Tag Archive | convenience

Beyond “cheap” and “easy”

When I first bought my house (which is a fixer-upper), someone told me the golden rule of hiring remodeling help:

There are only three criteria that count for any kind of service professionals (or amateurs, for that matter): good, fast, and cheap. You will never find anyone who meets all three categories. The best you can hope for is 2 out of 3. Which two, is up to you.

That has, so far, proven true.

The electricians were wonderful to work with, did quality work and were reasonably priced.

The roofers were very quick at their work … but my roof is still leaking.

I recently organized a Lenten study on food ethics for the congregation I serve. As part of my research, I listened to a lecture by Eric Schlosser (author of Fast Food Nation) who pointed out that the selling point of the fast food industry is that they are fast, cheap and easy.

I occurs to me, in both cases, that fast and cheap are thought to be desirable characteristics in everything from hamburgers to handymen.

I don’t have more hours in the day than anyone else, and I have less money at my disposal than many … and so I am often seduced by the wiles of the quick and inexpensive.

But this is the season that challenges us to consider that, perhaps, we were not made to embrace the easiest, fastest or least expensive. We were made for so much more.

The staggering beauty of trees in bloom, the grandeur of fields of purple, the lushness of soft, moist grass, the majesty and ferocity of thunderstorms … nature in springtime forces us to concede that God does not settle for quick and cheap.

I suspect that God doesn’t expects us to settle for that either. What if, instead of fast and cheap, we sought to surround ourselves with things of another quality:


My grandfather (who passed away before I was born and, of whom, I only know the legends of family) was famous for often saying: “It only costs a dollar more to go first class.”

Spring (and, of course, Easter) challenge us to a “first class” way of thinking, challenging us to embrace what is Beautiful, Interesting, Rare, Mysterious, Delicious, Melodic, Abundant, Important.

This Easter, may the risen Christ transform our lives … and our choices.

Why Food Ethics?

Tonight was the second week of our series on food ethics at FPC. Those who were gathered made up quite a good group: large enough to spark some interesting conversation and plenty of diverse opinions.

At some point, a lightbulb went on over my head and I thought: this topic is a landmine. It’s not the kind of issue that is so controversial that it comes with it’s own red warning light that flashes “DANGER” to pastors who would approach. But it is still very much an issue that can stir up controversy; it just does it subtly.

So, why bother with it? Why have the difficult conversation about food ethics? And what would I say to those in any congregation, anywhere in the country that might prefer NOT to be more aware of how their food choices affect people and animals and ecosystems and economies around the world?

As you might imagine, I’ve given this issue a fair bit of thought. For me, it comes down to one answer: because we are the people of God.

The God we serve has commanded his people throughout every age to tend to those in need: the widow, the orphan, the least of these. As the people of God, we do not have the option of ignoring the consequences of our actions, even actions that would be easy to take for granted (like our food choices).

When it comes to eating ethically, there is no easy answer.

No one way of eating (organic, vegetarian, etc.) will eliminate every ethical dilemma.(For more on this topic, watch to Michael Pollan’s brilliant lecture at Princeton University’s conference on Food, Ethics and the Environment available on iTunes.)

But because we are given the responsibility of stewardship of creation  – and of care for one another – we are commanded to take our choices seriously: to eat with our eyes open and to be willing to bear the weight of the consequences of our actions.

Cellphone Manifesto

I love my cellphone.

And I love that it allows me to connect with people by voice, text, picture, email or social media at any time that I deem it necessary, pertinent or pleasurable.

However, there are few things that I wish everyone knew. Well, I guess I should say that there are a few things that I wish everyone who had my cellphone number knew.

First: sometimes, I don’t answer.

If I am on the other line, or having a face-to-face conversation, or in an area with sketchy cellphone service, or in the grocery checkout line, or spending quality time with my nephew, or in a meeting, or spending time in prayer … then I do not answer my cellphone.

I do not mean for this to frustrate you or offend you. I do not look at the caller ID and decide that I don’t want to talk to you. I just feel that there are certain times in life when it is rude to be distracted by a device that draws your attention away from the people you are with at the time.

Second: sometimes when I can’t answer the phone, I CAN manage to sneak a quick glance at a text message.

I do not believe that text messages should replace personal interaction, but a text message can tell me whether your call is urgent (which means I need to leave the meeting or the checkout line and call you back right away) or whether you just need a quick piece of information (which I could send to you, without leaving the meeting or the checkout line to call you back) or whether there is an impending natural disaster of which I need to be immediately aware.

Finally: in any given day, week or month, I am connected and available  – often through my various technological devices (phone, computer, etc) for a good percentage of the time. But in a world filled with twenty-four-hour stores and around-the-clock news networks and an internet that never sleeps, I feel very strongly that each of us should be intentional about finding time – every single day – to unplug, to slow our pace, to attend to the needs of our souls.

Of course, it will mean that we’ll sometimes be unavailable when people call or text or email. But if we’re always running … how will we ever recharge our batteries?


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