Food and Drink

The Drawback of Preventive Medicine

One may never know if Aspirin Therapy kept heart disease away if prescribed as preventive prior to any heart episode. And, . . .  Read More

Cafe con Leche … When In Barcelona

I guess I have grown up. Nearly 20 years ago I was told when I grew up I would drink coffee. I grew up around coffee so it was not a lack of exposure. I took a sip here and there but the bitterness did not work for me. Caffeine was not the problem. I preferred mine cold and sweet. Sometimes I wondered if it were the residual grounds present at the bottom of the cup using older model coffee “percolators.” The advent of automatic drip with the finer filters did not entice me so I gave up on that idea.

Whatever the case, I guess I have grown up. That’s right, this past week I followed the maxim, “When in Spain do as the Spaniards.” Yes that was an adaptation for those who learned it, “When in Rome … .” Every day I found an occasion to enjoy a “cafe con leche.” Mix in a little sugar and I could have had several cups a day – and did.

What drove the decision? Spending a few days with people given to giving up their own cultural connections to incarnate Jesus in another culture spurred my imagination. We often think of hospitality in terms of how we welcome others. Sometimes hospitality turns on the way in which we respond to those who invite us in.

I recall a trip to Burma a number of years ago. We sat down for an evening meal. Our hosts were wonderful people. They set a meal before us that included “chicken.” I love fried chicken. Not one piece looked vaguely familiar to the “pieces” I had grown up enjoying. We took in a very good meal but could have easily offended our hosts by suggesting we would not even try what lie on the plate.

We entered a cafe in Barcelona. It would have been easy ordering a “coke light” and continuing to shun coffee. However, it seemed right to do what the vast majority do when sharing time together in this great city. With a cafe on nearly every corner – I think it was my brother to referred to Barcelona as one large shopping center – it seemed most everyone connected with others over a cup of coffee. Were we to share time with people from Barcelona it seemed coffee should not be a barrier. Whether or not this new habit will continue remains to be seen. But, when in Spain it just seemed right to enjoy the coffee as the locals did.

Hospitality works both directions. Hoping to expose people to an hospitable God may well be communicated in how well we respond to the hospitality of others.

“With My Money I Have a Voice.”

â??No one will ever listen to me.â? â??My vote does not matter.â? Considering the political season and the decision to vote for President of the United States left me wondering what effect our vote, more specifically â??myâ? vote, will have. It stands to reason many people think this way and so voter turnout is not close to representative of the overall population. If it represents anything, it illustrates despondency often ruinous to healthy change.

Giving up is not in an â??achieverâ??sâ? vocabulary. We must be able to make a difference. The size of the difference does not matter. So I have some ideas that began germinating hearing Scott talk about the current moves made with One Village Coffee.

Scott made the comment, â??With my money I have a voice.â? In the context of a church setting the implication is often understood as a means to exert power or influence. Ron Fannin used to say people vote with their hand, their heart and their pocket book. Often people vote with their hand and not their pocketbook ; which is a â??noâ? vote. In this way the statement Scott made would be viewed negatively.

We often do not think about what we do with our money. Scott talked of Hives for Lives. He noted he would pay more knowing his money was going to help others. With his money, he has a voice.

If you have not clicked on the link to One Village Coffee, do so and learn of the ways these young mission minded entepreneurs hope to influence communities to collaborate for the good of the world. Scott reported today that his father uncovered a small village in another Country needing to find avenues for their coffee bean crop. Connecting this small group to those who would buy will go a long way to bringing a more sustainable living context for these villagers.
In church how we spend our money on things such as plates and coffee and in the process illustrate who we speak for. Adam noted that his young church plant took Scott’s story to heart and stopped buying paper or Styrofoam cups and instead will be using coffee cups – real coffee cups. Realizing the effect we have with the consumption of paper products, this young church is using its voice.

Too often churches slip into the role of consumer thinking what they buy really only effects the given church. Scott’s statement and the work of companies like One Village Coffee and Hives for Lives should spur us all to consider what our money says about our values.

Consumers Make Friday Black for More Than Retailers

The fliers came in the paper yesterday offering the endless possibilities for any and all to help retailers improve their bottom line. In today’s paper an AP article noted how we consumers will also help plumbers to profits. From the article,

Clogged drains from plenty of grease are a problem as soon as holiday season starts, but the day after Thanksgiving is one of the plumber’s busiest. (a copy of the article is here)

This is not a call to avoid meals on Thanksgiving. And, certainly a little common sense when it comes to grease down drains could lower the post-Thanksgiving profits for plumbers. I simply found it interesting that on a day we often become gluttons our refuse may cause costly back-ups in our plumbing.

Maybe we could play out the implications of over-eating on our own human pipes (arteries) and other organs. If we suggest not putting grease down our drains to be common sense, then could we not note medical information calling us to a less sedentary lifestyle and more healthy eating habits may keep our pipes clean to be common sense too?

In the end, this short piece left me considering all the implications of a “Black Friday.”

Your thoughts?

Confusing conversations … when anecdotes don’t communicate …

WhatdidyousayConversations trouble me. It is not that I do not like conversations. In fact most who know me would scratch their heads at the opening sentence. My wife would say I talk too much. Our worlds of words often seem more a jungle than an open plain. We who speak as part of our vocation long for "word pictures" to help convey an idea or give an explanation.

I read a recent review of Len Sweet’s, The Gospel According to Starbuck’s. Michael noted,

Underneath the pages of the book itâ??Ã?ôs not hard to see a writing style
that takes an idea, feeds it lots of research, and then pulls out as
many Christian applications as possible. Sweet is a learner who reports
his learning process in his books. His conclusions are not
pontifications, but observations and discoveries.

If you have read much of Len Sweet you know this to be true.

My recent encounter with Scott Hackman pressed me to think about issues of justice on deeper levels. Coffee served as the centerpiece of our conversation. We had some frame of reference as Jason, our former associate pastor, turned our attention to Fair Trade products a couple of years ago. Our folks consume a lot of coffee. In fact, coffee is one of the leading beverages of choice around the world. We decided we should think about our purchasing habits. One of our favorite "Bistro’s" is Cafe Bella. Bo at Cafe Bella sells Fair Trade Coffee. We have been buying most, if not all, of our coffee from Bo. Scott shared with me some of the realities of the Fair Trade label. Very few projects avoid corruption. According to Scott, Fair Trade labels are not immune. That is not an attempt to discredit "fair trade" but simply to note occasions where the label is for "sale" even to those who do not necessarily meet the criterion.

Scott told our recent ETREK class about One Village Coffee. (I recently noted their website went live.) This helps explain something of their vision,

One Village Coffee was founded on the simple idea that businesses can do more than business; they can also support the communities they work with. In the coffee world, many of the places with the most need are typically communities of coffee farmers and growers. So we decided to put our simple idea to the test. We created a small coffee company with a vision based on cultivating a higher quality of coffee for our customers, and a higher quality of life for those who produce it.

The dream is not only to be sure small coffee farmers and growers receive a fair wage for their product but One Village Coffee intends to reinvest in these out of the way places like the villages they currently work with in Honduras. Our consumerist tendencies may stop at helping someone receive a good wage, but what about pressing further to help promote certain amenities we take for granted? This and other questions drive Scott and those who share his dream.

My long(ish) set up provides the backdrop for one of those conversations where it appeared the trees obscured the forest. Since I am not interested in calling any particular person out but to expose the general lack of depth in our thinking I will modify a very real conversation to illustrate how we get locked into our own world of words making conversation tedious and often impossible.

A group of employees enjoyed listening to classic rock music during their lunch and breaks in the community break room. They did not crank the volume on their radio to a shrill. It played without too much attention. One day a person whose tastes came from another era happened on these young people enjoying their break to some classic tunes. This Christian person believed "rock music" the "devil’s music" and inappropriate to play at a Christian business. Complaint reached the top a new policy enacted. Something like, "You may play your music in your cubicle wearing earphones, but we cannot allow this to continue in the break room." Rationale for the move came from Scripture where we are not to cause "another to stumble" and we should exercise our will to "live at peace with one another."

Now this place of employment takes in its share of coffee. In fact, they likely have a "coffee service." Few if any miss their cup. Some may arrive to work with their Starbuck’s cup in tow but be sure if there is need for a "warm up," it is easy to find.

My thinking about the matter tended toward a comparison. How do we compare the plight of the small coffee farmers and growers with the concern over music played at a given establishment noted to be Christian? The two matters seemed worlds apart. During an entire e-mail exchange a young supervisor could only fixate on pacifying a constituent and never once responded to the question of where they buy their coffee. Instead we toyed with stumbling and peace. Here is where our world of words came into play.

Matters of justice could not be heard because we live in a world where words find their place in pacifying the petty. Stumbling over music does not even fit the context of the passage from which the phrase is lifted. (Read Romans 14 again) Living at peace with all people does not pertain to musical preference when considering the passage from which that phrase is found. (Read Romans 12-13 again) I was left with great concern. Using Scripture to mold another into my image is manipulative. Experiencing the transforming work of the Spirit through the Scriptures, while unsettling, is freeing. When our world of words includes "inerrancy" we must be careful not to impose on those "inerrant and infallible" words our own penchant but rather be prepared to be confronted, subverted and transformed. (This is why I agree with Paul when it comes to the politically charged "inerrancy.")

So, I will continue to ask where my friends at this Christian business buy their coffee. One day they will hear the call of justice more than the cry of the petty. Then it really will not matter what kind of music is played. What will matter is just how we can contribute to the well-being of another – and in the end may well bring them Jesus.