The new order of service (at the grocery store)

Ever since Gaddafy blamed the Libyan revolt on drag-laced Nescafé, I’ve been drinking a lot of instant coffee. (But so far, I haven’t found the jar with the democratizing hallucinogens.)

And I ran out of powder just in time to buy some Maxwell House — and get the free haggadah. For three generations, the coffee company has distributed the Passover service book as a promotional device (to overcome concerns that coffee not a legume, and thus forbidden at Passover) and it has become an established cultural feature, both affirmatively (used by Obama! and grandma!) and as a by-word of the conventional and stodgy. But this year Maxwell House has come out with a new edition, and so there’s some buzz associated with it.

I’m not Jewish and have never been to a Seder. I’m just a liturgical magpie, and so I’ll keep my observations brief.

  1. I’m kinda tickled that in this day a major company would still issue a squarely religious publication.
  2. But you can’t find out a thing about it at the Maxwell House or Kraft site. Not even a press release.
  3. If there would ever be a Christian publication of a similar scope, it would have to be a collection of Christmas carols. I can’t think of anything else that would be home-based, relatively uncontroversial and desirable in multiple copies.
  4. The text itself is notably gender-inclusive for God and human beings, which I gather is one of the changes in the new edition. Having seen the “gender wars” in Christian liturgy, I’d gauge the edits as moderately euphonious and customary.
  5. On the other hand, if you’d like a freely-licensed haggadah, got to or

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. I tried the Social Safeway yesterday. Alas, they were out by the time I got there. I might try and drop by the 17th Street location today on my way to (or from) work.

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