I try, but I just can’t get worked up over beer cans. Where I live there are full-sized billboards all over the countryside going into ecstasies over the discovery that a can of beer can be opened by a simple flip on the top. If I were going into ecstasies, it would be over the fact that I held the patent on this little gadget or had the advertising account. To consider seriously the millions and millions of dollars which are being spent to make us feel real good about this sort of thing makes me feel, on the contrary, very dismal indeed. This is not so much an argument about beer as it is about what people have come to think is important.

Some two weeks ago I was at dinner with friends who had a pride of children. One little boy made no contribution to the table talk one way or another from the beginning to the end; and, in a way, it was kind of a special research assignment just to see how he managed to get everything he wanted without saying “please” or “thank you” or even asking. I bear witness that he had a splendid meal. His one contribution at the table, and I can’t think now what triggered the remark, was, “You should have seen on television where the beer flowed clean up over the glass.” Whatever was on the boy’s mind—good, bad, or indifferent—this is the only thing that came out.

One whole family was slated to go to church because I was doing the preaching (true hospitality knows no bounds), but at the last minute there was a call for the oldest daughter to go as a baby-sitter. There was not one split second of decision as to whether baby-sitting should or should not outrank church attendance. The decision may have been a sound one (there was money in it), but I am sure that it was actually made ...

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