Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Beverage of Gourmets

I have nothing against soda (or pop, as my Michigander friends prefer to call it), I just don't drink that much of it. Like many good things, a little goes a long way.

As a young man, I attempted to drink that quintessential New England beverage, Moxie. Alas, I was too young, my palate undeveloped and immature as it was, could not tease out the lovely and complex interplay of flavors, nor fully appreciated the strength, boldness and audacity inherent in the extract of gentian root. I spurned Moxie for the sweeter and less demanding taste profiles of the more popular carbonated drinks.

Now in my middle age I have come around. Given the choice, I now willingly choose to be moxicated.

I will allow as it may take a bit of getting used to, but so does anything worthwhile. Here is a primer on how to drink Moxie.

Here's a nice spot on other local beverages, finishing with the best.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Day in the Life

Chaplain Mike over at Internet Monk recently wrote an astounding piece called Tell Me about Your Day. 

It's astounding for two reasons. First because the suffering of the people about which he writes is deeply deeply moving, troubling and real. Second, because we so seldom stop to think that this sort of thing is going on around us all day long, every day, in the lives of the people we meet at work, on the street and in church. Every day. Everywhere.

This is not the exception, I think. It is more like the common human experience. We just hide it better than most cultures.

This is real life. I am struck hard when I ponder it, aware of how close it is to being my life, and afraid that I lack the compassion to face it in the lives of others.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I'd say that just about sums it up...

My good Texas friend Craig often attempts to needle me when we are having a light dusting of snow up here in NH. He likes to tell me how he is enjoying mowing the lawn with his shirt off, or some such blather as that. I don't get that at all, as I think mowing the lawn is punishment enough -- I don't see why you would want to throw skin cancer in on top of it.

There is a certain smugness that leaks up from those who prefer to live in (what they consider) more clement regions. I'll have none of that. They call them "tropical" diseases for a reason, after all.

My friend Assistant Village Idiot recently pointed me to a very nice list of reason why it makes all the sense in the world to live in New England -- from Sponge Headed Scienceman. I recommend reading it. 

If you don't get it, well...you just stay right where you are. That's more maple syrup for me.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It's Not About You

A few weeks ago, I had another opportunity to speak at a retreat, this time to the student body of Jesse Remington High School. We had a group of about 40 students who gathered at the Horton Center on Pine Mountain, overlooking Gorham, for a few days focused on building their life as a learning community. Yeah. I know. But that's just the kind of school Jesse Remington is.

As with my previous retreat experience, I tried simply to open up the Gospel to these kids, trying to help them see it through fresh eyes. Rather than expound the text, I tried to read the text. Rather than preach the 3 point sermon I worked at telling the 3 chapter story. Rather than set forth the three propositions, I tried to frame 3 pictures of the Gospel from what I hoped was a fresh new perspective.

I say this because when I approach speaking or preaching on the Gospel, I stay away from a scholarly approach because I am not a scholar, a philosopher or a particularly deep thinker. I just don't have the training for it. My approach is more pastoral -- what in this text will feed His sheep?

And even taking a pastoral approach, I still tend to avoid the heavy lifting of exegeting the original languages to make a fine theological point. Again, partly because I lack the training. But even moreso, the most useful thing to feed the flock isn't a new insight into the aorist tense in the original Greek. Nor is it another insight into the Pauline logic of the doctrine of justification.

The most useful thing for feeding the flock is pictures. Clear, powerful, visceral, emotionally charged pictures that teach us about who God is and what he has done.

That's at least part of the reason why Jesus left us with two basic practices around which he builds his church -- baptism and eucharist. These are first and foremost living pictures of him and his grace. Even better, they are not pictures that we merely gaze upon. They are pictures in which we partake -- we are included in the picture.

Chew on that.

I kind of wish I had this video a few weeks ago. I would have shamelessly stolen from it, because it makes the point I worked so hard to make to those students in the mountains.