Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Fluffy Assasin

My godchildren, who live next door to us this summer, have a young cat named Boo. Picture a soft, pale-gold fluffball with golden eyes, twining around my legs while I'm trying to water the plants. When I ignore him, he rolls and stretches on his back, purring. Boo is so friendly, he once followed my husband and godson on a walk along the river, dashing ahead of them on the trail and then lying down with paws in the air, begging a tummy rub. He's also made numerous attempts to enter the house, slipping through opened windows or doors on a great explore. And if I weren't terribly allergic to cats, I'd be tempted to keep him.

Fluffy. Adorable.


First it was a dead mouse in the yard. Then it was a baby bird. Then another. Then two more mice in various stages of...well, I won't go into it. One afternoon I found a baby bird on the ground, and while I was trying to figure out what to do Boo suddenly appeared and pounced on it. I shrieked. I threated the cat. I ran for the shovel, so I could lift the unconscious bird out of Boo's reach. I hollered for my husband to help me. Shaking his head he said, "Sarah, he's an animal."

Of course, my husband still helped me. But his words sunk in. This fluffy, adorable little personality was not a person. He was a small creature whose primary instincts were to hunt other small creatures. Boo was not capable of looking at the baby bird and saying, "Ooo, isn't it so cute?" or, "It is my duty to protect such a vulnerable little thing." He would never be able to rationalize himself out of a kill by saying, "Look, dude, you're not even hungry." This is why God did not put cats in charge of the world.

Not that fallen humans are doing much better. If anything, our ability to rationalize is precisely why our behavior is so much more sinister. We rationalize ourselves into doing things we know we shouldn't do. If it were simply a matter of instinct, we'd be no more guilty than Boo. This is why we need Jesus. Not because we are naturally, instinctively inclined to selfishness at others' expense. But because we are deliberately, calculatingly so.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Happy Coffee

If you're anything like me, you are addicted to coffee but feel guilty about it--and not because of the addiction (!), but because you're supporting an industry that is unjust to third-world coffee farmers. Roughly every-other-month I stand helplessly in the coffee aisle of the local organic grocery store, feel vaguely outraged at the prices but knowing I need to do something to encourage sustainability. It's the usual stewardship conundrum: should I (a) be a good steward by saving money, or should I (b) be a good steward by paying a bit more to help the earth and those who farm it? Seeing as how I would probably spend the money I saved on "a" for something silly anyway (such as a mocha I don't need) I might as well choose "b" on behalf of creation, right? But somehow the wallet still hurts.

You can imagine my delight when I noticed a table in my church narthex featuring fair trade coffee, tea, and chocolate for sale. For $6 I was able to buy 12 oz. drip grind Equal Exchange coffee through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) Coffee Project. This morning I am a very, very happy coffee drinker drinking very, very happy coffee. Churches of all denominations can participate in the project too. Interested? Click here to learn more:

The Summer Blog Challenge

My apologies to all of you who have visited this blog over the past few months, hoping for more thoughts on The Daily Grind. Alas, this past semester in graduate school co-opted every coherent thought in my brain, and every spare word that I put on paper went to completing assignments. In fact, by the end of finals I realized I had written as many words in that two week stretch as the total word count of my first book! (Okay, so my first book was rather slim, but still...)

Now, this summer I've arrived at a different problem. I have lots of devotional thoughts running through my mind, but every time I go to post them, I think, "Wait. Save that for the next book." Of course, I could still post them and then publish them, like that guy on (whose blog and book are amazing; I highly recommend both). So that's what I'm going to try, whether I end up publishing my thoughts or not. I've given myself the challenge of posting on this blog at least once a week till the end of August. We'll see how it goes!