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The International Writers Magazine
:
THE THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS OF A BUDDHIST AMONG BAPTISTS
Reverend Father Antonio Hernández, O.M.D., A.B.F.
Founder of the Independent Order of American Buddhist Fathers


BERINGED IN FREEDOM

Some sanctimonious people hereabouts like to needle me about the huge silver rings I sometimes wear on my right annular finger (that's "ring finger" for the unwashed masses). Since I am pretentious enough to use the Western term "bishop" to describe myself, I certainly wear the ring to go with it. Buddhist abbots, at least in Mahayanist practice in the West, wear such rings.

Well, something "more reasonable" has to be told to people around here. They love a good yarn, so I tell them about Prometheus. ProWHO? - they ask. Oh, you know, Greek god, very naughty and unenlightened. He was chained to a huge boulder forever and a day, with a horrid winged creature perpetually pecking out his eternally renewing liver. When he was freed of his sentence, God made him a ring out of a link of the chain that bound him, and set the ring with a sliver of the stone to which he had been chained. A reminder of his past, and a way-sign for his future. Then I say that's why Catholic abbots, bishops, cardinals and the pope wear rings.
People gobble that one right up! Those Greeks - ya gotta love 'em.
Ring lore and history is not easy to find these days. The last book written was Rings Through the Ages by James McCarthy in 1945. McCarthy, a lover of a good subject but no anthropologist, presents a nice history and overview of rings in general. He was not much of a historian, either, but a compelling writer he certainly was. If you can find this book, get it.

My passion for one ring (not to rule them all, just for my right finger) goes back to my toddlerhood. Later, as an anthropologist, I took great pleasure in studying ring lore and design. I studied it for years, and read McCarthy's slender book a thousand times. There is a very fat file in my cabinet that has to do only with ring lore, local and general.
All of us can think of a ring we really love; it makes the ring uniquely universal. Rings have been found going back further than the Indus Valley Culture, and examples have been found that can't even be dated. By the time the Egyptians rolled onto the scene, they were designing rings that surpass the ones we make today.

The ring above all represents the circle of life, the continuous Eternal, the unbreakable love. Media everywhere is happily rife with stories of class rings returned to their owners decades later, and the number of engagement rings returned to happily married elderly couples would put Kinsey to shame. Each of us owns or has owned a ring of vast importance: a wedding ring, religious ring, fraternal ring, keepsake. In my mother's day, folks wore friendship rings that would smack of a homosexual marriage today. They also wore memento rings, for those who had croaked but didn't want to be forgotten.
In my own eternal, unforgettable search for the perfect ring, I have struck paydirt. Titanium is the name of the game, and the Arnell Titanium Workshop, in Seattle and in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, is the one who named the game. Easily accessible at <www.titaniumcommitment.com>, Arnell has dynamite prices for their "off-the-rack" designs. They are equally accommodating in designing rings for the impeccably implacable.

Arnell's vivacious Hungarian service rep, Zoltan, is a joy to talk to. He avidly assists, and conveys the facts about designs Arnell offers. These, according to Arnell, are designed by the owners, Roy Arnell and Frederique Sinturet. These two wizards do web design, marketing, etc., and many talented artisans do the handicraft there at the studio. Having done Ed Harris' wedding ring for the film "The Abyss", Arnell offers a repro of the ring at a very good price.
Discovered long before anyone realizes, titanium (originally recognized as a "calc") is one of the most richly common ores on earth. We have enough, experts say, to last us 10,000 years or more. It is mightier and far less corrosive than any steel (but it will dissolve in nitrate, the only metal having that particular Achilles' Heel). It is extremely light, but has an almost creamy, unearthly smooth density that is difficult to describe - a bit like Jamaican black cake.

For me, the quest was simple: I needed a plain white-metal ring, to signify the establishment of a new religious order. Stumbling on the best priced titanium rings I'd ever seen, at Arnell's Titanium workshop, made me finally decide to buy one. I am not sorry I did, and I'm even happier that I procrastinated. My new religious order has just what it needs, and I can keep the Buddhist vow of not touching precious metals. Titanium, though priced like one thanks to NASA hogging all of it for decades, is not a precious metal. But it certainly should be.

And Arnell's Titanium Workshop, for the discriminating ring-lover, is that most precious of businesses, like the most precious of rings: exactly the right one.
April 2005

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