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Prologue: Why a Maltball?

What, you might reasonably inquire, is a skeptical malt ball? Only an allusion to Socrates can provide a full answer. As you may recall, Socrates was the Greek philosopher who gained fame by questioning just about everyone and everything around him. He also gained death by doing this, but we don’t usually talk about that part unless we’re referring to the legendary cup of hemlock, and even then, many of us don’t quite understand why he took it.

But even as he died, Socrates, according to his faithful student, Plato, explained his mission of questioning. He declared that in the next world he would continue his dialogues because he wanted to separate those who really knew something from those who only thought they knew.

And isn’t that what we want do? We’re constantly surrounded by glittering, superficial stuff. It’s hard to get away from it and look up at the stars and ask what’s real. Usually we can’t even see the stars because of the lights stuck all over the afore-mentioned superficial stuff. We live in a world where the music’s too loud, the TV’s always on, and the pace has turned into a grind.

But somewhere in our hearts, there’s that still, small voice, the voice that whispers our secret longing for what truly matters over what only seems to matter. There’s an ultimate reality for everything. At least that’s what Plato said. He had a theory about a world of ideals where all the stuff we know has an ideal version. There’s an ideal chair, an ideal cake (yeah, it’s chocolate), an ideal politician (maybe that’s going too far).

And there’s an ideal malt ball. Snobs would call them “gourmet” malt balls, but I prefer the Platonic title. The reason this malt ball that I’m thinking of is ideal, is the way it differs sharply from regular malt balls. Regular malt balls have a thin coating; the ideal malt ball has a thick coating of marble-patterned milk and dark chocolate. Regular malt balls are puny; the ideal malt ball is over an inch in circumference. Most importantly, regular malt balls are a pop-chew-swallow disappointment; the ideal malt ball is a transcendent experience involving luxurious stages of consumption (such as the way the coating needs to gradually melt in your mouth in a ceremonial manner).

How do we find ideals? How do we actually touch truth? We do it by refusing the regular malt ball. We do it by not being satisfied until the ideal malt ball is beautifully coming apart in our watering mouth. We have to wear that armor of the mind, skepticism, so we’re not fooled by the phony. We have to view our world the way an ideal malt ball views its world – skeptically. Imagine the dullness our spiritual palates would ignorantly endure if it weren’t for – that’s right – The Skeptical Malt Ball!


2 responses to “Prologue: Why a Maltball?

  1. While I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment, we must carefully delineate between skepticism of an ornery sort ( and the Platonic skepticism you mentioned. The former is essentially pessimism and often becomes a visage for the pessimist to hide behind and justify their unnecessarily negative actions. True skepticism involves a certain balance between examination and the faith, grace, and discernment required to guide your examination and accept the outcome.

  2. Johnny,

    I appreciate your reading of my blog, and your taking the time to register such a thoughtful comment. As I’m sure you understand, my intent with The Skeptical Malt Ball is to survey the curiosities of life with a whimsical point of view. It is my hope that you will never see skepticism turning into pessimism here. Again, thank you for reading, and please continue to do so.

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