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The Coca-Cola Packaging Problem

I understand that when Coca-Cola introduced the aluminum can as a means of shipping their product, people continued to prefer the bottles. I know I did. I, like many others, thought the drink tasted better out of the bottle than it did from the can. The experience wasn’t the same, and we were loathe to change to cans because we were convinced that the can degraded the product.

Nevertheless, the bottles were being phased out, but along the Mexican border, I’m told that people would buy bottled Coca-Cola in Mexico and bring it north across the border so that they wouldn’t have to drink from the cans available locally. Coca-Cola executives were a bit baffled by all of this. Some years later, the plastic bottle was introduced, and I don’t know for certain, but suspect that its adoption was much easier than was the change to aluminum cans… which are still available in any event. The plastic bottle was closer to the trademarked shape of the original Coca-Cola bottle, and it somehow felt to me more like a return to its roots than a new evolution.

The sad truth? The taste isn’t any different. I’m sure I could taste the difference, and maybe you could as well… but there genuinely isn’t one. Pour them both in a glass so that the experience of the drink becomes the same, and it will quickly be evident that there is, really and truly, no difference.

It’s just that we didn’t like change, and were convinced that change in the package changed the product. We were wrong. I wonder if it’s possible that we could be wrong about the packaging of other things as well — bigger, more important things?

;^)

That was my evil grin. What do you think? Is my metaphor clear enough?

42 Responses to “The Coca-Cola Packaging Problem”

  1. fernando Says:

    Interesting and thought-provoking metaphor. But I prefer Coke out of the old-style small glass bottle (still available in lots places around the world). Why? It stays colder, longer. In my experience the cold retention goes glass, then can, then plastic bottle. When I lived in India I stopped buying soft drinks in plastic bottles unless there was no other choice, because they warmed up before I could finish the drink.

    But of course, if you are pouring the drink straight out into a glass, or consuming it on a cooler day, the packaging makes no difference.

  2. Steve Sensenig Says:

    I think the metaphor is a bit inaccurate from the standpoint that you advocate pouring the Coke into a glass to make the experience more neutral.

    That’s exactly the point. The container can (and I think, does) affect the taste, because the physical contact with the container is part of the experience. So, in that sense, pouring Coke into a glass doesn’t negate the idea that it tastes different in an aluminum can than out of a glass bottle.

    Whether it’s the “taste” of the aluminum, or the “taste” of a plastic bottle, it does play into the experience of the drink. Glass appears to have very little, if any, taste (in my opinion), and therefore allows one to enjoy the Coke without extra stuff added.

    Having said all that, I’m sure your application of the metaphor is solid, though! :)

  3. Jamie Arpin-Ricci Says:

    I think your point is well made, though Fernando and Steve both make good points. The cold retention in glass (as well as the pleasingly smooth cool lip of the bottle to ones mouth) deeply impacts the quality of the experience, if not the taste itself. Afterall, if we were fed Coke through a tube, gushing liters of the stuff at a time, we would not like Coke that much, regardless of how tasty it might be.

    I think this only further strengthens your analogy, though, as it speaks to the significance of the medium. We cannot reduce the quality of Coke to the basic flavour of the the contents but see that it is ultimately indivisibly a part of the whole picture. Great thoughts, thanks!

    Peace,
    Jamie

  4. sonja Says:

    You are a very tricky trickster … ;-)

    What if … however … the stuff inside the plastic bottles was also plastic? That is it looked, smelled and tasted like the “real thing,” but wasn’t.

    Then what?

  5. Brother Maynard Says:

    You guys are crackerjack.

    Sonja, I guess the answer is “Pepsi,” your basic bait-and-switch. btw, remember “The Pepsi Challenge”? Coke was winning differently at the time… people who bought a case and drank it at home preferred Coke. Pepsi otoh was engineered for the “sip test” — it gave you a big quick hit of sugar, and people liked that. Ask them to drink the whole bottle for the test, and they pick Coke. Now… what about the way we describe the product compared to the way we serve it? What’s the experience really like in an ongoing way after the initial love-bombing?

    On the glass thing, I really only advocate pouring into a glass for those who need to prove to themselves that there’s no difference. The exception to this would be for anyone like me who keeps a frosted A&W mug in the freezer ready to pull out for a cold beverage. A&W also doesn’t serve ice in their drinks because they don’t want to water down their Root Beer… hence the frosty mug. They understood that the way you serve it is integral to the experience and attempt to preserve the drink in as pure a form as possible.

    Back to the Coke bottles. I suppose some of us can get to thinking that the way we happen to like it is actually a part of the product rather than just a container preference… and we then could get to criticizing other containers as being “less pure” or faulty or flawed. Hence we keep giving bottles to the can generation. So yes, the container is important… but it isn’t the product. We should preach Coke and not Coke in bottles.

    I think there’s more ways we could take the metaphor still… good stuff, this. I love a good metaphor ;^) And for the record — I like the bottles best.

  6. Steve Sensenig Says:

    Great points in return, BroM. I always like the way you think. :)

  7. Julie Clawson Says:

    But what does it mean that the insides of the cans are actually coated in plastic? (otherwise the acid would eat through the metal too quickly). It is pretending to be one thing, but is actually just plastic.

    Until the day she died, my great-grandmother had to have her daily Coke in a glass bottle (readily available in Texas still). I always thought it was a treat, but now I have a hard time justifying supporting the genocide in Darfur just so I can drink the stuff. Does it really matter what it is packaged in if evil and injustice went into its production?

  8. sonja Says:

    LOL … Pepsi = battery acid (imho).

    Now, after the initial love-bombing/sugar high, I don’t think the product can be maintained.

  9. Jamie Arpin-Ricci Says:

    I would actually argue that the container is the product. In theory I understand the distinction, but in reality it is inseparable to most consumers. No matter how much we “know” it to be the same in either container, we experience it as different. I am not suggesting that experience is truth, but rather that we must acknowledge more than the science or hard facts. This holds true across the analogy into faith.

    Peace,
    Jamie

  10. Alan Knox Says:

    I appreciate the metaphor very much. I wonder if the people who “prefer” Coca-Cola in glass bottles actually prefer Coca-Cola, or the experience of drinking in out of glass bottles. In the same way, do we prefer being part of God’s family, or the various containers that the family finds itself in. If we change the content, would we still prefer the container? Can we tell the difference? I think I’m going to put some of these thoughts together for a blog. Thank you for the inspiration!

    -Alan

  11. Julie Clawson Says:

    my issue is the huge amount of lobbying that the soft drink companies have done over the years to get the US government not to impose sanctions on Sudan (because it could disrupt shipments). Its like Nestle lobbying to stop laws that would prevent the import of chocolate made by child slave labor. They are huge and my boycott doesn’t do much, but I still can’t knowing buy products from companies that knowing support evil. Now factions in Sudan are threatening to hold the gum “hostage” prevent us our cola unless we lift the sanctions. Its just sad that they realize the truth that more people in the US care more about their daily cola fix than about the genocide…

  12. Brother Maynard Says:

    Alan, happy to oblige — give us a trackback and/or link when you’ve got it up so we can find your further thoughts!

    Julie, I’m with you there. I doubt Wal-Mart or McDonalds notice my absence, but I feel morally superior. Er, I mean, smug. Uh, no, I mean better. I feel better and sleep better. I’m with you on this. I saw a movie a while ago where someone deducted the percentage of the US Federal government’s military spending from her taxes before remitting — said she wouldn’t fund the war but was happy to pay all her other taxes. That might be interesting, wouldn’t it? Directing your own taxes? On this boycott, you’d actually have to make a point of no soft drinks at all — and to take it further, no fruit juice or water bottled by soft drink companies… find your own level of comfort!

    For my part, I don’t have a universally-recognized reason to boycott Mcdonalds… I figure it wouldn’t be hard to find one, but I’ve got all the reason I need without anyone officially calling for a boycott. As for soft drinks, I used to have about a 1-1.5 litre /day Diet Coke habit. Switched from diet to regular soft drinks and lost weight. Don’t drink them much at all anymore, a glass or two every couple of weeks, so no big loss to me.

  13. Jamie Arpin-Ricci Says:

    I guess the issue for me is that, while I differentiate the contents with the container, I am not sure the analogy follows through so distinctly into the Gospel. Jesus said He IS the Truth, not the container in which Truth was contained. It was necessarily incarnational.

    In that respect, while context can change the experience of the product, it does so on more levels than just the container. Coke is Coke in Morocco, but it does distinctly taste different. It is no less Coke, but we are forced to acknowledge that our engagement of the taste and experience of Coke is not the measure by which others are evaluated.

    In this way, I do not think contextualization can be equated with repackaging. In fact, this idea can be deeply offensive to many non-Euro-Western Christians, as though their cultural engagement with the Gospel differed as a matter of “packaging”. This is why well-intentioned white Christians respect First Nations protocol while ultimately seeing it as merely a “song and dance” necessary to build relationship rather than the deeply integrated and sacramental worldview it reflects.

    So I am not saying that the product is relative, but that the differences in its expression and experience are as critical as those in its forms. I hope that made sense.

    Peace,
    Jamie

  14. sonja Says:

    I’m part of the smugly avoiding Wal-Mart crowd as well. But I have a hard time with shopping in general because everything … every thing is now made in China. I feel that purchasing those items is condoning slavery and horrible working conditions and all sorts of human hardship that we have laws against here. We’re not willing to pay the price of having those items made under our own labor paradigm, so we ask nameless, faceless “others” to bear that burden for us. The only difference that shopping at Target (or, insert department store chain here) brings, is that they have better employment policies, so I know that they are treating their employees more fairly.

    Perhaps here’s another perspective on your metaphor, Bro. M. Perhaps it’s not the packaging that’s an issue. Perhaps we’re all a little tired of mass produced products to begin with. I don’t know about anyone else, but homemade lemonade is my first choice anyway. It’s a thought anyway …

  15. Brother Maynard Says:

    Sonja — yes, how on earth would make iced tea without teabags? I prefer local coffee shops over Starbucks too. Best line — if you’re not paying a fair price, somewhere someone else is paying your share. And if “the lowest price is the law,” then someone has to pay for every transaction.

    Jamie — you might have lost me. Jesus isn’t the package, he’s The Real Thing™ …that is, he is the Coke. If you want a container parallel, think Paul, who served to the Jews in glass and to the gentiles in a can, so that by all means, everyone would have Coke, etc. but he wouldn’t preach that he is the Truth. Or the Coke, whatever. I think you’re arguing against the analogy with examples that are for it… so that when you come to the “non-Euro-Western” bits, I don’t follow. I agree with what you said, i.e., that protocol is not a song-and-dance means to an end — that would be the bait-and-switch, lure them in by making allowances and then change the packaging on them. That’s the whole point, the package doesn’t matter to the essence of the product, but changing it up does make it more accessible to others for whom the package is a barrier.

    I’m suddenly thinking of “The Gods Must be Crazy,” which had a profound role for a Coke bottle. But I digress. Insisting that Coke only be served in bottles is decidedly unhelpful to people who don’t own a bottle opener and never will. Doesn’t matter how much we proclaim the fundamental goodness of the bottle as the best package for the Coke. To those people, insisting that the “right” package be used means they’ll never get the Coke.

    Wow, how far can we push this thing?

  16. sonja Says:

    LOL … they have an ancient device, known I believe, as a teaball. One might use it to make iced tea. ;-)

    I remember thinking during that movie (Gods Must Be Crazy) that there were some deep spiritual metaphors to be gotten out of using a Coca-Cola bottle (the real thing) as a god. I was not a “Christian” at the time, so when I tried to talk about it with my other not-Christian friends, I didn’t have any language to use. And we all thought it was hopelessly funny anyway.

  17. Jamie Arpin-Ricci Says:

    I am not sure it is worth pushing further into this one, though I am enjoying the discussion. I still feel like there is a forced dichotomy between the Coke and container, as though the container is simply a convenient vessel to offering the content.

    I guess I don’t understand what you see as the container for us today. Sacramentally, we are the Body of Christ through the mystery of the Resurrection and Pentecost, made manifest in the Eucharist, we are the embodiment of Christ to the world. I am not seeing we are gods, but rather suggesting (in Orthodox terms) theosis.

    Therefore, Paul was, in a way, the Coke as well. The can, bottle and glass are not inconsequential anymore than the finger, leg or lungs are inconsequential to the body. In the end, while I acknowledge the importance of diversity in respect to the container, I believe that it is of more consequence to the nature of the content than you suggest. That’s just me. Again, I am really enjoying this, but feel free to ignore me if you are not.

    Peace,
    Jamie

  18. sonja Says:

    I think the container is consequential only if the product is “real.” If the product is being faked, then the container doesn’t really matter. Does that make sense?

    IOW … if the product is crap, then it doesn’t really matter what it is contained in. But … I tend to agree with you, Jamie, on some level, if the product is “the real thing.” Then the container (or contextualization) does count for something. But that definition is very tenuous and difficult to see because those contexts are going to be so different. And I think I just argued myself into a fine circle … dang!

  19. Brother Maynard Says:

    Nah, I won’t ignore you, but Hmmm.

    I’d say the package is *not* the product, even if it affects one’s perception of the product. Suppose we kept serving it in a dirty glass, or a styrofoam cup that had previously had orange juice in it… we aren’t serving the pure product, and we’re giving people a taste of styrofoam on their lips. We can keep proclaiming the goodness of the product, but the way we serve it they can’t ever taste it that way… why would they believe us?

    The fact is, every container will prove a barrier to someone, and it may be up to us to pour the drink into the container that best suits the recipient… whether that means a language they understand, music they don’t hate, or any one of a myriad of other factors. If we give people a cup of coffee and a doughnut after every church service, that’s packaging. It doesn’t change the gospel, but it helps people see that we mean the hospitality parts of it… so it’s an expression of the gospel, but it’s still only the package and nothing more. If we wanted to reach out to an Overeaters Anonymous meeting in the basement of the local Mormon church, coffee and doughnuts might not be the best way… and that doesn’t matter, because coffee and doughnuts are not the gospel, even if they are a means of expressing it to some people.

    Dang, totally departed from the Coke analogy in that explanation. Anyway, I don’t think we can go as far as saying that Paul is the Coke. He can represent it, embody it, serve it, proclaim it, give it away, share it, partake in it, bathe in the essence of it… but even if he begins to represent Coke fundamentally to others, he doesn’t actually become Coke. The problem is if he insists on representing Coke as only being valid in bottles to people who really need cans. This is largely what we’ve done with the gospel in bundling up our structures and culture with it and presenting them as inseparable. They aren’t, and they threaten to see the gospel rejected because of the package when if it’s to be rejected it should only be so because we presented it purely as the scandelon that it is, and people fundamentally said, “I get it, but No, I only want Pepsi.”

  20. Jamie Arpin-Ricci Says:

    I am beginning to see where we differ, though I wonder how far your understanding of what packaging is. For example, donuts and coffee are packaging, as you say, and for the most part inconsequential to the content, which have referred to as Christ. However, what about the Eucharist? Is it content or packaging? Certainly it can be done differently, but is it ultimately something that is separate from the content? Again, while form may change, the essence of the Eucharist is what ties the content to Creation, what spares it from Gnostic dualism. It embodies the Incarnation, the Resurrection and the nature of the Church as Body.

    I would also disagree with limiting Paul (and all of us). While he (and we) do represent it, embody it, serve it, proclaim it, give it away, share it, partake in it, bathe in the essence of it, we also become it. We become by grace what God is by nature through Christ, again as demonstrated in the Eucharist.

    I guess I am exposing the deeply sacramental view that informs my spirituality, but I just find the alternative(s) too reductionistic for me.

    Peace,
    Jamie

  21. sonja Says:

    Jamie … so if we, in essence, become the product, how does the packaging or context matter so much? If the Gospel is us through the grace of God, then we also become the context in which it is delivered, do we not? Or have I missed something really big?

  22. Brother Maynard Says:

    Yes Jamie, what you’re saying does hinge on sacramental theology… it isn’t very Baptist. Baptists might be far more inclined to call “communion” part of the package; I think it’s far more integral. Even if we receive him in the Eucharist, it’s a work of forming us into his likeness, and I submit it’s never complete. Maybe Eucharist isn’t the package, but the drinking straw…

    We’re not far off on these points, but I would hesitate to overstate the close identification as the gospel until I was completely sanctified. So while I still trod the sod, I would say “becoming Coke” even as I seek to incarnate its essence, and would never preach that I Am Coke. In a particular pure act, perhaps one might go so far as to say that for an instant I became Coke… but I wouldn’t say that of myself, just not that comfortable with people thinking I closely represent something that I haven’t yet attained. Further, to say that we become Christ if that’s what you’re saying is problematic. If we become the Body of Christ, we’re talking about a corporate embodiment rather than an individual one. More to the point, we become like him and embody his work, but we never become him because even if we are partakers of the divine nature (2Pe2:14) that doesn’t mean we become divine — not at all. We just become like him. Hence, I say we do all these things to embody the Coke, but we never fundamentally essentially completely become the Coke: I draw my line before that.

    Is that your take as well, or are you saying something different?

  23. Jamie Arpin-Ricci Says:

    Sonja,

    Actually, that is my point. That Christ came and remained incarnate means that, while the packing may change, it is inseparably linked to and made sacred by the content. Of course, sin and human failure taints this inevitably, but it does not mean that we devalue the packaging for fear of this, as Christ still deems to make us His Body within our brokenness.

    So yes, the packaging (and the context) matter deeply because they are not merely a means to the end, but a part of the whole. Creation, including our bodies, are to share in the promise of the Resurrection too. While Christ’s Resurrection was not merely a bodily resuscitation, being transformed in it, neither was it an entirely different body, as He did not leave behind the old corpse. In the same way, the packaging, while flawed and complexly mixed with the dross of sin, will also share in the Resurrection- in essence the Gospel made further manifest. If Christ is the content and we become His Body, how can we separate the two?

    Peace,
    Jamie

  24. Jamie Arpin-Ricci Says:

    BroMay,

    I think we are closer to agreement, but I still think we aren’t quite on the same page. While I agree that we have not fully realized the Resurrection, I think the paradox inherent in salvation is that are both Resurrected and yet to be Resurrected. Like the Kingdom.

    Therefore, I do not hesitate to say we ARE the Body of Christ, not out of a naive or arrogant failure to see how far we must go, but because the victory is already won. I think that, in recognizing our flawed, in-process nature, you take too much away from its connection to the content.

    As for becoming Christ, this is probably where we differ. While I am very open to being corrected in this, I am deeply moved and convinced by the theology of theosis. Being the Body of Christ is not simply a helpful analogy to what we hope to reflect in our lives and community, but an actuality made possible through Pentecost and made manifest through the Eucharist. So, yes, I think we have struck the fundamental difference- theosis.

    Now, theosis is a very difficult topic to wrestle with because it seems to suggest that we are God (or gods), which sounds sacrilegious. Rather, what I am saying is that our salvation is found in becoming His Body. Just as Christ deemed to lower Himself to become incarnate Man, so to has He lowered Himself to make us His Body.

    Ok, who’s ready to burn me at the stake?

    Peace,
    Jamie

  25. Brother Maynard Says:

    Jamie, I don’t think we’re likely to get to the same page… I’m just not ready to subscribe to theosis and sinless perfection. I think it goes too far, and I’ve yet to find healthy examples of the doctrine of sinless perfection being taught with no ill outworking or warping of other doctrines. Us as being corporately the Body of Christ is a scriptural metaphor; I don’t think you can press it to far beyond that to make it in any way more literal or even convincingly individual. I’m okay with Eucharist transmitting grace, I’m alright with us growing in the nature of Christ, but to actually achieve divinity is beyond what my version of orthodoxy allows. What you’re suggesting is that the final resurrection will deify us, and I’m not prepared to swallow that one. You seem rather committed on this one and I don’t connect it with the container/content metaphor — but your view seems to necessitate seeing oneself as in some way actually being Christ (or christ?) in a divine sense, in the present. I really don’t see how we could not recognize the imperfection of our human nature and what that means for how we define the container. I thought this this was an odd analogy to spark a discussion of theosis, and maybe that kept me from landing on this sooner, but there you go. I’m not sure where to press next, since in a way you’ve got the container bound with the package in a fashion that makes both always right… after all, I’m saying the package should be interchangeable and you’re saying no because it’s part of the divine, which is both God and self. That’s where you lost me — either you would reject my analogy outright or you’d have to recast it somehow. But as a missionary I’m curious how you view contextualization, which is the essence of my metaphor, where the package is merely the transport or communicative agent between Christ (or the gospel) and the culture to which one reaches (the Coke-drinker). As you’ve set it up, there’s no need… which is anything but missiological.

    I mean, I’m not piling up chordwood just yet, but…

  26. Virgil Says:

    There is nothing like drinking coke out of a glass bottle….that’s all I’m gonna say about that :)

  27. Jamie Arpin-Ricci Says:

    BroMay,

    I fall more in line with what a friend recently showed me in the context of a book/theological approach called Radical Orthodoxy. I hold to the idea of theosis, but I don’t think I was advocating sinless perfection. Thus my reference to it being a paradox.

    As for us being the Body of Christ in a way that is more than metaphorical, the church has had that belief for many, many centuries, so I don’t think it requires the stretch you suggest. You statement about us “achieving divinity” or that we will be “deified” is a reflection of a misunderstanding of theosis. Reading Orthodox writing can easily leave one with this impression, but it more an issue of understanding correctly what they are saying. However, this medium is not the best for exploring theosis adequately.

    I don’t think it is a stretch to connect your metaphor to theosis. If being the Body of Christ is more than a metaphor, our ecclesiology (which has a fair bit to do with being a container, though not exclusively), then the connection is clear. If you see it as merely a metaphor, then of course it is an odd place to land.

    I am not advocating sinless perfection, nor do I think theosis means that the package or container must always be right. I am not sure where that assumption comes from, but that isn’t what I said or believe. Not a big deal, but wanted to clarify that. Further, I am not saying the package cannot be interchangable, but within that diversity it is still inextricably part of the content.

    If you metaphor is linked to contextualization, then your treatment of the package is as I mentioned earlier, a convenient means to an end. We do not contextualize simply to make the content more easily understandable and accepted, but also because within each context is something of the divine created by God, reflecting His image that no other context can so clearly reflect. Contextualization is not, then, simply to bring people into the Church, but to bring the Church deeper into the divine.

    Peace,
    Jamie

  28. Brother Maynard Says:

    Jamie,
    I find the nuance particularly difficult. Theosis seems an overstatement of justification while at the same time trying not to overstate an assertion of divinity.
    “You mean we get to become God? That’s LDS theology.”
    “No, not God, just… like gods, with a divine nature from God.”
    “Oh. So not God, but a god. That’s polytheism.”
    “No, no, no… not really gods, it’s just that we have a divine nature without losing our humanity… like Christ.”
    “I see. So we’re demigods, then? Like Christ? That denies his full divinity.”
    “No, Christ is fully divine, but we’re… uh… not exactly. Just like divine.”
    “Okay, that’s clear… but not exactly.”

    Sinless perfection is simply an outworking of having a divine nature — can’t be a divine sinner, and if we’re continually absorbing more divinity as we get further resurrected, then by extension we must have less and less sin (even a diminished sin nature?) until we reach perfection.

    istm that “becoming by grace what God is by nature” is simply justification, and there’s no reason to assert that it means we actually become divine, but we don’t… it’s striving to attain a very thin line that can’t be described. The doctrine is problematic in that it evidently can’t be stated in a clear manner without resorting to various errors like LDS or sinless perfection.

    I realize that theosis and related doctrines have been around for centuries, but not every variation has been orthodox, or helpful… and that’s where I get nervous. To the extent that your version of theosis doesn’t violate the major creeds, it diminishes in import to me as to whether or not we agree on it. I can find many descriptions of theosis and variants, but until you frame it with theosis as described by Radical Orthodoxy, I really only had what you’ve written here, which would certainly be open to (mis)interpretation due to the imperfection of the medium, or the container in which your argument is presented, like a soft drink bottle that… uh… never mind.

    The theosis/metaphor connection may not be a stretch, but it isn’t the way I’ve drawn it… I think it presses too far in the wrong direction. I’m saying that our reflection is inaccurate, incomplete, and can and should be contextualized. You’re saying that the reflection is actually the real thing. I think there’s room to accept the metaphor as I’ve drawn it without denying theosis… that is, to simply say that we do things that are not helpful in communicating Christ or the gospel. otoh, superimposing theosis into it or on top of it breaks the metaphor because you end up with a muddle that says that this imperfect reflection is actually more than a reflection because it’s actually wrapped up in and part of the “real thing” that we’re reflecting—but more than just reflecting. If you allow that the human nature remains (which you must), then there’s no issue in calling the reflection imperfect and therefore changeable. Back to the metaphor, the container must always be watertight… some things are not negotiable, but others are not worth getting so uptight about. And this brings us back to my original point in the metaphor, prior to the theosis excursus. If such contextualization brings the church deeper into the divine as well, that’s not an issue to the metaphor since it goes to motivations and outworkings beyond the metaphor I’ve described… reasons why we would want to serve Coke in the first place.

    One thing that’s illustrated clearly by this discussion in my mind is that it can be very difficult to selectively take doctrines and ideas from different theological systems and try to meld them together. In a classical example, a 3-point Calvinist simply hasn’t yet stumbled on the incongruency he’s holding. iow, an tenet you accept in one area of theology will always affect another area, whether or not it’s immediately apparent. Odd that like the tribe in “The Gods Must be Crazy,” we need a Coke bottle to point out theological truths to us ;^) …and we laughed at those guys!

  29. Jamie Arpin-Ricci Says:

    BroMay,

    While it has been fun, I think here is where I say “Let’s agree to disagree”. We simply aren’t understanding (and/or agreeing with) each other. No big deal. I still think your presuppositions about the implications of theosis are not necessarily right, so arguing the tenets of the methaphor probably won’t get us very far.

    I am not sure I agree with your closing point- not in what it says, but in what it suggests about my holding to theosis. I’m sure you didn’t intend it, but it sounds as though you were suggesting I selectively embraced theosis without considering the broader implications of it. I am not simply trying to meld theosis into my larger theology. This just isn’t the case. Not that I think I have it all figured out- by no means! Rather, I am being shaped more and more every day, but find that this issue is one that only grows stronger.

    Wait, I said I was going to stop here. Doh! Ok, here goes again. Let’s agree to disagree. (wink)

    Peace,
    Jamie

  30. Brother Maynard Says:

    Jamie, if you only knew how much I despise the phrase agree to disagree! Seriously—I can’t stand it. But you didn’t know ;^)

    It isn’t my presuppositions about theosis — as I said, there is more than one form or flavour and we didn’t get down to yours until comment #28, and I really haven’t engaged your subscription to that particular version — I’ll want to read more about it before doing so (if we do at all).

    As for the metaphor, I don’t think theosis needs to destroy it, perhaps just recast it a little — I had the idea you were trying to undermine the metaphor arguing from the basis of theosis, but I’m fairly sure you’d agree with much of what I’m trying to say through the metaphor — even if you dislike the metaphor itself.

    I think you mistook my closing paragraph in comment #29 above. I’m not saying you’ve mashed up theological systems, just that accepting one tenet will necessarily affect others… which not everyone appreciates. I certainly didn’t expect theosis to enter this dialogue though I see how you got there. It’s quite obvious that you’ve connected this tenet with others in your belief framework, which is precisely what I’m saying needs to happen.

    In my experience, we shift our theological grid over time, modifying it as we learn and grow in our faith. We accept a new tenet, and we must shift our views on other tenets in order to weave it into the framework. Sometimes we’ll accept a tenet and begin weaving it in over a year or two until we hit something that has to be rearranged but which we aren’t willing to. From there we must do some unweaving and re-weaving… a continual process. I’ve no doubt we all do this, whether consciously or not — that’s what informed what I said about theological systems. I think you do this and probably know you do it — which is a good thing.

  31. Cindy-lu Says:

    Alright, I just stumbled onto this this morning, but I have a question.

    If a person refuses to even taste the Coke because they think they know what it will taste like – and assume they won’t like it – then what difference does the packaging make? (BTW, this describes the bulk of my own family. It’s not just speculation.)

  32. Brother Maynard Says:

    Cindy-lu,
    I can’t say with certainty of course, but I think that most people’s understanding of what it will taste like if they try it is based on the packaging and not the product inside. Like my kids insisting they won’t like some food at mealtime, but after the first bite they gobble it up and go on to request seconds. This is why the package is so important — past packages have warped people’s expectations, and we need to understand from them what kind of package they would be open to. If it doesn’t violate or properly contain the contents (here, I’ll take this newspaper and fold it into a paper cup…), we can serve it that way.

  33. Cindy-lu Says:

    I hear you. But in the case of my family I think their minds are already made up. No alteration of the package will convince them that there is more to the product than what they already presume. They might have to admit that they could be mistaken first. My kids might taste a new food because they have to, but my mom and aunts and uncles are adults – they won’t do anything they don’t want to do, and we can’t make them. For instance, no matter what you tell my mom about smoking she will puff away until the day she dies. It doesn’t matter that my Dad survived a second heart attack because he quit. It wouldn’t matter if she got lung cancer or emphysema. She smokes because she wants to. Packaging the message differently is useless if one has already made up one’s mind. I think. But I could be wrong…

  34. NextReformation » coca-cola and differance.. Says:

    […] More..    […]

  35. Cindy-lu Says:

    I guess what I’m trying to get at is: Does the packaging matter to anyone who isn’t interested in Coke? Or is it only an issue among those who are already connoisseurs? How much influence does the packaging have among the rest – and for that matter how much should it? Wouldn’t word-of-mouth be as effective a way to market Coke to the uninterested or marketing-jaded? After all, are we trying to draw people to the beverage or to form an attachment to the package? Doesn’t marketing inherently appeal to the superficiality of the package? Of course, I suppose it must be packaged somehow in order to be delivered to the consumer (there’s a part of the analogy I could do without).

    *sigh* questions, questions, questions…

  36. Nat Whilk Says:

    Cindy-lu:
    Those who are thirsty, drink.
    Those who are already satisfied and not thirsty, don’t.
    When thirsty enough,one will even drink what they think they will not like.

    The offer of “wine and milk without money and without price” is for the hungry.
    So, instead of worrying about packaging, or making the “product” attractive enough to try,perhaps we ought to pray to the changer of situations that he disturb their comfort enough to cause them to thirst?
    At home in the air conditioning I don’t want something to drinkas much as when I reroof a house in summer time!

    Craig

  37. Cindy-lu Says:

    Craig:

    I agree. Generally speaking.

    However… I’ve been a parent long enough to find out that some folks will choose to die of thirst rather than drink what they think they dislike. Sadly, that’s just human nature. We’ve been given the right to choose and we can even choose to make an uninformed choice. The thinker in me hates that, but I don’t get to choose for other people.

  38. Brother Maynard Says:

    Cindy-lu,
    This is a tough one… and that alone is worth saying, and pausing over. I think the answer is this: “Live your faith. Share your life.” You’ll never convince people to take a drink if they’re convinced it won’t help… just doesn’t work that way. But the Tom Sawyer approach may. Live your faith so they (and others) can see how you live. Share your life so they know it. Eventually, if your (or our) faith is worth living, it’ll become apparent that it’s worth a taste test.

    I may need to review the Gospels to be sure, but I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t walk up to people and shout, “Repent or burn!” I remember he told stories of how he saw the world and how he figured people should live on the basis of who God is… all in the context of answering a lot of questions. I think there must be ways that we can live our faith that make people ask why… and then we get to answer questions posed by people who opened themselves up.

    Still, I recognize this can be more painful when it involves family members… but as with anyone, we start by enjoying who they are rather than by trying to change them because of who they’re not. In the human economy, this actually gives you a greater place of influence because the motivation changes.

    Not sure I’m entirely tackling your question, or your dilemma… but you got me thinking again about how we relate to people in general. I just didn’t want to be as pat as saying to talk more to God about them than about God to them.

    Hmmm, that last bit was almost quotable, wasn’t it?

  39. fernando Says:

    Coke in different containers makes different products. I sometimes buy coke in a can, or glass bottle, rarely in a small plastic bottle and never in a larger plastic bottle. It doesn’t matter that the drink inside is the same, the mode of consumption is primary. Coke is the brand and the different packages make the products.

    IN the end we always consume the product in some practical form and the packaging will reflect that. Going back faith, we always consume in a local instansiation of faith, or community. We experience faith (or not) in reality.

  40. Greg Says:

    Plastic vs. glass: it’s all about the smell. Plastic bottles smell bad, which affects the taste. Glass is better: doesn’t contaminate the aroma/fragrance of the Real Thing.

  41. aaron Says:

    I have not read every entry, but I agree with the guy who said orthodox theosis is not sinless perfection, at least thats not what i am reading in origen and clemnent, although origen would not deny that sinlessness is a possibility.
    Also, coke cans are actually better than bottles (i cant even believe i am saying this) because they keep retain the highest possible carbination, they are perfectly sealed, perhaps there is an analogy to justification and santification somewhere

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