One Molecule Away


I am a great fan of butter.  And lard.  I have some unnecessary zeal about these.  That is a fault line running through me, that I cannot care about anything mildly; only passionately and fervently and deeply.  If I ever seem balanced about an issue, it is only because I am stuffing half my soul into a filing cabinet and turning the music on so no one hears it banging about and hollering.

Butter and lard.  Heavy whipping cream in my morning coffee.  I affectionately call it “butter coffee”, though perhaps I should call it “frosting coffee” because I’ve got the butterfat and two ample spoonfuls of evaporated cane juice sugar in there (notice that I couldn’t just leave it at “sugar”, it had to be “healthy sugar”, shameful zealousness).

Not surprisingly, I identify with Peter; that vitriolic fisherman that Jesus called a friend and disciple.  Impulsive, rash, zealous, and so very full of errors and false bravado.  I bet he’d appreciate certain verses that I do, like:  “So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”, Revelation 3:16, because we figure that we’re at least safe on that one.  We’re so extreme that mildness would be nigh painful.

I read it one day, that margarine was one molecule away from plastic.  It looks like butter, behaves pretty much like butter, tastes similar to butter.  It’s certainly easier to spread on bread for making grilled cheese sandwiches; no balled-up wads of torn bread there.  But if you leave it out for the bugs and bacteria to eat, nothing happens to it.  It doesn’t have life in it.  It’s like those eternal french fries you find when vacuuming out your car, eerily unchanged by the usual culprits of mold and decay.

Worst of all, the body doesn’t know what to do with it; it isn’t living food.  On top of that, for decades well-meaning dietitians and nutritionists have been promoting it as the healthy alternative to good old animal fats.  We thought we were making a good choice for our dear bodies.

Where did I hear it, when did it stick to my soul that a truth combined with a lie is more powerful than a lie by itself?

I am a Mennonite Christian; we’re a lot like the baptists, but take Jesus literally when he says all that “love your enemy” stuff, so we don’t engage in wars and have historically eschewed political involvement, believing in changing the world in a more grassroots way, rather than by reaching for power and clout.

I love our church; I love sliding into the pew on a Sunday morning and singing acapella hymns.  I love it when we are told that we’re learning a “new song” today and I realize it was written in the mid 1700’s.  There are beautiful stories in our history of martyrs paying the ultimate price to love their neighbor more than themselves.  I liked best the one about a family whose thatch roof was being lit on fire by a mob.  They walked out of their home and offered refreshments to the mob, who they saw to be working so hard.  The mob felt ashamed by the love poured out to them and saved the home from burning.

Tears pour from my eyes, you see, my church, the Mennonite faith, is neck-deep in danger.  Orthodox beliefs are tottering.  The Gospel, which is full of life and soul-nourishing like butter to the body, is being replaced with soul-deadening dissipation, margarine, plastic, lifeless heresies.  Those that believe these things are not malicious, they truly think that this margarine is the new cure, the new thing that God is doing, that it will make us better.  New and improved.  Never mind that it has nothing to do with clear Biblical exegesis.


Most of the older generation, in their plain suits and delicate floral homemade dresses, with their long hair bundled up under lace head coverings, they don’t know what is happening.  They don’t know that their daily bread is being spread with false butter.

Only God gives life, only His Word is living and active; only by drawing ever closer to Him can we minister in any meaningful way to the hurting and lost among us.  When your denomination ceases to honor that Word, do you stand like a despised prophet, calling it away from the pull of cultural gravity?  Do you leave it for another denomination which more clearly stands under the authority of God’s Word?  What do we do?


7 thoughts on “One Molecule Away

  1. I have thought about this post since I first read it. I certainly understand your pain at watching what’s happening in your Mennonite church–we attend a Friends church. Denominations as old as ours often have people who have moved away from Christ as the center. When a whole denomination moves away? That is a dilemma.
    Margarine or butter? I want the real thing, the straight-up truth about Jesus.

  2. Thank you so much for putting words to thoughts for which I have been struggling to find words! (The same way I felt when I saw your comment in response to Ervin’s call to prayer on the MCUSA blog). I admit I scrolled down eagerly here looking for the answers to the questions you leave us with, because they are the questions I, too, am pondering these days and nights. I’ll be following to see where your journey with these questions leads, as I’m also wondering how God will lead me and my family to fulfill our call for love and justice while remaining passionate about the life-giving truth of His Word.

  3. I needed to leave. Sadly. Many years ago. I wearied of being the prophet. But there is the treasure in the field; the pearl of great price. When you find it; you’ll know. It is beautifully both old and new. It is timeless.

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