Saturday, October 13, 2012


Saturday. Sofa. Coffee.

A memory surfaced this morning.  As I poured my cereal and placed the box back down on the counter, for a moment I was six years old again, sitting at the breakfast table at the Tropical Breeze Motel in Panama City, Florida.  Fred, an adult close family friend who also made the annual summer pilgrimage to PC, was sitting with me.  He was making fun of me because I was reading the cereal box.

So, as I put the box down this morning, I felt compelled to do a little reading.  (Weirdly, I am doing all this in a house that Fred built fifty years ago. Perhaps he is still laughing at me from the great beyond. I hope so.)

Grape Nuts cereal has no grape nuts in it. No grapes. No nuts. No grape nuts because there is no such thing.

I never really thought about it before.  I just enjoyed the nutty,crunchy goodness of the Post product mainstay.  I always assumed it exuded a natural healthiness, especially containing that mysterious essence of grape nuts.

There is no mysterious essence.  Grape Nuts is made of whole wheat flour and barley.

Sometimes I wish I didn't like to read so much.  I would still believe in Grape Nuts.

I'm not eating mysteriously healthy Grape Nuts.  I am eating flour and barley.  Good thing I am not gluten sensitive.

Bummer.  Better double up on the fish oil.  If that's what it really is.

I should have learned my lesson years ago.  When I was a child Cheerios advertised itself as a grain version of Popeye's spinach, with commercials featuring Cheerios Kid and Sue. (Please look at that link, especially you who are younger than 50. It will help you understand your elders)  If you ate it your biceps would immediately bulge, and a big round Cheerio tattoo would appear on the inside of the upper arm and you would do heroic things.   I skinned my knuckles during a test punch against the pine panelling in the hallway to my room.  I guess I buried that painful memory until this morning and the unraveling of the whole breakfast cereal mythology.

The truth is, I still like Grape Nuts.  And Cheerios.  And the truth is, I really had an idea that Grape Nuts was not really made of grape nuts.  And that Cheerios did not instantly make me Herculean.

But it was nice to ignore what I knew was probably the truth. It just made me feel so good.

Feeling good was good enough for Janis and Bobby McGhee.  But it didn't last. Janis let Bobby slip away.
And Janis did too, at the age of 27, when she died of an overdose.

Feeling good at the expense of the truth can result in relatively harmless, maybe even humorous, results, like a skinny six year old kid trying to punch a hole in a wall.

Or, it can be deadly.

Some good, Christian Germans who allowed the Holocaust, the cruel murder of millions of innocents,  felt good that their homeland was being cleansed. .

Some good, Christian Americans, felt good that black bodies were left swinging from the limbs of southern Oaks or exploding into pieces in Birmingham.

Some good, courageous explorers and pioneers felt good about eradicating native Americans from their homelands.

Some good, religious Muslims feel good about killing Christians and Western devils.

Some good folks feel good about treating Hispanic men, women and children so cruelly that they had to "voluntarily" return home.

The crowd that screamed "free Barabbas" and sent the Truth to the cross to die a torturous death felt good about it, while Pilate, whom we in that crowd tend to blame for the way things turned out, asked, "What is truth?"

Jesus said that the truth will set us free.  He said that He, Himself, embodied the Truth.  The truths that he revealed are clear.  Love God. Love everyone, including, especially, your enemies (anyone can love their friends). Turn the other cheek.  Do not judge others. Take care of and love the poor, the widow, the orphan, the children, the sick,  the outcast, without condition.  Love and serve. Sacrifice. Do not store up treasure for yourself.  The least are the greatest and vice versa.

But that's not the way Jesus' truth has been packaged by those of us who have been called to advertise it.  We have not been truthful.  We just want to justify feeling good.  Feeling good about being judgmental. Feeling good about the failures of others. Feeling good about revenge. Feeling good about winning at all costs. Feeling good about our wealth and excused for the plight of those less fortunate.

Maybe it's time we got back to the Truth again.  It's simple enough for a six year old to read and understand.

Maybe it will renew our strength.

To truly do heroic things.


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