20160507_113725 Walking up to the counter, the visitor scanned the wall as if looking for something in particular.

“Can I help you, sir?” the kindly woman behind the counter offered with a genuine smile.

“Yeah, sure,” he started, still looking up at the wall behind the attending greeter. “I was looking for your menu.”

“Our menu?” the woman asked, her smile becoming more of a forced grin.

“Yeah, so, I was cruising by,” the visitor explained, “and I saw the place, so I figured I would stop in and order up a few things, but I don’t see your menu. Maybe you have a printed menu. Is there a printed menu I can look at?”

Her grin beginning to fade, the attendant was genuinely puzzled, “I’m not sure what you mean. A menu?”

“Yeah, I want to place an order,” the visitor said, “but before I do, I want to see the menu.”

“Sir,” the woman said carefully, “I’m confused. We don’t have a menu. Are you sure you’re in the right place?”

“This is a church, isn’t it?” he asked pointedly.

“Yes.”

“Well, I’ve got some things I’ve been putting off that I need to get together so I figured I’d get going on a few of them.”

“I’m sorry, but are you a member here?”

“Oh, no,” he said, “I’m not a member anywhere.” And then lifting his finger up to his chin, with a contemplative tapping, he continued, “Okay, so, I guess I’ll just go ahead and place my order. How about, let’s see… How about a baptism? Well, actually, you better make that two. And by the way, which is it these days? Is it ‘baptism’ or ‘christening’? Are those the same thing? I guess it doesn’t matter. Anyway… give me two of those… and I suppose I’ll go ahead and take a wedding, too. Let’s just hold off on the funeral, though. That’s not really something you can plan so I’ll stop back by when I need it.”

“Sir,” the woman said, painting another obligatory grin on her face, “let me get the pastor.”

And so the story goes these days. The church is a fast food restaurant.

I blame the clergy for this. So many are willing to do or say anything and everything in order to pacify critics and display the church as desirably relevant all the while selling her soul and compromising the substance of her confession. If you are one of these clergy folk, cut it out. You’re turning the bride of Christ into a prostitute, and that, my friend, won’t end well for you.

I’m doing what I can to wage war against this. The engagement happens primarily by making sure that those who are faithful understand that the culture war has pretty much been lost and that this particular challenge bearing down upon the church is but a fraction of the contests coming our way. In all of this, we stand firm. Sound doctrine and practice is then the only steady ground in a land of shifting sand.

Relatively small in comparison, the challenge that I described above finds itself more endurable after a sip from a good whisky. The nerves calm. The frustration subsides. The person making the fast-food demand becomes one to be led into a much better way rather than being seen as an annoyance trumpeting the steady decline into the depths that will one day be recorded as the end of man.

In particular, the Benromach Peat Smoke edition (2005) can be accounted as a whisky to serve well in such situations.

The nose of this poteen is delightfully calming, giving way to a bowl of sun-soaked bananas and apricots sprinkled with honey glaze and sitting beside a small fire of peat bricks, the corners of which are just beginning to glow.

The palate has almost a sweet beer-like maltiness, except it isn’t thin like beer, but rather is comes by way of an oily resin that coats the mouth. The smoke is there – neither subdued nor dominant, but incredibly well balanced and bringing along the sense that the fire is about to get hotter.

The finish – a medium stoke – pulls back on the heat and leaves a nip or two of lemon, pepper, and ripened banana.

Fellow clergy folks, you’d do well to keep a bottle of this on hand for those “just in case” moments when the church and the world collide as a result of a rather obvious ignorance. For all others, let the Benromach Peat Smoke edition be a pleasurable edition to your cabinet and serving as a visual reminder that the church in your neighborhood is not a fast food drive-thru. And just because you desire something from this little band of “giving” folks who’ve been around quite literally since the beginning of time, this does not mean you have the slightest chance in hell – the same hell against which that little church fights – of getting it. It might not make sense to you, but neither does going to your local Boy Scout troop and demanding the highest award for your son who only managed to attend one gathering, and that was three years ago. “Friend,” they’ll probably say, “let me tell you a better way.”