Beans To Brew

LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT A NEW COFFEE SHOP. BUT FIRST...

I do enjoy coffee. I like the taste of a good dark roast and the whole coffee-drinking experience. And I don’t mind the buzz.

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According to Wikipedia: “Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant of the methylxanthine class. It is the world's most widely consumed psychoactive drug. Unlike many other psychoactive substances, it is legal and unregulated in nearly all parts of the world.

It is also legal and mostly unregulated in Baptist churches, and probably other churches too, but I’m mostly familiar with acceptable and unacceptable drug use in the Baptist Tradition. I noted that it is “mostly” unregulated; many Baptist churches frown upon coffee in the auditorium (or sanctuary, if you’re a high-class Baptist.). Other than that; it’s all-you-can-drink anywhere you want to drink it.

I don’t like to think of myself as a coffee snob, but church coffee is kind of like Vacation Bible School Kool-Aid—weak and tepid. Sometimes you get what you pay for.

Which brings us to Starbucks and the conditioning of coffee-drinkers to think little of paying a lot for a few pennies worth of coffee beans and hot water. But we all know, at some point you’re paying for the experience. And I’m a willing participant.

Can you imagine, how many wonderful conversations have happened over a cup of coffee? The world’s problems are solved everyday in coffee joints across the country. Cookies taste better and politics are more bitter with a good strong cup of coffee.

So, where in the great state of Oklahoma can you go for the best coffee experience? Although I’m just a humble consumer and accidental connoisseur, I have opinions and I’m not afraid to share them. Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list. In fact, I am wide open to trying new places, especially if you’re buying. But, for what it’s worth:

In Oklahoma City:

  • Cafe Evoke
  • Coffee Slingers Roasters
  • Cuppies and Joe
  • Elemental Coffee Roasters
  • Hank's Coffee & Wine
  • Junction Coffee
  • t, an urban teahouse

I like all of these places. I have visited each of them numerous times and in many cases I know the people that run them. Try them all. Note: If you want to visit Junction Coffee, you’ll have to hunt them down. It’s a coffee shop in a double-decker bus from Great Britain and they move around from place to place. And that last one on the list, t, an urban teahouse, you can get a cup of coffee there, but go for the tea. Kristy Jennings, the proprietor will illuminate the whole process for you if you ask.

In Tulsa:

  • CHoCS: Coffee House on Cherry Street
  • Shades of Brown Coffee & Art
  • Dwelling Spaces

My hometown and three of my favorites. Each of these is in neighborhood worth visiting: Cherry Street, Brookside, and Blue Dome, respectively. On a cool evening, go al fresco at the Starbucks at Utica Square. 

El Reno:

  • Iron Tree Coffee Company

We lived in El Reno for several years back when it’s downtown was thriving. (Before Wal Mart came to town.) I love seeing this little shop helping keep downtown percolating.

Guthrie:

  • Hoboken Coffee Roasters

One of my favorites. You know the old saying, “Location, location, location!” The Hoboken folks said, “To heck with that!” This place isn’t hidden away in a back alley, but if you can find it you won’t be disappointed.

Shawnee:

  • Elevated Grounds

There was a great little shop in downtown Shawnee called Sips. It was just right, but now it’s gone. Elevated Grounds is fairly new and doesn’t have the same ambience as Sips did, but the cup I had there was very good and the service was beyond expectation.

Weatherford:

  • RX Brew

This little shop in a wonderfully converted craftsman house was one of my favorites. It is now under new ownership and is called RX Brew & Donuts. I haven’t tried it yet, so you’re on  your own.


Now to that new coffee shop I want you to know about. It’s in Hinton, Oklahoma, which is about an hour west of OKC just south of I-40. Wait! Let me tell you why it’s worth the drive all the way to Hinton for a cup of coffee.

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This shop is called Brew92. The proprieters are dear friends, but even if they weren’t I would still recommend you go. The coffee drinks are brewed with the same care you would find at a coffeeshop in Seattle or Portland. The pastries though… these are worth the drive. Forget about the calories for an hour or so and enjoy. 

Not only are the food and beverages outstanding, this is a place you will want to spend some time in. It’s comfortable and even inspiring. Believe it or not, there is a good chance you’ll be able to watch a real potter working clay on a wheel. Her name is Sterling and she is an artist in the best sense of that word. Could be that your next coffee could be from your new mug fired in her kiln.

Here’s my offer: want to try Brew92? Let’s pick a time, drive out together. The coffee is on me. Or if you go without me, be sure to tell them, “Pops sent me.” It won’t get you anything, but perhaps a little sympathy. By the way, Brew92 also serves teas from t, an urban teahouse. Who doesn’t need a little Tea & Sympathy occasionally, or a double shot of espresso and a scone?


Brew92 on Instagram
Brew92 on Facebook
Sterling Pottery on Instagram
Sterling Pottery on Facebook

t, an urban teahouse

FIRETRUCK

HEARD A 10 YEAR-OLD GIRL TELL THIS JOKE to a few others her age: “What word starts with an F and ends with a K?”

Lots of raised eyebrows, hands over mouths and giggles, then she dropped the punchline and the mic — FIRETRUCK!

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Drove by a church the other day. On their marquee, “Lent starts Wednesday. Get your Ash in church.”

Maybe you’ve noticed that we have a U.S. President that uses language that, had I used those words, I would have had my mouth washed out with soap. Locker room talk has become Oval Office talk.

Desensitized? Sometimes it feels like we’ve cussed our way into a language wasteland. Where will we find a good bad word when we really need it? Like when you hit your thumb with a hammer or some S-Oh-Bee cuts you off in traffic.

For the most part the F-Bomb has become so ubiquitous it’s no longer a bomb. It’s not even a firecracker—more like just a fuse. It lights, sizzles, then fizzles to a mere puff of smoke.

I noticed that one of my favoritie podcasts is now offering a “beeped” and an “unbeeped” version.

I’ve never been much of a cusser. Oh, I do occasionally use faux cuss words like: dang, crap, etc. If I’m really mad I might say silently in my head, “GOT DANDRUFF, SOME OF IT ITCHES!!”

It’s not that I feel morally superior, it just seems like I’m trying to be something I’m not. It’s probably the same reason I don’t have a tattoo. I’m just not that cool. While I am certified in big waters sailing and coastal navigation, I’ve never taken to talking like a sailor. I could say I’m more lover than fighter. But then it sounds like I’m painting a stereotype here with all the tattoos and fighting and cussing. The fact is I love a good fight, albeit the rhetoric kind.

And in those rhetorical battles, I like the challenge of persuading with more creative language than that of the Trump thesaurus.

Speaking of over-exaggeration, at the risk of being redundant, it seems like our culturally accepted lexicon now includes literally billions of cases of hyperbole every single minute.

Maybe you’re are thinking to yourself right now, “This guy is full of ____________. You would be at least half right.

While my personal catalog of words may not be colored by profanities, I do love slang. I used to think it helped me maintain a certain cultural relativeness. Now, when I try to lay  down some hip lines I come off as comical or corny. I take my cues from oldest Grand-Girl.

I used to feel boss, but now I’m lame, was groovy but now, not so much.

Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands and goes to work.
— Carl Sandburg

Don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to reform anyone, refine the modern discourse. There are people I love whose vocabulary is peppered with profanities. I can’t imagine them any other way. But to those who are just trying too hard, who think that somehow their cultural relevance depends on the number of curse words they can pack in to a sentence—please stop. 

Let your yes be yes, your no be no and your F-words truly bombs and not just filler for your inane ramblings.

And if you don’t like, you can go drive a firetruck.

70 Times 7

I FIRMLY BELIEVE that there are spiritual realities that are beyond human understanding. Here, here’s an example: “…God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand…” [from Philipians 4:6 The Living Bible]

Of course that doesn’t stop us from trying to understand, to seek meaning, to boil it all down to an unequivocal absolute. The danger there is that we might strip away the beauty, the mystery and the wonder. We’re left with someone’s interpretation, and in our desire to comprehend the incomprehensible, we settle for the opinion or worldview of another; for better or worse.

Forgiveness. That’s a tough one. In my sixty-some years of Sunday school, sermons, and scripture reading; not to mention prayers for wisdom and simple answers, I still don’t understand Forgiveness. I believe it is right up there with Peace in being “far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.”

Jesus was pretty clear on the subject, at least regarding the relentlessness of Forgiveness.

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!
—Matthew 18:21-22 New Living Translation

So, what is it? Exoneration, making amends, mercy, absolution, forgetting about it? Let’s just say it’s complicated. Here’s an example:

One of my favorite singer/songwriters is Brandi Carlile. I have all her albums except for her newest which is to be released on February 16. I have heard the album and it is amazing. It’s called, “By The Way, I Forgive You”.

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In learning more about the album, I’ve learned more about Brandi. As a part of the album’s release, she and a couple of her bandmates decided to talk about their forgiveness stories and encourage others to do so as well, even going so far as to use social media and the hastag #ByTheWayIForgiveYou to provide a forum of sorts for sharing.

One of the stories from the Twitter thread was in video form, a young lady granting forgiveness posthumously to her father who died of alcoholism when she was only eleven. It is all extremely moving and affirms the fact that the process of forgiving and being forgiven is deeper than our understanding.

It all caused me to think about my personal encounters with the concept. Without a doubt, if the thing is a dichotomy with Forgiving on one end and Being Forgiven on the other, by far I have been on the Need-to-be-Forgiven end than I have the Need-to-Forgive side. 

Back to Brandi Carlile and her story of the gnarly, knotty, beautiful, spiritual affair of Forgiveness. Her story rang so true and relevant for me. Here, in her words:


I would like to forgive Pastor Tim.

I forgive you for deciding not to baptize me when I was a teenager for being gay.

It was not so much that you wouldn’t or couldn’t do it because of the tenets put in place by the baptist rules and traditions, but because you waited until all my family and friends were present and waiting in the pews for the ceremony.

I don’t believe you did it to humiliate me - I think you struggled with the decision and simply ran out of time... I think you probably still do struggle with it.

I’d like you to know that I still love you and that I understand we’re all on a journey together, trying our best to walk through the world with honor and dignity - but what I want you to know most of all is that you did not damage my faith. Not in god, not in humanity and not in myself.

The experience inspired me to help other gay kids and my spiritual LGBTQ brothers and sisters come to terms with the disappointments they’ve endured on the rugged road to peace and acceptance. I think you’d appreciate that process.

You’ve helped far more people than you’ve hurt and you helped me too.

Thank you

xobc

#bythewayiforgiveyou


I don’t know Pastor Tim, but I do know “Pastor Tim” in the sense that he could be so many other well-meaning, God-fearing humans making human messes in God’s name. I would love to visit with him to see how he feels all these years later about that day, about Brandi’s amazing grace-full statement of forgiveness. I hope he feels somewhat healed by it and that he can hear her saying that she is somehow healed by it too.

Notice that she seems to have come to terms with the understanding that he might have made the decision based on doctrine, dogma, or reductionist religion, but the thing that hurt her most was waiting until the moment she was to take a step of spiritual obedience into the waters, with her family and friends gathered to celebrate with her, before he said, No. Not now, not like this.

And then her words, baptized with grace, “I’d like you to know that I still love you and that I understand we’re all on a journey together, trying our best to walk through the world with honor and dignity…”

Maybe that’s what forgiveness is: understanding. understanding we’re all on a journey. a journey together. trying our best.

#bythewaypleaseforgiveme

because like Jesus affirmed to his Father while on the cross, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

For more on Brandi’s project click here.

Can You Hear Me Now?

LAST SUNDAY NIGHT, upon receiving his Grammy award, Kendrick Lamar, in his acceptance speech said, “Most importantly it showed me a true definition of what being an artist was; you know. From the jump I thought it was about the accolades and cars and clothes, but it is really about expressing yourself and putting that paint on the canvas for the world to evolve, for the next listener, the next generation after that. You know what I’m saying?”

There is so much in those few sentences and between the lines (if could be so bold, Kendrick). There is self-awareness, emotional intelligence even, and humility. There is the recognition of the power of art and the creative process. But to my ears, the most wonderful part is his affirmation of the beauty of the generative process.

That last sentence, when he says, “You know what I’m saying?”— that may be a rhetorical question, but it truly caused me to stop; to think, really think about what he is saying, to rewind and listen again. 

Language, through turns of phrase, has its way of calling for full attention and certain communitcation doesn’t it? 

  • A father might say, “Do you understand me?”
  • A mother might say, “Are you listening to me?”
  • A teacher might say, “Are you paying attention?”
  • The preacher might say, “Can I get an Amen?!”
  • Pops might say, “If you’ll listen to me you can have an ice cream sandwich and then stay up until the wee hours watching Peppa Pig!”
  • The Grand-Girls, say, “Hey Pops. Hey, Hey, Pops Pops Pops!”
  • Malachi just looks at me with his glorius, slobbery smile and bright blue inquisitive eyes.
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An actor playing an Italian mob boss might say, “Capisce?”

[Capisce, 1940s Italian slang (pronounced as cah-peesh) derived from the Italian word capire "to understand" and from Latin capere "to grasp or to seize". It is now used in american slang to say "got it" or "understand.”]

Throughout the red words of the Bible (you know, the words that Jesus spoke) there is a phrase that is, to my ears, Jesus’ way of saying, “You know what I’m saying?”

Jesus would tell a story, a parable, and then he would say, “He who has ears, let him hear.”

My dear friend and mentor, Doug Manning, is in my opinion sort of a listening savant. A few days ago I asked him, “What does it mean to really listen?” While that last word was still on my lips he said, “To understand.” He went on to explain “understanding” with beautiful, colorful illustrations. I am hoping to have him write a few words about it all so that I can post them here at About Pops. For now, check out his blog called THE HAPPY HERETIC.

Does it seem like we listen less these days? Maybe there are too many distractions, too much noise. Plus, listening to more fully understand seems so hard. It takes a selflessness that is rare in our culture of arrogance and narcissism. And yet, we need listeners more than ever. For example:

From Huffington Post: Twenty years ago, Larissa Boyce confessed to a gymnastics coach at Michigan State University that the school’s lauded sports medicine doctor, Larry Nassar, had touched her inappropriately. She was 16 at the time.

Boyce was seeing Nassar for lower back pain. But during many of her appointments, he inserted his fingers into her vagina, she says. She was only a teen, but her gut told her the treatment didn’t make sense. So she told Kathie Klages, one of her instructors, about what was happening.

But Klages downplayed her concerns, Boyce said in a recent phone interview with The Huffington Post. She told Boyce she must have misunderstood the procedure. Boyce, paralyzed with shame, concluded it must all be in her head.

For two decades, that’s what she continued to believe. Then, in September 2016, news broke that two former gymnasts, including an Olympic medalist, were saying they’d been sexually abused by Nassar.

In the months since, more than 100 women have come forward with horrifying allegations of being molested by Nassar under the guise of medical treatment. The abuse is alleged to have occurred over the course of two decades, with some of the earliest reports dated in 1997, and the most recent in 2016.

Finally, someone listened. Twenty years and 100 some young girls later—someone listened; to understand.

Remember what Dr. Frasier Crane would say when he took calls on his radio show? “I’m listening.” Healing words right? If we really mean it.

I’m going to do better, starting here: I promise that if we are talking with each other, I won’t check my iPhone, my iPad, or my Apple Watch. One caveat, if while we are visiting my watch makes a sound and I stand up and move around, don’t take that as a lack of listening and engagement on my part. My watch tells me every so often to get up and move. I don’t know how to turn off those alerts and I don’t have the moral courage to ignore the admonition. Other than that, I will try to be all ears, because I want to understand and be understood. 

You know what I’m saying?