The Exousia of Mealtime: A New Way of Understanding Breakfast

 

Breakfast. Sustenance. Food is life.

 

Scrambled eggs, oatmeal, Nutrigrain bars, Crunchwraps. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, or so the diet and nutritional experts say.

 

But.

 

What if…

 

I were to tell you something so profound it could change the way we look at, eat, and even experience breakfast?

 

Experience it in a way unlike all other ways. As part of God’s breakfast that shows us how to eat our breakfast the way breakfast should be eaten or, dare I say it, as an experience beyond mere chewing and swallowing.

 

There’s a song that hints at the breakfast we limit ourselves to experiencing as performed by the group Newsboys. The lyrics go something like this,

 

“When all the toast has burned and all the milk has turned and Cap’n Crunch is saying farewell, when the big one finds you may this song remind you that they don’t serve breakfast in hell.”

 

Really?

 

They don’t serve breakfast in hell? We have confirmation of this? Someone knows this? Without a doubt? And the Newsboys decided to take on the responsibility of letting the rest of us know?

 

These lyrics perfectly describe the shortcomings of what we talk about when we talk about breakfast. Why does the toast have to be burned? Why can’t we drink milk that never goes bad? Where does the milk come from anyway and how do we even know its milk we’re putting on our Cap’n Crunch? And why is Cap’n Crunch saying farewell?

 

Does Quaker Oats Company shape our view of the Divine more than the experiences and stories of those who went before us who had a truer experience of breakfast?

 

We hunger for more. Delicious. Nutritious. Transcendent.

 

Something more fulfilling then the transient experience of the Newsboy’s song. It was a good song in 1996 but can it sustain us anymore?

 

No.

 

We need better breakfast songs. Songs that share our soul cravings. Songs best summed up in a word from an ancient language devoid of any biblical context.

 

Εχουσια. Exousia. An ancient Koine Greek word that can change everything,

 

Our breakfast hopes. Dreams. Desires. For God. For full stomachs.

 

Exousia.

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Pablum as Profundity (or Negative Thoughts on Positivity)

 

You may have seen them on social media -Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest- they are fairly ubiquitous. You may have a few friends or acquaintances that post them every day, or you may post them yourself: inspirational quotes over a picture of a field, sunshine, or stylized background. Usually you are invited to share the quote with everyone and sometimes they sound pretty good, but sometimes not so much.

This week I’ve been waging a one man campaign against the profusion of positivity quotes. On Facebook I have been posting faux inspirational quotes sourced from actual words and writings of select people and watching the reactions they garner (you can see them here: https://www.facebook.com/michaelalandsman/media_set?set=a.10152491981653169.1073741840.548908168&type=3). Sometimes they were shared with no comment and sometimes they started conversations. I even used three hashtags to indicate that the quotes were meant to be taken satirically. At first I started with absurd quotes from movies like Mystery Men or Big Trouble in Little China but soon moved on. I discovered in the tweets and resources of televangelists and Christian “life coaches” a world far more inane and unintentionally funny than I thought possible, so I started posting their quotes. Then I started thinking about the whole thing.

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A good friend of mine recently said in a sermon that life is not moon beams and sparkle ponies. I mention this because most of these motivational quotes exist in the world of moon beams and sparkle ponies. They are words of wisdom from a world where everything is expected to work in our favor and to our advantage. We desperately want to live in a world where our poor finances, familial crises, or poor health are magically relieved. These spin meisters take the scriptures and use them to create a world of moon beams and sparkle ponies and we buy their books, we ingest their sermons and life courses, fill their wallets, and eat their pablum. And thats exactly what it is: pablum masquerading as profundity.

These purveyors of pablum will make cursory comments about life’s difficulties, but the paths they offer ultimately lead to disappointment. They teach people to go around the long, slow march towards Christlikeness while trying to get out of the situations that God is using to make them more like Jesus in the first place. Telling someone “When you see what’s invisible God will do the impossible” or “A broke man is not a man without a nickel but a man without a dream” acknowledges difficulties but sidesteps completely any words or counsel on how to actually see the invisible or find a dream. And the sad thing is the scriptures do offer us help, they do offer us direction and comfort, but when God’s word becomes mixed with trite feel-goodisms the scriptures are robbed of their power.

The way Jesus offers us is infinitely better than anything we can possibly imagine, but we don’t get the fullness of it right now in the present. We get a foretaste, and believe me its the best thing you’ll ever taste, but it is only a hint of the glories to come. That foretaste, that hint of the world to come, is what motivated and empowered the early Christians to endure terrible times and that should be what motivates and empowers us. St. Paul says in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” The context of that glory is the resurrection and the redemption of all things not finding a dream or seeing the invisible. As we anticipate that day lets not hit that share button before a few moments of reflection. Half-truths sound great, and may contain a modicum of good advice, but ultimately do not satisfy because pablum never does.