We have three plates left in the house. It’s one of those things, you know, that people slowly see dwindling in the kitchen without even realizing it. Over the decades, we have dropped, cracked, shattered, spindled, and otherwise mauled every plate in the house, but three. We need to make a special trip where we endeavor some serious plate-buying because there are four of us. For my Bethany friends, I’ll do the math: three is less than four and this is bad! We are just classy enough to maybe switch to plastic. In the meantime, we fight over who eats pancakes out of a bowl.
I don’t tell you this because I want somebody to buy us table settings for eight (although, if you’re up to the challenge…), but because I find it remarkable how we as humans adapt. A plate is a silly example, really. We could eat with our fingers, like dipping your hands in a Hawaiian delicacy like poi. Flatbread, like in Middle Eastern cultures can serve as your “scoop” – or, maybe chopsticks. Even if you don’t eat, ever: I bet you’ve tried the end of a pointy knife to remove a screw. The point I’m trying to make (no pun intended) is that we humans are an adaptable race. We love us some tools! Just like chimps use long twigs wet with spittle to aggravate termite mounds, we have taken things to a whole new realm of usefulness. And then, to trouble matters, we become so accustomed to using that single tool, we refuse to try others. Judi graciously settled tonight’s inevitable argument about who has to eat tacos out of a bowl. She will. Give her a tortilla on the side, and we should have no grouchy testosterone-laden teenagers employing increasingly vindictive namecalling–all because they got the bowl and not the plate.
What about spiritual tools? When I was in high school, I remember when Reader’s Digest came out with its trademark condensed version of the Bible, with all the boring bits chopped out. What a scandal at our church! I remember one parishoner at our church talking about buying them up and burning the copies so non-Christians wouldn’t get their hands on the expurgated Word of God. Can any kind of truth be received with the Reader’s Digest Bible?
We humans react to change. I do. There is a big flap about the new version of Huckleberry Finn that’s replaced the N-word with “slave” wherever Mark Twain decided to employ this term. My first reaction was one of the purist. “Why change Huck? The N-word was used back in the day.” The same guy who believes Bacon, or Marlowe, never wrote the plays of Shakespeare decided to bat. Methinks the guy who only will read Chaucer when he can read Middle English has just swung and struck out, several times. Are there young students who will benefit from the product, even though the tool is a bit different? Very possibly.
I would still rather have my oatmeal with a spoon, and eat my slice of pie pointy end first, and read my Huck Finn with all 121 original N-words. But that’s just me. I’m an intellectual geek. I also usually read the New Testament in Greek. I have to remember to cut people a little slack. We don’t all eat with chopsticks, but each of us manages to get the food to our mouths, and remain more-or-less satisfied when they’re done. Perhaps we don’t all need the same tool to achieve the same result.
Just food for thought. I’ll give you a butterknife to digest it. And no plate.
UPDATE: Miracle happened this evening. Alex found a fourth mystery plate that had been stored amongst the lids.