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Pot Preaching

Good friend Yves, invited me to visit his Baka Village that included about seven hours of hurtling and jouncing over what he described as a road through the jungles of Cameroon. I have a natural bent toward experiencing remote adventures so I accepted.

Half way along on our journey he asked if I was getting hungry. At my affirmative response he said we could stop at the restaurant that was just ahead. That suited me fine. In my anticipation of finding food, I probably should have been more alert to his recommendation because I had experienced his eating habits. He would eat anything!

A few kilometers further Yves bounced to a stop, parking right in the middle of the road. There was no traffic, no place to pull over, and no restaurant. He announced: “Let’s eat here.” I thought maybe the restaurant must be hidden in the underbrush but as we climbed out of the truck I did notice a native lad standing beside a tree from which hung a bedraggled ‘something’ that appeared to have once been a living creature. It was now rather burned, sooty and greasy from having had its fur and skin singed off. Not far away was the lad’s mum, cooking a pot of stew on the stove. The stove was actually a bonfire on the edge of the road, contained by three stones that supported a black cauldron. The only other accoutrements for the restaurant were a machete lying on some bits of firewood and the stick she had to stir the contents of the pot.

Pot Preaching

With no hesitation Yves strode over to her kitchen, took her stick and began probing the depths of the cauldron. With Yves now tending her stew, the lady went off to collect an empty cement bag, the kind that consists of several layers of paper. She tore off a largish layer and brought it back to the pot. By then I’d had opportunity to observe through the smoke and vapours, the aromatic contents of bubbling broth. It seemed to consist mostly of oily globules of hair, grizzle and bone splinters. Yves was in his element. “The good bits,” he said, as he pushed the surface debris aside, “are at the bottom.” Sure enough, after a moment or two of rejecting several trifles, he fished out a chunk of ‘something’ and splattered it onto the proffered paper. I dared not ask what it was, and even as I picked off clinging hair and let the grease drain, I didn’t even bother attempting to guess. I looked at Yves healthy self, and noted the portly figure of the restaurateur and decided my choice of fare was edible.

I was recently reminded of that lunch, while enduring a Sunday sermon. The sermonizer droned on through his message and I occupied myself by reflecting on the various sources from which I’d previously heard that same material. Much of it was stuff I’d heard several times before. He was demonstrating a style of sermonizing which I refer to as ‘pot preaching’. It happens frequently with the twice or thrice weekly sermonizers. They need a message, so quickly grab something off the top of the pot and feed that to their audience. Usually it consists of tidbits that others have also skimmed off the top. Audiences accept it because it’s the usual fare, assuming its right because of the repetition. But periodically I’m delighted by a communicator who probes into the depths of the pot and comes up with a morsel that’s different. And do you know how audiences often respond? “We’ve never heard that before.” “Is that true?” “That’s unbelievable.”

Well folks, it’s out of the same pot. Some of us just probe in a different place! J


(original post Aug 4 2014)


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