Tuesday, January 10, 2006
I enjoy reformation. I do the barbecue at our house. I cook meat outdoors. Sometimes my wife is gone and reminds me to start the coals at such-and-such time. I'm usually working, and I rise from another task to grab the charcoal bag from the garage in my right hand, with my left hand take the lighter fluid while moving through the pantry, open the deck slider with my knee, set down the bag and bottle, open and observe the general condition of the grill....I'm not going to go through the whole thing, but I have a ritual. After it is lit, usually I settle into whatever else I was doing, then realizing she's gone, and sighing to no one in particular, I rise again to check on the hamburger. I spot the object on the counter in tin-foil beaded with melted water sitting in a shallow puddle of red fluid sucked from inside its wrapping by the workings of gravity. I open it, unveiling the cool ground beef, suddenly remembering to wash my hands, swiveling my head side-to-side to check if anyone is looking, and then, after a nano-second of internal debate, rinse my hands in the kitchen sink, relieving my conscience, then begin to reform the hamburger. I reform it from a clump of pestled fat and muscle fiber to the new and practical patty form. Reform is rough. To do so I shred the original mold into separate red balls, an art form in itself the geometry of which stretches my distant math skills beyond capacity. Each ball is flattened between my two hands, my mind briefly envisioning bun size and the guilt-ridden cylindrical perfection of the manufactured hamburger patty. I easily brush those thoughts aside as the meat oozes between my fingers and finally compacts into neat, impartial circles. My mind wanders to a field in Colorado, a slaughter-house and meat packing plant in Omaha, a very cold semi-trailer, and an industrial sized meat grinder at a large distribution center in California.
Whatever you reform, it carries with it some of the same traits of the thing from which it started. I mean, it's still hamburger. There is so much I like about reform. However, I'm so glad my faith isn't reformed. Again, if you start with slaughtered dead animal, you end with slaughtered dead animal after reformation. If you start with Catholicism, you're going to get something in a different mold, yes, but it still has some of the same traits from which it started. I don't need reform. First, I've got transform. Second, I've got the original, preserved perfectly over centuries by the sovereign God who created and sustains the universe. When you think about anything that's reformed, you have to ask first, "Reformed what?"