Wednesday, December 27, 2006

On Converting to Vegetarianism

I got a new job. I now work at a French bakery. I wish I could say I bake bread, but as it is I just deliver it to a few local stores. One of the stores I visit everyday is a granola joint called Open Harvest. I really like stopping there, as it exudes a unique sense of community. Everyone there is very nice, but are mostly not like me. The air has a distinct aroma, you know, like there’s been a stock pot of parsnips, leeks and rutabaga simmering since Monday. It’s not offensive; mind you, just very different than the Super Colossal Mega-don warehouse called a supermarket where I usually shop. I must confess I feel a bit uneasy at Open Harvest, mainly because I feel like an organic heathen. I don’t think they are trying to make me feel this way, but I certainly sense I am an outsider. There is a definite “look” to the employees, as well as a language and an unwritten set of rules I’m afraid I will break. Today I’m looking at a shelf of snack food, (Keep in mind, here snack food means something different than the chips and jerky at the local Loaf-N-Jug) and below one of the items is a yellow warning label in all caps: THIS PRODUCT CONTAINS TRANS-FAT! Never mind the question that if it does, why are they selling it? I don’t know what the label says to you, but it says to me that if I choose this item and carry it to the checkout dude in the Himalayan hand-knitted stocking cap, I will do so with a sense of shame and chastisement. I can just picture the scowl on checker dude’s face. You’re buying this, this trans-fat laden poison!?!? Help me out here. Stop setting the snack food trap for me, the newbie, OK? I wonder if this is what its like for a person unfamiliar with the Church As We Know It. I’m sure they experience the same look, language and unwritten rules that would exist in any kind of community. These things are inevitable. They are what define us as community, whether we are a church or the Lion’s Club. Maybe we could make things easier by not setting land mines that explode whenever someone outside the community steps on one. Let’s let the offense of the Gospel be a spiritual one, not because your friend is a liberal lesbian who smokes and is afraid to do so around you because she was afraid of what you would think.

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