I was reading the Q and A column in a cooking magazine based in Boston. “You’re kidding,” I spoke aloud when a reader asked how to dispose of bacon grease without clogging her sink. Dispose of bacon grease? Keith was equally appalled, but on a whim he asked a friend, who is originally from New England, what he did with his bacon grease.
“Why?’ he asked with a suspicious look on his face. “What’s it good for?”
What’s it good for? I guess this is one of those cultural things. Bacon grease to a Northerner must mean “garbage.” Bacon grease to a Southerner means “gold.”
My mother kept a coffee can of it in her refrigerator. I do the same. My grandmothers both kept a tin of it on their stovetops. They used it every day, just as their mothers had. In the South bacon grease is the fat of choice. In the old days only better-off farmers had cows and butter. The poorer families had a pig, and they used every square inch of that animal. Even the bones were put into a pot of beans and many times the few flecks of meat that fell off of them into the pot were all the meat they had for a week. In a time when people needed fat in their diets (imagine that!), the lard was used as shortening in everything from biscuits to pie crust. And the grease? A big spoonful for seasoning every pot of peas, beans, and greens, more to fry okra, potatoes, and squash in, a few spoonfuls stirred into a pan of cornbread batter, and sometimes it was spread on bread in place of butter.
I use it to shorten cornbread, flavor vegetables, and even to pop popcorn. Forget that microwave stuff. If you have never popped real popcorn in bacon grease, you haven’t lived. I am more health-conscious than my predecessors—in fact, we don’t even eat that much bacon any more. But when we do, I save the drippings, scraping every drop from the pan, and while most of the time I use a mere teaspoon of olive oil to sauté my squash from the summer garden, once a year we get it with dollop of bacon grease. Any artery can stand once a year, right?
As I said, it’s a cultural thing. Things that are precious to Southerners may not be so to Northerners, and vice versa. Don’t you think the same should be true with Christians? What’s garbage to the world should be gold to Christians.
One thing that comes to mind is the Word of God. In a day when it is labeled a book of myths, when it is belittled and its integrity challenged, that Word should be precious to God’s people. David wrote a psalm in which at least seven times he speaks of loving God’s word, Psalm 119.
We often speak of “loving God” or “loving Jesus,” but you cannot do either without a love of the Word, a love shown in obedience. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words, and the words that you hear are not mine, but the Father’s who sent me, John 14:24. Jesus even defined family, the people you love more than anyone or anything else, as “those who hear my word and do it,” Luke 8:21. Surely the ultimate love was shown by the martyrs depicted in Rev 6:9 who were slain “for the Word of God.”
Do we love God’s Word that much? Then why isn’t it in our hands several times a day? Why aren’t we reading more than a quota chapter a day? Why can’t we cite more than one or two proof-texts, memorized only to show our neighbors they are wrong?
Bacon grease may be gold to a Southern cook, but it is hardly in the same category. Yet I think I may have heard Christians arguing more about when to use bacon grease than when to read the Bible. Maybe we are showing the effects of a culture other than a Christian’s.
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." John 14:21