Sunday, April 22, 2007

Starbucks Theology

The Way I See It:

"Heaven is totally overrated. It seems boring. Clouds, listening to people play the harp. It should be somewhere you can’t wait to go, like a luxury hotel. Maybe blue skies and soft music were enough to keep people in line in the 17th century, but Heaven has to step it up a bit. They’re basically getting by because they only have to be better than Hell."

-- Joel Stein
Columnist for the Los Angeles Times.
I took my 20 ounce Starbucks coffee on board my flight from Saint Louis to Reagan/National this morning. It's a fairly short flight, so I didn't bother with a book. I just played my tunes (Bach), sipped my coffee (fair-trade Guatemala), and waited it out.

At about the time I would have ordinarily been in church, I was sipping my coffee somewhere over Indiana. As I lowered the cup from my lips, the word "Heaven" caught my eye. I moved the thermal jacket down so I could read the rest of the quotation. When I got to my hotel in Arlington, Virginia, I logged on the internet and visited the Starbucks web site where a number of these quotations are listed (though not all, apparently; I only was able to see #188 through #236). This particular quotation was #230. To be fair, the quotations I saw on the Starbucks web site were, by-and-large, worth reading.

Starbucks may be trying to break into the music business, but I think I will get my theology from more authoritative sources.

I'm sure Joel Stein was trying to be funny, but I'm not a humorist, even if I do appreciate good humor.

This quotation seems to promote a "theology of mediocrity", i.e. do the minimum needed to to get by. It sort of reminds of the story of two campers who were surprised in their stocking feet by a grizzly bear. One starts to put on his sneakers while the other says "Don't be stupid. You can't outrun a grizzly bear!" The other answered "I don't have to outrun the grizzly. I just have to outrun YOU!"

Since I am not only not a humorist, but also not a theologian, I won't try to define heaven. And I will concede that it IS better than Hell, as Stein suggests.

I can be sure that the same Lord who made us "fearfully and wonderfully" (Psalm 139:14) did not prepare a mediocre place for us, but I expect I will have to wait and see just how much better than Hell it really is. I do not expect to be disappointed.

No comments: