Friday, August 21, 2009
God and Grits
There is a story the late southern author Truman Capote told about the ingrained nature of southern American culture and his ordering bacon and eggs at a Mississippi diner. The waitress said “we’re out” meaning that the requested order could not be served for lack of the products mentioned. Capote asked if they had eggs ? bacon ? – to which the waitress shook her head in the positive. “Then why can’t I get my bacon and eggs?” - to which the waitress responded “cause we’re all out of grits”.
The story speaks of a mindset of that culture whereby breakfast is not breakfast unless it is accompanied by that local delicacy – grits.
The mindset of a lot of religious bureaucrats dealing with the same Jesus story and message is that they are unable to cater to the spiritual needs of somebody that walks in off the street into their church or sacred place. You have to order Jesus off that menu and you have to like grits – which is metaphoric for a whole litany of possible items, prayers, dress, ritual, literal as opposed to open to interpretation dogma etc.
Having been raised in the RC church and in spite of that fact I want to be in someway Christian and follow the teachings of Jesus in my daily life because quite frankly it seems the right thing to do along that line. It also has to do with tradition and wanting to carry on something of the culture that preceded myself.
In the glaring lights of so many demands on our attention and psyche in this modern age, in this global age, the old religion has not translated well for me and others - does not transcend into the modern age with the right feel or right taste of “grits” in a metaphoric sense.
I was not raised in the tent, revival atmosphere of fundamentalist Christianity. No matter how they cut that mustard, it is not grits to me. And there is that hostility thing from people who have never moved more than a hundred miles from their birthplaces and they seem to think they have the perfect spiritual grits whether you like them or not.
Having traveled in the south, the one thing you don’t tell a waitress is that you don’t want grits. That is a first red flag signal to them that “you are not from around here heh?”
This is not a criticism of southern culture. In fact I love grits and many other things you can only get on your plate when you are in that part of the country. I do use the one size fits all mentally or there is something wrong if you don’t like or want grits to illustrate the point.
The most you can want and the least that the God bureaucrats might be willing to concede, but won’t - is to let you order a non-menu item – no special requests and no daily specials served in the church.
In religion, you cannot choose what ancient rituals or dogmas you want to leave off your plate. Religion in the west has settled into that hometown losing sports team mode. Nobody wants to get new players or fire the coach. Fewer and fewer people attend the home game. Revenues are down. The club folds. Only after a few empty seasons does anybody notice or become nostalgic for the “good old days”.
Somewhere along the timeline the idea of service to others, of serving what the person can or cannot eat in terms of a spiritual diet, has gone out of vogue. The restaurant can be almost empty and the chef will only serve tripe the night you show up and want to order grits.
Where are the spiritual menus and flavors and wonders of a modern age to be served off the universal Jesus menu of love and service to others?