Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Gospel According to Starbucks

Seems like this blog discusses coffee quite a bit which just reflects on the fact that we love our black juice. My coffee fervor is well known, so much so that one of the students in the student ministry purchased a book for me for Christmas called The Gospel According to Starbucks: Living with a Grande Passion by Leonard Sweet. I have to confess that I am more than sick of any book title including "The Gospel according to." It's really inaccurate and definitely trite.

That being said, Leonard Sweet has been one of my favorite writers and thinkers primarily because he frames conversations of church and faith in unchurchy terms and different metaphors. He loves the metaphor, he loves linking the ancient with the current and the future.

This book is a quick read and might not be as good as some of his previous books but the thing I really did enjoy about it was a lot of the coffee history and facts.

The main premise is that the spiritual experience needs to be EPIC: Experiential, Participatory, Image-rich & Connecting. Here's some quotes & highlights:

Of course, coffee consumption in USAmerica pales in comparison to soft drinks (70 percent of which are carbonated). Soda pop and other such beverages add up to 574 cans for every man, woman and child. But unlike soda's sugar high, java jolts are actually good for you. Historically, physicians have been of two minds about caffeine. When they were not warning of its harmful effects, they were prescribing coffee for healthful impact on an astounding variety of diseases - from kidney stones and gout to smallpox, measles, and coughs. Now that sophisticated studies are being conducted to find out the real impact of caffeine, it seems the harder researchers work to detect the bad things coffee does to you, the more they unearth coffee's health benefits.
It is known, for instance, that coffee delivers more health-giving antioxidants to our diet than fruit, vegetables and nuts. At six cups a day and under, coffee reduces your chances of getting Parkinson's disease, liver and colon cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, Type 2 diabetes and, if you are a fast metabolizer, heart disease. As a bonus, coffee improves male fertility. Caffeine can also protect you against skin cancer - but you'd have to smear it on your body for it to work.

The Bible is right. You can't live by bread alone. You need apple butter on your bread, you need coffee in your cup, and you need a friend.

Coffee talk makes the best God talk.

Jesus, while not a coffee drinker, modeled the life of faith as both a consuming philosophy and a daily practice - a full-life engagement. He showed us that it's a life in which God is as immediate, available, and real as a steaming cup of coffee first thing in the morning.

...the cup of coffee you enjoy in the morning is much closer to a chalice of communion wine than you realize.

The Bible is less a book about how people thought about God than it is a book about the religious experiences of individuals and communities. Experience is the engine room of the biblical and spiritual enterprise.

If faith is not both an engagement and an experience, then it's little more than a good idea. If faith is not beautiful in its practice, then it can easily devolve into an argument and a polemic.

Authenticity is not about being more relevant but about being more Jesus.

Design is no longer optional or just an add on. To qualify for a hearing, the church must convert to beauty and learn the narrative of aesthetics that constitutes the Grand Design. This is not a 'designer spirituality,' but a spirituality of Grand Design.

Beauty is a soul bender. As blemished as we are, we all can be beauty spots for God.

The gospel of Jesus never promises us comfort. When did Jesus get treated fairly? Fair is a fairy tale (and not a very exciting one).

Coffee is a communal drink, the Baptist beer. Coffee connects people, and it helps people connect. Far from the dulling effects of alcohol, the other traditional communal beverage, coffee sharpens our wits. Even decaf has a way of opening our eyes to the day, to what's going on around us. If coffee is a civilizing drink, it's also a clarifying drink. It's easier to think, to ponder, to consider and reconsider with a cup of coffee in hand. That's why coffee and rational discourse have always gone together: coffee sharpens wits, clears minds, and enhances the power of connections.

If the church had known what business it was really in (the connection business), it would have said to this culture: 'Let us be your front porch.' But the church has divested itself of the connection business in order to master the principle business, the proposition business, and the being right business. Its school of thought is now a school of ought. The church is by and large no longer in the relationship business.

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