Confession time - The "chimney cam" that CNN had in the lower corner of the screen during the news this morning made me chuckle. ("forgive me father for I've sinned....It's been, well, NEVER since my last confession...see, I'm Methodist and we don't have confession..in fact, we really don't like to discuss what sinners we are with folks that ain't even family") News folks love to make the day to day here on planet earth "breaking news" don't they? Though I don't darken the doors of a church like I should in my old age, I did grow up a fairly active United Methodist. But I don't remember what happens when the North Georgia Conference chooses a new bishop. I'm pretty sure there's no smoke involved... unless someone brings some barbecue to the proceedings.
I jest - I'm not trying to make light of the sanctity of this selection for those of the Roman Catholic Church, I promise. In fact, there lives in me a tinge of jealousy towards those who can lay claim to such antiquity in things of importance - whether it's your faith, your home, your city or your church. I'm jealous of folks in other parts of the world that say things like "someone in my family's farmed this land for the last 500 years" or "our offices are in a structure that was built in 1625..." In our young nation, only Native Americans are afforded such legacy.
Speaking of Methodism, I've always been fascinated with its founder, John Wesley. Any reading you can do on the person John Wesley (as opposed to the founder of a religious movement John Wesley) is time well spent. He was the 15th born in a family of 19 children (yes, I said 19....fertility ran in the family - his mother Susannah was the youngest of 25 children born to a Puritan minister.) The young John survived a fire in the family rectory in 1709, giving birth to the conviction in Susannah's heart that her son was destined for greatness. She schooled all her children at home, insisting that they were able to read by age four. But when he was 11, she sent John off to Charterhouse School in Godalming, Surrey (which - speaking of living artifacts - is still in operation as an independent boarding school.) The other day, while reading about his life as an 11 year old away at boarding school, I noticed that each day began with a breakfast of "bread, cheese and beer." This probably kept any homesickness at bay as he was accustomed to beer with meals at home. Susannah, you see, was quite the brewer and always kept her family supplied with beer. Consequently, in addition to accidentally founding Methodism, in adulthood he also became quite a brew master himself. He considered hard ("distilled") liquor the doorstep to hellfire and only to be used for medicinal purposes. But beer was dang near a food group!
JUST DON'T POUR HIM A GLASS OF ALE THAT'S BEEN BREWED WITH HOPS! In 1789, so distressed by brewers' tendency to reintroduce this "poisonous herb" back into their wort, he wrote a letter published in the Bristol Gazette that's every bit as much fire and brimstone as his sermons on "salvation by faith" (1738) or "Free Grace" (1739.) From that letter to the Gazette:
Brew any quantity of malt, add hops to one half of this, and none to the other half. Keep them in the same cellar three or six months, and the ale without hops will keep just as well as the other. I have made the experiment at London. One barrel had no hops, the other had. Both were brewed with the same malt, and exactly in the same manner. And after six months that without hops had kept just as well as the other. "But what bitter did you infuse in the room of it?" No bitter at all. No bitter is necessary to preserve ale, any more than to preserve cider or wine. I look upon the matter of hops to be a mere humbug upon the-good people of England; indeed, as eminent an one on the whole nation as "the man’s getting into a quart bottle" was on the people of London.I'll probably not share this bit of history with my father-in-law. A good southern Baptist, he takes great delight in ribbing me about us Methodists and our tendencies to have a sip now and again. At family gatherings held at any home on my side of the family you can hear him "Now which of these punch bowls is the Methodist punch bowl and which one is for Baptists?" I'll not add any fuel to that fire! I'm quite certain there's as many Baptists who imbibe, they just don't admit it. I gather this from some wisdom my father once shared with me when explaining the difference between denominations - "Presbyterians are Baptists who will speak to you at the liquor store."
"I am man, hear me roar..."
Were I not such a loyal driver of Ford products (mostly large ones - I'm on my fourth F150) I just might go out and buy me a Subaru. Have you seen their commercial depicting a father waiting with his little girl at the bus stop? On what is presumably her first day of school he discusses his overly-protective nature as the reason he drives a Subaru. He then gets in his very dependable Subaru and follows the bus to school to make sure she gets there ok. What a treat! A commercial where a man is depicted as something besides an all-thumbs, "Neanderthalish" goober that only understands chicken wings, sports and naps on the couch! You've seen these commercials - the ones where the cold medicine really needs to hurry up and work because Mom needs to save her family from the idiot she married that damn near burned down the house trying to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Or the one for some cleaner so tough on stains it can even get the mud off the kitchen floor when jackass drags a hose in the house and tries to bathe a 700 pound St. Bernard in the kitchen.
I'm going to channel my inner ad-executive and ask you to consider these:
-A beer that advertises itself as something that can help a married man get through THAT week every month ("When she reaches for Pamprin, you reach for a cold Bud.")
-A pain reliever "so effective even headaches caused by a weekend with your mother-in-law are gone in just one dose!"
-Car insurance with an accident forgiveness clause anytime you drive your vehicle into a tree because she just wouldn't shut the hell up!!
-"When you tell her to get in the kitchen where she belongs and fix you a sandwich, make sure it's Boar's Head meat..."
Those "The View" chicks' craniums would simultaneously explode. Everyone from Gloria Steinem to Oprah to the ACLU would call for boycotts and lawsuits. I use extremes for the sake of a joke, obviously. But still, my extremes aren't that much more overtly insulting than some of the stereotypes I see suggested by real commercials. It's no longer an "Ozzie and Harriett" world. Men are doing as much housework and shopping as their spouses. My thanks to Subaru for recognizing this. We're neanderthals but we have feelings for God's sake! Can't someone just hug me?
(Full disclosure - none of the jokes I've made here apply to life in my house. My bride is a better driver than I am and I worship the ground my mother-in-law walks on.)