Coffee Shops

I’m sitting and enjoying the WiFi in a coffee house that serves, as is customary, as a gathering spot for ecclectic groups. Right now I’m comfortably ensconced between a pair of pharmaceutical company reps to my left and a couple of seminarians from a local Reformed seminary to my right. There’s a sermon in there somewhere.

It’s a little bit frustrating. From what I can hear, it seems that the latter pair are good Five-Point Calvinists. I take issue with it, but ok. But the other couple isreally frustrating me. And I’m not sure if the problem is within or outside me.

Here’s the deal. I thank God for his First Article gifts. Medicines are certainly included in those. I strenuously object (“I object.” “Overruled.” “Ah, ah, ah, but I strenuously object!” “Oh, well I should just reconsider then.”) to what looks to me like shameless marketing of the brand names rather than a more intentional effort to improve health. I’m not a socialist, even as I don’t believe that capitalism is in any way a Christian economic system. Regardless, my mother pays close to $600/month for medication, without which she could not function in life. It becomes extremely difficult not to encourage her to seek Canadian drugs. It’s tempting, but it would be an egregious violation of both Romans 13 and the Fourth Commandment. And even as it would appear that the US government is in violation of the Fourth Commandment (see Luther’s Large Catechism on “loaves of bread on governmental crests”), yet we are called to obey, even if authorities go too far. Maybe my argument is a little convoluted. Maybe not. Anyway, looking at this pair it’s really disturbing how deeply the marketing goes. They’re reasonably attractive, peppy people–charming, etc. And their job is to make sure that doctors prescribe their drugs. There’s something wrong with that. I won’t even get into the trashing of our immune systems through the overuse and inappropriate use of antibiotics. “When in doubt take a penicillin derivative” doesn’t wash.

Meanwhile at table three…

It’s filling up in here, and a couple of armchair theologians (philosophers?) just started up. Overheard at this table: “What do I know about theology? Not much, and I like it that way. It just divides people.” It’s generally my practice to intrude and chat such people up, but the conversation moved before I got the chance; it was sort of the topic-closer. Pietism, Rationalism, the Enlightenment…three movements later and everyone’s their own expert. And Satan is laughing. “Keep it simple, don’t confuse me with the details, don’t say anything that might shatter our fragile delusion of unity/comaraderie/connection. I certainly wouldn’t want to be in the position of having to disagree with someone.” I might suggest that America’s Viet Nam experience was the nail in the coffin for external authority. Strife is generally followed closely by “peace at all costs.” We had the Thirty-Years War in Europe; enter pietism. We’ve had Vietnam and two unpopular wars in the Middle East, and America’s never been so syncretistic. There’s a lot more to be said on this, but I’m about out of steam for this morning.


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