First Dollar, Last Dollar: An Employer’s View of the Shameful Campaign of the Left Against Whole Foods’ John Mackey’s Health Care Alternative

In the midst of the storm over health care in the U.S., the left’s reaction to John Mackey’s call for an alternative to the Obama health care proposal is one of the most shameful and idiotic things I’ve seen.  But it’s predictable.  In spite of the fact that Whole Foods is a purveyor of liberal food par excellence, the tantrum being thrown both speaks volumes to their real objectives and their ignorance for the realities of paying for health care in the U.S.

Mackey has paid for far more health care for his employees than any of his detractors have.  As an employer, he has staked out a workable plan to cover his employees.  And retail is a place where many go without this kind of coverage.  That’s something I share with him: in my family business, I signed many checks for health insurance for my employees, organised (Machinists) and otherwise.   You learn a few things about it doing that.

Obama’s claim that the vast majority of funds in health care go to end of life care is wide of the mark.  When it comes to health care costs, the distribution is in reality a “dumbbell.”  One the back end you have the expensive life saving procedures (the “last dollar.”) But on the front end you have the initial access to health care during the year (the “first dollar.”)  Anyone who has purchased health care individually or for a group (and I’ve done both) knows that, as you lower the deductible, the cost for each dollar of health care you purchase increases to the point where it’s cheaper to pay for the care directly than insure it.

That’s why high-deductible plans like Mackey’s are successful in cutting health care costs.  They also make it possible to do the one thing that health insurance needs to do: prevent bankruptcy in the event of a catastrophic illness.  They place in the hands of of the employees basic decisions as to how to handle their basic health care in an economic way, and protect them from real disaster.

In the U.S., however, with the generous health care plans we have had since World War II, the mentality has emerged that health insurance should cover everything from the first dollar (or “every runny nose,” as my plant superintendent used to say) to the last dollar.  That’s hard to break; I admire Mackey for having sold it to his employees.  In the mid-1980’s, I had a hard time selling any kind of deductible to my employees, but our insurance simply quit carrying the old “comprehensive” coverage, leaving everyone with no choice.

The left knows how hard to break that is, which is why, in simple terms, the current proposal has “first dollar” coverage and would make high-deductible plans next to impossible.  That’s a piece of political calculus that–along with buying off the drug and insurance companies–the Democrats thought would make this proposal a slam-dunk.  Unfortunately they didn’t cover their demographic back end, because when you throw away controlling first dollar coverage the only place you have to go is the last dollar.  That’s what the VA has found out, and its “death book” response is getting the publicity is deserves.  The left hates to admit it, but without “death panels” or other premature induced life terminations, there’s no way to swing their idea financially, especially in the “zero-sum” economy which they are constructing through higher taxation and regulation.

Unfortunately the left’s political calculations overlooked one important fact: the declining birthrate and greater longevity of our population, coupled with the Boomers coming into Medicare in a big way, produced a natural and vociferous opposition to this plan.  That’s the reason for the rowdy town hall meetings.  The left turned a grand piece of social engineering into an existential threat for a large portion of the population.  Nice going!

Mackey’s proposal is, IMHO, the way out.  Obama’s is not, and that’s why I oppose it.

The 50 Square Metre Apartment is Robert Redford’s Dream, Too

A couple of weeks ago I put online a piece (complete with video) entitled Barack Obama: Dreaming of the 50 Square Metre Apartment.  It spoke of the stark reality that, in order to achieve Obama’s decidedly statist vision of reduced energy and riskless economics, one would have to go back to a system like the old Soviet Union where everyone is housed in high rise apartment buildings and small (by American standards) apartments.

I’m sure some of its readers thought I was nuts.  But now we have Vincent Carroll’s piece in the Denver Post which shows that Robert Redford has disdain for the American alternative, the single dwelling subdivision:

Robert Redford is an example of the human species at its finestrich and good-looking, I mean — so naturally he would never consent to live in anything so tawdry as a “subdivision.” During his visit to Denver last week, the film icon and green activist had a few dismissive words for that particular type of development.

“I think the New West should return to the Old West, when there was an emphasis on communities, on families and neighbors,” Redford told a gathering sponsored by Project New West. “It’s time to think about what kinds of development we want, whether we want to develop more communities or subdivisions and sprawl.”

Carroll goes on to discuss sprawl:

What is “sprawl,” anyway? When I discussed that question last month with Tom Ragonetti, a Denver land-use attorney and adjunct professor at the University of Denver law school — he recounted an exercise he sometimes poses to students. If you had an unlimited budget, he says, where would you choose to live in metro Denver? Needless to say, most students do not mention a row house or apartment — even a luxurious one. Instead, they identify an upscale Denver neighborhood such as Country Club, or Cherry Hills, or perhaps Genesee or Evergreen.

Back to reality, Ragonetti then instructs them. Your budget is not unlimited. You can’t afford Country Club or Cherry Hills. What’s your next option — particularly if you’re trying to raise a family? Is it a third-floor flat near one of those communities? Far from it. Most students indicate they’d search far and wide for housing that comes as close as possible to their ideal.

“Sprawl is a million people making that decision,” Ragonetti explains.

That “million person decision” doesn’t sit well with Redford or many in our elites.  But they’re not the ones paying the price if they get their way:

“Growth management is inherently an elite or luxury good,” he says. The wealthy will always win a bidding war for the most desirable dwellings while the poorer classes end up being squeezed. The more extreme the growth management, the farther it will slice up the income scale.

It’s supremely ironic that the housing decision taken by the Soviets as egalitarian and fair would be similar to the one which many in the upper reaches of our society would have for us.  Idealism like this is great until it’s implemented. How else to eliminate “sprawl” except to cram everyone into high rises?   But such a cram would favour upper income people in our society.

But then again, as I like to say, socialism is the rich man’s solution to the poor man’s problem.

Roger Smith, Michael Howell and the New Commitment: Who Shall Spread the Good News

VerMir ACA-6647/8 (1976)

Who Shall Spread the Good News? was brought to reality by Roger Smith and Michael Howell, through their group the New Commitment. Roger Smith, a Catholic priest from Corpus Christi, TX, also performed on albums for North American Liturgy Resources. This music was connected with the “Search” retreats which are still ongoing for Texas Catholic college students.

In our opinion, Who Shall Spread the Good News? is an outstanding–maybe the outstanding–example of the music that came out of the “Catholic Liturgical” movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Especially notable are their rendition of De Profundiis (“If You, Oh Lord”) and “As the Rain.”

The songs:

  1. Who Shall Spread the Good News?
  2. Song of Revelation
  3. If You, Oh Lord (Psalm 130)
  4. Lift your Voice
  5. The Lord is My True Shepherd (Psalm 23)
  6. Did You Ever Wonder Why?
  7. Praised be the God and Father (Ephesians 1)
  8. Jesus
  9. Holy, Holy, Holy
  10. Anaphora/Acclamation
  11. Doxology/The Lord’s Prayer
  12. Lamb of God
  13. As the Rain

The Performers:

  • Conrad Hayden — Acoustic and Electric Guitar, Vocals
  • Mary Ann Edel — Piano
  • Matt Walsh — Bass Guitar
  • Russel Buenteo — Vocals
  • Janie Gillespie — Vocals, Guitar
  • Kay Vorhies — Tambourine, Vocals
  • Michele Brinkman — Vocals
  • Gary Henneke — Flute
  • Serge Timecheff — French Horn
  • Therese Edel — Organ

A few notes about this album:

  • The album artwork is not original, although the photo is roughly contemporaneous with the album.
  • The album used had a terrible pinch warp, which accounts for the quality. If a better digitisation is forthcoming, please contact us.
  • My much belated thanks to John and Tracy for this music.  It was the first music to be posted on this site and remains a favourite of mine.

The Unspoken Key in the Relationship Between the U.S. and China

Henry Kissinger has words of wisdom:

The 21st century requires an institutional structure appropriate for its time. The nations bordering the Pacific have a stronger sense of national identity than did the European countries emerging from the Second World War. They must not slide into a 21st-century version of classic balance-of-power politics. It would be especially pernicious if opposing blocs were to form on each side of the Pacific. While the center of gravity of international affairs shifts to Asia, and America finds a new role distinct from hegemony yet compatible with leadership, we need a vision of a Pacific structure based on close cooperation between America and China but also broad enough to enable other countries bordering the Pacific to fulfill their aspirations.

The subject of China, as readers of this blog know, and Henry Kissinger is of special interest because a) of my business dealings in China in the early 1980’s, and b) Paul Speltz, Kissinger Associates’ President, is one of the people who facilitated those dealings.

Kissinger also observes that “Historically, China and America have been hegemonic powers able to set their own agendas essentially unilaterally. They are not accustomed to close alliances or consultative procedures restricting their freedom of action on the basis of equality.”  Unlike the British, neither country has a long history of extraterritorial imperialism.  Both tend to be inwardly focused and self-contained.  That makes for an interesting pas de deux.

That leads me to the following:

  1. I don’t see the emergence of a cross-ocean rivallry, with “opposing blocs…on each side of the Pacific.”  The other players are arranged in too complicated of a fashion.  In Asia, the Sino-Japanese feud, which worked so much to my own business advantage, will always complicate things in East Asia, as will the latent fear of Chinese hegemony amongst the nations and people surrounding China.  On our side, Latin America has likewise had a similar complicated relationship with the U.S., and the Chinese are working that region very intensively.
  2. The key to the outcome of this relationship depends upon the economic course of the respective nations.  Will the U.S. debt, of which the Chinese hold a significant portion, sink the U.S.?  (Or, more accurately, when.)  What impact will that have on China?  Will China’s economic progress allow it to loosen its dependence on the U.S., as Kissinger implies?  Can China redeem its debt via equity in U.S. assets?

Unless someone really loses their composure here, I don’t see a major conflagration between the two.  But which one will move forward?  Personally I think the Chinese have the advantage right at the moment, but they, as always, are subject to sudden and unpredictable changes.

“Too Big to Fail:” Another Road to the Insolvency of the United States

As if fading dollar hegemony wasn’t enough:

If real reform doesn’t happen, get ready for a fearsome certainty: that markets will eventually correct our unsustainable financial system. They have tried to do so several times over the decades by punishing firms like Continental, Long-Term, and, most recently, Citigroup, as well as the lenders who financed them. The government thwarted these necessary corrections at every turn, bailing out the reckless and their enablers. But the price of maintaining our untenable system keeps growing, and eventually the government won’t be able to pay the bill. The multitrillion-dollar price tag attached to the government’s current endeavors already endangers the nation’s fiscal health. A decade from now, failing financial firms could take the credit of the U.S. government right down with them.

Read all of this article.  The Obama Administration loves to pin the blame of its large deficits and other problems on its immediate predecessor.  But that doesn’t solve the problem.  The current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, radical though he is, may find himself in the same boat as Louis XVI: facing state bankruptcy.  (I’m not convinced that process will take a decade.)  Louis’ predecessor said, “After me, the deluge.”  It doesn’t matter if the flood breaks on your political enemy or your own grandson, it breaks.

Family of God: Honor, Wisdom, Glory and Praise

Honor, Wisdom, Glory and Praise (FG-1001) was the first (and possibly the only) album of the Family of God Christian Community in Fort Worth, Texas. The community described itself as a “charismatic, ecumenical fellowship in Fort Worth, Texas. Our membership is ecumenical, though largely Catholic.” The album was produced in 1981.The music is very much in line with Catholic charismatic music of the era, with the emphasis on acoustical guitars, light vocals and very light percussion. But, as the credits indicate, there is a variety of instrumentation to keep things interesting. The community drew broadly from its membership to produce this album. All of the compositions are original.
  • Singers
    • Jim Boehm
    • Marlo Crowley
    • Gary Geurtz
    • Jeff Hensley
    • Susan Hensley
    • Dorthy Hutcheson
    • Mary Kouba
    • Betsie Pendarvis
    • John Pendarvis
    • Teresa Pewitt
    • Theresa Ridenour
    • Mary Schad
    • Bob Sobey
    • Celeste Ste. Marie
    • Don Ste. Marie
    • Phil Ste. Marie
    • Paul Terry
    • Tony Voulo
    • Simon Wrzesinski
  • Instrumentalists:
    • Guitars: John Pendarvis, Don Ste. Marie, Mike Maulsby, Jim Boehm, Andrew Wulf
    • Bass: Andrew Wulf
    • Keyboards: Dorthy Hutcheson, Betsie Pendarvis, Andrew Wulf
    • Flutes: Teresa Pewitt, Bettsie Pendarvis
    • Trumpet: John Pendarvis
    • Accordion: Phil Ste. Marie
    • Mandolin: Andrew Wulf
    • Percussion: Gary Geurtz, Betsie Pendarvis, Dorothy Hutcheson, John Pendarvis, Paul Terry
  • Producer: John Pendarvis
  • Arrangements: Betsie Pendarvis, Andrew Wulf, Dorothy Hutcheson
  • Choral Direction: Teresa Pewitt
  • Cover Design: Mary Ann Bridges, Jeff Hensley
  • Photography: Leon Dodd
  • Engineer: James McAlister
  • Recorded at Prism Studios, Arlington, Texas

The songs:

  • Praise the Lord in His Holy Dwelling
  • But As For Me
  • Wind Song
  • Unless the Lord
  • I Go to Prepare a Place for You
  • Do Not Lose Hope
  • Wherever Your Spirit Leads
  • Honor, Wisdom, Glory and Praise
  • Christmas Song
  • Were You There
  • Take My Life
  • Do Ye Like the Birds
  • Jesus, You Are My Victory

More Than One Peter?

A very different look at a a very important part of the Bible

“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He began asking his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  And Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jona, because flesh and  blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  And I also say this to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt. 16:13-19)

Few passages in God’s Word have provoked more action — and reaction — than this one.  An entire religious system has been built on it; many have been built to oppose it.  But Our Lord made the declaration — what did he mean by it?

One very early interpretation comes from the great Egyptian teacher and theologian Origen.  His Commentary in Matthew is the oldest existing commentary on this book; it is uncluttered by the issues that cloud our understanding of this today.  The following is an adaptation of the part of the Commentary that deals with this subject.


Jesus began the dialog by asking his disciples the question, “Who do men say that I am?” He had two purposes in doing this.

  1. To bring to the surface the various opinions that people had about Him.  In doing this Jesus was turning his small group of followers into a “focus group,” to find out what people were thinking.  This not only included the people around them — primarily the Jews — but also the disciples themselves.
  2. To get the disciples to consider the impact that other people’s thinking would have on them and their mission.  This was not to get the disciples to bend their mission to what was around them but to get them to have a response to it, both to what was for them and what was against them.

Any such search for people’s opinions will get some strange and frankly erroneous answers.  This one was no exception.  The disciples had certainly “kept their ear to the ground” and they were prepared to reproduce the rumour mill will.  People’s guesses about Jesus had led them to believe a number of things about Jesus’ identity:

  • Jesus was John the Baptist. Herod the Tetrarch had noised this guess to his servants, “This is John the Baptist, he has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.” (Mt 14:2)
  • Jesus was Elijah, either having been born a second time, or living from that time in the flesh, and appearing at the present time.
  • Jesus was Jeremiah.  This prophet had said about Christ, “See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and break down; to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jer 1:10) This was not fulfilled in the prophet at that time, but was beginning to be fulfilled in Jesus, a prophet to the Gentiles to whom He proclaimed the word.
  • Jesus was one of the prophets. Those that supported this conceived this opinion concerning Him because of those things which had been said in the prophets as unto them, but which had not been fulfilled in their case.

Obviously there was no unity of opinion as to Jesus’ real identity.  People were engaged in guessing. But Peter, not as a disciple of “flesh and  blood,” but as one fit to receive the revelation of the Father in heaven, confessed that He was the Christ. With the background of people’s conjectures, Peter’s statement was indeed a great thing, but beyond that he confessed Him to be “the Son of the living God.” Peter not only proclaimed Jesus to be the Son of God but the Son of the living God, the God who had life absolutely and who could give life to those who would participate in His absolute life.  For He had said through the prophets, “I live,” (Jer 22:24) and “They have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters,” (Jer 2:13) as from the Father the spring of life — and Jesus is life also,  who said, “I am…the life.” (Jn 14:6)


We know what Peter’s confession was.  But if we say “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and we say it not by flesh and blood revealing it unto us, but by the light from the Father in heaven shining in our heart, we too become as Peter, being pronounced blessed as he was, because that the grounds on which he was pronounced blessed apply also to us, by reason of the fact that flesh and blood have not revealed to us that Jesus is Christ, the Son of the living God, but the Father in heaven, from the very heavens. We also say this so that our citizenship may be in heaven, (Phil 3:20) revealing to us the revelation which carries up to heaven those who take away every veil from the heart, and receive “a spirit of the wisdom and revelation” of God. (Eph. 1:17) And if we too have said like Peter, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” not as if flesh and blood had revealed it unto us, but by light from the Father in heaven having shone in our heart, we become a Peter, and to us there might be said by the Word, “you are Peter,” etc. For a rock (or a Peter, which means rock) is every disciple of Christ of whom those drank who drank of the spiritual rock which followed them, (1 Cor 10:4) and upon every such rock is built every word of the church; for in each of the perfect, who have the combination of words and deeds and thoughts which fill up the blessedness, is the church built by God.

But if you suppose that upon that one Peter only the whole church is built by God, what would you say about John the son of thunder or each one of the Apostles? Shall we otherwise dare to say, that against Peter in particular the gates of Hades shall not prevail, but that they shall prevail against the other Apostles and the perfect? Does not the saying previously made, “the gates of Hades shall not overpower it,” hold in regard to all and in the case of each of them? And also the saying, “upon this rock I will build My church“? Are the keys of the kingdom of heaven given by the Lord to Peter only, and will no other of the blessed receive them?

But if this promise, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven,” be common to the others, how shall not all the things previously spoken of, and the things which are subjoined as having been addressed to Peter, be common to them? For in this place these words seem to be addressed as to Peter only, “whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,” etc; but in the Gospel of John the Saviour having given the Holy Spirit unto the disciples by breathing upon them said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” (Jn 20:22-23). Many then will say to the Saviour, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” but not all who say this will say it to Him, as not at all having learned it by the revelation of flesh and blood but by the Father in heaven Himself taking away the veil that lay upon their heart, in order that after this “with unveiled face reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord” they may speak through the Spirit of God saying concerning Him, “Lord Jesus,” and to Him, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

And if any one says this to Him, not by flesh and blood revealing it unto Him but through the Father in heaven, he will obtain the things that were spoken according to the letter of the Gospel to Peter, but, as the spirit of the Gospel teaches, to every one who becomes such as that Peter was. For all bear the surname of “rock” who are the imitators of Christ, that is, of the spiritual rock which followed those who are being saved, that they may drink from it the spiritual draught. But these bear the surname of the rock just as Christ does. But also as members of Christ deriving their surname from Him they are called Christians, and from the rock, Peters. And taking occasion from these things you will say that the righteous bear the surname of Christ who is Righteousness, and the wise of Christ who is Wisdom. (1 Cor 1:24) And so in regard to all His other names, you will apply them by way of surname to the saints; and to all such the saying of the Saviour might be spoken, “you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.

But what is the “it”? Is it the rock upon which Christ builds the church, or is it the church? For the phrase is ambiguous. Or is it as if the rock and the church were one and the same? This I think to be true; for neither against the rock on which Christ builds the church, nor against the church will the gates of Hades prevail; just as the way of a serpent upon a rock, according to what is written in the Proverbs, (Prov 30:19) cannot be found. Now, if the gates of Hades prevail against any one, such an one cannot be a rock upon which Christ builds the church, nor the church built by Jesus upon the rock; for the rock is inaccessible to the serpent, and it is stronger than the gates of Hades which are opposing it, so that because of its strength the gates of Hades do not prevail against it; but the church, as a building of Christ who built His own house wisely upon the rock, (Mt. 7:24) is incapable of admitting the gates of Hades which prevail against every man who is outside the rock and the church, but have no power against it.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Concept of Hell, and a Note on Women Bishops

I’m surprised he even has one, but…

When asked if hell exists and what it is like, he said: “My concept of hell, I suppose, is being stuck with myself for ever and with no way out.

“Whether anybody ever gets to that point I have no idea. But that it’s possible to be stuck with my selfish little ego for all eternity, that’s what I would regard as hell.”

There are many in TEC who are guffawing at anyone who believes in hell or even eternal existence.  I’m not really positive if KJS believes in any afterlife, let alone heaven or hell.

The key problem with hell is not who you’re stuck with but who you’re stuck without, i.e., God.

The key problem with Rowan Williams is that many in the Anglican Communion are beginning to realise that hell is being stuck with him as ABC.

As for women bishops, a favourite topic of his and mine:

Asked why the Church of England is still struggling to admit women bishops long after Britain had its first female Prime Minister, he said: “The Church has got to solve this on its own terms and yes that does take longer and it can be embarrassing sometimes.

“You look at society and you realise people don’t fully understand why the church is taking so long, and what the terms are in which the church is trying to sort it out.”

If TEC, for example, would get around to ordaining a bishop on the order and thinking of Margaret Thatcher, it would have gone a long way to fixing this problem.  But (with the possible exception of Geralyn Wolf) TEC has produced a procession of flaming liberals for its women bishops, either belligerent (like Barbara Harris and Katharine Jefferts Schori) or sappy.

And that, BTW, is a “shot across the bow” for my COG friends who support women in ministry.  You want to use Deborah as a role model?  Support one for the job when the time comes.

The Anti-Moon Luddites March On

The dear old Miami Herald reports the following:

NASA doesn’t have nearly enough money to meet its goal of putting astronauts back on the moon by 2020 — and it might be the wrong place to go, anyway. That’s one of the harsh messages emerging from a sweeping review of NASA’s human space flight program.

The Human Space Flight Plans Committee, appointed by President Barack Obama and headed by retired aerospace executive Norman Augustine, has been trying to stitch together some kind of plausible strategy for America’s manned space program. The panel has struggled to find options that stay under the current budget and include missions worthy of the cost and effort.

It’s interesting to note that the 40th anniversary of the first Moon landing and Woodstock are within a month of each other.  They reflect the two threads of the 1960’s: the advance of technology and science on the one hand, and the “naturalistic/Luddite” reaction to it on the other.  As I noted last month, at time time many people thought we should scrap the moon program and concentrate on problems here, the entitlement waste and technological spinoffs of the space program notwithstanding.

But the Luddites have the upper hand these days, even with someone at the helm who was still a child during Woodstock.  There’s no talk of expanding NASA’s budget.  As one commenter to the article noted, we can drop $3 billion in “Cash for Clunkers” but can’t increase funding for the space program.  And that doesn’t consider the other entitlements whose improvements of productivity are dubious.  (We can’t even get our transportation system past a near failing grade from ASCE!)

What’s galling is that these ninny New Atheists are so happy the “fundies” are out of power they can’t see the real quality of what has replaced them.  While “science as a religion” advances, real science and technology take a back seat.

But not to worry: if we don’t do it, someone else will.

Is It Legitimate to Leave a Church Because of the Coffee?

One of the rude awakenings I received recently on Titusonenine was that it was the policy of the blog that “…comments requiring, encouraging or intimating that other readers must or should leave or join a particular church are well known to be against T19 comment policy.”  I was aware that this was StandFirm’s policy, and commented on same, as they had elucidated this for all to see.  When I had the bad taste to point out that StandFirm had made this clearer and thought that TitusOneNine should do the same, my comment was deleted, at which point I decided to take my leave–for a while at least–from Titusonenine.

That may prove a tactical error, given that the Diocese of South Carolina–where Kendall Harmon is no less than Canon Theologian–has become the focus of attention in the Anglican/Episcopal world.  Or maybe not: some of what I’ve had to say in the past hasn’t sat well with a few in the Diocese, and I’ve got problems aplenty here.  Whatever the Diocese (and their Bishop Mark Lawrence) does is just about guaranteed to make no one happy, and their position is unenviable.

Now I think that any blog or website has the right to set its own terms and conditions.  But I also think that those terms and conditions should be spelled out in a “permanent” (to the extent that anything on the Internet is permanent) way, as I do here.  But I have to admit that the Elves stretched their credibility to the limit when they stated that “…comments such as the following would be problematical…you must join church B because they have nicer liturgy, vestments, taste, more poor people, fewer poor people, women priests, male priests,  better coffee…”

Better coffee?  That brings up several points.

  1. I’m a part of a church of coffee hounds.  That in part is because our people are not allowed to drink alcohol, something that has never stood in the way of progress (?) in the Episcopal Church.  (As my Episcopal priest second year Latin teacher used to say, when four “Whiskeypalians” get together, there’s always a fifth.)  The morning coffee is a ritual for many of our ministers and lay people alike.  So I agree that coffee is important.
  2. It’s not easy to spend a lot of time in a place where the coffee is deficient.  At the ministry I work at, I have to deal with the fact that my superior is a Dunkin’ Donuts fan, which means we’re forced to imbibe that on a regular basis.  When I’m on the road with him, his GPS is programmed to find the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts, and that’s no fun for this Starbucks fan either.  When Leonard Sweet came to speak at our department’s General Assembly function, it wasn’t easy to admit to the author of The Gospel According to Starbucks that our ship was captained by a DD addict.
  3. Alcohol notwithstanding, the “Sunday morning coffee” is a central ritual in the life of most Anglican/Episcopal churches.  Evangelical churches have traditionally tended to concentrate the joe in Sunday School, but Episcopal churches use the coffee (usually after service) to greet new visitors.  So its quality and blend are critical to the church’s growth.  I think that Episcopal Churches have many more pressing reasons for their decline, but given the seriousness of the situation I wouldn’t rule anything out.
  4. Some churches have appropriate types of coffee.  For example, cowboy churches should have cowboy coffee.  Cowboy coffee, as a friend of mine from the Hill Country (of Texas) explained, is made by dumping the grounds in the bottom of a deep pan and hitting same rapidly with boiling water.  It’s good to the next to the last drop.

These and other weighty considerations lead me to three conclusions.

First, although I can’t say that I’d pass up a church because of the coffee, good joe is an important part of a church’s presentation to those who visit, and shouldn’t be overlooked in these times.  (And that not only includes the brand, but avoiding bad habits such as allowing the stuff to be boiled down to the grounds in the coffeemaker, etc.)

Second, StandFirm and TitusOneNine may not want to broach the subject of changing churches, but I do.  So comment away along these lines; I only ask that you be sweet.  In fact, one of the most popular pieces on this site is Think Before You Convert, which weighs the virtues of Anglican vs. Roman Catholic churches.  So their loss is my gain.

Third, IMHO the Elves need to lighten up on the subject of coffee.  Personally I’d love to see a good comment volley over coffee, as opposed to a lot of the things we see on Anglican blogs.  But as long as the Elves “hang tough” on these issues, we’ll just need to sip our joe in peace.