Answer to "Why Hershey's Chocolate here and not there?"

As I said in the last post (which I accidentally deleted just now), my brother-in-law and I had an interesting conversation at Hershey's Chocolate World.

He started by asking, "Why is it such a big deal to buy a Hershey's chocolate bar here when you can get the same thing back at home?"

Here was my shot at it. It's because chocolate upstream is more valuable than chocolate downstream. Have you ever seen advertising for bottled water from a delta? I haven't. I'm not saying that downstream chocolate (the candy bar you buy in Anytown, USA) is contaminated. Just that buying Hershey chocolate upstream - from the headwaters themselves in Hershey, Pennsylvania, USA - is more valuable.

We always prefer the source. We say, "I didn't buy this chair from a box store. I bought it from an Amish craftsman who made it in his shop." Or, "This isn't a knock-off watch. I got it from my great-great grandfather. It's an original." Or, "I didn't get this candy bar from 7-11. It's a Hershey bar from Hershey Chocolate World from my trip to Hershey."

And, somehow, that makes it taste better.

On a theological note, you can argue that our immoral behavior shows the converse; that we prefer the knock-off, the idol. But that's only because the Source isn't as available as we'd like. We can go to Hershey and get the candy bars we want. We can't always go to God and get the answers we want.


Thomas Kincade and Oreos

In both commercial art and fine art, there are good works and bad works; good art and bad art; aesthetic triumphs and inaesthetic failures. This morning I found a fascinating article on the commercial/fine art of Thomas Kincade over at First Things. Joe Carter's post is a criticism, yes, but an interesting one and I recommend it to you. (Note how Joe manipulates when he compares these two paintings. I love it when writers do something to me, and here he does just that.)

Several questions come to mind. One involves how we poo-poo commercialized art. Advertising has its share of sins, but how often do we throw out its good art when we berate the industry in general? Another question is, How do we encourage commercial artists to refrain from selling out? What is required to maintain integrity as a creator of beauty and goodness while also selling, say, Oreos? (This, IMHO, is how: Limited Edition Strawberry Milkshake Oreos. Got milk?)

Listen to Joe's response to one of his readers (you can read the rest in the article's comment section): "My criticism is not that Kincade is a bad artist but that he is a very good painter who has decided to squander his God-given gifts in order to sell mass-market kitsch. The waste of his talent is what really irks me about him and his work. If he couldn’t produce anything better than it wouldn’t be nearly so bad."

I'm eager to hear what you think about all this. Check out the article and report back.

Read more... or Why I don't Tweet

A friend called this morning to ask why, on earth, I'm not on Facebook, and why, pray tell, I have no Twitter account. You have to understand, he's a Web 2.0 guru of sorts, managing his own 400 member community of bloggers and constantly experimenting with better ways to connect people.

He's the perfect person to ask me these questions because he has thought through them and cares enough to discern whether they'd be a good fit for me.

I suppose several road blocks explain my abstention from these magical tools so far. Today, I'll highlight one of them: I'm a content guy. Yes, I like information and curiosities and news bits, but I tend to spend more time on the bigger questions behind them. Yes, I can chit-chat with friends and strangers, but I tend toward more substantial content in conversations and I prefer to go there quickly. In movie terms, I'll watch Gattaca or The Truman Show long before Die Hard or Indiana Jones.

"Why" is my favorite content question, and I get energized when Whys lead to other Whys and occasionally reveal a single common Because. This type of exploration takes time, which makes a blog useful to me. New Breed of Advertisers provides this exploration outlet to discuss Whys and Becauses related to marketing. It's a slow, long conversation about a single subject and how that subject affects the world around us as well as inside us.

This commercial for speaks to me. Bing claims to be the antidote, or at least a discernment tool, for information overload. I don't really think Bing can play this role, but I like the idea. It confirms that focussed, filtered, content-rich conversations help us communicate more meaningfully.

Maybe I haven't added Facebook or Twitter because they threaten to fragment these conversations.


The Gift: Something from Mako Fujimura

Started discussing The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, by Lewis Hyde yesterday over at High Calling Blogs. Interesting to me: Hyde studied folk tales, tribal customs and Scripture to learn about gifts and gift-giving.

Stop in to read this week's post, and feel free to add your bit.

Mako Fujimura's Gladiolas-Blue 2000, lithograph on Rives BFK paper, 22 x 30 inches


Let's Read: The Gift

I've been out of town for a couple of weeks, hence the unusually long silence here at NB0A.

Invitation: On Monday, June 8, I'll start hosting a weekly book discussion on The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, by Lewis Hyde, over at You can read my discussion invitation here.

If you care to join us, buy the book (preferably) from my esteemed book proprietor friend, Byron Borger, at Hearts and Minds Books. Mention the High Calling Blogs discussion when you order and you'll get a 20% discount.

Why should you join us? Because you're an artist in the traditional sense of painting, poetry and photography, or in the commercial sense of advertising and graphic design. Or not. If not, you should join us because your work - whatever it is - is a creative expression, even if you're "just" an accountant. Second, because your work must be given away, like a gift. Hyde writes, "What is given away feeds again and again, while what is kept feeds only once and leaves us hungry."

The Gift is not a Christian book, per se, in case you're wondering. Nor is it a spoon feeder. But I feel convicted already and can't quite let Hyde's concepts pass without further thought. See you there!


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