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In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity. — St. Augustine (Or someone else?)

Ingredients:*

*There are no precise amounts for each ingredient because precision in baking is like proof-texting in theology. Theology isn’t like science. Theology is like eating: only a matter of taste.

Flour
Butter
Sugar
Milk
Chocolate Chips
Coconut
Vanilla Extract
Cinnamon

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Directions:**

**As in theology, there is no foundational ingredient or starting point in baking; nor is there any necessary or predetermined outcome (although the final product should taste like something). Rather, bakers should strive to create products that are responsive to their own sitz im leben. You can’t quench “the Spirit” — so why try?

Pre-heat oven. There is a dialectical relationship between the temperature of the oven and the raw cookie dough. The finished cookie should be understood as the synthesis of this dialectical relationship. Set temperature accordingly.

(NB: Some people argue that there is a trialectical relationship between the dough, the temperature of the oven, and the time that the cookies are left in the oven. Regardless, the outcome is still the same: the final cookie remains a synthesis — indeed, it manifests unity-in-difference. Perhaps the important thing here is not whether the synthesis is dialectical or trialectical, but that baking remains philosophically informed. Philosophically uninformed baking is patently ridiculous.)

Flour, butter, and sugar are the “holy trinity” or “three-legged stool” of all cookies. (NB: These metaphors should be seen in an iconic fashion that liberates rather than consumes the gaze.) Combine these ingredients in a moderate fashion so that there is neither too much of one nor too much of the other.

Add chocolate chips. Dough should be doughy. If not doughy, add more chocolate chips. Or less. Or more butter or flour or sugar. Or less. Maybe also add the cinnamon.

Mix in a perichoretic fashion. Dough should have the consistency of most academic theology: neither too goopy (liberal) nor too stiff (fundamentalist), but existing in relation to what has come before (albeit without slavish imitation or thoughtless repetition). Consider the dough as a manifestation of being-in-communion, which is what some people mean by the word “catholic” (when considered in its essentially related relatedness, rather than as a series of dogmatic checkboxes).

Add coconut. The amount added should not only be intelligible to the language game of the preexisting raw cookie dough, but remain intelligible within the context of the new language game created by the now-added coconut.

Mix again, but now in a counterclockwise fashion. Dough should be really doughy now — complex, difficult to categorize, maybe even a bit unpredictable, too. In other words, the dough should be challenging.

Spoon bits of doughy mixture onto pan. Size of bits should be proportional to the intended size of the finished product. Make sure to space evenly between the dough.

Bake until baked.

Remove cookies from oven. Let cool.

Serve. Taste and texture will be interpreted within a sociocultural horizon unique to the existential situation of each individual. On the one hand, the responses of everyone will be equal, but on the other hand, some responses will be more equal than others.

Also, at some point above, you should have added the vanilla extract. And the milk.

The featured image is “Cookie (Dough) Monster” (2006) by Laszlo Ilyes. It is licensed under Creative Commons. (It is also not a cookie at all, save within the sociocultural horizon of the viewer.) 

About The Author

Dr. Benjamin Guyer is a lecturer in the department of history and philosophy at the University of Tennessee at Martin. With Dr. Paul Avis, he is the editor of The Lambeth Conference: Theology, History, Polity and Purpose (Bloomsbury, 2017).

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