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of Dr. Steven L. Berg

Assumptions While Buying Wine

It is been more than 28 years since I have had any alcohol to drink and rarely do I ever purchase it.  However, there are times like tonight when my dinner guest would appreciate having a glass of wine with dinner.  This morning, I entered Heartland Market’s wine isle and became overwhelmed.  While one employee was helping me find an appropriate wine, we were joined by a second employee who had some definite ideas about what I should get to impress my date and was quickly informed by the first employee that I didn’t want to spend that much.  The second employee then moved to more reasonably priced bottles and selected a sweet wine that “the ladies tend to like.”

He had guested correctly that my dinner guest was a date.  What was not so accurate was the assumption that my date was with a woman who would enjoy a sweeter wine.

On one level, no harm was done by assuming that the wine was for a lady friend.  Because I did not know what my dinner companion might want, I would have picked a sweeter one over a dryer one.  Maybe it goes back to 1977 when I purchased what was then, for me, an expensive bottle of dry wine to impress a companion who was not at all impressed by my choice.  However, I try to be very careful about jumping to assumptions when working with students.  In that case, the incorrect assumptions could have serious consequences.

About a year ago, I was talking to a student and assumed he was too intelligent to hold a particular theological position.  Fortunately, I picked up that he held that position before I had said something hurtful or condescending.  I know the importance of checking the accuracy of assumptions before acting on them, but it is easy to be so sure of a position–such as the fact that a man could only be buying wine for a woman and not another man–that we can be blinded to reality.

I did not have to pretend that I held the same theological position than the student.  But there is a great deal of difference between saying that my approach to theological scholarship was different than his and saying that I thought he was too smart to take such a ridiculous position.

Photo Credit:  Heartland Marketplace Home Page
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