Balancing Acts


by Tom Beutel tom b

 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:8 (NIV)

Patrick and Christine Nafziger are co-pastors of the Millersburg Mennonite Church in Millersburg, OH, the church my wife and I regularly attend. Christine asked me on my way out of church last Sunday, “Do you ever write a humorous column for PeaceSigns?” I promptly answered that while I did sometimes write columns that were “lighter” than usual, I didn’t think I had written a humorous one. That will probably still be true when this month’s column is considered; however, I am attempting to use some humor to make a serious point. Thus, S.W.A.T.

S.W.A.T. stands for Seedless Watermelon Abolition Team! (Of course, we’re already on whimsical ground by using an abbreviation/acronym since it is well known that Mennonites love these.) In describing the “summer fruit” referred to in Amos 8:2 in his Sunday sermon, Patrick conjured up the vision of a ripe, juicy slice of watermelon. In an aside he commented that seedless watermelon should be banned. This, of course, started the whole thing! In support of his assertion, I told Patrick later that if we use Perry Yoder’s definition of shalom (peace) as “things are as they ought to be,” then obviously seedless watermelons were not peaceful since a watermelon without seeds is definitely not things as they ought to be! And, then, as peacemakers we ought to ban seedless watermelons. Q.E.D.

Consider the following “facts” about seedless watermelons:

Seedless watermelons don’t taste as good as watermelons with seeds. This is just your opinion you might say. But, no, a casual examination of this fact on the internet proves the point. Just type “do seedless watermelons taste different” into the search bar of your web browser and most links will point to complaints that seedless melons don’t taste as good as the “old-fashioned” kind with seeds. For example:

“My feeling is that old fashioned watermelon, with seeds, is sweeter, juicier, and has a better texture.”

Seedless watermelon seeds cost more than those for seeded melons. Where to start? Does anything seem wrong here? “Seedless watermelon seeds?” Where do they get them anyway? If you want to know the answer to this question you can find out by going to the website for the National Watermelon Promotion Board. Really!

In fact, there are seeds for seedless watermelons and they cost 4-5 times more than seeds for watermelons with seeds, typically $5.95 for 10 seedless melon seeds, as opposed to $3.95 for 25-30 seeds for traditional seeded melons. And, with traditional melons you can save seeds from this year’s  melons for planting next year at no cost. Find out how to save watermelon seeds here.

Seedless watermelons are harder to grow than seeded melons. Most melons and other members of the squash family can be grown easily by sowing seeds directly in the garden. Not so with seedless watermelons! Johnny’s Seeds, an excellent source of a large variety of seeds for the home gardener warns,

Seedless watermelons are less vigorous than normal watermelons. They require starting indoors under specific temperature and moisture ranges to ensure proper germination. They [also] require a pollinator watermelon.

And, of course, the most serious objection of all to seedless watermelons: No seeds, no seed spitting! This is truly a problem of significant proportions. Small towns, civic organizations, family reunion gatherings, and diverse groups around the world regularly organize watermelon seed spitting competitions.

  • Find  out how to host a watermelon seed spitting contest
  • Rules for a seed spitting contest  include things like “Sponsors shall not be held responsible for the after effects of seeds swallowed by any contestant” and  “People who wear dentures, whose teeth go further than the   seed shall abide by judges’ decision: Distance seed travels is the only thing that counts.
  • How  far can you spit a watermelon seed? According to the Guiness Book of Records the current record for watermelon seed spitting was set by Lee Wheelis in 1989 at 68 feet, 9-1/2 inches!

On the serious side, the scripture at the beginning of the article reminds us that as followers of Jesus Christ we are expected to produce fruit and that this fruit glorifies God. Seedless watermelons are sterile. They cannot produce fruit. We are not to be like them.

Instead, Jesus calls us to be fruitful: by showing love to the stranger, by giving to the one in need, by being merciful to one who does wrong, by living sustainably with the rest of creation. A seeded watermelon has several hundred seeds, each of which has the potential of becoming another watermelon. In the same way, there are hundreds of ways we can bear fruit each day, both small and  large.

PS For those looking for another way to relate scripture and seedless watermelons, given the fact that only 16% of watermelons sold in grocery stores have seeds (see following link), you could relate this to Matthew 7:14, “But the gate that leads to life is narrow and the road difficult, so few people find it.”


2 thoughts on “Balancing Acts

  1. But they are part of our cultural heritage! Seedless watermelons owe their existence to Mennonites, specifically Goshen College professor O. J. Eigsti. That’s nothing to spit at 😉

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