Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Sixteen-Dollar Breakfast.

There is a deli/restaurant in Washtenaw County that Sensitive Types incessantly rave about. It's heralded for its bakery, its yummy food, and its funky style and cute cartoon advertising. It's been featured on The Sensitive Radio Food Show as the jewel of Ann Arbor eateries. The foodery makes money hand over fist, it pays its employees well with good benefits and its business model has been advocated as a progressive ideal.

The only bug in the whitefish salad about this place is, well, it's expensive. Really expensive. Actually, obscenely expensive. Like thirty-dollar olive oil (it's incredible olive oil!). Or like the recent experience of a friend of mine who stopped there for a bagel with lox & cream cheese, and a side of whitefish salad. After parting with sixteen bucks, he was left with bellyache from the red onions on the sandwich and an inescapable sensation of being had.

This business model is not revolutionary nor progressive. It's the same one that P.T. Barnum employed, or that a famous magic and gag gift company used to lure your author at ten years of age into parting with his chore earnings for a box of tricks the would amaze and astound his family and friends, that would bring to the waiting world a Young Svengali. A photo in a family album records the moment of revelation after opening the box: is this it? Five bucks for this???
Then again, this may be a lesson that one periodically relearns (see previous entry).


Thursday, April 09, 2009

A Quest Finally Concludes?

We're always looking for perfect flyboxes to have in the vest while fishing. Perhaps even finding the One Box that will hold all of the streamers, nymphs, pupae, emergers, duns, adults, and spinners that we could possibly need for Opening Day. There have been several failed systems, with results such as having the one particular box holding exactly the fly we need left warm and cozy on the cabin table, or watching a flotilla of boxes drifting downstream after spilling from our vest. The Flambeau Blue Ribbon Fly Box may, finally, be the One Box. It contains three Vertical-Friction Foam (VFF) Technology™ panels (gasp!) for smaller flies and one streamer panel. It's compact and waterproof. Stayed tuned for an after-action report on its performance. If the Flambeau Blue Ribbon box lives up to its potential, prepare for a sudden flood of used flyboxes to appear on EBay...

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Holy Week.

Erik Reese has penned an op-ed for the Washington Post, "Save Jesus, Ignore Easter". It concludes with:

...The fact is, American Christianity has historically been focused so obsessively on the Nicene Creed -- which says Jesus was the son of God, who was crucified for our sins and rose from the grave three days later -- that it never made much room for the actual teachings of this radical Jewish street preacher. This is why I'm against Easter. It celebrates the death of Jesus nearly to the exclusion of his life. If the Easter miracle can save us from this life, then why bother with the harder work of enacting the kingdom of God here? It is, after all, much harder. Which brings me back to that word faith. I believe it plays such a disproportionate role in mainstream American Christianity, be it in the rock and roll mega-churches or the humbler places were I worshipped as a child, because it is a belief in what one cannot see. But that belief -- that faith in a salvational Christ -- is what will guarantee everlasting life. But
when such faith is lost, as in my case, what am I left with?
I'm left with the teachings of Jesus -- words so radical, they got him killed, words so radical, they might still bring about the end of empire and the beginning of the kingdom of God.

One can agree, somewhat, with Mr. Reese's first assertion: there appears to be, in some expressions of Christianity, a superficial depiction of Jesus' suffering and crucifixion that emphasizes Christ's physical pain and the guilt that we should feel about it. That guilt, for these dogmas, propels one towards God and Christ: one is obligated to accept Christ because of his suffering. This embrace of Christ is like an atonement for the guilt one may feel after being rescued by a hero who in turn forfeits their own life. But doesn't that place the value of mortal existance and comfort above everything else? That we owe Jesus because he gave up what we value most?

Perhaps the real sacrifice made by Christ in this week was to become totally separated from God in the course of assuming all sin to destroy it ("Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"). And Easter has unbounded joy for us because Christ is reunited with God in ressurection, and with him we are reconciled with God.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

For God's Sake - Literally - Just End It.

There is a terrible, terrible arguement in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA). This arguement has been a hammer and tong affair for at least two decades now, with no signs of resolution.

Isn't it simply an immutable fact that there exists a fundamental and irreconcilable schism in the church between those that believe that homosexual relationships can be consistent with living a God-directed life and those that believe that such relationships are contrary to God's directives for our lives? If so, we must end the relentless cycle of one side employing the political and bureaucratic hammers of the church to attempt to repeatedly bludgeon the other side into submission or silence. Let's stop this nonsense and agree to a divorce. Yes, divorce. A tragedy? Yes, but inescapable. Is this a radical view? How can we think so after all of the pain received by and delivered to both sides by the other?

The Evil One has really enjoyed this one.
Palm Sunday.

John 12:12-16:

12:12 The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.

12:13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord-- the King of Israel!"

12:14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:

12:15 "Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey's colt!"

12:16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him.