Closing Windows
Image: Seth Hahne

“My wife makes the most delicious brownies,” the man in the YouTube video says, “using coconut oil and cacao nibs. When you start paying attention to what goes into the recipe—you know, healthy replacements for the bad ingredients, the processed things, the cane sugar and high fructose whatever—you really start to reap benefits.”

Watching him on one tab, you open another on your office computer’s browser and search for “coconut oil.”

“What she does, see, is she goes online to buy these things directly,” he says. “She gets coconut oil from Trinidad and Tobago, cacao nibs from Cote d’Ivoire, and butter from a family-owned farm out in Bath Township, where one of the farm’s employees will package the butter right there for you when you come to pick it up.”

At room temperature, you read, coconut oil is a liquid. Chocolates made using coconut oil need to be refrigerated or frozen to remain in solid form. It has many health benefits, either ingested or applied topically. It can be used as a hair tonic.

“What I want to suggest is that we should be mindful about Scripture translations in the same way that we are mindful about ingredients—that even though certain translations read smoothly, are familiar, can go down easy, there are healthier ones for us to use, and if we pay attention to those healthier translations, we can start to reap spiritual benefits.”

Hair tonic, you think. Hair. Head.That one Psalm with the oil running down Aaron’s beard. The importance of community. C.T.E., the invisible outworkings of a life of concussions. Your mind wanders.

“If we look at the translators’ introduction to the 1611 edition of the—”

In an attempt to queue a new tab, you accidentally exit the one on which the video is playing. You reopen it from your history and try to skip back to where you left off.

“—makes the most delicious brownies using coconut oil and cacao nibs. When you start—” You hit pause. Is it possible that Christ was acquainted with chocolate? Perhaps the apostle Paul encountered it in the course of his travels. As he encountered—who was it, again? Seneca? The Roman Stoic? Is this true?

You take out your phone and search “Seneca Apostle pAul meeting?”

The first result is locked up behind a paywall (your church does not pay for you to have a JSTOR membership). Wikipedia, though, has a short article entitled “Epistle to Seneca the Younger,” which refers to a collection of correspondence from the apostle Paul to Seneca that is widely believed to be a forgery on account of (the article says) “poverty of thought and style, the errors of chronology and history, and—” You go back to the search results.

Well…jesusneverexisted.com is right out.

***

You glance at your computer and decide that you should get back to this video, which you hope will help you draft your response to the man awaiting a reply to this, his third unanswered email about the importance of “cleaving to the King James Version of the Bible and forsaking all others.” You click back to his email. You think that maybe he said something about dropping by to discuss it…Did he mean today?

“I understand that my position might seem a tad extreme to you,” his email reads, “so I thought that perhaps for the sake of starting a dialogue I might offer this level-headed teaching about the importance of the KJV that, I might say, does not have the tonal issues that one might accuse certain of the other videos of possibly having, as might be the case. Even so, I think you’ll see…” He goes on for hundreds of tortured words, expositing the arguments of the video and anticipating counterarguments and objections. You are not sure why you thought watching the video would help.

July/August
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Closing Windows