When you sink your teeth into good sourdough, the crust fights back a little; it’s chewy and a bit tough. Making bread has been a hobby of mine for years and I’ve developed methods that work pretty well. But when I spotted a used copy of Peter Reinhart’s “Crust and Crumb” down at Barbwire Books, I snatched it up. Peter writes about how to make “world class bread,” bread that is “good beyond belief.” When I read that line, I had to have the book.
I keep “Crust and Crumb” by my easy chair and frequently browse through it, absorbing what he has to say. Peter’s recipes were very much like the ones I had been using. But he spends most of the book describing specific ways to form and handle the dough. Some of those methods require several days to make a batch of bread and seemed unnecessarily tedious to me. So, I modified his methods with a few personal shortcuts here and there. My sourdough was improved somewhat but was not yet “good beyond belief.” In reflecting on what was wrong, it occurred to me that perhaps I’d get better results if I actually followed Reinharts instructions. (Duh!) Last time I made sourdough, I followed his methods to the letter. Oh my goodness… Not yet good beyond belief but it’s getting there…
It’s very easy to make the same mistake with the Bible – keep it by the easy chair, browse through it and modify what it says to suit what seems doable. Throw in a personal shortcut here or there. Here’s what Jesus’ brother Jim said about that:
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:22-25, NIV)
Just do it. Like the bread, you won’t be “good beyond belief” but you’ll be heading in that direction.