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The Open Door: Defining cool


Dr. J. Robert White J. Robert White

One of the year-end school events I enjoy is attending the various school programs of our grandchildren. This year was no different as Janice and I made our way across town to attend as many as we possibly could.

A week ago, we were in Cumming to attend the programs of two of our granddaughters. One was in the afternoon, then there was a break, and the other one was at 7 p.m. These events are always complicated. Families are in a mad rush to pull together all the details for these events, and to follow specific instructions on what their students are to wear and where they are to be at what particular time. This, of course, happens after a similarly harrowing time of repeated rehearsals. We went through all of these events with our children and now we are experiencing them with our grandchildren.

Usually the auditoriums are very warm and crowded. The programs tend to be long, but parents and grandparents wait patiently for their children to go through the routines that they have been preparing for months. At the conclusion of each performance the audience of admiring families burst into thunderous applause with verbal cheers in support of their remarkably brilliant students.

After the first performance by my eldest granddaughter, Meaghan, we hurriedly took her to a student event at her church, and then quickly returned for her younger sister, Hannah’s, performance. I must confess that by this time all of this excitement was wearing on me a bit so when Meaghan requested a stop by Starbucks for a coffee, it sounded pretty good to me.

Sometimes cool is little more than doing something different from what you have done before.

Now, this may not seem so strange to you, unless you know that I have never been a coffee drinker, not in my entire life, at least until last year when I decided to give it a serious effort. I decided that drinking coffee, based on some reports I had read, might be a good way to lose some weight. Anyway, when we arrived at Starbucks, Meaghan came out with some weird-sounding name for the coffee she wanted to order, when I shocked everyone in the car by saying, “Meaghan, could you order a cup of coffee for me too?”

“What would you like Granddaddy?”

“Oh, I don’t know. What do you suggest?”

She replied, “I think you might like a Grande Mocha Latte.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“It’s coffee and chocolate mixed with milk. I think you’ll like it.”

I said, “Okay, let’s do this deal. By the way, Meaghan, this will be the first Starbucks I have ever had.”


“Yes, that’s right. You are ordering for me my first Starbucks ever.” She was blown away by that and with a certain amount of pride that she had somehow broken the coffee barrier she ordered for the two of us, “… and I’ll have a Grande Mocha Latte.” As I took my first sip, she said, “Granddaddy, you are so cool.”

I felt good about my granddaughter ordering my first-ever Starbucks. I felt just like a millennial as I strolled into the auditorium wearing my jeans, my not-tucked-in golf shirt and carrying my cup of Starbucks coffee. Frankly, it was delicious and I enjoyed the relaxed feel of sitting there enjoying the program and sipping my coffee. All I needed was my laptop, some Wi-Fi coverage and I would be really cool.

It’s funny, isn’t it, how trends change and some things become cool and others obsolete. I remember Dr. Jeff Iorg, president at Golden Gate Seminary, telling me about an experience he had while he was serving as executive director of the Northwest Baptist Convention.

In the Northwest, as you probably know, contemporary worship is very popular among the churches. Music usually includes singing contemporary songs from the words on the overhead screens. Jeff said, “One Sunday I was preaching in one of our churches and had my family with me. My son was next to me as we stood to sing. This particular church was something my son had not experienced before. Their worship was very traditional. They sang traditional hymns from hymn books. During the song service, my son leaned over and whispered to me, ‘Dad, these books are so cool. Do you think we could get books like these in our church?’”

Sometimes cool is little more than doing something different from what you have done before.

During the program at the school, my phone buzzed and when I checked it, I had something new on Twitter. I was checking it out when Meaghan said, “Granddaddy, you have a Twitter account? You are so cool!”

acceptance, coffee, cool, grandchildren, relevant, school


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