For whatever reason, for the last two years it has been my responsibility to teach the children of the Northwest Preteen camp songs to sing for their adoring parents and other relatives and the relatives of their young friends. This year, the theme of the preteen camp is the fruit of the spirit, and so it should not come as any great surprise that the song we have for this year, by someone who calls himself “Uncle Charlie,” is called “The Fruit Of The Spirit,” and it compares the fruit of the spirit negatively to such familiar fruits as the coconut, watermelon, lemon, and cherry. In the madcap chorus, the singer quickly rushes through the qualities of the fruit of the spirit, which may be found in Galatians 5:22-23: “ But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
I find this particular topic somewhat amusing to sing about because my relationship with fruit has always been somewhat ambivalent . Besides my well-known allergy to mangoes and my sensitivity to the pesticides used on apples that I found out as a child, on the positive side of the ledger I am greatly fond of strawberries and oranges and mulberries and other sweet fruits. While I have been at times critical at the way in which agricultural work has typically not been valued by others, and have been upset at the way that family farms struggle to make ends meet while a great deal of the commercial farming I have seen has relied on the exploitation of migrant laborers, like many people I enjoy fruit. It is not the fruit itself that is problematic but rather the context of it. The song itself has a bit of an odd context in that regard as it seems to imply that someone would want to be a fruit, which is not an exciting thing to be at all. Fruit is not very interesting to be when one compares it to human beings or even animals. Fruit is tasty to eat, however.
Be that as it may, though, the song does have a lot going for it. There are humorous gestures that look especially adorable when it comes from children. The children of pre-teen camp are about the only people who can wish to be fruit or at least be able to imagine themselves as some kind of fruit and be able to get away with it. Children do have fairly rich imaginative lives, though, and sometimes the sort of realms of imagination that bore most adults to tears can be quite amusing for children. As a being of a rich imaginative life, I tend not to be harsh on the rich life of imagination of the youth I happen to see, for even where it is silly, and it is often silly, there are useful purposes such as the way that an imagination can help someone escape the sort of traps that more mundane souls can find themselves in because their mental paths are all ruts and they find themselves trapped in intolerable situations from which they can conceive of no way out.
Sometimes it is easier to conceive of what a fruit is not than what something is. Perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot of “fruits” are not what we think them to be . Neither strawberries nor raspberries are technically berries, but chili peppers, watermelons, and bananas are. That is highly odd, just as odd as avocado being a fruit despite its savory flavor, which is the usual dividing line in the popular consciousness between fruits and vegetables. Nevertheless, it ought to be no surprise that creation is far less tidy than we would tend to believe it to be, and that we often define and name plants and animals and people by qualities that differ from those of official authorities. Such experiences ought to remind us that life is rarely as straightforward as we would wish it to be, and if we cannot even correctly define mundane fruits with a tolerable degree of accuracy, how can we expect to understand more complicated fruits?
 See, for example:
 See, for example: