Hot Dogs

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It’s summertime, the season for hot dogs. 
There have always been two great mysteries surrounding the quintessential American snack:  What are they really made of?  And who actually invented them?
The first mystery has become the stuff of urban legend – as in, why does one never see a stray dog sniffing around an Oscar Mayer plant?
The FDA assures us that our worst nightmares have not in fact come true.  “Wieners” are generally comprised of various cuts of pork, chicken, and turkey, while “franks” come from the beef side of the market.  There are of course numerous additives – seasonings, colorings, sodium, fillers, and the like – which is why hot dogs look and taste so good.
Americans put away more than 20 billion hot dogs a year.  That works out to something like 70 per person. 
If you’ve just done a quick personal tally and are certain that you couldn’t possibly have eaten more than a dozen so far this year, it should be dawning on you that some of your fellow citizens – even those not named Joey Chestnut – are eating heroic numbers of hot dogs.   
The second hot dog mystery – the one about origins – is a vexing one for historians.
A handful of entrepreneurs claim to have launched the wiener-and-frank revolution sometime during the past 150 years, and each candidate has enthusiastic supporters.
There’s Antoine Feuchtwanger, for instance, a Bavarian immigrant who sold hot sausages on the streets of St. Louis in 1880.  He even let his customers borrow a pair of gloves so they wouldn’t burn their fingers.  But when a number of customers walked off happily with new gloves, his wife suggested serving the sausages on a roll instead. 
Then there was the enterprising Englishman Harry Stevens.  Sometime before 1920 he discovered that baseball fans really love eating hot sausage snacks.  He called his creations Dachshund sandwiches.  Tad Dorgan, the cartoonist for the New York Post, couldn’t spell “dachshund.”  Therefore when he illustrated fans chowing down on their favorite new food, he called them “hot dogs.” 
This of course did nothing to suppress the rumors of canine constituents, but Stevens loved the name nonetheless.  He became America’s first sports concessionaire and earned far more money than most of the players on the field.
Hot dog carts – the 1920s version of food trucks – began to appear near American factories.  When workers hesitated to sample the “mystery meat,” some of the cart owners dressed their friends in white medical jackets and encouraged them to eat a hot dog every day within sight of the crowds.  If doctors eat hot dogs, they must fine.  Right?
And so people gradually learned not to worry overly much about hot dog purity.
Unfortunately, the same thing seems to have happened with regard to the purity of human character.  Maybe people are like hot dogs.  Let’s just enjoy each other.  Do we really have to worry about what’s inside? 
That may be the spirit of our times, but it’s impossible to overlook that every organized religion is ultimately concerned with some kind of spiritual purity, mastery, or integrity.
Religions generally fall into two categories: those that preach purity as a personal achievement, and those that preach purity as a gift that God alone can give.
The Way of Jesus falls into Category 2.  According to Jesus, God never says, “Oh, just sin just a little bit, and things will work out in the end.”  God asks for utter purity – and then, incomprehensibly, treats those who trust Jesus for forgiveness as if they had lived up to that impossible standard.
The only response that seems appropriate to such an arrangement is Wow. 
Although some may even be led to say Hot Dog!