeaL

Four legs good; two legs bad.

-George Orwell

aster means different things to me now than it did as a child.

For one thing, I don't have a new dress, hat, or purse (though I did make a valiant effort to steal the little satin number trimmed in pink feathers belonging to my dear friend, Lucy, who's four).

In fact, I attend mass on Saturday evening, where if my t-shirt does not have writing on it, I am spectacularly overdressed. (I will, as usual, refuse to hold hands with anybody during "Our Father." I will also refuse to sing - out of respect and kindness towards my fellow parishioners.)

I am not much of a proselytizer, certainly not the least bit evangelical, and generally prefer, in worship (as in almost all things), to be left quietly alone, and to afford others the same respect. And I don't mean that in a harsh way. I simply mean I am not there to socialize, to network, to pick up single men, or to survey the catwalk. Instead, I see it as a rare weekly opportunity for reflective thought, meditation, and yes, worship.

I particularly try to observe Lent as the penitent season, and I'm more aware of making an effort to right the wrongs I've done (though the list is long) at this time of year.

As a child, Easter was all about the aforementioned wardrobe, the egg hunts (and prizes), chocolate bunnies, the considerable culinary virtues of ham over turkey, and most importantly-the baby animals that my Uncle Don always gave us to celebrate Easter (we lived on a farm, so I don't recommend you try this at home) - chicks, ducks, lambs, bunnies, kid goats, and piglets (which probably went on to turn up as the next year's main course for all I knew).

As an adult, I find myself falling into the same pattern of looking at this as a holiday primarily for children - shopping for Easter baskets and hiding eggs for the kids in my life.

They're not old enough to give a lot of thought to resurrection, and this Sunday will be roughly as religiously significant to them as Halloween, which is to say that it's mostly about the candy and the outfit.

There is (or should be) a big difference between 3 and 36 though, and I think religion - and its world role - is profoundly on the minds of many adults these days, this year, more than any other.

I found myself contemplating theology as I read over this week's cover story: chronicling an academic who's infamous for his conclusions that Jesus Christ's body (like all mortal bodies, according to him) rotted in the grave.

I assume his theories won't come as news to anybody who's been to a liberal arts college with a religion or philosophy program. They've been around for years (as the article points out), but his bald drama in presenting them has earned him probable academic suicide - which is where the story's interest lies for me.

Academia and research should be about an all-out quest for truth and knowledge, and the classroom is not a pulpit (unless you go to Bible College, where it's thoroughly appropriate). I don't think professors make good preachers, and I learned very early on in my teaching career that religion could be a polarizing, hate-mongering topic in my own classroom.

It wasn't like that where I went to college (one of Presbyterian origin) - where the subject was treated to lively and enlightened discourse.

As far as I remember, one of my professors was Episcopalian, another a Presbyterian minister, and another a "non-theist" (like the cover subject).

From all I could tell, their academic study and historicism (one's also an archaeologist), left their faith (both for and against) largely unshaken.

Growing up, I attended 12 years of parochial school with nuns and priests who (contrary to stereotype) were (mercifully) neither fundamentalists, nor literalists. For example, they had no theological quandaries when it came to reconciling Darwin and evolution with our Biology curriculum. We were taught that Darwin and matters of faith were not mutually exclusive, and that the Bible was open to both allegory and interpretation.

(And it's a safe bet that there's somebody reading this right now who's consigning them to hell and damnation for their heretical open-mindedness.)

Because of these many, many mentors, I didn't grow up associating religion with ignorance, or an intolerance for ideas. I remember the words of one priest who told us frankly, "a strong faith doubts and questions." Religion wasn't rammed down my throat, so perhaps that's why I never saw it as something to rebel against. I still don't.

Someone I dated last year said that he viewed Christianity as a pleasant fairy tale for children. While respecting (and defending to the death) his right to believe that, I think I stepped slightly to the left in possible anticipation of a retributory lightning bolt..

While well aware of the Church's (and churches') many, many flaws (patriarchy, rabid swings to the right, and an array of horrifying tenets), I don't believe that Religion is a refuge for idiots, the proverbial "opiate of the masses."

I don't believe in fairy tales, but I do believe in miracles. I believe just as devoutly in the absolute unquestioned fallibility of Man (from prophets to scribes to the best of us and the rest of us). And yet I believe in things that can't be explained. In things both seen and unseen.

And like my teachers, I believe there's strength to be had both in doubt and questions.