By John D. Pierce

One Saturday afternoon a few years ago I dropped into Rembrandt’s Coffee House in the lovely Bluff View Arts District of Chattanooga. Few others were there at the time.

But just moments later the soft music and slow pace were interrupted by the manager proclaiming loudly to staff: “Get ready! The wine tasting is over and everyone will be coming here!”

The annual Wine Over Water tasting event on the nearby pedestrian bridge that spans the Tennessee River had ended. So the coffee house crew braced for the onslaught of customers.

Then the manager offered this matter-of-fact analysis to her young, scurrying employees: “They think coffee will make them sober — but it really just makes them alert drunks.”

The scientific effect of caffeine on wine consumption is beyond my knowledge. But I do know you can hear some interesting things by eavesdropping at coffee shops — or being around when unexpected proclamations are offered.

Years later, I still ponder the manager’s description of a caffeinated wine-tasting enthusiast as an “alert drunk.”

That description, however, might apply more widely when many persons appear to be awakened but confused: falling for hype and hoaxes; never considering life from a perspective other than one’s own; copying and pasting untested nonsense; reading and thinking no more deeply than the latest bumper sticker; refusing to learn from the past; confessing to follow Jesus while giving greater allegiance to political ideology; claiming to love more widely than attitudes and actions reveal.

Jesus was always challenging narrow mindsets, old traditions and human-imposed limitations. He did and does offer better ways to think, love and live if we are alert and aware.

Such renewing of our minds and hearts opens us to greater possibilities of being what Jesus called salt and light.



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