Kevin DeYoung of DeYoung, Restless and Reformed makes an observation about coffee shops and McDonald's and ministry to our culture. I like his point and I think it's funny. But more than that, he asks a great question, I'm paraphrasing - "Why is a coffee shop better than McDonald's?"
Here's how he said it:
“. . . so much that passes for spirituality these days is nothing more than middle class, 20something coffee culture. If you like jazz, soul patches, earth tone furniture, and lattes, that's cool. But this culture is no holier than the McNugget, Hi-C, Value City, football culture that most people live in. Why does incarnational ministry usually mean hanging out at Starbucks instead of McDonalds?”
Part of the answer, I think, is simply that coffee shops are popular now. Soul patches are popular now. I don't think most black-leather draped, hip missionals are thinking too deeply about the relative values of McDonald's and coffee shops. And probably, in about 15 years, when some of these folks are riding herd on a van full of little soccer players, McDonald's is going to look pretty darn good.
Meanwhile, in other coffee-related opinion, James Lileks, everybody's friend, has this to say about Starbucks:
"I’m tired of the vague, carefully tasteful, placeless hip of Starbucks. It’s a stage set, nothing more, and whenever I go there I never feel like I have the right script."
I feel the same way, like I don't know my lines when I'm in these places. There is a smugness that permeates the air and I don't understand why I'm supposed to feel smug because I'm having mocha in an old building that looks a lot cooler than it used to.
Besides, I make a better frozen mocha at my house than any coffee shop in town and I'll even tell you how I do it, I'm not proud. But I will say this - the independent shops are more fun, more 'real' than the 'set' at Starbucks.