Okay. I guess I need to say something. For those readers from out of town we have a small local dust-up going, having to do with some irrelevant bigotries from the ebbing world of print journalism.
What happened was this. Our town has a locally-owned food co-op, and a number of our church members get their groceries there, and are consequently members of the co-op. The co-op recently had their regular board election, and a couple of members of Christ Church were elected. One person who attends Christ Church was already on the board. This means that three of the seven board members are now from our church, which ought to be as alarming as running into a couple of church folks at Les Schwab Tire Center.
An alarm was sounded, but unnecessarily, because nothing is going on. There is no conspiracy to do anything going down, and all the board members themselves appear to be rubbing along well enough to work it out. We disagree about a lot of things, but if we can’t agree to rally around over-priced produce, what can we rally around?
And that joke should remind everyone that if I really were an evil genius plotting to take things over, I would hardly start with an organic grocery store. My interest in the co-op is limited to thinking that members of my church who would like to get their groceries there should be allowed to do so without being hassled, and that the co-op, being privately owned and operated, should be allowed to determine their own customs when it comes to their own self-governance. So when it comes to the co-op, there really is no basis for controversy.
The Daily News is another matter. It also is privately owned, and this means they should be allowed to print whatever seems to make sense to them. But because there is a pretense of speaking for the entire community, it should not surprise anyone if I decide to provide some color commentary when they commit any extended howlers to print.
“By embracing the vibe of peace, love, funky stuff and local, natural foods whenever possible, the Moscow Food Co-op has become a local institution that helps define the zeitgeist of the city.”
This is like describing a bag of croutons as a salad. The defining of the zeitgeist on the basis of a narrow selection of our town’s community life is a pretty good example of cherry picking.
“Much more than do the city’s 17 fast-food joints, the co-op helps define Moscow for many of its residents – as do the old brick 1912 Center and City Hall, Tye-Dye Everything, bicycle shops, the University of Idaho, the Farmers Market, One World Cafe and East City Park’s festivals.”
By appointment of her Majesty the queen — a tye-dye shop represents us all, and Smokey Mountain pizza doesn’t.
“The co-op’s stature as one of the defining organizations downtown has led to some angst recently that it might change – or be changed. Being a co-op, it is owned and run by its members, most of whom note who is running in the elections for its board each year and then don’t bother to vote.”
This seems accurate enough.
“So far, that’s worked. But this year, two of the three new board members are affiliated with Christ Church. Another member of the board is, also.”
This is mathematically accurate also.
“So what, you might ask? Is it a problem if there are a bunch of Methodists or Wiccans on the board? The Christ Church members didn’t reveal their church affiliation during the election, but then neither did any other member or candidate for the board.”
So could you go over what the problem was, then?
“The concern has to do with the nature of Christ Church, led by the gay-baiting Pastor Doug Wilson. The co-op’s personnel policies have always been rather inclusive of nearly any lifestyle choice. Christ Church not so much. There’s concern that a fourth member on the seven-member board from Christ Church might want to change those personnel policies, among other things.”
“Nearly any”? Uh oh. What lifestyle choices have been historically excluded by the co-op? Just curious.
Leave aside the pejorative “gay-baiting” for a moment. A pastor of a church that believes the Bible, and which preaches from the Bible, needs to deal with matters of sexual morality. These things do come up in the text. When I preach through Romans and address homosexuality publicly, I am not changing the subject. This is one of the things that churches do. But why on earth does a grocery store need to have a public policy on gayness? I have no idea what Safeway thinks of the war in Afghanistan. If the reply is, as indicated above, that the board might someday privately change their benefits for employees, thereby excluding homosexual couples, it remains equally true that the board could also vote tomorrow to exclude Christ Church members from co-op membership. That would take care of all that pesky voting stuff.
And to date, there is a lot more evidence that something like the latter could happen (e.g. alarmist editorials from the Daily News) than that the former might happen (the evidence for something like that running in the zilch column).
So let’s return to the pejorative taunt now. This last Sunday night I had the privilege of sharing a platform in Coeur d’Alene with Aaron and Melissa Klein who were fined six figures in Oregon for declining to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding. You guys are the fussers. You are the finers. You are the banners. You are the bigots. You are the excluders. You are the intoleristas. All the organized boycotts and exclusions in Moscow to date have come from the left. Is that part of the zeitgeist too?
“It’s almost like Monsanto, that company of caustic chemicals and genetically modified seeds for corporate farms, suddenly had three affiliates on the co-op board. And they just hadn’t thought it important to mention that connection.”
Except that Monsanto doing so would be like working for McDonalds and trying to sell Wendy’s burgers. The co-op is an organic foods store, and has every right to be an organic foods store. While a move from Monsanto might be legal, at the very least it would be seen as a legal hostile takeover, like Wendy’s trying to buy out McDonalds. And it would only last until the subsequent board election, because all the co-op people want to shop at their kind of co-op, and not a Monsanto-y co-op.
In the meantime, our members live here. Does the Daily News want to let me know where our people are permitted to shop for groceries? If we shop for groceries at the co-op, are we allowed to join for better prices? Or maybe we could join, and voluntarily refrain from voting? Just let us know.
“Wilson in the past has made statements – whether hyperbolic or not – about Moscow being the right size town because it was both capable of and worth being taken over in the course of 35 years or so. People remember.”
Right. They remember, but they do so dimly, and in bits and pieces. Then they write editorials. Ambrose Bierce once defined a luminary this way: “One who throws light upon a subject; as an editor by not writing about it.”
“New Saint Andrews, Logos, Bucer’s, Nuart and Anselm House are all also associated with the Christ Church organization. Hardly overwhelming.”
Right. Hardly overwhelming. But are we part of the zeitgeist yet? You guys are apparently in charge of that now.
“There are many who don’t want the co-op to be next. We’re among them.”
The next what? The next institution that excels in serving the community in what they have set out to do? If this is the case, then the co-op would be well served to not follow the example of the Daily News.
You say that these entities are “associated with” Christ Church. Would you please describe for us, on the basis of your ongoing crackerjack reporting, what the exact nature of that association is? Anselm House is owned by Gritman, so huh. Bucer’s is privately owned, and is not associated with Christ Church. The Nuart ministry is not associated with Christ Church. Logos School provides a Christian education for students from multiple denominations, and is not formally associated in any way with Christ Church. New St. Andrews comes the closest, in that NSA is associated indirectly with Christ Church, although it has its own institutional and independent form of governance. So I will spot them that one, and note that the statement that formed the basis of this ringing call to action was 20% accurate.