Diversity vs. The Melting Pot: A Cook’s Analysis

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A play by Israel Zangwill, first staged in 1908, popularized the term ‘melting pot’ to define American society.

Growing up in ethnically diverse Brooklyn, New York, I was taught that America was a melting pot. The concept was easily understood. My best buddies were black, Jewish, or Italian like me.

The Melting Pot. That’s a phrase we don’t hear anymore. A melting pot is one pot, blended together.

My husband Mike used to douse his food with hot sauce. When he asked for hot sauce during our first newlywed meals together, I was highly insulted. Hot sauce covers up all the distinct flavors I put together in a meal. Hot sauce is meant for bland, boring food. He thought he was a foodie. Oh, how he has learned. In the nearly four years we’ve been married, his palate has gotten more discriminating. That’s the best use of the word discriminatingbeing able to detect and appreciate each distinct element within the dish. A dish that is so exciting because of all the various ingredients, herbs and spices.

I like the term melting pot much better than diversity.

The Recipe

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A marriage of lovely ingredients simmered together result in a great meal.

 

Who doesn’t love a good tomato sauce? Heat some extra virgin olive oil. Add finely chopped onions and sauté until they are looking clear, but don’t burn them. Add chopped garlic, plenty of it. Simmer a few more minutes while they dance in the pot together. Then add one can of organic tomato paste and stir it all up. Now you have a nice Italian ‘roux’. Throw some dried or fresh basil and oregano on that…keep stirring. Then add water a bit at a time. Slow. Blend. Now add your favorite red wine. Pop. Next add 3 or 4 large cans of organic crushed tomatoes, San Marzano are best, but pricey. Sniff the flavors. Add salt, cayenne, more basil, oregano to preferred taste. Meanwhile, you have meatballs getting oven-browned. When they’re looking nicely browned, drop them into the saucepot. Their rich meaty flavor will assimilate, giving the sauce a final boost. Let this simmer, uncovered for a couple of hours.

Because beautiful, delicious food is only complete when it has simmered, blended, melted, married together. All in one pot.

All flavors enhance the dish. None overpowers the other. Taste and see. Do you detect the basil? I hope so. How about that cayenne? Yes, a bit of heat. And sweetness that comes from wine, not sugar. So good. Each ingredient brings something unique to the dish. When one is missing, the cook knows. The foodie should know.

A melting pot, yet with very distinguishable flavors.

My Italian Roots

The melting pot is a great metaphor for the concept of America. Both sets of my grandparents came from southern Italy. They came here with hope, weary of their hard lives of poverty in their native country. As Italian Americans, we assimilated into American culture – and wanted to! My parents grew up speaking both Italian and English, worked hard to achieve the American Dream while keeping their Italian traditions (and recipes, thankfully!).

The ultimate appreciation of diversity is recognizing that every culture brings something good to our society at large. There are also many negative cultural distinctions that should not be part of the melting pot. Those need to be purged out. I would not want you to think of the mafia culture associated with my Italian blood. I would not want you to visualize the Sopranos around their table when you think of dinner at my house.

Diversity in the true church…

includes the wealthy, the poor, the intellectual, the simple, all colors and ethnicities. This is the great multitude of God’s people spoken of in Revelation. Here is a picture of the melting pot of believers all grafted in to the Body of Christ:

After these things I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations and kindreds, and people, and tongues stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with long white robes, and palms in their hands. – Revelation 7:9

God is no respecter of persons.

There is neither Jew nor Grecian: there is neither bond nor free: there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. — Galatians 3:28

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive, that God is no [respecter] of persons. — Acts 10:34

Footnotes:

  1. Acts 10:34 Distinction of nations is taken away by the coming of Christ: And it is evidently seen by faith and righteousness, who is agreeable to him, or whom he accepteth.

In other words, we don’t make a big stink about our particular ethnic distinctions as believers in Christ. We are all One in Christ. The problem today is that people want to hold on to these distinctions as a source of pride. The apostolic church did not separate themselves into Cornelius’ Roman church, or the Ethiopian Black Church. They may have been geographically separate, but still Christ’s one true church.

Diversity and the WASP Midwestern Reformed Christian Church

For a short time, I attended a reformed denomination, Orthodox Presbyterian Church in New York. This particular congregation was somewhat racially and ethnically diverse, because of its Long Island, New York location.  When I first stepped into an Indiana reformed congregation, I immediately thought  – WASP! How do I fit in? I didn’t have ancestors who came west in covered wagons. Mine came by boat in the early twentieth century. Of course they embraced me as the first Eye-talian in their midst. (And what’s with the way Midwesterners say ‘Italian’ ? Ugh.)

Current internet buzz concerning racial diversity in reformed churches is troubling. We’d like to see all reformed congregations represent all races and ethnicities, but we can’t have quotas like schools do. We can’t demand our pews be filled with 40% black, 40% white and 20% other. God elects His people. God alone brings them in. We must welcome all peoples, but God alone creates the tapestry of each individual congregation. Heaven will hold the proper quotas. We’ll see all races and ethnic groups there!

Mike and I were blessed by a fall conference at New Life Community Church in Indianapolis a few years ago. They are a black congregation, reformed in doctrine, but they worship more like Baptists and Pentecostals (and I’ve been there, too!). They sing and sway, shout out amens and other affirmations, and clap. We consider them our brethren even though their mode of worship is different. They have incorporated black culture into their worship service. I am still trying to understand the Regulative Principle of Worship, which I have mostly embraced. Yet I cannot doubt that these people, and others who sing hymns, have musical accompaniment, etc., are the Lord’s people all believing in Jesus Christ’s blood atonement alone for salvation.

Yet our distinctions and individuality remain…we all have a place in the Body of Christ

In The Abiding Presence, Hugh Martin states:

…whereby he who loves variety has diversified you from others. You bring your individuality to him. ‘Just as you are’ — not merely as a sinner, but as his creature — ‘you come’. Your own individual soul you give to him, believing that he has redeemed it. You believe that in all that discriminates you from others — not merely as numerically a different unit from them, but a distinct member in a boundlessly varied organism — you are an object of love and care to your redeemer. You believe that you have a place in the body…your individuality, far from being injured or suppressed, is now for the first time, in a sense, necessary…because the Lord hath need of it (Matt. 21:3)

…And Christ, accepting all these their diversities, ‘fills them all’ with himself

Israel Zangwill’s Melting Pot

 The hero of the play proclaims : “There she lies, the great Melting Pot–listen! Can’t you hear the roaring and the bubbling? There gapes her mouth [_He points east_]–the harbour where a thousand mammoth feeders come from the ends of the world to pour in their human freight. Ah, what a stirring and a seething! Celt and Latin, Slav and Teuton, Greek and Syrian,–black and yellow-“ VERA: “Jew and Gentile-” DAVID: “Yes, East and West, and North and South, the palm and the pine, the pole and the equator, the crescent and the cross–how the great Alchemist melts and fuses them with his purging flame! Here shall they all unite to build the Republic of Man and the Kingdom of God. Ah, Vera, what is the glory of Rome and Jerusalem where all nations and races come to worship and look back, compared with the glory of America, where all races and nations come to labour and look forward!” . https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Melting_Pot_(play)

Christ’s Melting Pot

In The Abiding Presence, Hugh Martin states:

It would be a tempting theme to launch out upon, the marvelous diversity in the church considered as a single organism — Christ the living head and life of it. Assuredly in this light the indwelling Spirit of Christ makes no war on the special tastes and powers and places of various members;

I don’t cook too heavily in summer, it’s just too hot. But when I do, I like to hear the ‘roaring and the bubbling’…the ‘stirring and seething’…

May the Lord purge His true Church with His flaming fire so that all our diversity becomes a beautiful melting pot, with sweet savor wafting up that is pleasing to Him.

 

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