We need words in order to think.
And there are certain individual words so powerful, that just the mere fact of their existence helps us to think more clearly than we could without them. One of these is the word shibboleth. To learn this word is to be able to name incalculably more of what is going on in the human interactions we see going on all around us from our family systems at Thanksgiving to our Twitter feed. It comes from a somewhat obscure biblical story.
Without getting into too much detail, one tribe, the Gileadites, was fighting another tribe, the Ephraimites, because why wouldn’t they? At one point, the Gileadites captured a strategically important beachhead along the Jordan river, leaving several straggler Ephraimites trapped in the newly the occupied territory. Because these two tribes had similar physical features, it wouldn’t have been unthinkable for these stragglers to try to escape across the river to safety, if not for one oddity of speech. Because the Ephraimites did not have the “sh” sound in their dialect of Hebrew,
Black or white. Us or them. Yes or no. My candidate; your candidate. 1 or 0. Binary thinking is everywhere in our culture.
I received quite a few contact forms on the blog “Overrated,” from a few weeks back, where I discussed the importance of maintaining friendships with people who think differently. I’m guessing that many of you share this growing sense that the polarization we see on this issue or that issue is merely a symptom of some greater disease that seems to have torn a rift between "us and them." You’re beginning to feel, as I am, that it’s not the “wrong side” of any one divisive issue, which poses the greatest threat to all of us. It’s the division itself.
This video is a quick walkthrough of the 1/2 barrel pilot system we use at Castle Church to create new recipes that will scale to the 20 barrel brewhouse when we go into production. Be sure to check back each week for a new short video about the brewery and our beer. Feel free to leave comments if you have additional questions or would like to see something on a specific topic in the future. Cheers!
Aaron Schmalzle is a mission developer in the ELCA and, along with Pastor Jared Witt, is a Founding Director of Castle Church Brewing Community and Castle Church Faith Community.
I usually have all kinds of words. That’s my thing. I don’t fix stuff with my hands. My ankles are too brittle for sports. And I was just an average math student. But words, I can do.
Except for this week.
For three days I’ve tried to come up with something to say about Orlando, this city beautiful that I’ve come to call my home—this unlikely little melting pot of misfits, who insist on forging together an authentic and one-of-a-kind culture just down the road from the heart of Americana. Nothing.
But maybe silence is the only thing fitting for the moment. Maybe it’s right that we sit and stew in this for a bit before we speak, before we offer up one more prayer, one more "our hearts go out to..."
Yesterday marked the close of Castle Church’s first ever Synod Assembly which was themed “Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters” (Amos 5:24). In the words of our Bishop, “I have no doubt tonight that God’s tears are rolling down following our nation’s worst mass shooting in history.” We as Christians do not have the luxury to remain silent in the face of evil. We are called and empowered through Christ to speak up and act in the face of evil, and let’s face it, evil manifested itself in Orlando over the weekend. What we experienced and witnessed was more than a disaster…
Every successful public speaker, songwriter, or politician knows that the definition of a word is rarely as important as it’s connotations.
So if I say “restructuring,” the oxford definition of that word is unlikely to excite much of an emotional response in you. But if you or someone you love has recently been laid off from a job, you may find yourself emotionally lashing out at this term with a fury that would otherwise seem uncalled for.
Connotations are not the things that a word directly points to but are rather all those other images loosely floating around that word’s gravitational field. They’re the interactions and experiences that
Have you ever wondered what beer from the Middle Ages might have tasted like? If you thought that wheat, hops, yeast esters, and barrel aging were modern craft beer trappings, you may be surprised to know that over 500 years ago the region of Einbeck, Germany was successfully producing a style of beer with a profile that could rival that of the best craft breweries today.
I have a friend who believes almost the opposite of everything that I believe.
At the center of the Venn Diagram, showing all the beliefs, interests, preferences, and hobbies that we share, there is golf, football, exactly one Tex Mex restaurant, and that’s about it.
Maybe that doesn’t sound like a very solid foundation for a friendship. But it’s actually one of the reasons that I value this relationship as highly as any in my life.
I have other friends who think like me, talk like me, vote like me, agree with me. What I love about this friendship is that this one is different. And there is data to show that this kind of friendship—a mixed-belief friendship—is increasingly rare in our society.
How Castle Church is stirring up a new spirit in the church from a brewery in Orlando, FL.