Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The New Best- Whatever

I have a Cookbook and it looks just like the one on the left. I received it from a friend, as a gift, some years ago. I assume the reason they chose this particular one was very specific. Maybe it was the title. Maybe they read it from cover to cover, some 800 pages, and thought I would like it. Maybe they already have this one, they'd made 1 dessert that was amazing and said "Chuck will love this dessert, I'll get it for him". Maybe they think I am a proud person and only will look at something if it says "Best" on it.

I didn't prejudge their motive in giving it to me; I was/am thankful for the gift and enjoy many things about it.

What's in the Book Matters and so is What's Not.
There a many words in this book, a few pictures and literally thousands of recipes tested. There is NOT a recipe for everything that you might ever want to cook, but rather the book covers the basics of what we, as Americans, might want to cook and find difficult to cook really well. Every French, Italian and Chinese recipe is not listed here, but if you want to know about cooking the BEST Hamburger, Prime Rib or Thanksgiving Turkey, this is your book.

As I stated earlier, there are some 800 pages, in this book and there are really not that many foods selected for so many pages. I could be upset that for having such a large cookbook they could have given me at least 1200 recipes, but there are probably not even 600. That's not the point of this book.

Is it REALLY the BEST?
How can someone say that about anything, especially in America, where we have a better X for everything that hits the street?

Let's talk TURKEY!

I am going to use a turkey as an example for this post.

This Thanksgiving I decided to butcher my home-grown turkeys to eat; we named them "Thanksgiving" and "Christmas". Don't even start with me about, "How could you kill your own turkeys?" blah, blah, blah. Someone killed yours if you ate turkey and frankly, it was kind of fun, in a "fulfilling" sort of way- pun intended.

Naturally, since we went to the work and expense of raising and then butchering our own birds, I wanted to have the BEST way of cooking the birds. Yes, I said "BEST". In the cookbook they have literally experimented with 50-60 birds to wind up with their recipe. I generally cook 1 turkey in November and 1 in December each year and I want each one of those to be really good. I don't want to buy a bird and experiment with a different failed recipe each time to finally end up with a great turkey when I am 75. Enter the TEST KITCHEN chefs.

In the book they talk about fresh, frozen and home-grown and organic birds. They talk about brining, deep frying, tenting, stuffing, optimal bird weight, seasonings, internal temperature and even resting before carving. That's a lot of info just to cook a bird. They go through the myths that your grandma taught you and even the science of many parts of their process. As an aside- do you know why a hamburger gets fat on the grill and almost turns into a meatball? Do you know a simple way to combat this? I do-because they told me.

You just think you're so Smart!

When I read the recipes and the foundational info connected to each recipe I could think the above. I mean, I've cooked some turkeys and some of them have turned out pretty stinking good. In fact, I've cooked some frozen turkeys, because they are like $.25 per pound around Thanksgiving, and some of them were really good, so don't go telling me that a frozen turkey will never be as good as a home-grown, fresh bird. (Stomping my feet and acting all childish.)

Doesn't that sound sort of stupid? I can look through the cookbook, read all the background for each recipe, understand better what the chefs are trying to aim for and then disregard everything they have said because "my mom told me that this was the best way and her turkey was pretty good most of the time". Great- throw away the cookbook and do it your way. Haven't we missed the point of the book by this time?

Sometimes there is a BEST.

In America we seem to have this idea that everyone should get a ribbon for participation or that to say something is BEST means that everything else is C.R.A.P. There's BEST and all else is not 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 8th place, but 1st and "off the scale terrible". You win the Superbowl- OR you suck, even if it was a 35-34 double OT game. I'm not sure why we think that. There is a clear winner- they are BEST. There are clearly those in 2nd and 5th and they too are probably good or even great but not BEST; at least not that day. If you come in 2nd, try to do better tomorrow. If you come in first- the same applies.

Back to the cookbook. The turkeys we cooked this year were REALLY good. Were they the best ever? I think so. Did we follow EVERY letter of the "rules" of the recipe? Nope. The birds were bigger than they said were optimal- stupid birds ate too much:). Oh, does that mean that I can't use any of the principles outlined in the cookbook? Nope. If the turkey was frozen because I didn't want to wait until 2 days before Christmas to butcher the 2nd one, does that make it "less good" than the one on Thanksgiving. Maybe, but it's better than getting one that was frozen 10 months ago that was full of hormones. Make sense?

Throwing out Babies and Bathwater.

Hopefully you can see the point of the post thus far. As is my usual tendency- there is a spiritual point to this.

We have been talking a lot about liturgy in our worship lately. There is also some talk as to whether what is being said means that everyone else's worship is "bad". Can there really be a right way? God sees our hearts more than our actions, right? He sees both and there is some guidelines to our worship. Some foundation has been laid as to why we are doing things the way we are doing them; like the science and testing done by the chefs in the book.

If God has placed men in authority over a given church body, as leaders, and His Spirit is directing those men to introduce "new" things to us in the worship service, it seems there are a few ways to respond. I was going to add those responses but you can fill them in for yourself.

We should NOT ignore the "chefs" who have tried to help us understand why they believe this "recipe" will produce the best worship experience for this local body. If we do that then should we even have elders?

I don't have time, personally, to try out every form of worship combo that is being tried today, let alone in the past 2000 years, so I'd like to follow some people who have my best interest at heart, are taking their responsibilities seriously and are willing to step out an lead; not just stay stuck, in fear, that "we've always done it this way and we better not rock the boat".

Let's go and try to be the BEST worshippers we know how to be. Let's do that without saying that all others are in 7000th place, are heretics or all all going to Hell. Let's understand that there are ways to draw nearer to God in worship, which means there are things that cause us to move farther away. Let's follow the Book and the leaders given to our local portion of the Body. Let's do it with joy and make the loudest "BOOM" we are able, be pleased with the noise we are currently making but not satisfied that there is no way to make it louder.

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