Around the Table

Many of my favorite things revolve around food of some sort. I love cooking. The process of preparing vegetables for a stir-fry, or putting ingredients in a pot for stew, or baking a loaf of bread relax and energize me. As much time as I spend in other pursuits in my life, I hope I always have time to cook.

After the preparation comes the best part – eating! But really, food is better shared. Watching people’s faces as they enjoy food is refreshing. I thank God regularly for the simple fact that we can enjoy different flavors. Setting a meal down at a table and having everyone go silent for a few moments is a rare compliment indeed for the cook.

Then there’s the company. Nothing brings a family together like a meal. Consider our major holidays – Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter… All of them seem to hit their highest point around some kind of family meal. Maybe everyone brings a dish, or maybe one relative cooks the whole meal. Regardless of how it happens, food is often a centerpiece. Think about birthdays and anniversaries – meals tend to be a part of these celebrations as well.

For me growing up, the fact that I would come home, do homework, and then eat dinner was a comfort. There was a routine there. There was immense comfort knowing that my parents, brother, and I would spend some time talking – or at least looking at each other. Does that mean every meal was perfect? No. We had some experiments that didn’t turn out so well.

I remember a soy flour country steak gravy that tasted way too much like soy sauce. I also remember a bleu cheese stuffed burger that many would enjoy… me, not so much. I also remember great meals, like fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and peas, or breakfast for dinner.

Sometimes the meals were elaborate, and sometimes we threw together some sandwiches. What stands out in my mind is the time. I enjoyed that time. It was safe. We had a rule, “What’s said at the table, stays at the table.” With that rule, we could say what was on our mind without worry that someone would repeat it.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that if you can manage it, family meals can make a big difference in the long run. I still remember those times… maybe not in detail, but I do look back on them and know we are closer as a family because of that time invested.

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Why can’t we be friends?

I have to say, I’m a little late jumping on this news story. Well, stories. See… I don’t have cable, and most of my news comes across my MSN dashboard when I start up. That aside, I have been doing some serious reading and thinking lately about several talked-about issues.

The first would be the very serious situation in Ferguson. May the Lord bring them peace and wisdom. Honestly, we’ve all heard the news and hopefully have dutifully inspected the information to create an informed opinion. I will say that we are all prone to sin as human beings and that we still have a long way to go before we reach harmony and equality.

The second is in one my own spheres – the current kerfuffle going on in the gaming industry. The story is long and convoluted, but in some ways boils down to a large amount of people having different ideas about where the gaming industry should go from here.

In the reading I’ve done, I just have to ask. What do we all want? What do we expect? What is it that we’re looking for? Is it equality?

I’ve thought about equality and acceptance. What I see around me is a pressure to conform. A call to be uniform, to fit a mold, to take a place in the large mass of indistinguishable faces. Advertisements pressure men and women to look, dress, eat, and act certain ways. What is fashionable now in diets, clothing, and behavior will be obsolete in a few years. That cycle in and of itself is swirling faster and faster as social media and other relatively recent advances in communication bring the world closer together.

Being a Christian, I do have a particular lens through which I see the world. I see equality in a paradox. The goal of Christianity, as I see it, is unity both with others and with God, rather than uniformity. Yes, there is a way in which Christians are called to be more like Christ, to give up themselves. On the other hand, what is being given up? I see it this way, what is being given up are distractions and corrupting agents. In other words, Jesus call to lay down one’s life is a call to set aside those things we use to define ourselves in order that we can be more fully ourselves. To set aside things that are not human to more fully embrace the true humanity that God envisioned. The paradox, then, is that God asks us to be more like Christ, and by doing so we become more ourselves.

Unity is having different, unique individuals working toward the same goal. Equality is recognizing the unique potential and value of each individual regardless of who they are, what they look like, or what they believe. If Christians are going to make the claim, and many rightly do, that God created each human being in his image, equality – that sense of respect and concern for others – should be a non-issue.

I do not excuse any behavior that damages others. However, I do recognize that we all have the capacity for selfishness. May God continue to work in and through the church to remove that selfishness. Until we see God’s new life, we will need to be vigilant in Jesus’ name to continually teach and reteach children the inestimable value and preciousness of every single human life. May you have the honor of looking into another’s eyes and recognizing in them the preciousness of humanity.