Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Faith and the elevator button

The up button for the elevator at work has burnt out. I hit it, nothing lit up, so I hit it again. Even though the logical part of my brain knew that the signal had been activated, I was still unsettled. I doubted whether or not the elevator would come, and debated taking the stairs instead. After a nervous minute, the bell dinged and the elevator doors opened. Was the button really working, or was this merely a coincidence?

In life, I tend to write off prayers being answered as coincidences (the Angry Mormon also has a recent post about this). Are they, or is the elevator button just burnt out?
Sometimes it really is just a coincidence. Other times you wait so long that you are certain the elevator is not even moving.
Sometimes I am ashamed I don't have the same faith in God as I do in the elevator.


Capt Jack said...

"Sometimes I am ashamed I don't have the same faith in God as I do in the elevator."

You shouldn't be. You can see the elevator, when you push a button it takes you where you want to go,
you don't need elaborate ritual to engage it, and when it isn't working some kind soul usually lets you know by hanging a sign. No such luck with the man upstairs.

As an answer to an earlier thread regarding Juanita Fulana, the movie she saw was probably the Spanish version of Avenging Angel. I was in Argentina in 1998 on business and some of my old friends saw the movie too, and it brought up the whole topic of polygamy in 19th century Utah.

So you like El Juguete Rabioso? You're the only yanqui ex-missionary I know of who even knows who Roberto Arlt is much less likes his work. His Aguasfuerte Portenas is great; Los Siete Locos and Los Lanzallamas are OK.

Capt Jack said...

Should read Aguafuertes Porten~as.

que boludo que soy.

NFlanders said...

Sorry Michael, I didn't see your comment on the Juanita Fulano thread (I don't go back and check the comments as often as I should).

Thanks for the info on The Avenging Angel. That sounds about right. I've been wondering about that movie for eight years now.

After my mission, I wanted to read all the books I had heard about. I took a couple of Spanish literature courses in college, but Arlt was the only one who seemed to write in the same language that I learned in Argentina.
Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to check out any other books by him yet. I think I have Los Siete Locos at home but only in English. (It can be difficult to locate books in Spanish that aren't by Garcia-Marquez or Allende). Aren't the Aguasfuerte PorteƱas columns he did for a newspaper?

So, did you also serve in Argentina or do you go on business?

Capt Jack said...

Both--I was a missionary there as well as traveling there after.

Aguafuertes is a collection of newspaper columns.

I suggest an author named Carlos Gamerro--the book Los Bustos de Eva as well as El Secreto y las Voces. You might try Osvaldo Soriano Triste, Solitario, y Final as well as No Habra Mas Penas ni Olvido.

Another really good book I just finished is Una Vez Argentina, by Andres Neumann. There are a couple of good bookstores in Argentina that ship very quickly; let me know if you want the names and I'll get them to you.

NFlanders said...

I'd be much obliged if you could tell me the names of the bookstores. I think I've gotten just about everything I can from the Borders Spanish language section (it's not bad though; they have plenty of Quiroga, Borges, and even the occasional Bioy Casares).
You can email me at if that's easier.

Capt Jack said...

No problem.

Libereria Santa Fe has a site in English and one in Spanish. The site in English offers free shipping for orders of $25, but charges more for the books. The site in Spanish charges for shipping but less for the books. In the end, it all pretty much works out.



The following was actually my favorite store, but they might have closed down. Try their website next week, they might be back up.

Another good one is

A-1 books on ebay has some good Spanish titles. I bought the biography of Augusto Pinochet (Yo Augusto) from them for cheap. There is a seller on ebay who goes by the name tristealegria--I've had good luck buying books from him, although he is a bit more expensive.

Finally, try alibris. Sometimes you can find good used Spanish books here in the US.

Don't buy any Spanish books from FJ books out of Miami. I have never been able to get anything from them at all, and they are slow to refund.

NFlanders said...

By the way, Capt. Jack, which mission did you serve in?

Capt Jack said...

BA North.

NFlanders said...

Was that before they made BA West?
That is where I was.

Capt Jack said...

Before--the mission when I was there went from Mercedes in the west to Zarate in the north with the entirety of the then Capital Federal. We also had three cities in Mendoza along with the city of Gualeguaychu in Entre Rios. I spent time in Pacheco, Belgrano, Villa Amelia, Mendoza and La Boca.

NFlanders said...

Wow. The mission was huge back then. Unfortunately, I was never in any of your old areas, so I guess we can't talk about the members. Oh well.

Capt Jack said...

Most of the missionaries were concentrated just west of the city in the partidos La Matanza, Merlo, Tres de Febrero, and Moron or north of the city in the partidos San Martin and Tigre. There were a fair amount in the capital but they really didn't baptize as many as those in the province did.

The unfortunates stuck in Mercedes and Zarate were out there on their own for the most part.
I have no idea why they gave that strip of Mendoza to BAN or why Gualeguaychu belonged to us. There were rumors but I don't put much stock in them.

NFlanders said...

What were the rumors? I can't imagine what a rumor about mission boundaries would be like.

It seems like BAW got a lot of BAN: La Matanza, Merlo, Moron, Moreno, and half of Tres de Febrero. We also had Mercedes, but as it was accessible by train, didn't really count as "campo."

The missionaries out in Chivilcoy, Junin and Bragado might as well have been in a different mission, for all we saw of them.

Capt Jack said...

The rumor was the missionaries from the Rosario mission, who lived in the house that doubled as the chapel, used to sleep late on Sundays. The doors would stay locked, with the members standing out on the sidewalk waiting to get in. The also, allegedly, sold some of the stuff from the house: the keyboard which nobody could play anyway, furniture, stuff like that.

As far as Mendoza, the area had great fly fishing and an earlier president loved to fish. The "official" reason was that you could fly from BA to San Rafael, the biggest of the two cities, quicker than you could travel from the HQ of the Cordoba mission, the mission that then controlled Mendoza. But missionaries went by bus anyway, so it didn't make any sense at all.

I loved Mendoza because nobody came around to bother me.