UnProcessed

I saw an advertisement today for the latest kitchen gadget.  You can go to the web site to read about it (and buy it if you’re so inclined!), but you already know the basic pitch – this device will allow you to cook great food without any work.  This pitch has been used successfully for the last century.  Maybe it has been used since Adam and Eve left the garden and first had to prepare their own food.  One of their offspring comes up with some handy gadget to make preparing dinner quicker and simpler.

I’m inherently dismissive of these sorts of things.  Don’t get me wrong – we have some of these sorts of gadgets in our home – crock pots, mixers, that sort of thing.  But I justify those as necessary, and other things that we don’t own as luxurious or spurious or even wrong.  So I actively resist the temptation to purchase more of them.

But I have to admit that my bias is driven at a certain level by circumstances.  Our kitchen space is somewhat limited, so we just don’t have room for a bunch of these things.  Certainly the convenience would be nice if we had more room (and disposable income!).  Other reasons for my way of looking at these sorts of conveniences are subjective.   My wife and I like to cook.   We enjoy the process.   Most of our children do as well.  We probably, as a family, spend as much time together in our small kitchen as we do in the rest of our home.  For us cooking isn’t just about the end result of food to eat, but also about the process.  Time together.  Laughter.  Learning.  Failing.  Succeeding.

All of this has a cost.  Convenience does, too ($399 if you preorder the gadget above!).  But the costs are different.  I have to invest my time in order to achieve a great result.  Great results aren’t guaranteed.  My oldest son is the Popcorn Master in our house.  This past Sunday he burnt his first batch of popcorn.  I mean really burnt it.  These things happen.  You clean up, air out, and move on.  You realize that getting the right result is as much art as science and wi-fi connectivity.  Grilling hamburgers last night I was surprised they turned out well-done instead of  medium-rare.  All of which forces me to be flexible.  Well-done hamburgers are good, too.  Especially if I get to spend time with my kids and wife as we make them.  I can reassure my son that the pan will scrub clean.  Eventually.  The smoke will eventually get aired out.  Life goes on.

But these are preferences.  They’re personal and they’re right for me and my family, but to impose a moral aspect on them – although tempting in terms of self-justification, is pretty dangerous and arbitrary.

It’s entirely possible that time-saving gadgets like the one above allow people to do these things as well.  Toss a bag of food in the water and then go have fun bowling or shopping or whatever else you’re planning on doing.  Not everybody likes to cook.  Not everybody is going to find preparing a meal an enjoyable way to spend 30-60 minutes every night.  The temptation is always to say that if someone else doesn’t do things the way I prefer to do them, they’re wrong.  But this isn’t necessarily the case.

I start out critical of a gadget that I see as a cheat, but with reflection I’m forced to recognize that this might be a great option for people with different interests, skills, and schedules than myself.     As Christians I wish that we were more prone to some reflection before we speak.  Before we call one another out for not doing things the way we do them, for espousing views on certain things that don’t line up with ours.  Instead of immediately assuming that the other person is lazy or stupid or any number of other derogatory things, sometimes we can realize with a few minutes of reflection that they are trying to achieve something similar to us, just by another route.

In my circles I know people who are passionately committed to certain ways of worshiping.  Because of their backgrounds and experiences, because of their preferences they see one way as not just preferable to another, but the right way versus the wrong way of doing things.  People who disagree or feel differently are in some way bad or wrong.  Anything can be twisted to be improper.  Sometimes moral implications are warranted and need to be carefully thought through.  Other times, we impose them improperly, and the net result is not helpful either to ourselves or those we think are wrong.

Learning to live together in the faith is difficult.  It causes us to constantly wonder whether what we are doing and saying and thinking is appropriate in light of how other people do or say or think.  The alternative is to justify my preferences morally, causing disruption 0f community.   A humbler response (a morally better response, therefore?  Hmmm…) would be to assume that I might be – and likely am – wrong.  That God will have some correcting to do with me.  Perhaps a lot of it, given the price He paid to save me in spite of my wonderful good intentions.  He might have more to correct in my theology and understanding and practice than those I am tempted to say are wrong.

Maybe there can be multiple ways of doing something like worship that are not mutually exclusive.  Maybe beginning with that hunch will allow for healing, for understanding.  Maybe a little reflection can be helpful before we begin calling other people names.  If it works with a sous vide machine, I ought to expect it might be really important in theology and worship.

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