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The Great Chili Debate
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9a7e5a6a 8edf 4e07 a5d3 4b99bdab9041 636026186420815861 3wayI’ve been following a thread on Twitter over the last couple of weeks concerning one of the great controversies in our culture–one that threatens to further divide the nation and cause untold harm and damage to all sides of the debate. I’m talking, of course, about the Great Chili Controversy of 2019.


My Texan friends on Twitter claim that they are the inventors of chili–that only Texas chili (with beans) is holy enough to earn the moniker “chili.” Then again, there are those “other people” who love Cincinnati Chili which, if you’ve never had it, has no beans, uses cocoa in the sauce, and is served over spaghetti. Texans claim that it is no more than “Greek spaghetti” while people in Cincinnati are so sad from watching the Bengals play that they don’t offer much of a defense.


I like to think of myself as a chili peacemaker. I do like Texas chili–even with beans. This is a fact that my mother, were she alive, would have been shocked to learn since, as a child, I once sat at the table for three hours refusing adamantly to eat a baked bean she put on my plate. “You will sit there until you eat it,” she said. And I did–except I didn’t eat it. I won. I managed to not have a bean voluntarily touch my lips for the next twenty years or so until, one day, several years into our marriage, I suddenly had a liking for them. Jennifer was equally stunned. I now actually really like them–that is, except for green beans and lima beans which are nasty and vile. I’ll even eat Jennifer’s vegan chili which has nothing but beans these days. So, Texans, I love your stuff!


But I also served a church for three and a half years in the suburbs of Cincinnati and grew to like that chili, too, which was convenient in my pre-bean loving days (didn’t have to tell them to “hold the beans”). Some good Skyline Chili with cheese and oyster crackers strewn over the top is mighty good. We even have a recipe that we’ll occasionally make at home.


This makes my Texan friends insane–then again, to them I’m a dumb Yankee and my opinion doesn’t matter that much. They also foam at the mouth when someone discusses putting pineapple on pizza (which I’m ok with). My Cincinnati friends, while they don’t care about chili, do care about the fact that I’m a Steeler fan who relentlessly taunts them about their utter failure to conquer their Pennsylvania nemesis. Sometimes you do earn a certain amount of disdain.


The point is (and there is a point to this, I think) is that tastes vary, friends can still be friends no matter what they put on their chili, and Twitter is an absolute dumpster fire of social media angst all the time. The best medium to debate the merits of food is sitting at a table together, not through text. When you get a chance to sit down together, we’re a lot more likely to give someone else’s taste a try. Even if, in the end, we don’t agree, we can still enjoy the company and a good meal.


I don’t know if Jesus ever debated what kind of chili was best, but I do know he spent a lot of time at tables with different kinds of people. They were all drawn to him despite their diverse backgrounds. He demonstrated kindness, love, and compassion for all. I do think it’s possible to hold a particular position (be it on chili or something much more important) and yet still be kind and value the people you’re with, even if they hate what you like and like what you hate. It’s not so easy to do that with a computer and an agenda.


Speaking of chili, I hope those of you in the Tri-Lakes area will join us this Saturday at TLUMC for our Fall Festival, where we’ll have our very own Chili Cook-off with representative chili’s from across the spectrum. Come and join us around the table and give each a try. I’ll be there myself and can’t wait to sample them all!


Except those with green beans, of course.

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