“In search of the perfect shave”

In the Today Show studio [on January 29, 2005, Corey] Greenberg lathered up his face with English shaving cream and a badger brush, whipped out a vintage double-edge razor, and made a passionate case that the multi-billion-dollar shaving industry has been deceiving its customers ever since 1971, when Gillette (no small advertiser on network television) introduced the twin-blade razor. Everything you need for a fantastically close and comfortable shave, Greenberg said, was perfected by the early 20th century.
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Wet shaving is far from being a mass movement, but it is growing, primarily because almost every man who tries it discovers that, in fact, Greenberg was right: with a little time and practice, shaving with a single blade can deliver an extraordinary shave, and is great fun besides.
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The cartridge razor is safe, but it is ultimately dull. The double-edged razor, with apologies to Aslan, is not safe, but it is good. It is good to be at risk. It is good for me to face myself and hear the myriad plinks of each hair being numbered and shorn. It is good to wake up.
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It will sound like madness to say it, but when I have rinsed the lather from my face and splashed it with intensely cold water, when I have patted my face dry with a towel and rubbed in the lotion to protect the newly exfoliated skin, smooth and supple—I have some sense of what Homer meant. On a good day, a good close shave is the Iliad and the Odyssey in one: the mastery of the dangerous blade, the return to the comforts of home. To shave well is to be a man, and to be a man is closer than Homer could ever have imagined to being like in appearance to the immortal gods–as Psalm 8 put it, “a little lower than the angels,” and as Genesis put it, made in the image of God.
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Our final redemption will be, I think, a razor’s-edge experience. Like so many modern wanderers, Camus was both right and wrong. We will not ultimately be responsible for our own face. If the gospel is true, this life, where we face ourselves in the mirror and take responsibility for all we see there, is rehearsal for another. And that life will begin, if I read St. Paul correctly, with a very close shave, the best a man can get. Another will be the barber. If we have practiced well, we will know what is coming: the blade will be applied at just the right angle to shear off the stubble. It will be terribly sharp and terribly close, but wielded with tremendous skill and care, it will divide who we truly can become from what we were never meant to be. Then cold water will splash against our skin; fragrant oil will leave us glistening and new. We will arise and go, godlike, to the feast.

The Best a Man Can Get: In search of the perfect shave,” by Andy Crouch, ChristianityToday.com, March/April 2006

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