i’ve been known to go on a rant or twenty in my day. when you’re in graduate school, sometimes they give you this really amazing opportunity to pick a favorite from this rant-thology (see what i did there?) and turn it into a thirty-ish+ page paper called a thesis. it was difficult to select one that was theologically relevant and would sufficiently convince my readers and advisors that i could go on to master divinity, so to speak.
i considered some of my favorites. how nick miller is a sloppily developed character and how he and jess would be horrible together were they not molded into a hybrid of quirk with misleading glimmers of compatibility? pass. how diet coke is substantially more delicious in a can than from other dispensary? the aluminum is so good and cold. compelling — and dare i say, a platform for a theological conversation about divine glory in a man-made creation. (think i’ll stow that one away for later.) what about how hanson is an incredibly great band and that they were robbed with the popularity of their ridiculously catchy first single. y’all. in an mmmbop, they’re still here and they are still killing it. maybe something about comcast? no – no one would even argue with that. it’d be a slam dunk.
a few times through the years, i’ve been at a retreat or workshop where i’ve taken a spiritual gifts inventory — it’s basically a long questionnaire that attempts to help you identify the gifts with which you may be equipped to serve. i usually do fine with leadership, administration, some others and consistently score flat zeros in the category of evangelism. OOH, evangelism. that’s a fun rant. that’ll do.
as i discovered in the 3-month process of writing and editing that really long paper, it is not evangelism itself that grinds my gears, but the way that certain individuals and groups have manipulated and threatened a life of faith while claiming to evangelize. the word actually means “good news”. so if evangelism is as simple as sharing the good news, then why do i shudder when i think of potentially being called to “evangelize”? through the decades, we’ve come to think of anyone sharing the good news as doing so in a pushy, abrasive, my way or the highway-to-hell kind of way. this is an unfair indictment. i realize that. but there is a reason that mainline reformed churches don’t talk about evangelism very much and there is a reason, fair or unfair, why i would jump into a swiftly flowing river to avoid getting cornered by someone who wants to ask me if i know jesus.
cut to 2008. i had just graduated from college and realized i had failed to prepare myself for the plan i thought i had made. plan b: move to seattle like a good little 21 year old presbyterian girl to be a young adult volunteer. weirdest year ever. lots of ups and downs, many of which make up my favorite stories to tell over and over (this epic binder of stories is right next to the ranthology on my mental bookshelf). during my year of residency in the emerald city, my roommate and i took two buses up to fremont to a sandwich shop that was recommended to her by a friend who had lived there before us. and we were never the same.
paseo. i can almost guarantee that if you, kind reader, and i have ever met in real life, i have spoken to you about this sandwich. seared scallops. long rings of caramelized onions. garlic tapenade, the perfect amount of jalapeños, and a mayonaise incredibly flavored enough to make you forget you’re eating mayonaise– all on a loaf of crusty french bread. they only take cash and they are closed on some random days — and sometimes they are out of bread. and there are only like 4 tables in there. but oh-my-god. if you ever go to seattle and you remember that i am a breathing person and care about my well-being, you will go eat this sandwich and you will be whole.
while this is an experience i’ve attempted to verbalize to many an individual, a lot of folks will agree that it sounds tasty, but only once has anyone ever looked at me, straight in the eyes with the most spellbound glare, and said, “i have had that sandwich…and it was the best sandwich i’ve ever had.” upon further conversation about this sandwich and finding someone outside of my experience who knew its glory, i realized something quite significant that i wish i had known when i was writing my master’s thesis.
i just want other people to experience this delicious sandwich for themselves and this is what true evangelism is all about.
i’m not trying to accomplish anything with my impassioned speeches about the caramelized onions. i truly just hope others will one day know the joy that i have found in this, the seared scallop sandwich at paseo on fremont ave in seattle, washington. the good news.
so now i get it. i’m not stopping everyone i pass on the sidewalk to have a conversation about how good god is, but i get it. and i’m trying to be less judgmental. and i’m still talking about the scallop sandwich quite a good bit. AND, it has given me an excellently curious blog name that combines something eternally good and something perpetually challenging. i can’t promise that every post will be theologically relevant or challenging. and i can’t promise that every post will be food-related (but… i almost can).