When I was a child, I tasted sour cream, and I immediately wondered, “why on earth would anyone willingly put that stuff into his mouth?” I had similar reactions with a number of other foods. Salsa. Mushrooms. Tomatoes. Broccoli. Blue cheese. Even cheddar cheese received a suspicious first hearing — it was too different from the Kraft singles I liked as a young child.
Today, I enjoy a host of foods that I never would have imagined eating, back then. Gorgonzola cheese. Tzatziki. Sushi with wasabi. Broccoli and mushrooms and capers and chicken marsala. And, of course, salsa and sour cream — who could imagine Mexican food without them?
There are still some foods that I don’t quite “get” yet. Soft cheeses like brie and camembert still don’t do much for me, for example. But I’m conscious that my palate has changed quite a bit over the years, and I know that it will probably continue changing. I may not like camembert much now, but who’s to say what I’ll think in five months or five years or five decades? Palates change.
My last food-metaphor post generated a lot of comments. One line of discussion that a few comments hinted at there, but which never really came out into the open, was the idea that palates change.
Will the same happen with the gospel? I can’t say, but it certainly seems like a possibility. Some aspects of church doctrine or culture may seem unpalatable to me today. But perhaps, in five months or five years or five decades, I will look back, shake my head, and say, like I do now about sour cream, “I can’t believe I used to hate X.”
So what should I do with the idea that palates change? For me, at least, there are a few ideas to take away. First, that I should hesitate before making any projections about my own future palate — because palates do change. Second, that I should be equally sanguine about my own preferences, now. My exact list of preferences right now isn’t any more me than the list of preferences that I held ten years ago. The same will apply to whatever preferences I hold ten years in the future.
I shouldn’t be overly present-focused in my thinking. My palate has changed before, and that it will change again. Some things that I find repugnant now, I will find delicious in the future; some things that I find delicious now, I will find bland in the future. The wheel turns, and I with it. Wasabi is not true or false or right or wrong in any permanent, metaphysical sense. Wasabi is right for me, right now. My limited perspective allows me to say no more.
Perhaps the same can be said — or perhaps not — for orthodoxy, heterodoxy, feminism, anti-feminism, and a hundred different ideas. I don’t know if I believe this, but the idea intrigues me.
At least, it intrigues me right now. Perhaps by tomorrow the wheel will have turned again, my palate will have changed, and I will think that this post is all silliness and inanity.