The best burger in Texas

The best burger in Texas February 5, 2024

• “Across the country, houses of worship are going solar.”

Most of the churches profiled here are mainline Protestant congregations that you might expect to do something “progressive,” like installing solar panels. But there isn’t a local church anywhere that isn’t perpetually worried about the state of the roof. And, as one solar advocate says in the article, “It makes a lot of sense. If they can cut their utility bill way back, then they have more money to do what they’re there for, which is their mission.”

That’s just as true for strict fundamentalists as it is for mainliners and Quakers.

I expect this will go about like the switch from incandescents to LEDs did. White-grievance conservative culture warriors spent half the Obama years pretending that their personal liberty depended on their right to burn their fingers on a light bulb and pretending to believe that more efficient lighting was somehow an example of Big Government Tyranny. But that pretense was difficult to sustain — especially when honest reality let them save money on utility bills.

Joey Cochran on the history of his home town, Mansfield, Texas:

I never learned the history of “The Mansfield Crisis” nor was required to read Black Like Me during my K–12 experience in Mansfield public schools’ first-rate education. I only discovered this history about my hometown during the last couple years of historical studies. I think it’s the sort of history that the State of Texas and its governing authorities would like to erase from the historical record. Perhaps this history is precisely what current Texas authorities wish to censure from classrooms.

Nonetheless, “The Mansfield crisis” is part of the memory and the context that is critical for considering the intersection of Christian Nationalism and Evangelicalism. I don’t think we really have to pose the question, “Were evangelicals among the mob in Mansfield?” Undoubtedly, they were present and active that day, which is misfortunate, for it is going to be in the same space, the school yard out front of the public high school and at the foot of its flagpole, that white evangelicals are going to stage a student led, prayer driven, spiritual war and revival movement during the 1990s. And Mansfield, Texas sits near the epicenter of the making of the movement for flagpole prayer known as See You at the Pole.

It’s clear why Mansfield, Texas, doesn’t want to tell the story of Mansfield, Texas — why it still doesn’t know how to tell that story or what to make of it. It’s also clear that Mansfield, Texas, really needs to learn to tell this story.

• “A Safe Haven In The Queen City.”

John Thomason writes about sisters Tonda and Terry Taylor and their decades of advocacy and support for LGBT folks in North Carolina.

Tonda Taylor’s story and life help to illustrate what I mean when I say that morality is story, not rules. The people in her story who were sure that morality and decency and goodness were all about rules behaved horribly. There’s no way to tell this story in a way that makes them sound like the good guys. And there’s no way to tell Tonda Taylor’s story in a way that doesn’t make it clear she’s the good guy.

On the one side of this story are people who shunned and shamed the sick and the dying and on the other side are those who cared for and comforted them. On the one side of this story are people who kicked children out of their homes and left them on the street and on the other side are those who took them in and showed them they are loved. It doesn’t matter one withered fig whether or not the people on the former side can cite rules or quote chapter and verse to rationalize their monstrous behavior. It ain’t about rules.

• Here’s another illustration of why story always matters more than rules: “Houston tries to punish feeding the homeless—and fails.”

I love this story. Adam Lee quotes from Houston Chronicle reporter R.A. Schuetz:

Fifteen Houstonians called for jury duty filed into a courtroom Thursday afternoon. They were there for an unusually high-profile case for municipal courts, known for hearing traffic violations and facilitating weddings.

…Roughly an hour later, the jury pool filed back out—all 15 of them. The lawyers had been unable to fill an unbiased jury.

Too many of the potential jurors said that even if the defendant, Elisa Meadows, were guilty, they were unwilling to issue the $500 fine a city attorney was seeking, said Ren Rideauxx, Meadows’ attorney.

…Roughly 90 tickets have been issued since March [2023] to volunteers with the loosely organized Food Not Bombs, which serves meals to people in need near Central Library. The city has yet to win a single case. The one case that reached a verdict was decided for the defendant.

Prospective jurors were all instructed about the 2012 ordinance being used against Food Not Bombs and the hungry neighbors they have been feeding. And those jurors all seemed to understand that Food Not Bombs was violating this rule. But they also all understood that there was an obvious good side to this story and an obvious bad side — a side that they all wanted to be on and a side they all very much did not want to find themselves on.

As Lee writes, “Getting this kind of rebuke ought to be an ‘are we the baddies?‘ moment for the police and government of Houston.” It hasn’t yet because they’re still more focused on rules than on the story. That’s often what happens when the story is one you aren’t ready to hear.

See also: “A pastor and a small Ohio city tussle over the legality of his 24/7 homeless ministry.” About that same case Chris Williams writes, “If there ever was a time for prosecutorial discretion, this was it.” That applies to Houston’s prosecution of Food Not Bombs as well.

• The title for this post comes from Margo Cilker’s “I Remember Carolina,” which is kind of like if John Prine’s “When I Get to Heaven” and Cracker’s “Eurotrash Girl” had a baby, but in the best possible way. Learned of this a few weeks ago via LGM’s Music Notes and I’m still finding it delightful.

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