ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Doughnuts over Doxology

Mark Steyn touches on an interesting subject in today's Macleans. He starts off discussing a Toronto Star article about how Tim Horton's provides a sense of community for the Canadians. I was intrigued by this, since I was in Quebec when Tim Horton's went public on the NYSE (as a spinoff of Wendy's).... and you would've thought that Canada had just won some great military battle, given the coverage at the time. It was breathless and non-stop, talking about how Tim Horton's now would finally see success in the US, etc, etc.

For those that don't know, Tim Horton's is a coffee & doughnut shop - somewhat of a mix between a Krispy Kreme and a Dunkin' Donuts. Check out their website to get a feel for the place. Here's the intro from Wikipedia:

Tim Hortons Inc. [2] (TSX: THI, NYSE: THI) is the largest coffee and doughnut chain in Canada. It is well-known for its coffee, doughnuts, Timbits, bagels, soups, and sandwiches. Some Canadians consider the chain a notable part of their national identity and culture.

Ahh, national identity tied up in a doughnut.

Now, on with Mr. Steyn... who, as usual, takes us places which are difficult to predict:
Worshipping at the church of Tim Hortons
The idea Canadians have replaced doxology with doughnuts is less Timmy than tinny


The other week, the Toronto Star assigned Kenneth Kidd to do a big story on Tim Hortons as an icon of Canadian identity. This was a couple of days before that odd incident with the fellow going into the men's room and blowing himself into a big bunch of Timbits, so nothing tricky was required, just the usual maple boosterism. And naturally the first thing Kidd did was call up the Canadian media's Mister Rent-A-Quote, Michael Adams, the author of Fire And Ice and American Backlash, and a man who can be relied upon to provide some sociological context to the lamest premise.
his turned out to be just the sort of thing Kenneth Kidd needed for the piece and he ran with it: "Canadians, by contrast, are far less fearful," he decides. "Americans now increasingly use churches as their replacement for a sense of community lost to long working hours and lengthy commutes."

I don't know if, in the course of their research, Messrs. Kidd and Adams ever visited any "communities" -- in, say, New England, or old England, or Belgium, or Slovenia, or even Canada. But, if they did, they might have noticed that you drive through the outskirts of the "community," past the various "dwelling units," and arrive at the centre of the "community" -- often called a "village green" or a "town square" -- and smack dab at the centre of the centre you'll see a big building with a cross on it, and perhaps a sign saying "St. George's Parish Church. Consecrated 1352." Nonetheless, undaunted, two grown men are willing to argue in the Toronto Star that Americans have to make do with going to church because they've lost all sense of community.

But not in Canada. "We don't go to church as much on Sundays," says Adams. "We go shopping and we go to Tim's." Gotcha. Americans are forced to worship Christ, whereas Canadians are free to worship crullers.

Timbit Nation," as the Toronto Star headlined it, belongs to a thriving genre of journalism: the feel-good story that's somehow very demoralizing. It's less Timmy than tinny -- hollow and rather sad. I yield to no one in my admiration for a glazed maple cream doughnut, but I'm not sure I'd regard it as sufficient replacement for the entire Judeo-Christian inheritance. And with the best will in the world, standing in line at a Tim's one Sunday morning a couple of months back, I couldn't detect any great sense of community: as slow-moving doughnut lines go, it was not unpleasant, but nor was it an exercise in national affirmation. As a viable thesis, that and a buck'll get you a cup of coffee.

Keep reading... it turns out this is a review of Ramesh Ponnuru's new book, The Party of Death.

(Memo to self, need to get my attorney's to challenge his title... seem's that very phrase was used prominently on this site over a year ago.)

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler