Jon Kennedy
Jon Kennedy

Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
the Nanty Glo in My Mind

Word study: snobbery

If the definition.of "snob" is "thinking oneself better than others," it is certainly a trait all Christians and philosophical democrats have to work at to cut out of their makeup. A Christian, as I understand the term, is one who has come to realize that we all have sinned and fall short of the holiness standards of God and can do nothing of ourselves to earn redemption. It's all God's mercy that we have to plead from Him, not our "goodness" (which is "filthy rags" — see Isaiah 64:4-9). As I proposed in Everything Jesus, the prayer most acceptable to Jesus was that uttered by the publican in His parable (Luke 18:9–14): "Lord have mercy on me a sinner," and the most unacceptable prayer is that of the pharisee, "thank you, God, that I am not like others." As an aside, I suspect that many references to pharisees in the Gospels are referring to the general snobbishness they often exhibited, not the fact that they were leaders in the Temple or their synogogues, because at least some pharisees (Nicodemus, for one) fell on the mercy of God rather than depending on his own "superiority." But being "exalted," even in one's temple, is, like great wealth, a needle eye that few manage to squeeze through.

But there's a popular usage of "snob" that may not be about "vainglory" but something closer to "taste." Though I have never tasted anything I considered "good" about any wine I've ever tried, I suppose the most common and widely understood context for this more acceptable use of "snob" in in "wine snobs." Even I can appreciate that it's better for someone to be a "wine snob" —someone who prefers "fine wines" rather than "rotgut"—rather than anyone equally at home with drinking rubbing alcohol or moonshine.

It took me many years to become a coffee drinker, but when I finally did I went on to develop specific "tastes" in coffee that make me like some types and not others. Since McDonald's started trying to compete with Starbucks head-on, I consider their coffee an acceptable substitute when I can't get to Starbucks, though before it was improved I called their coffee "brown coffee" or "Folgers." And I find it hard to get my mind around the fact that in Great Britain, outside the many Starbucks shops that are as popular there as here, it seems, when you ask for coffee you may get a cup of Nescafe! Yccch! Hasn't Postum made it over the pond yet?

You may consider me a "snob" when it comes to coffee, though I refuse to take a stand on whether Starbucks, Seattle's Best, or Peets actually has the best coffee—any of these will do for me, so long as it's not Starbucks "Pike Place Roast." Yccch, again: Starbucks' attempt to take on Folgers. (But I don't complain when a Starbucks barista makes the mistake of giving me Pike Place; that would be putting an "issue" or a "taste" above a human relationship; next time I must remember to specify, "bold.")

In Palm Springs last week my brother and I found ourselves in a Costco store and looking into the glass encased "luxury watches." Watches, it seems to me, are the worst example of decadent taste. Anyone who spends $9000 on a watch when a $19.95 Timex or Casio (or the cellphone already in your pocket) keeps exactly the same time (give or take a fraction of a second), is an idolator whose idol is himself. But then Costco — well, I won't go there.... Suffice it to say my personal taste in stores leans toward Big Lots. Does that make me a snob?

— Webmaster Jon Kennedy



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The devil wants us "rushing about with fire extinguishers when there is a flood, and crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under."

C. S. Lewis (1898 - 1963)

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Jon Kennedy's latest book is The Everything Guide to C.S. Lewis and Narnia, now in stores, from Adams Media, F&W Publications. From May 9, 2007 through July 2, 2008 his blog entries or "Jonals" were articles inspired by readings in Lewis's work that didn't fit into the book. Click here for a list of all articles in the C.S. Lewis Overflow series. The book is available for purchase in support of the Liberty Museum in Nanty Glo and is also available on Amazon.



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