"SO I'm at a seminar and the nice man is talking about his organic winery and how they used to farm 75 acres with evil Monsanto pesticides and the vines all got crappy roots because pesticides wreck the soil and now they farm 35 acres with egg-laying wasps to kill the leaf-hoppers (bad insects -- and I'm thinking, how long does THAT take) and now the soil is all lush and they have sheep and cows to eat the grass, and poop for fertilizer. And I'm thinking ooohhh-kay, who collects all the bull shit (literally) and how long does THAT take.
"And the winery now has gardens inside the rows of vines, taking up a lot of space that used to be for grapes but that now provides habitats for the good wasps that eat the bad insects. And I'm thinking, ooohh-kay, what if some of the bad insects still survive and cause a problem? And how are you staying in business when you have cut your productive land by more than half, plus use payroll to maintain the gardens? Plus they spray pulverized amethyst crystals on the vines every spring, because that's what the peasants of old used to do. It helps focus the light on the grape leaves and leads to desired nuances of flavor.
"So I was going to ask what the hell BUT then somebody else asked 'oh don't you make Wine X, also?' And the nice man said Yes. 'And is that organic?' Um, no, but they hope soon it will be.
"Ooooh-kay. So you have a Plan B winery that makes wine (and money) in the usual way, so you don't go bankrupt while you are slowing production to pre-modern levels, adding gardens and experimenting with cool, Pleistocene epoch-looking bull species and amethyst spray.
"THEN I get back to work and my co worker who has been in the business for decades asks about the seminar and then says, 'Oh, I wish I had gone! I know them. Such a nice family. They sold the winery for sixty million dollars a few years ago.'
"And I'm like 'OOOHHHHH-KAY so this is how you afford your Marie Antoinette Hameau farm with the egg-laying wasps and the cows and the sheep and the gardens taking up space in the middle of the vineyards. I totally get it. And I'm really glad you totally don't control actual farming of food products, because if you were in charge we would all starve. You wouldn't, but we would. And it turns out old Strom Thurmond got the sulfites warning label attached to wine, as tit-for-tat because the crusading lefties got the death label attached to cigarettes! (He was a Senator from tobacco-land, North Carolina.) I say good for him."
And then I thought, all along at this seminar I had been gazing at a multimillionaire. In the flesh. I don't think I have ever really seen one. God bless him, may he and his family live and be happy for a thousand years. But let us be honest, too, I was in the presence of a multimillionaire, -- and a delightedly confident missionary priest. A totally untruthful one, but from his perspective, why not?
Earlier in the day the nice host on Relevant Radio played an old tape of (atheist) Penn Jillette talking about a fan who had given him a Bible, and of how he, Jillette, was touched and impressed by the man's sheer goodness, his exemplary concern for someone else's eternal welfare. He said believers, if they are serious, should do more of this. Even though their doing it means nothing because there is still no God.
Now the host of the show, the graceful and excellent Patrick Madrid, offered the old tape as something for all of us to think about. At first I was impressed, but as the day went on, I found myself less so. The main "pull quote" from it was Jillette complaining, 'How much hatred must you [the Christian] have for someone, to not tell them of eternal truth, of the fate of their souls, if you really believe what you say you do and you really believe the atheist is in danger?'
Mercy, you silly man, quite hateful yourself, I don't hate you. Not approaching the Penn Jillettes in daily life is not hate. It's still wrong, but it's weakness, not hate. It's our tacitly agreeing with the modern world's dictate that faith is personal and not something you bother other people with. And it is the fruit of a long faithful experience in history, that example counts more than anything.
But maybe we should send him Bibles. His fame now seems to be all about his dramatic weight loss; he tweets about not having consumed a single calorie in the last 81 hours. As for others, like the nice millionaire who believes in organic wine as Marie Antoinette believed in her lovely Hameau and admits equally as little of its absurdity, I said he was essentially a missionary priest. Did I walk up to him afterward and counter-offer a Bible, or a little fake-leatherbound copy of Day by Day with Augustine? I did not. I did ask about the insect population at the winery, and about whether he uses the "natural" copper spray called the Bordeaux mixture, which is pre-modern, non-synthetic, non-evil Monsanto, and toxic to everything. "That's illegal," he answered. I wish I were faster on my feet.