There are two types of people in the world: those who get annoyed about hot cross buns appearing in shops on Boxing Day and those who absolutely love it. And the passions run high. If you mention seeing the buns in question, you’ll quickly find out the type of person with whom you’re dealing. You’ll hear all about the evils of capitalism (or sultanas) and the commercialization of sacred holidays; or you’ll hear about how delicious the buns are and how they should be available all year-round. Either way, you’ll find out very quickly where the person being questioned stands.
As you’re reading this, you might be nodding along in agreement. You’ve noticed the trend and heard the arguments. You may have already put yourself in one camp or the other. Perhaps you’ve bought the buns for some cheeky early indulgence. And so the world is increasingly polarized. We sense it more each day: passionate, loud defenses of the buns or calls for their removal (or at least a clearly defined selling time). People are divided into two camps… or are they?
Perhaps it’s more of a spectrum.
Some people feel guilty buying the buns early but do it anyway. Some people make all their food at home. Some are gluten-free and can’t partake of the traditional variety or perhaps have to seek out that particular product sans gluten. Among the positive pro-bun folk, some traditionalists swear by the “proper” version, complete with raisins and spice. Others like to dabble in apple and cinnamon, chocolate chips, or other exotic additions, but can’t accept raisins in bread… or anything.
On the flip side, I’m sure you could find someone willing to explain to you the pagan origins of the buns, the supermarket chain, currency, and Easter. A bun enthusiast will be able to tell you which brand is the best, when they’re freshest, and how to prepare them. They will wax lyrical on the best they’ve tasted. Perhaps you come from a culture or country where they aren’t even a thing. (Are they sold in Niue or Tuvalu? I have no idea but I’m willing to be sent to find out.) Unfortunately, some can’t afford luxuries like hot cross buns.
You get the picture. At this point, we could get to the place where we said it doesn’t matter. Hot cross buns are quite inconsequential. True, but I’m trying to demonstrate that it’s very easy to tell a story that dismisses the nuance, reasoning, and personhood at the center of a broad opinion. The tale of two tastes is a simple narrative to tell, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Now, before you accuse me of postmodern dismissal of absolute truth or think my parable of the buns is embracing some new ideal equality, let me put your mind at ease. Not all opinions are equal—hot cross buns are the best.
However, that’s not my point either. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, it doesn’t matter. You know that. It’s a trivial debate. What matters is you, whether you’re the gluten-free mum or bun-loving grandparent, the chocolate chip child, or the fruit-filled father, we’re all human—made in the image of God. That image in each and every one of us is to be respected and cherished. Unfortunately, linear thinking is dangerous. If I reject you because of your hot cross bun preferences, then I’m painting you as a perspective, not a person. If we divide everything up as church and secular, we risk alienating and othering those who disagree with us—those who Jesus came to restore just as much as He hoped to restore us. The good news is for everyone.
The world in which we live is seemingly becoming more and more polarized. We’re seeing it in the church as much as we’re seeing it in the broader community.
Therefore, while we’ve still got more than a month to go until Easter, this is your permission to go out and enjoy some early hot cross buns… or not; it’s up to you.