In one episode of the sitcom Modern Family we discover Phil & Claire Dunphy in the middle of a big disagreement. Throughout the episode Phil is trying to figure out what he did wrong to make her angry. As he bumbles through the episode we find that Phil has made all kinds of missteps…but none of them are the offense for which he is paying dearly. Then we make the discovery that Phil came the day before after a lunch with an ex-girlfriend. His ex suggested the wedge salad and he tried it. He couldn’t get over the wedge salad. He had gone on-and-on with Claire about how much he LOVES wedge salads and can’t believe that he’d never had one before.
Claire is angry not over any of the obvious mistakes Phil has made. Through a series of flashbacks we see that Claire had recommended wedge salads time-and-time again. Claire is angry because he never listens to her and doesn’t seem to trust her suggestions. My wife and I often refer to the Modern Family wedge salad when we act in the same way.
Brene Brown’s book, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, is a wedge salad. My wife talked incessantly about this book and applied Brown’s teachings to everything. Perhaps out of stubbornness– maybe out of laziness– I ignored her glowing affirmations until I finally picked up the book last week. It is remarkable. She weaves together government, politics, personal struggles and the growing sense of personal loneliness and civic divisions. She offers us a way to reconceptualize our place in our family, social group, culture, religion, and nation. It is an empowering book that I hope all of my congregation, family and friends will consider.