My Lenten Story Remains Untold. Thanks, Starbucks.

My Lenten Story Remains Untold. Thanks, Starbucks. February 7, 2008

Two weeks ago an Episcopal priest phoned to ask if I’d be interested in leading a five-week Lenten study at St. Peter’s, a lovely redwood church in the nearby coastal community of Del Mar. (Del is Spanish, I believe, for “insane amount of,” while Mar means “money.”) Touched that Father Frank, as he is known, would think of me to play such an important role in the prayer life of the church to which he’d been recently called as interim rector, I responded with a humble, deeply felt, “Maybe. What’s it pay?”

I mean, it’s Del Mar. Valet parkers there make 85 a year. Even the Starbucks there are just called “Bucks.”

Man. That’s sad. I can’t believe those are the best Big Money jokes I can come up with.

Well. It’s six in the morning. I’ve barely had my coffee.

Still. Valet parkers. Pretty weak.

Hmm. Let’s see . . . .  The police in Del Mar drive Bentleys. That’s the bad news. The good news is that instead of frisking you down, they massage you.

Yes! Score!

Ahh, coffee. There’s nothing like it to give you heartburn, bloodshot eyes, and the personality of a soaked cat.

Hey, speaking of Starbucks, I read the other day that they had their First Ever financial loss for a/the/some quarter. You could tell the Starbucks Honchos were plenty panicky about their pecuniary pickle. From their statements to the press, you could also tell they partake of plenty of their own product. The story was, like, “In a press conference given on Tuesday, the president and CEO of Starbucks, Joseph Buzzface, said, ‘Hey, man. Hey, this is no problem. Okay? It’s not. It’s not a problem. Forget it. We’re in control.’ Wildly scratching his scalp, Buzzface went on to say, ‘It’s just not a problem. We got money like the ocean’s got salt, you know what I’m sayin? Do you? Do you know what I’m sayin’? Do you guys know what I’m sayin’? Man, I have to pee.'”

Starbucks, I learned, has determined that the reason they suffered their first financial hit ever was because (to this time actually quote Starbucks’ CEO, Howard Schultz), “The scent of the warm sandwiches [that Starbucks started serving about seven months ago] interferes with the aroma of the stores.”

So it turns out that heating up bacon and egg sandwiches in a store makes that store smell like bacon and egg sandwiches. And Starbucks realized this after  they’d installed commerical stainless steel ovens in all of their stores.

So now I guess their new slogan will be, “Starbucks.  Sorry we confused your nose. Please come back.”

Anyway, I’m going to do a five-week Lenten study for St. Peter’s in Del Mar, starting on February 13. I’m excited about it, and Beyond Humbled they’ve asked me for this. I was going to share with you my plan for that series. But since (as you may know) I’m now striving to write Shorter Blog Posts, it’s too late for that.

So tomorrow I’ll have to tell you about my big fat Lenten study series. Unless I first have a giant cup of coffee. Then all bets are off, apparently.

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  • Billy

    Gas = $3.00 per gallon Starbucks Coffee = $16.00 per gallon.

  • Gas = Starbucks gives you

  • Leif Sr.

    I want that Valet job. The Del Mar Bentleys was too much. I can just see a series of black and white Bentleys cruising PCH in Del Mar. Can you imagine getting pulled over by a Bentley? What a riot.

  • I hope you're going to tell the story about the time Jesus chased the Frappucino makers out of the Temple…

    On the other hand, if you could use your powers with the maker of the universe to convince Starbucks to bring back the Bananas and Cream fraps, perhaps I'll become a believer.

    Until then…

  • Arnette

    You are silly…and you should have taken a nap before you wrote this…silly. I need coffee…silly, guy…zzzzzzzzz

  • pontiacdan45

    OK, I bought the new Arterburn/Shore book, and a couple of yours too, so when does all this make sense? Oh wait, I just finished my Starbucks too. I'm sure I'll calm down in a few seconds. I love it when my heart starts to thump like that and my eyes glaze.

    Regarding the new book, when do they make one for old farts? I'm 63, so I think I'm past middle age just a bit. I don't even buy green bananas any more. My birthstone is lava. Ta da! I'll be here all week.

    Liked this a lot and loved reading the one about your writing in street rags. This blog reading is beginning to be a habit.

  • Sorry, but in hurry: Thanks for love, all! And I must ask: Writing in street rags?? Was I/did I write about that?

  • Cathy

    John….did the coffee wear off? Street rags, as in street newspapers, as in freebies. Remember? "Writing in Jesus' Name. Literally."

    Tja (German for "tisk" and "sheesh").

    Liked this one too. Don't like Starbucks…no coffee flavor.

  • I was all high and mighty supporting independent coffee shops for years and with every gulp of Mom and Pop's Fresh Roasted House Blend I railed against Starbucks for knocking hardworking local store owners out of business and for setting up their stores on every square foot of the earth with the exception of my front living (though rumor has it a kiosk version will be installed in our guest bathroom by the end of the month).

    I am humbled to report that a year ago I went over to the dark side. It wasn't their coffee that wooed me over, the alluring mixed messages of bacon and egg smelling lattes and it certainly wasn't the baristas who answer any coffee-related questions I might ask with "uhm…I don't know. Do you want me to see if I can find out?"

    No. I forsook principle for wireless internet. Yes, that's just how easy I sell out.

  • I heard Starbucks prices are up in Europe. It is really providentially cool that God's has given you a Lenten assignment.

  • Yes, and they can't compete with the local barristas either. Can get a Renverse' (that's a Latte to y'all) for 3.60, anywhere in the Geneva region.

  • Oh yeah, that's 3.60CHF (Swiss Franks).

  • I love Swiss franks. A lot of people don't like them with mayonaise and Tabasco sauce, but I do.

    What is the DEAL? Didn't I used to be funny?!

  • John,

    You're still funny. That last rates 4 groans on a 1-5 scale used on the ol' punmeter.

    Would have written sooner – love to pile on Starbucks – but I was out getting copy. I take mine black on a white page.


  • I've read your posts before, but this time I had to respond-you're very funny! I loved the massage line.

    So, how much is Father Frank paying you for the gig? Just kidding.

    I admire writers who can write jokes and humor. I tend to be sooo serious. Too much poetry, I guess, and not the Shel Silverstein kind.

  • Sabina

    you are too funny!

  • Sam: Funny! (Hey, I forgot to tell you. You were right: the piece where I wrote Jesus in the first person certainly WAS a precurser to my book "Penguins, Pain and the Whole Shebang." For sure. Nice call.

    Christine: Thanks so much for writing. Every positive comment logged in here will one day go toward getting publishers to show me mucho love. I, too, am a major fan of seriously depressing poetry. Emily Dickensen is, of course, the Creative Genius of the Western Universe, and I'm a huge Anne Sexton fan. Huge. Every time I read her I just want to boil a cup of tea, lie down, and wait for the next car to hit me.

  • Tam

    I have never even been to a Starbucks… not sure I want to if the geniuses didn’t realize that the smell of bacon and eggs would interfere with the smell of coffee…

    They should have went with Cinamon rolls… Evryone knows that the smell of cinnamon rolls goes so much better with coffee, and are yummy and better for you then bacon and eggs.

  • John, no one ever said you were "haha" funny.

    That John, he's kinda "funny" nudge nudge wink wink.

  • Hjordes

    hahaha, love your translation of Del Mar! And Buzzface – I believe I’ve met him a few times!

  • You guys are the best. Seriously. Triple decaf vanilla lattes on me!!

  • Congrats on a successfully succinct post and your gig as a study leader. Cool.

    So I guess giving up coffee for lent is out, huh?

  • liturgee

    I'm not sure how I ended up here…

    but I'm pleased I did

    I enjoy reading some of this

    and will get at least a couple of these books.

    Blessings on your Lenten journey

    Bosco Peters

  • Hi, John.

    Sorry, but can’t help noticing. First, your site was named “Suddenly Christian”. Then this morning (Philippine time), which is when I usually check your blog, it being a favorite favorite, it was “Cyberchunk o’ John Shore”. But it still retained the address

    But this afternoon, after checking my favorite favorite site, it had changed to “Johnshoreland”, and the address had also changed, to

  • Hey, it's not the bacon, it's the smell of the eggs. Who doesn't like the smell of bacon. (My Muslim next door neighbor is still mad at me over this). Anyway, someone has even come up with a Mable Bacon Coffee flavor. (Hope this linky stuff worked)

  • Nope it didn't. Let's try it again.

    Maple Bacon Coffee

  • Isn’t ShoreLand redundant? I mean, shouldn’t an editor catch that?

    Also, are there lower, reduced, off-season rates and family packages available to JohnShoreLand?

  • Ew.

  • Oh my gosh, I hadn’t even noticed the name change(s). Guess I need to pull my head out of…somewhere…

    And how did you get all this stuff to your new url? I’ve been trying to move my old Yahoo blog posts over to Blogspot for months and so far the only way I’ve found is to manually cut & paste, & then I lose past comments, and boy what a pain to do in the first place. But I digress…

  • You never told us how much the pay was. Or did I miss something? Just kidding. Kudos to you!

  • Liturgee: Thank you. I really appreciate what you’ve said.

    Mel: Yeah, I was goofing around with a few little changes, seeing what I think. I have changed my url to, but any link to the old WordPress url ( will automatically route to johnshore, so … it’s good like that. (I had to lose because I’m getting some biz cards made, and that’s just too unwieldy.)

    Ric: Well, now, ShoreLand isn’t redundant, because … well, “Shore” and “Land” aren’t really too much exactly the same thing. Except I guess they kind of are, aren’t they? They are if you’re lost at sea, that’s for sure.

    Skerrib: Well … see what I told Mel, I guess. You’re changing platforms, so that’s a whole other deal…

  • They are if you’re lost at sea, that’s for sure.

    That’s for SURE. Words are great. Ok, so you’ve created a land of perpetual Shore. Very attractive to the beach sun worshipers. There’s a poem in here somewhere…

  • Good stuff, My wife is a manager at S.B. I guess Howard schultz is taking back more control of the stores and bringing things back to basic. Funny post.

  • Funny post. As far as Starbucks' drop in rev. I would say it is partly explained by the fact that they charge for wifi instead of offering it for free like all the independents do.

  • Unfortunately, Starbucks may be blinded by another reason they are losing money . . . As they slap Christians in the face by defaming God . . .

  • Still. I do love their mocha frappuchino blasphemies. I don't like their triple latte heresies, though. They always taste too burned to me.

  • In my immediate family, coffee itself is an abomination…so I drink the caramel apple cider instead.

    I must really be out of the loop…Starbucks defamed God? I hadn’t heard about that.