Closing time and the little girl who never had a home cooked meal
Like an old crusty man, I like to sometimes sit outside under the night sky (usually grey) with my pipe and a drink and ponder how much the world has changed over my lengthy years on this planet. Cell phones, CD’s, DVD’s, touch-tone phones, etc etc. I wish I had more grey in my beard in order to make the image more pristine…anyway, just this weekend one change came into my mind that I’d never thought of before: the hours of your local grocery store.
A grocery store that keeps its doors open 24 hours a day is a really new innovation, I recall hours of 10am to 6pm being quite normative and they’d also usually be closed on Sundays too. Of course, this begs the question of why we today need 24 hour grocery stores when our parents didn’t? Keep in mind, it is expensive for a store to stay open this long and the decision to do so must have been fueled by demand. Why the demand?
Now I imagine in many other countries and cultures we really do not see this demand like we do here in America…I suspect because we have become such a fast-paced culture: always busy doing things and when we are not busy doing things we are busy being entertained by some form of media. Both parents in the typical family home are “forced” to work in order to maintain a normative “standard of living” and if that standard precludes the hiring of a maid or nanny, then we MUST have longer store hours. We have developed a culture of convenience, desperately seeking more time to be free to be entertained – which never seems to happen. Store hours reflect this shift.
I just heard, from a friend of mine, the story of a little girl she knows who has never had a real home cooked meal. Thanksgiving Day was spent skiing in the local mountains, Christmas was spent in Hawaii with Christmas Day dinner being served at some fancy restaurant, daily breakfasts were hurried along (busy busy busy) with pre-packaged energy bars, and dinners were scattered between the various family members’ arrival times and the frozen meals waiting for entrance into the microwave. The little girl was apparently amazed in spending the night at my friends house to see the family all sit down to dinner and to actually have time to have a real breakfast at the table in the morning – it was not just a “treat”, it was utterly foreign to her. Funny (sad really) that the very idea of a family sitting down to meal together is looked upon comically today!
Let me be bold and frank. While I was in a seeker-friendly church down in California, it seemed all they were about was making yuppies feel good about being “Christian” yuppies. Not one iota of challenge to REALLY and RADICALLY alter their lives. And indeed we tend to want to approach evangelism with this notion of meeting people where they are, in other words: How can we fit Christianity into this person’s busy schedule? Or How can we mesh Christianity with this person’s worldview? At what point - and I assume that we all agree that there is SOME point - do we draw the line and say that the person and their worldview must fit into Christianity’s schedule and it’s worldview?
I do not think that the aforementioned little girl’s family lifestyle would work well at all in the context of Orthodoxy. How could such a family find the time to attend Liturgy? How could they take time out for the intensity of Holy Week service or the 12 great feast days? Family Prayers? Confession? You see my point…I really think that to fully embrace Orthodoxy, these folks would HAVE to change their lifestyle, they would have to slow down. And this is the kind of religion that I want to have, one that I submit to instead of the other way around. Millions have gone before me in the Church and they have (we believe) handed down to us a way of life.
And this is what I mean when I mention where context ought to lie. I, me, myself…we are not the final arbiters of truth. If the Church is what she claims to be, then she is the arbiter of truth. Naturally, this begs the question: What is the Church? Regardless, at some point culture must answer to someone, just like I do.
...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 9:33 AM [+]