You’re speaking at a church and your host offers you some water. You say, ‘yes please’, but they return with a bottle of Nestle ‘Pure Life’ water. Do you:
A) Look shocked and say, ‘I can’t believe you’re giving me bottled water. Don’t you knpw that no self-respecting environmentalist ever drinks bottled water because it causes so much environmental damage, from the waste of all those billions of plastic bottles to the huge amounts of fossil fuels used in its production? And don’t you know that no self-respecting, politically-correct social activist would ever go near a Nestle product, implicated as they are in the unprincipled marketing of baby-milk substitutes to women in economically undeveloped countries? Take that bottled water away!
B) Look mildly disconcerted and say, ‘I really appreciate your hospitality, but actually I don’t drink bottled water wherever I can avoid it, so please could I have a glass of tap water instead?’
C) Look grateful, swallow your principles and say, ‘That’s lovely, thank you so much’.
What would you do?????
I think A is the easy response, but one that will provide no real education for the Church and leave you and them facing an evening that they would rather forget. B is the compromise, it is not offensive but probably not taking the advantage of the experience as far as it goes. C is the response that leaves your message compromised and should they find out the truth for themselves later will leave them wondering why you said nothing. I think there is a fourth answer which is perhaps B.2 Its to find out where the water came from and who was responsible for buying it. In trying to educate the Church you need to ensure that no one is unnecessarily humiliated and finds out why they do as they do, before you help the to consider a better approach. You need to value and affirm those whose hospitality was provided in good faith, whilst lifting the aspirations of everyone else in the congregation whose buying power exceeds that of the administrator who will buy next weeks bottle of water unless you win her/his heart and mind. The water won’t harm you, and if it is handled well, will be the last bottle of water drunk in that setting.
Accept their hospitality offered in the name of Christ. I drink bottled water when traveling and am very partial to San Pellegrino sparkling water. I thought the bottles got turned into fleeces and such like.
I think that B is good. Because it is polite, but it makes also Christian people think about there acts. How would they relate the World. And what is nessesary fore them to act and care fore.
B. It opens up the conversation without you seemingly preaching from a moral high ground
How about saying something before they bring you any drink. If they ask “Do you want a drink of water?” Your response could then be ” Thank you, could I have …………. please”
i wish i could do B – it’s obviously the ‘right’ answer….but, knowing me i’d do C…though, having been given the chance to think about it, if it ever happened from now on, i really think i would do B!
Accepting hospitality, building relationship and earning respect come before any message that we feel should be communicated. The first three establish the basis for communicating. Without the relationship/respect building the words have less value (if any). This sort of question sometimes crops up in my work with Street Angels/Pastors teams on the street about how to respond when someone offers you something. Sometimes it’s a moral or legal issue rather than a principle or opinion. There an interesting scripture that some would consider relevant too Luke 10 v 7.
I’d pour it into a glass, get on with what I came to do and keep the bottle for a possible opportunity to followup later.
That was nice and gentle. And yes your right you´ll always has to respect others . Thank you fore remind me…
I would hope I could do B but then you would have a difficult moment probably in silence ‘when they are thinking so you are greener (or more environmentally righteous) than us’. I wonder if C could be best as long as you discussed the Nestle company’s history of ruthlessly exploiting powdered milk in LEDC’s and that you find it hard to trust or forgive them, in quite an animated way. It would be good, because you make the point strongly, you use distraction away from the current bottled water moment, you have accepted their hospitality fully but appear a bit hippocritical! However I think they would discuss it after you left if only for the dichotomy you presented?
hypocritical even! Sorry I have just been watching a great BBC programme on the Pygmy Hippo’, that’s my excuse and I ‘m sticking to it:)
Thanks so much for all these comments. It’s really interesting seeing how much response this post is causing (particularly on my FaceBook page) – it has actually become the highest-viewed post out of everything I’ve written. The tension between principles and grace is a tricky one, and although the issue of whether or not to accept a bottle of water is a very small issue in itself, yet it illustrates some much bigger questions that we all face in one way or another.
On the rare occasions when I get a bottle of water, I usually keep the bottle and refill it from the tap every time I want to carry water with me. I think the bottle I currently carry is about 2 or 3 years old!
Did you know there’s another element to the Nestle bottled water debate, which makes speaking one’s truth even more important? The head of Nestle is a powerful proponent of the privatisation of water management and resources , which in my mind is the absolute wrong direction for water equality/ justice/ development. I linked to him talking about it in my blog here about Creme Fraiche. http://kitchencounterculture121.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/nestle-ceo-peter-brabeck-and-why-im-culturing-my-own-creme-fraiche/
hmmmm interesting stuff, thank you