TagKraft Dinner

Sameness or Surprise?

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My three most memorable hamburgers are:

  1. The Kobe Beef Burger that I eat at the Issaquah Brew Pub every spring with my gaming buddies.
  2. The burger I ate at Norma’s in Lacey, Washington, was by no means a gourmet burger, but it tastes great and had that 1950’s diner flavour to it.
  3. This past summer I ate at a hamburger joint off the highway in Redding, California: Bartel’s Giant Burger.  It too was a great burger–it was fast, served in a paper basket, but it was one of my most memorable burgers.

All three of these burgers are very good and all three are very different.

Sameness

Then there’s the approach to the hamburger that McDonald pioneered.  No matter where you eat your burger, it will be exactly the same.  This approach was obviously extremely popular and Americans believe that difference in hamburgers is a bad thing.

And McDonald’s is exporting this ridiculous idea.  Did you see that commercial? I ranted about it a while back.

Craft Beer versus Factory Beer

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This philosophy of marketing sameness for profit was also found in the beer industry.  Since the lifting of prohibition, we were forced to drink just one kind of beer, the American Adjunct Lager.  It’s fizzy, light bodied, has low bitterness and thin malts.  This beer was made for mass production and consumption, not flavour–thank goodness that’s changed–if you want, you can get a wide variety of locally brewed craft beers all over North America.

The story of beer suggests that there is some resistance to the homogenization of experience, but we are still very comfortable with sameness.  It used to be that all coffee was the same–cheap and industrial.  The forces of sameness are still at work on us, it’s just that the product is a lot better.

Starbucks is the same whether you are in Seattle or Spain.  A lot of people think this is a good thing–it’s called the Starbucks Experience.   Of course, I don’t want a bad coffee experience, but this is not the same thing has having a different coffee experience.

Then there’s Kraft Dinner.

By homogenize our experiences there no possibility of having a disappointing experience, but we will just as certainly not have a surprising one.Click To Tweet

By homogenize our experiences there no possibility of having a disappointing experience, but we will just as certainly not have a surprising one.

Is it worth it?

The Godless French?

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I recently heard a pastor refer to France as a spiritual wasteland, and this wasn’t the first time I had heard this.

Twenty-one of our students went to France this past spring break and I asked them if they found this to be true. They agreed that French culture is very secular. Very few people in France go to church, and they don’t really talk, or even think, about God. They have beautiful churches, but the students observed large gift shops in two of the most beautiful churches they visited, Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur.

But, they also saw evidence that perhaps the French aren’t as spiritually dry as we might think, and that they are, in some ways, expressing some aspects of honouring the Creator better than we do.

French Food: Celebration of God’s Good Gifts

The most obvious example for the students was the French approach to food. The French value food, so when they eat, they take their time.  A meal is not a mere biological necessity between work and an evening Bible study. The meal is one of the most important events of the day. The students said, “Even their fast food is slow.”

And meals aren’t just about the food. They are very much about the conversation that takes place over the meal. The French enjoy nothing more than great food with good friends.  Here, restaurants try to maximize the number of seatings in an evening by carefully moving diners from the appetizer to the bill as quickly as possible without them feeling rushed. In France, you and your friends are expected to enjoy each other’s company for hours. If you want a bill, you have to ask for it.  If you have a table, you have it for the night.

Rather than serving groceries in the same store that also sells underwear and motor oil, the French have rows of small, independently owned specialty stores. Each only sells one thing–cheese, meat, pastry, bread, fish, vegetables. The idea is that if you specialize, you can better ensure the quality of your wares, and the resultant meals will be a lot more enjoyable.

The French don’t believe in God, hence the appellation “godless,” but they treat many of his gifts with the utmost respect.  They take the good gifts of God and treat them as the treasures they are.

Our culture conceived of Kraft Dinner which sells for $1.27 a box and takes less than 10 minutes to make and even less to consume even if we include the time it takes to offer a prayer acknowledging God’s gustatory providence.

I will not choose which approach is better, to love the gift but ignore the giver, or to love the giver, but disparage the gift.  It seems to me that loving both would be the ideal.

This post was previously published at http://insideout.abbotsfordchristian.com/

The God of Judgement

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We live in a culture of tolerance.

Consequently, we don’t like the idea of a judgemental God. We don’t like a God that draws a clear line between right and wrong and then judges the wrong. Many reject a judgemental God.  They just want a God of love.

But deep down, we all want a God of justice.  And love.

The God of Justice

When we look at the cosmos we see that God is as creative as he is powerful. And he must like human beings a lot because he gives us all sorts of good things: love, food, sex, sunsets, beaches, oranges and wine.

God is perfect justice.

This is usually only a stumbling block to those who experience no true injustice.

The people who are repelled by the idea of a just God are often people who have never experienced any significant injustice. Click To Tweet

Who loves Divine Judgement?

Consider all the crap that some people have to live with at the hands of others; then the God of justice moves from an embarrassment to a necessity to get up in the morning.

It is definitely wrong to machine gun children, or to rape teenaged girls and string them up in a tree to taunt their grieving, and helpless father or to force women and children into sexual, or any other kind of, slavery. You know that people do these things, right? If one’s life is filled with this kind of injustice, justice isn’t so easy to dismiss and the God who is justice isn’t so easy to reject.

God is Love

He’s also perfect love. Yeah, I know, perfect justice AND perfect love? How do you put those things together?

Well, if there truly is a God, I think it’s reasonable to expect that there’d be some things that would be, intellectually, a little hard to grasp.

He knew it was hard to grasp so he showed us what it looks like–his son on the cross–he judged Jesus as if he were us (justice), and then he treats us as if we were Jesus (love). Perfect justice and perfect love are right there at the cross.   It’s pretty clear that he will do anything and everything to bring you into a relationship with him. Everything, that is, except force you to be in a relationship with him.   That’s perfect love.

So if you are rejecting God, walk away from the one who heals the sick and blesses the poor, away from the one who eats with prostitutes and then lifts up those that are abused and seats them at the best seats at his table. The one who will bring justice to those who use people like objects and to those self-righteous folk who already have everything that they are going to get, away from the one can only woo you to him with the sacrifice of his love, and who loves you so much he won’t force you.

What do Kraft Dinner and Premarital Sex have in common?

Photo by Ronaldo de Oliveira on Unsplash

Kraft Dinner is an abomination.  If you don’t think so, it’s because you’ve fallen victim to a lie, one that demeans both you and cheese.

I used to eat KD.  When we first moved off campus, my college roommates and I ate it a lot.  The convenience of the stuff eclipsed all other considerations—taste for instance. We did eventually tire of it, so we attempted to gussy it up a little by adding a dollop of mustard or diced onions.   If it was a special meal, we’d add cut up hot dogs.  These attempts did not really redeem the meal because the core element didn’t change; it was still Kraft Dinner.

I haven’t eaten KD for over 30 years.  The reason is that I like cheese.  Why would I eat a powdered cheese when I can eat real cheese?

Kraft Dinner is evidence that human beings are willing to exchange great pleasure for a degraded experience in the worship of any number of false idols. #kraftdinner #premaritalsex #monogamy #marriage Click To Tweet

Degraded Pleasures

Obviously, human beings can be manipulated to exchange great pleasure for degraded experiences.

As evidence, I give you

  • Hostess Twinkies–over 500 million degraded pastries sold each year,
  • M&Ms–over 400 million degraded chocolate candies produced each day,
  • Folger’s Coffee–degraded coffee sold for less than $7 for a two pound can,
  • Coor’s Lite–over 100 million cases of degraded beer,
  • and Kraft Dinner.

There are 7 million Kraft Dinners sold per week.  Canadians eat an average of 3.2 boxes each year.   What can explain these disturbing numbers?

Minions of hell, of course.

C. S. Lewis gives us an imaginative explanation as he explores the hellish view of pleasure in The Screwtape Letters.  An experienced tempter, Screwtape, offers advice to his nephew, a novice, on the uses of pleasure to ensnare a human soul.  Screwtape laments that despite their best efforts, Hell has not been able to produce a single pleasure, but pleasure can still be useful if properly degraded.  He tells his nephew,

You must always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure, to that in which it is least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable

for when dealing with any pleasure in its

healthy and normal and satisfying form we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s ground.

Let’s use beer as an example of how the demonic is at work in degrading pleasures.

Beer is a pleasure–a good gift from God.  One of the best beers I ever had was in Rennes, France. The label said it was Picon Biere and it tasted like oranges.  I was sitting outdoors in the warm sun at around 3 o’clock in the afternoon.  I had nowhere to go and nothing to do.  The street was cobbled. Across the street was a row of 16th-century buildings. It was one of those incredible moments of joy.  I think this experience was close to what God had in mind when he invented hops and barley and yeast.

There is a lot of beer consumed in a way that offers nothing like the pleasure of a pint from your local microbrewery.  The mass-produced lagers are the beer of choice for those who want to want to express their freedom through the “fun” afforded by alcohol.  They don’t drink one or even two, but many of these cheap beers.    The taste of each individual beer is unremarkable, so they are not really enjoyed and the cumulative effect is far from the pleasurable, particularly the next day.

This is how the devils take a good gift from God and suck most of the pleasure out of it.  The same is done to the pleasures of sex.

Kraft Dinner and Sex

There’s KD sex, and there’s sex the way it was meant to be.  Many people reject the Christian ideal of sex within marriage because it is too restrictive.   All good things have limits.  Just as you can’t make a good tasting cup of coffee with Robusta beans, you can’t experience all the pleasures of sex outside of marriage.

All good things have limits. Just as you can't make a good cup of coffee with Robusta beans, you can't experience all the pleasures of sex outside of marriage. Click To Tweet

In his book, Orthodoxy, C. K. Chesterton is puzzled by “the common murmur . . . against monogamy.”  Baffled he asks why people would gripe over the restriction of “keeping to one woman” and overlook the privilege of being able to love even one.

I heard of a conversation in which some young people were having an honest discussion about marriage and sex with an older Christian.  One of the young people asked the adult, “How does it take . . . how long does it take to make love.” The wise answer was, “Years.”

Is Biblical morality really opposed to pleasure?
Is one Picon Biere really inferior to a dozen Coors Lights?
Is the long love to one marriage partner really inferior to many short-term relationships?

Biblical morality is opposed to pleasure if one craft beer is inferior to a dozen Coors Lights, if long love to one marriage partner inferior to multiple, short-term relationships. Click To Tweet

Seafood Mac and Cheese

The ingredients for Seafood Macaroni and Cheese are:

  • olive oil
  • large shrimp
  • chopped onion
  • chopped peeled carrots
  • chopped celery
  • garlic cloves, peeled, flattened
  • Turkish bay leaf
  • tomato paste
  • Cognac or brandy
  • butter
  • flour
  • whipping cream
  • Fontina cheese
  • gemelli pasta
  • fresh crabmeat
  • chopped fresh chives

These, properly blended and prepared, have echoes of heaven.

 

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