Dark side of church potlucks

The potluck is the pinnacle of immigrant church activities. When a critical mass of families come together, the inevitable result is each family bringing a dish to share. It’s economical, communal, and festive.

But there’s a dark side to potlucks. This side gets darker as the number of families involved increases. First of all, there’s little supervision of children. And they run around crazy like a gang of raccoons. They raid the desserts, cherry-pick the best food, run off, snarf it all down, and then wreak havoc in some deserted corner of the house/church/building/park/structure. But that’s not the worst of it.

Adults go crazy. This is especially for large gatherings, where most of the people don’t know each other. Parents cut in line. They pile their plates. People have no shame taking all of a good dish until it’s gone. Any type of seafood always goes fast. Fifty pieces of sushi won’t last more than ten people. They might leave a token piece of shrimp to appease the god of manners. Old people are the biggest offenders. They use their age as an entitlement. They push in front of everyone else. They get overtly belligerent.

And then all the mature and selfless people get a turn. There are two kinds of mature, selfless people. There are truly good people and the posers. The latter group (of which I am a part of when I’m hungry) starts getting angry when we see all the people ahead of cutting in line and taking the best food. And then our anger turns into bitterness and resentment when we see all the food that’s left – plain rice, crap noodles, assorted store-bought starches, just a really depressing array. We silently curse the people who went ahead of us. Finally, the really holy people get to go. They’re practically fasting at this point and they’re just grateful God would allow them to have the scraps. There are like two of these people. And you know they either already ate dinner at home or they’re going to eat later.

The sinfulness of humanity is on full display at the church potluck.


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