Brown-Bag Blues

Three years ago at our Annual Weekend After Groundhog's Day Sojourners Community Talent Show, one of our households portrayed a modern version of the parable of the Good Samaritan. The most-applauded character was the "Levite," dressed in our favorite-label jeans, shirt, and jacket.

Those of us who live in Christian communities like to think we were among the first to institutionalize blue jeans. They became a habit of sorts (a bad habit, some would say). They were functional for our way of life.

Little did we know what trend setters we really were--living "on the cutting edge," as some people were fond of telling us. Of course we were left in the dust with our generics and Western brands when Jordache and Sasson hit the scene.

Last week on the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather focused in on "A New Status Symbol" in America, rapidly becoming as popular as designer jeans. I humbly submit that we also had this one first: brown-bag lunches.

While others have been eating quiche and crepes at quaint little outdoor cafes in Georgetown, we, like many other low-to moderate-income Americans, have been carrying our lunches in brown paper bags for years. For more than a decade we've survived on the ubiquitous peanut butter and jelly sandwich (soybean spread when the price of peanuts skyrocketed). Now it seems it's quite the status thing among the upward bound to eat lunch in one's office out of a brown bag.

As I watched that last story on the news that night, many questions came to mind: How soon before the market is glutted with designer brown bags (the Calvin Klein coffee carrier/cottage cheese container)? How long before the rest of America moves forward and radical Christians are left holding the plain brown bag?

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