The Goldilocks Factor

Bacon is a perfect example.  We all have cooked bacon, well, maybe not the tofu crowd, and eaten it in various stages of “doneness.”  My youngest son Matthew and I were on our way through Texas years ago and stopped at a café in some small town.  I love to stop at these places where farmers, ranchers and normal folk gather to have breakfast and catch up on all the goings on.  The food will vary from excellent to bad, but I like the surprise and the atmosphere.  All the regulars will look you over and usually, especially in Texas, greet you with a “hello,” or “good mornin’.

We ordered breakfast, which must include bacon and eggs, and if you’re lucky maybe some grits.  The bacon was heavenly.  I told the waitress to give my compliments to the chef for the best bacon I had ever eaten.   I was wondering if she might to go over to someone with a warning to keep an eye on me.  I did give her an extra tip, though.  I thought about asking for the bacon recipe, but that seemed sort of silly.

I have learned that cooking good bacon is not an art or science, but more of an accident.  I have tried just about every way possible and have settled on low and slow.  If you don’t want rubbery fat you can’t take it out too soon.  So I leave it in until I’m sure it won’t be Goodyear and then hope it wasn’t too long.  If it’s too long, then it either gets burned or is brittle like bacon bits and that’s not good.  Rubbery or crispy bacon can ruin a breakfast or BLT sandwich.  If I happen to take it out at the perfect time, the last bit of frying on the plate makes it just right.  All of this is quite accidental.  Not too crisp, not too rubbery, but just right.

A lot of life experiences are like cooking bacon.  No one wants the weather to be extreme either way.  Not too hot, not too cold, but just right.  I have to watch myself during our Wednesday night house church or I can dominate the commentary with almost non-stop talking.  I vow each week to keep my mouth shut and on occasion I do manage to control my tongue somewhat.  It’s a terrible affliction when anyone thinks that what he or she has to say is more important than others.  Knowing this failing, recently I forfeited my comments for the following week for one more comment.  After I was finally finished, many I’m sure, were hoping that I used up the next four weeks.  I need to talk not too much, not too little, but just enough.

(An aside)  Obviously I base all of this on the child’s fairy tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  Many know that prose, poetry, films, and the like often contain other meanings delivered by a seeming non-related content.  Even when in most cases this is true, there is not any behavioral or psychological change wrought by these messages for older well-adjusted people.  But not so with Goldilocks, they say.  Analysts have come up with crazy ideas about its real meaning, from strange Freudian theories, to teaching a child that it is okay to steal from others, hence teaching irresponsible behavior and a hindrance of adolescent development.

(Another aside)  A literature class I took in college was filled with such teaching.  Once when the professor from Harvard was struggling with the class to probe the deep, deep meaning of one word in a poem, I raised my hand and suggested that the word may have been chosen only because it rhymed.  I didn’t realize that I was being involved in the exercise of Literary Deconstruction.  It doesn’t really matter what the author meant when writing, it is all about the reader’s personal interpretation and what it means to him/her.  After all, the author may not have even been aware of what was being written.  Literary deconstruction is permeating the study of the Bible today.

I’d rather think that Goldilocks is just a cute story about a little girl and some nice bears that didn’t eat her up.  My take is that probably, maybe accidentally, it was a portrayal of our proclivity for moderation most of the time.  And while there is a tendency toward the mean, there are times when extremes are desirable.  No kid wants to be average in sports.  Most professionals don’t want to be at the bottom, or average, in their field.  One place, however, where everyone really wants to be average is in Military Basic Training.  I learned early not to be first or last in line for anything.  Don’t stand out; don’t let them learn your name, and life is much better.  However, that was only for staying out of trouble.  Everyone wanted to be first on the firing range or the obstacle course or on exams.  That was competition between men, and that was normal.

Well, being “Goldilocks” in real life is part of being human and moderation in all things is a wise goal generally.  The Bible is replete with teaching to avoid extremes.  One of my favorite passages is Proverbs 30:8b-9 that states:  “give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread.  Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’  Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”  Not too much, not too little, but just enough.

While our culture and most of the like-minded churches are courting tolerance and accommodation (compromise), when it comes to the most critical part of our spiritual life, we must throw Goldilocks out the window.  No moderation in accepting the Bible as the Word of God.  No moderation in the Ten Commandments.  No moderation in the fact that Jesus is the only means of salvation.  According to the Bible, God does not want Christians to practice moderation in these and other areas.  In fact, it can be deadly.

Being a true Christian is not a Goldilocks moment.  Jesus said if you’re not for me you are against me (Matt. 12:30); friends with the world is being an enemy to God (James 4:4); lose this life to find the real one (Luke 17:23), and on.  According to Rev. 3:16, if we are “luke warm” Christians, God will spew us out of His mouth.  Being “all in” is risky in “Texas Hold ‘em,” but it’s a sure bet in being a Christian, and that’s the only kind that God approves.




  1. I’m with you on the talking too much or not enough thing Granddad. I guess now I know where I got it from! (Wink wink)

  2. You’re very kind, as always. We’d make a perfect pair for debate!!!


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