Sunday, April 15, 2012

The One and Only Church of Universal Ice Cream

I had been thinking recently that I hadn’t written anything original in a while, and then I attended a wonderful interfaith contemplative conference this past weekend, which got my creative juices going. Attendance at this conference spurred my imagination and provided me with the following inspiration and insight.


I have decided to found a new church that will be called The One and Only Church of Universal Ice Cream. The only observance for church congregants will be to consume Universal Ice Cream. This is based upon a revelation I received concerning the core essence of ice cream and its significance. Examining the wild world of ice cream in its many varieties, and engaging in a deconstruction process led me to the conclusion that the core elements common to all ice cream are milk and sugar. Well, okay, but what is so significant about milk and sugar? Pondering this enigma further led me to think about how we all come into this world. We enter this world as helpless babies almost entirely dependent upon others for our survival. The only self-contained tools we have to aid our individual survival are the bodily systems that are up and running. Most importantly, as far as physical nourishment goes, we breath without having to go through any training curve, and likewise we have a sucking instinct. We all know that breath is the most essential element of life — we cannot survive very long without it. Next is water. We can survive longer without water than without air, but not for too long, and it certainly will work to our detriment to be deprived of water for any significant period of time. But if the only nourishment we’re provided in the first few months of life is air and water, we’re still not going to survive. We also need something else for nourishment to sustain us and allow us to grow and “thrive”, as the pediatricians call it.

So after birth, all of us are soon taken to the breast to provide that additional essential ingredient that, along with air and water, can sustain us and help us thrive for quite a long time before we need anything else. And if not breast milk, we’re provided with a manufactured substitute for it that we call “infant formula”. But the point here is to realize that from the moment of birth on, we develop a great need, longing, and attachment for that sweet milk. Maybe that explains our ongoing attraction to various forms of liquid sugary confections, whether frozen, cold, or warm. And maybe that explains why the description of the Biblical Promised Land as a land of “milk and honey” resonates so deeply with us. It all goes back to breast milk.

So anyway, I decided that this new religion is going to cash in on this revelation and get us back to the core. I’m going to develop an ice cream with the only ingredients being milk and sugar, and that will be Universal Ice Cream.

Now, being the savvy businessperson that I am (in addition to being a prophet), I have long realized that a problem with having an institution providing only ice cream is that sales tend to dive in the cold winter months. I have noticed that Baskin and Robbins has addressed this problem by beginning to team up with Nathan’s Hot Dogs. So even though folks may not want to stop by for a sundae or cone in the winter, they may still come by for a nice, warm hot dog. However, my solution is to serve “hot” ice cream in the winter months—in other words, nice, frothy cups of sweetened steamed milk. I’ll probably also offer year-round glasses of milk and honey served slightly refrigerated or at room temperature for those of discerning tastes who would like to be more biblically accurate.

Now, being the prophet that I am (in addition to being a savvy businessperson), I’m expecting some problems along the way. I’m expecting that sooner or later, somebody’s going to come along and add vanilla flavoring to universal ice cream and open up a new Better Church of Universal Ice Cream with that vanilla ice cream. And then chocolate is going to follow, and next strawberry. Then some Italian guy from Rome is going to come along and develop, of all things, Trinity Ice Cream, with three flavors in every scoop! In the secular world, they’re going to call it “spumoni”. And finally will come all kinds of exotic flavors, colors, and probably even toppings. And then some manufacturing folks are going to come along and add all kinds of other ingredients so the product can be more consistent, ship better, and cost less. The country will be dotted with all kinds of Churches of Universal Ice Cream, all claiming to be the Best Yet, the Ultimate, the Final One and Only, the Culmination of Everything That Has Gone On Before, The Culmination of Everything That Has Gone On Before, Version’s II and III, etc. There will probably even be churches that will offer Universal Steamed Milk in the winter and Frozen Universal Steamed Milk in the summer, and all of the variations available on those (espresso, double shot, whole milk, 2%, skim or soy), claiming they are the ultimate ones, and not the ice cream establishments.

And the congregants of all these different churches are going to start to get ugly with each other, because each church will claim that theirs and theirs alone is the one and only true Universal Ice Cream. Blood will be shed and wars will be fought, all over Ice Cream. No-one will remember that there are common elements in all of the varieties of ice cream because on the surface they will all look and taste so different. They’ll just focus on the differences and claim that there is no way that they can all be true ice cream.

And there you have it, a big mess started over ice cream. Started over a basic need and drive to remain connected with a fundamental source of nourishment upon which we all depend in order to survive and thrive.

So what is the solution to this conundrum? Is a return to one and only Universal Ice Cream going to work? Doubtful. The cat is already out of the bag. Besides, what is wrong with diversity? And not just tolerating differences, but accepting, embracing and celebrating them. Everywhere we look, we see diversity — in the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms. And also a unifying interdependence. We see diversity in human expression and endeavor, from ethnicity and culture, to food preparation and artistic expression. Why should it be any different with religious expression? Maybe Baskin and Robbins has it right, collecting all of these different varieties of ice cream under one roof, in a joyous expression of the wide world of ice cream, but reminding everyone that they are all ice cream, and providing everyone a choice. Is the guy who prefers Rocky Road really going to get into a heated argument with the guy who prefers Mint Chocolate Chip? Or can they acknowledge that both are ice cream and that they have different individual tastes. Different strokes for different folks.

So the challenge for interfaith work is the “Baskin and Robbins” challenge. We all need to keep up the good work.

As for me personally, I’m one of those folks who likes the simplicity of the core ingredients of universal ice cream, distinguishing between spirituality and religion. Maybe I’ll splurge and throw in a little flavoring or topping once in a while, just for fun.

But for the sake of peace on earth and a recognition of our common, interdependent humanity, we all need to constantly remember that it is ALL ice cream.

P.S. I have worked at various retail jobs in my long and storied life, but the one that was the most fun was working in an ice cream parlor. You know why? Because people are always in a good mood when they’re coming in to buy ice cream!

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Quote of the Week 381 - Heaven

Heaven is all round,

Translated to sound.

--Michael Hedges



Announcing Publication of New Book, DIMENSIONS: Navigation the Spiritual Spectrum

I am pleased to announce the publication of my new book, DIMENSIONS: Navigating the Spiritual Spectrum, now available at Amazon, in paperback print and Kindle versions. It is easily found by searching my name, or by searching the full title and subtitle. You can also click on the image of the book in the right hand column of this blog.

What a great way to start the New Year, cozying up to a fire, real or imagined, and reading a new spiritually inspiring book, sure to become a classic!

DIMENSIONS: Navigating the Spiritual Spectrum

Grounded in the traditions of Torah and Veda, Steven J. Gold takes us on an oceanic tour of the depth and breadth of spiritual consciousness. Sharing personal stories and insights into various traditional scriptures as examples, he urges us to adopt a spiritual worldview, to “ponder infinity, awake and arise,” to “find your inspiration and follow it.”

“The chapters…are records of what happens when Steve’s right mind, and heart, are given full freedom to wander where they wish. As discoveries and correlations are made, his well-trained left mind and sharp wit give his observations shape and form…” – Brother Shankara, Resident Minister, Vedanta Center of Atlanta

“Universal Ice Cream: Dive deep into Steve’s wonderful book to help find your favorite flavor on the Spiritual Spectrum.” – Rabbi Mitch Cohen, Spiritual Leader, Congregation Shalom B’Harim, Dahlonega, GA

“Steven J. Gold’s Dimensions is an exploration of spirituality from the inside out. If you are looking for a guide through the pathless land of truth, read this book.” – Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author of The World Wisdom Bible

Interfaith/Inter-Spiritual Contemplative Groups

Please check out the following, which is an ongoing activity that may be of interest: