FTA: Toward a Theology of Supermarkets

June 18, 2007 | 33 comments
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If you are looking for a morally, philosophically, and theologically fascinating place, I can think of few locations in contemporary life that can compare to the supermarket. Indeed, it seems to me that a proper understanding of the supermarket is one the primary intellectual tasks of the modern world and of our generation of Mormonism.

There are essentially two competing stories that we can tell about supermarkets. On one side is what I call the “Myth of Freedom.” On this view, the supermarket is a wild tribute to the power of human freedom. The supermarket offers you a wonderful variety of different choices — eight different kinds of shampoo, milk of every conceivable fat level, seven kinds of squash, dozens of varieties of fruit, beef, pork, fish, and poultry in every possible permutation — and gives them to you cheap. Delicacies previously available only to the super rich — fine cheeses and fruit out of season — are now with the easy grasp of the middle class. More importantly, the staples available in a supermarket are cheaper relative to total income. In other words, because of the supermarket, the poor spend a smaller portion of their income on food than at any time in the past. All this choice and prosperity is the creation of freedom. There is no master-mind genius who makes the supermarket happen, no authority who makes the trains run on time. Rather, the supermarket is possible precisely because free political institutions and the free markets that follow in their wake have push such would-be Platonic guardians into the dust bin of history.

The alternative story about the supermarket is what I call “The Myth of the Satanic Supermarket.” On this view, the supermarket is the instantiation of all that is wrong and evil in modern society. First, there is the soulessness of shopping in the supermarket. Gone are the shops and stalls of a more lively and authentic market of “real people” and community. In its place is a mass-and anonymous assembly line of shelves and automated tellers. The variety of the supermarket shelves is an illusion. Rather than offering a choice for every conceivable taste, the supermarket offers only the mass-produced “choices” of big corporations and the moral pygmies who rise to their top. The economic egalitarianism of the supermarket is also an illusion. The cheap food is soaked in poisonous chemicals and the only reason it is so cheap is because the industrialized forces of agribusiness have raped the environment to produce it. Nor is the environment the only victim of the supermarket. The poor of developing countries must suffer from the ruthless exploitation of multi-nationals so the fattened masses of the rich can enjoy marginally cheaper vegetables. Nature, community, and the poor all lie prostrated so that a mindless suburban consumer can make his soul-deadening “choice” between Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms.

Both of these stories are overdrawn, and to a large extent their truth rests on matters of fact, complex questions about the production of commodities and the effect of that production on the world. Don’t get me wrong. I have definite opinions about this subject, and by and large I prefer the “Myth of Freedom” to the “Myth of the Satanic Supermarket.” I do, however, think that the massive prosperity represented by the supermarket — complete with its distributional complexities; there are no supermarkets in the East Congo — represents one of the central moral phenomena of our time, perhaps the central phenomena. We cannot make sense of the moral universe in the modern world without making sense of the supermarket.

The scriptures have a great deal to say about wealth. The Book of Mormon, it seems to me, is deeply ambivalent about prosperity. On one hand, it seems to teach that righteousness leads to peace and freedom which in turn lead to prosperity. Wealth, however, tends to undermine righteousness and so on. Nibley and others have read this as being a simple condemnation of the wealthy. This, I think, is too easy. First, the Book of Mormon does not seem to teach that those who are wealthy are wealthy at the expense of the poor. Rather, prosperity is both a blessing and a danger, and there is a certain fatalism to the whole cycle.

The New Testament is, I think, much less ambiguous about wealth and the wealthy. Generally speaking, the Gospels present the rich as wicked because they are rich. It is important to realize, however, that by and large markets are a relatively late arrival in human history. It is not that people haven’t been swapping and trading since the dawn of time. (No doubt Cain and Abel made deals before Cain turned to violence.) Rather, the idea that material production should be ordered by private contracts and property rights conceived of as aspects of personal autonomy rather than hierarchical rights and duties is a recent creation. Wealth in the ancient world was largely a product of social status and the control such status gave over the means of violent expropriation. Read in economic context, the New Testament’s denunciations of wealth become more ambiguous.

The Old Testament presents perhaps the most interesting case. By and large, the Old Testament does not deal in the concept of an afterlife. Salvation does not consist of eternal life but rather in the continuation of one’s posterity and in one’s material prosperity. God blesses Abraham and Job by giving them lots of cattle and lots of children. Israel’s promise is a land of milk and honey, a land of abundance. At the same time, the prophets in the Old Testament offer many of the same blanket denunciations of wealth that one finds in the New Testament.

All of which leaves us with the great, unanswered question, “What think ye of the supermarket?”

(Orginally posted 2/14/2005)

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33 Responses to FTA: Toward a Theology of Supermarkets

  1. Shannon on June 18, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    In the romantic, Thoreauvian and foodie senses, the advent of the supermarket is just one more symptom of our soulless modern lives. In a practical sense, the two years I spent without a Wal-mart (the superest of supermarkets, surely) were terrible. But even in that short time, in Cairo, supermarkets were sprouting; it\’s only a matter of time for East Congo.

    One thing that has struck me is the successful business background of most General Authorities. It makes sense that we\’d want successful men to be our leaders, but at the same time, I find myself wondering how they are able to achieve a humility and a rightness of priority that I, in my relative poverty, find hard to match.

    I don\’t know if Peter Singer has been discussed on this blog. I wonder how he would answer your question.

  2. Eric Nielson on June 18, 2007 at 5:16 pm

    I also prefer the myth of freedom.

    I think the BofM gives us a glimpse at priorities in terms of seeking first the kingdom of God, and THEN ye shall obtain riches if you seek them. And then you will seek riches by more altruistic motives than ambition or greed.

    In this way the extra time and money provided by the supermarket will allow the individual who has obtained the kingdom of God to exercise the charitable feelings they will have.

    Nice post Nate.

  3. Seraphine on June 18, 2007 at 9:50 pm

    I prefer to get many of my foodstuff’s at the local food market and food co-op. But the supermarket is strangely soothing for me, though I think it’s more about a visceral reaction to the environment than it is about the mythology (though I think the visceral reaction has to do with the numerous possibilities and choices).

    Anyway, I love the passages about the supermarket in Don DeLillo’s White Noise. I recommend them to anyone who wants some crazy thoughts on the politics/philosophy/viscerality of supermarkets.

  4. Julie M. Smith on June 18, 2007 at 10:07 pm

    “Nature, community, and the poor all lie prostrated so that a mindless suburban consumer can make his soul-deadening “choice” between Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms.”

    You left out the part about the three children screaming in the background.

    You also left out the part about how various food trends serve to reinforce class distinctions. I sincerely hope none of you are still low-carbing or–heaven forbid–using honey mustard dressing or seeking out fusion cuisine. I would expect the astute, well-off readers of T & S to be all over locally grown, in season organics. For today, anyway.

  5. Nate Oman on June 18, 2007 at 10:37 pm

    The class point is well taken. One sees this quite egregiously in the politics about Wallmart, which in many ways benefits the poor by providing cheaper goods and frequently locating in underserved, rural areas. On the other hand, try to locate a Wallmart in an upscale suburb and all of the Lexus-driving populists getting spitting mad about the exploitation of the working masses…

  6. Russell Arben Fox on June 18, 2007 at 11:35 pm

    Oh my, yes. Those Lexus-driving populists. Those trendy organic shoppers. Those slaves to socio-economic correctness. Those elitists going on about globalization and overproduction and high fructose corn syrup. And so many of them, everywhere, winning legislative battles on every front! Bunch of dangerous, creepy Pharisees, the lot of them.

    Still, we Pharisees must stick together. So, I’m getting on board with a chapter of Mormons for Economic and Social Justice here in Wichita, that is when I’m not writing speeches for Sunflower Community Action, shopping at the local farmers market, or making anti-materialist hippie resolutions. It’s a lot on my plate, I know, but when it comes alternating between arrogant condescension and secretly gnashing one’s teeth in bitterness and ill-concealed envy, you don’t want to skimp.

  7. Adam Greenwood on June 19, 2007 at 12:11 am

    Careful with the gnashing, Russell F. Homeopathic dentistry isn’t all it could be.

  8. MikeInWeHo on June 19, 2007 at 2:11 am

    LOL. You are very funny Russell, and clearly know your stuff. That GS 450h really is lovely, though. They’re all just envious.

  9. Eve on June 19, 2007 at 4:08 am

    Grocery shopping is among the top ten most boring activities on the planet. (I’d far rather wait in line. One can read while waiting in line.) I have to put a fantastic imaginary weapon to my own head and march myself to the local supermarket every week. I have seriously fantasized about hooking self and loved ones up to IVs and never having to think about eating again. I realize this makes me failure as a Mormon, because we celebrate the body and all that, but if only the incessant nutritional demands of one’s own body and the bodies of others could be, well, optional. But nope–people need to eat several times every single darned day, day after relentless day. Praise be for fast Sunday.

    I object to supermarkets and Walmarts and gynormous Home Depots and such not on political, moral, or intellectual grounds, but because their sheer size terrorizes me into choice paralysis. After five minutes in one of those places I can be found kneeling on the floor before the seventy-five models and colors of toasters, rocking back and forth and pleading with startled passersby to take my money away from me. And then when you have to boycott toasters made by exploited workers and the toaster SUVs that will suck up electricity and trash the environment…oh, forget it. I’ll just build a little fire in my back yard and scorch my bread at the end of a twig.

    Markets are all very well on the chalkboards of cozy economics classrooms, but the unbearable shopping we have to do to sustain them is, to a large extent, the curse of women.

  10. Eve on June 19, 2007 at 4:10 am

    Oops, forgot to buy a somewhere up there. I guess there were just too many colors, sizes, and fat levels to pick from.

  11. Russell Arben Fox on June 19, 2007 at 8:47 am

    Adam,

    Thanks for the warning, but you need not worry. Like all good socialists, I just rely upon all that flouride dumped into the water supply.

    Mike,

    I must confess that I had to Google “GS 450h” to find out what you were talking about. I doubt I would recognize a Lexus if one fell on me. This is why all the priests I’m supposed to be advising at church think I’m hopeless.

    Eve,

    I know you’re writing at least partly tongue-in-cheek, but I would argue that that the “choice paralysis” you’re talking about really is a significant political, moral, and intellectual concern. Check out Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less.

  12. Nate Oman on June 19, 2007 at 9:47 am

    RAF: Why so thinned skinned? Surely you can’t deny that at least some anti-supermarket rhetoric and action is class based. I am married to a self-described Crunch Con. I go to the farmer’s market and buy (some) produce locally. But I also realize that there is a sense in which this is a form of upper-middle class consumption. I would have thought you would leap at a chance to engage in a bit of class-based introspection and self-flaggelation.

    If you look at the politics of zoning Wallmarts out of existence, I think that I am at least in some degree correct. Wallmart has a very hard time locating in upscale neighborhoods. The public opposition is couched in terms of Wallmart’s many corporate sins, but I can’t help but thinking that there is a subtext of snobbery there. There was a panel at the last meeting of the AALS on the law of Wallmart, and one of the panelists described his discussions with anti-Wallmart activists in suburband Connecticut, making the same points.

  13. Mark IV on June 19, 2007 at 10:08 am

    Something funny happened here where I live a few weeks ago. The local Wild Oats market, which is our equivalent of Whole Earth Foods, and which bills itself as the natural, organic alternative to the supermarket, was found to be a little too organic and too natural when customers discovered evidence of rodent infestation on the premises. It had to be closed for over a week while they treated the store with very unorganic and non-earth friendly chemicals. I laughed my, uh, head off at the prospect of people who would rather slit their wrists than step foot in HyVee actually having to hold their noses and shop with the proles.

    Russell,

    I have no doubts whatsoever that you have thought your opinions through carefully and hold them honestly and passionately. But would you not agree that there is an enormous amount of uninformed snobbery evident in the anti-WalMart crowd? Many (most?) of the people on that bandwagon have no idea why they are there, but it presents them with a cheap and easy excuse to feel smug. While every group has its pharisees, the group which looks down it’s nose at Bentonville, Arkansas has more than it’s share, IMO.

    Eve,

    That’s interesting. I’ve actually gone to the supermarket to relax and just wander around, even when I don’t have to buy anything. It is interesting to me to see food, like beef tongue or rutabagas or exotic cheeses, that I have never tried before, and I like to try to guess how it is prepared and what it tastes like. I love it that I can find twenty different kinds of cajun crab boil mix in the middle of the Midwest. My guilty secret is to go down the aisle that has the mixers for alcoholic drinks and wonder how to make cocktails.

  14. Sam B on June 19, 2007 at 10:15 am

    Julie (5),
    For what it’s worth, I do try to eat local, seasonal, organic food. (Also, FWIW, that doesn’t preclude eating or cooking fusion cuisines, as long as the ingredients are local.) I don’t do perfectly—I’m not aware of any local olive oils—but I try.

    I realize that eating locally and seasonally seems like an expensive thing to do (especially given that food products don’t internalize their full costs), but frankly it’s no more expensive for me to grocery-shop at Whole Foods or Fairway and get unprocessed vegetables and meats than it would be to shop entirely at Safeway and by prepackaged, processed foods. Although I recognize there seems to be a class divide in eating styles, there doesn’t have to be. (And, as a final FWIW, there’s a proposal out there, somewhere, for making food stamps redeemable at farmers markets; the major obstacle, as far as I know, is that food stamps are now essentially a debit card, and many farmers markets are cash-only affairs.)

  15. kristine N on June 19, 2007 at 10:51 am

    I’m not sure I understand this statement:

    Rather, the idea that material production should be ordered by private contracts and property rights conceived of as aspects of personal autonomy rather than hierarchical rights and duties is a recent creation. Wealth in the ancient world was largely a product of social status and the control such status gave over the means of violent expropriation.

    So, in the New Testament the only way to be wealthy was to oppress others, while today it’s possible to be wealthy without oppressing others because of better property rights laws?

  16. Nate Oman on June 19, 2007 at 10:57 am

    Kristine n: In the NT, the quintessential example of the wealthy person is the publican. The publican, however, was a tax farmer who was authorized to take money from others using violence. This is hardly the same thing as gaining wealth through market transactions. Of course, the NT also talks about other wealthy people, for example the young rich man who comes to Jesus asking what is necessary for salavation. We don’t know how these guys get their wealth. The money changers are condemned, but I can’t think of any other cases where trade or merchants figure in any story from the gospels.

  17. Julie M. Smith on June 19, 2007 at 11:19 am

    Sam B writes, “but frankly it’s no more expensive for me to grocery-shop at Whole Foods or Fairway and get unprocessed vegetables and meats than it would be to shop entirely at Safeway and by prepackaged, processed foods.”

    I don’t think this is accurate. If I fed my family nasty cereal for breakfast, mac and cheese for lunch, and raman for dinner, (shudder) I think I could keep a grocery budget for five people in the neighborhood of $20 per week. How many pounds of Whole Foods meat and fresh vegetables would that buy me?

    “Although I recognize there seems to be a class divide in eating styles, there doesn’t have to be.”

    I know that’s not accurate. How many farmers’ markets are accessible by public transportation? How many farmers’ markets are accessible to people who have to work from 8-12 on Saturdays (and who won’t know until two days before if they have to work then)? How many farmers’ markets are affordable to people who are barely affording raman? Who aren’t familiar with how to prepare fresh foods and have no time or money to figure out how? Not to mention the time commitment necessary to actually prepare fresh foods on a daily basis and the kitchen equipment to do so.

    I don’t want to be misunderstood: I think the world would be a much better place on many counts if people did most of their eating locally and organically. But it’s contrafactual to pretend that this isn’t an elitist position. I think time will prove me right: in 5-7 years, local and organic eating will be resigned to the dust bin of nutritional fads by the masses and the farmer’s markets will once again be visited only by the die-hards who have already been shopping there for the last 20 years. In other words, we’ve stumbled upon a trend that a good one, but that doesn’t mean it is going to last. It’s just a trend.

  18. Nate Oman on June 19, 2007 at 11:32 am

    “the dust bin of nutritional fads”

    a nice phrase…

  19. Sam B on June 19, 2007 at 11:39 am

    Julie,
    How many farmer’s markets are accessible by public transportation? Probably not enough, but all of them in New York are, and several in D.C. and northern Virginia are. The one near my parents in the suburbs of San Diego definitely is not, but (almost) nothing in the suburbs of San Diego is accessible by public transportation. (Unfortunately.) Beyond those places, though, I have to admit that I have no idea.

    And, although I recognize the faddish nature of eating, I think that fresh and local eating is different than South Beach, Atkins, or any type of food fad. Five to seven years may prove me wrong; I think you’re right that some people will have quit, but there is a qualitative difference between the farmer’s market kind of food and the bad cereal, mac’n’cheese, etc. I will give you, though, that I was talking roughly middle-class, the type of family that isn’t on the cusp of poverty, but does their grocery shopping at Safeway (or Giant or Albertsons or Vons or whatever). The food stamps at farmers markets proposal, though, is one way (others including community farms, which I know are being implemented in poorer sections of LA, and education about good eating habits—NPR did a story a while ago on a nutritionist who took couscous, I think, to an elementary school, taught the kids about it, let them eat some, and suddenly the kids were asking their parents for couscous) of helping those who otherwise couldn’t afford it to get off the cereal-mac’n’cheese-ramen diet.

  20. Russell Arben Fox on June 19, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Nate,

    Why so thinned skinned? Surely you can’t deny that at least some anti-supermarket rhetoric and action is class based….I would have thought you would leap at a chance to engage in a bit of class-based introspection and self-flaggelation.

    I certainly don’t deny that there is often a hefty dose of class-based condescension implicit in many arguments against supermarkets. I do deny that I was coming off as thin-skinned; on the contrary, I though I was been pleasantly snarky. I also thought that my response included plenty of my usual self-flaggelation and mockery. If it read otherwise, that was a failure of rhetoric, not intention.

    Mark,

    I laughed my, uh, head off at the prospect of people who would rather slit their wrists than step foot in HyVee actually having to hold their noses and shop with the proles.

    Well, what can I say? The movement to transform our system of consumption into something more humane and green and decent is filled with posers. Your Hy-Vee example is particularly on point, because if the shoppers who have in mind really did think what you attribute to them, then they’re completely missing the point; Hy-Vee is employee owned and operated, and one of the better supermarket chains around because of it. And of course, as all good green and socialist revolutionaries should know, if you can’t get it from your garden or from the hog farmer down the road, you should shop someplace with local ownership at least.

    Julie,

    I think the world would be a much better place on many counts if people did most of their eating locally and organically. But it’s contrafactual to pretend that this isn’t an elitist position.

    Similarly, so long as there is somebody who needs or wants the work, unions calling strikes on restaurants and factories with unsafe working conditions or low wages are taking an elitist position. Or so long as there are divorced mothers working two jobs who rush their kids to school in the morning with nothing but a 7-11 burrito and a soda to eat, educators and parents attempting to improve eating habits through testing and regulations are taking an elitist position. It seems to me very strange to insist that simply because some effort at reform or social improvement partakes of elitist or faddish elements, that is therefore suspect and should be treated as an interference with the “real problems” out there. Changing the way people live and shop is one of those “real problems,” and the aim of those involved should be attempt to expand possible alternatives and solutions beyond the trendy core. You may fault those unions, but it’s not like their reforms haven’t helped all workers, or that school lunch agitation hasn’t helped all students. Every good movement starts small.

  21. Sam B on June 19, 2007 at 11:44 am

    As for the charge of elitism, I can’t respond to it. I don’t think it is, but I’m comfortably middle-class, so anything I do could be within the ambit of elitist, and it becomes a chicken-egg thing to me (e.g., is it elitist because people like me do it, or do people like me do it because it is elitist). Funny thing is, at one point, eating fresh seasonal produce was a necessity for most people, and not the domain of the wealthy (who were likely, as Nate’s post suggests, conspicuously consuming out-of-season fruit and foreign cheese).

  22. Nate Oman on June 19, 2007 at 11:50 am

    “You may fault those unions, but it’s not like their reforms haven’t helped all workers”

    Actually they haven’t, but that is another topic for another day…

  23. Adam Greenwood on June 19, 2007 at 12:10 pm

    in 5-7 years, local and organic eating will be resigned to the dust bin of nutritional fads by the masses and the farmer’s markets will once again be visited only by the die-hards who have already been shopping there for the last 20 years.

    Maybe not. Class markers that work tend to have staying power; shopping local and organic gives upper-middle class women who work a role, since it usually takes more effort and discrimination; and lots of times it tastes better.

  24. John Williams on June 19, 2007 at 6:04 pm

    “My guilty secret is to go down the aisle that has the mixers for alcoholic drinks and wonder how to make cocktails.”

    Be careful, Mark IV. It is a slippery slope.

  25. John Williams on June 19, 2007 at 6:18 pm

    From a consulting firm called McKinsey & Co. for one chapter of an October 2001 report they wrote called “U. S. Productivity and Growth 1995-2000″:

    “Retail Sector
    In general merchandise (representing 16 percent of the total retail productivity growth acceleration), we found that Wal-Mart directly and indirectly caused the bulk of the productivity acceleration through ongoing managerial innovation that increased competitive intensity and drove the diffusion of best practice (both managerial and technological).”

    If you care about poor people, you would support Wal-Mart.

  26. John Williams on June 19, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    kristine N,

    “So, in the New Testament the only way to be wealthy was to oppress others, while today it’s possible to be wealthy without oppressing others because of better property rights laws?”

    In a free market, the way to get wealthy is helping others. You compete with other businesses to provide a product at the lowest possible price. This spurs innovation. The consumer wins because they end up getting a product at a low price. The efficient producer wins because consumers purchase from him / her.

  27. John Williams on June 19, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    Remember back in the day when deodorant came in cardboard boxes? Notice how today deodorant is on the shelf not in a box?

    Obviously, deodorant packaged in a cardboard box is wasteful. It kills tree unneccessarily. Paper mill workers who make these boxes are wasting their time and energy. Workers who create the ink for these boxes waste their time and energy. People who used to buy deodorant in cardboard boxes were wasting their money because they had to pay for the little bit of cardboard that the deodorant came in, but they were getting absolutely zero value from the cardboard box. Rather, they had to take the time to chuck the cardboard box into the trash. Landfill space was taken up by useless cardboard deodorant boxes that added no value to the human race.

    So thank goodness that we no longer buy our deodorant in cardboard boxes. Who can we thank for this? Wal-Mart.

    In Wal-Mart’s race to compete and provide the lowest possible prices, Wal-Mart innovates. Then, thanks to its innovation, it dominates. The competition copies Wal-Marts. Wal-Mart does things efficiently, and when the competition copies Wal-Mart, pretty soon everyone is doing things efficiently.

    And then trees don’t get cut down for useless cardboard deodorant boxes. And then poor families will each save a few dollars each year because they aren’t paying for cardboard boxes each time they buy a stick of deodorant.

    Thank goodness we have Wal-Mart. All of your lives are better off because of the existence of Wal-Mart. If Sam Walton were alive today, he would be the richest man on earth, and he would deserve every penny of it.

  28. Susan S. on June 19, 2007 at 10:01 pm

    I’m one of those pathetic people who have been shopping at farmers’ markets for 20 years. I grew up in a farm village. Have grown gardens all my life–at times in over the top ways. I well understand that growing my own vegetables right now in the city, shopping at the farmers market, and (oh so happily) shopping at my new local grocery market (very small, but not as expensive as you’d think given the local, organic produce and the great little deli) is a privilege. It’s expensive. It’s elitist. I can do this because I can afford to do this–at least the way I do. But I can’t see that as a reason not to do what I do. Would I somehow be better off to shop at the big supermarket more. I want to spend my money on something that brings me pleasure and does as little damage to the world at large as possible.

    This discussion reminds me of my dear husband. He won’t go with me to the coffee house up the street because he’s annoyed by the clientelle–too yuppy, too self satisfied, too PC.. But it’s close. The drinks are lovely. Lots of exposed wood. Free wifi. And remind me please, why is it that I’m not supposed to go there?

  29. John Williams on June 19, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    Susan S.

    If you are willing to pay a higher price for organic vegetables and high-quality coffee, that’s fine in my opinion. You should have complete freedom to buy whatever you want. Just don’t criticize Wal-Mart.

    On the other hand, if you are a Mormon, maybe you shouldn’t be drinking coffee…

  30. Susan S. on June 20, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    John Williams:
    Note I said I was at a coffee shop. But I did say “drinks.” Aren’t you making assumptions here?

    And did I criticize Wal-Mart?

  31. John Williams on June 20, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    Susan S.,

    So you’re neither admitting nor denying that the “drinks” in question are coffee-based?

    You betrayed an anti-Wal-Mart bent with this phrase:

    “does as little damage to the world at large as possible”

  32. Susan S. on June 21, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    Hmmm. Are you saying that WalMart does damage to the world? I didn’t know that.

  33. John Williams on June 21, 2007 at 9:54 pm

    Susan S., no, Wal-Mart is good for the world. Please tell all of the people in the coffee shop with lots of exposed wood and free wifi.

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