Sunday, September 27, 2009

It's Always Exciting to be Part of a Movement

One of the common criticisms of the decisions made by the ELCA Churchwide Assembly regarding roster leaders in same sex relationships is that all of the arguments were made on the basis of human experience and not the WORD OF GOD.

Well I was there and there was plenty of emotional arguments on the other side and I heard biblical arguments for the changes. But more on that later.

For a group claiming to be above emotion and experience, I'm a little amused (I was annoyed until I figured this all out) at the emotional and enthusiastic ravings of how "inspiring and uplifting" the Lutheran Core gathering in Indianapolis has been for those who are attending. I even read one blog about how wonderful it is to sing "A Mighty Fortress" with Lutherans "who really believe it"

Because you know, I never really believe it when I sing it. But truthfully, I've been in church a lot of times when folks including myself did not sing it as though we really believed it.

The ELCA is pretty much a dying mainline church, like others and it doesn't have anything to do with being liberal or having gay ministers. We've stopped singing like we meant it.
I gotta tell you these Core folk in Indianapolis remind me of bunch of kids who have gone to church camp and singing Jesus songs like they meant it after years of boring lifeless liturgies. It's exciting to be part of something. It's heady stuff to think you are going to change the church. The church needs you! The church is going to head off a cliff if YOU don't stop it! Sound the ram's horn! Gird up your loins!

But what are you girding up your loins for? To deny your Christian brothers and sisters their pastors because you read scripture differently than they do?
That's what it is about. These people in CORE are not hateful people so they insist it's not about homosexuality at all. It's about the authority of Scripture. THEY are protecting it while the rest of us are not.

That is just not true. They read scripture through the same lens the rest of the ELCA does. They use the same historical critical tools. Otherwise there would be no women clergy among them. (I actually think those women are in some danger when they figure that out but that's another argument) That's a fact. They just have been able to use those methods to hold on to the authority of scripture and see that it does support women in ministry but they cannot see that it may also support gay people in same-sex relationships. This is not an argument about the authority of scripture. It's about interpretation. It should not be church dividing.

But it's fun to go to camp. When kids come back from camp its really important you channel that enthusiasm to some purpose to keep it going or they will lose it or worse, go to some church with a rock band.
We as a church need something to be excited and enthusiastic about. It should be about opening up the doors of the church and the ministry to more people, not tightening the requirements. I fear we are all fighting about how to arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. We need a new wind blowing and a reformation. But CORE ain't it.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cosmos & Damian - September 26

September 26 is the commemoration of St. Cosmos and Damian, third century Syrian martyrs believed to have been twins and doctors.

These are two rather obscure saints but I've always been interested in the basilica dedicated to them since I visited it on my 2004 Trip to Italy.

I splurged for a private tour and our guide was art historian
Elizabeth Lev, who is kind of famous now. It was some of my best spent money on this vacation. She was excellent.

I think you could easily miss this gem of a church - it isn't very exciting on the outside, but the inside mosaic and the historical significance of the church should it put it on your "to see list" when (not if) you go to Rome.

Although Constantine legalized Christianity in the fourth century, Christians were not emboldened to build a church in the middle of the pagan dominated forum until two hundred years later in 526 AD.

Interesting that it was dedicated to twin saints and Romans have a thing for twins (think founders Romulus and Remus) And the basilica was built right across from a temple dedicated to twin gods Castor and Pollux.

You go inside this unremarkable building and are presented with a gorgeous 6th century mosaic. It is all the more impressive because the church has been raised higher than its original floor and you are much closer to the mosaic than normal and can really enjoy it.

The mosaic is of St. Peter and St. Paul presenting each of the twins to Christ in heaven. They
are both wearing togas. At one time Rome was a symbol of oppression and persecution of the faithful. Now saints wear Roman togas in heaven. It is Liz who pointed out that the faces of Cosmos and Damien are dark and Semitic, preparing the Romans for a religion that is from that part of the world.

Anyway you really should check it out on your next trip to Italy. And if you go to the Vatican, get Liz to give you a tour if she's still doing that. Wish I had.

Friday Five -Fall

It's been several weeks since I've participated in a RevGalPal's Friday Five....but it's all about Fall...and good subject for me and I've been neglecting the blog so this is at least a good reason for me to get back to writing.

1. Share a Fall memory -- this season makes me think of my late husband. Particularly Halloween - he loved Halloween--he would fix up the front porch with
spider web
s and always make a scarecrow. We really did Halloween. Every year I made my kids costumes and carved pumpkins He would give out the candy and I would take the kids trick or treating. He would take a piece of paper and mark down how many kids came to keep track. One warm fall night we had over 200 kids.

He stayed home with the kids and I worked. But come fall he would work in the potato harvest. He usually cooked suppers but during that time I'd cook --he'd come home 8 pm and I'd have something warm and good waiting for him. It made me feel all wifey and domestic.

2. Your favorite Fall clothes--(past or present)? I love the fall colors - browns, oranges, rusts. I have a bunch of sweaters and it's nice to get them out.

3. Share a campfire story, song, experience...etc. Hmm...not really connecting campfires with fall since I always camping in the summer. Around these parts we still burn the fall leaves. That was my husband's job and still remember when I decided to take on the task after he was gone. I was terrified I might burn down the neighborhood so I had the hose on and close by. Have since learned leaf burning is pretty manageable as long as the wind is not blowing.

4. What is your favorite thing about this time of year? I am ambivalent about fall. It fills me with a sense of dread since I know the winter is coming. I feel a little melancholy about fall because it reminds me of death. I cannot forget that the reason those leaves are so spectacular is that they are dying.

But there is some relief as well. The garden is done and there is nothing more I need do for it, but cover it with leaves and burn them to replenish it. It will rest during winter and next spring there will be a new chance for another garden. I always plant bulbs to remind myself that no matter how harsh the coming winter will be, there will always be a Spring. Without death, there is no resurrection.

5. What changes are you anticipating in your life, your church, the season changes and winter approaches? Oh there will probably be some changes. I'm just not ready to talk about it.

Bonus Question - What food says autumn at your house? Chili of course! I used to always serve chili on Halloween. One time I even made it from all orange tomatoes I grew.
Here's my Recipe. (by the way I said in that post I hate beans --have learned to like black beans and red beans and rice - but I still would not put beans in my chili) Also I used to put my garlic in first and then would have to watch like crazy to keep in from burning - I've since learned if you put the garlic in AFTER the's not as likely to burn

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Do not stop him..."

‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us

Matthew 9:38-40

Am I the only one that thinks of people who are ticked off about gay pastors doing ministry in the name of Christ when I read this passage?

Just saying....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hildegard, Abbess of Bingen, died 1179 - Another Radical Feminist

My daughter wrote a paper last year in that women in the middle ages were better off than women after the renaissance and I think she made a good case. 

 Of course, she didn't come up with that idea herself. Just look at some of the women and their influence in the middle ages. Queen Eleanor. Joan of Arc. Julian of Norwich. 

And the lady we commemorate today, Hildegard of Bingen.

It's a little shocking for our modern sensibilities to learn that Hildegard was sent away from her family to a convent when she was only eight. Hildegard was one of ten children --when she was sent to the convent she was taken under the wing by an abbess named Jutta. She probably got much more attention and nurturing and certainly, education than had she stayed at home.

Ever since the story of Katie Luther's escape from the convent in the pickle wagon Lutherans tend to think of convents as terrible places. 

 But I think convents were avenues of freedom for medieval women. 

Convents gave women like Hildegard opportunities to be leaders and even preachers. Hildegard traveled all over Germany and as far as Paris and people came far and wide to hear her and even asked for written copies of her sermons. She advised bishops, popes, and kings.

Her writings combined science, mathematics, music, art, social justice, respect for creation and theology. And all this was based on visions that some believe were simply the result of debilitating migraine headaches! It makes you wonder what beauty we are missing because we no longer search for meaning in suffering.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sept 11, 2001 - What I was Doing

I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:20-23

(New International Version)

It was a Tuesday morning. I remember it was a Tuesday because I had text study on Tuesday mornings. The kids had both left for school. I was in the kitchen fixing a cup of coffee and had Good Morning America on the TV in the kitchen. When I turned it on there was already a picture of the first burning building. I thought it was a fire and that was bad enough. I remember thinking "How are they going to get people out when it is that high up?"

Right before my eyes on the screen the second plane hit the second tower. And suddenly I had a pit in my stomach.

As news came in about a plane hitting the Pentagon building I was terrified. I thought we were being invaded. I called the school and asked if they were sending the kids home and they said they had the school locked down and were keeping abreast of the situation and would call the parents if they thought the kids should be sent home. I called the leader of the text study and said I needed to stay home in case my kids needed me.

And then I mopped the kitchen floor. I HATE mopping the kitchen floor and only do a real job of it every few months. This was a once in a few years scrubbing. I pulled out the stove and mopped behind it. I got on the floor and scrubbed two year old gook. I washed down the walls as I watched in horror the walls of the two towers collapse.

I called the Methodist pastor of the only other church in town and we planned a joint prayer service that night.

Life went on. In the days that followed it was very difficult hearing the stories of widows and fatherless children as this was only two years after my own children lost their father. I won't talk about how much more difficult it was to listen to some widows complain about only having a million dollars to live on, because that would be petty.

I will say this, it is a terrible thing to loose a loved one. People lose loved ones everyday who don't have memorials every year but they too have anniversaries. Don't just think about them today.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Garrison Keillor hospitalized but planning to get back to work.

You may have heard that Garrison Keillor was hospitalized Monday evening following a minor stroke. According to today's StarTribune (who seemed to have gotten most of their info from facebook - which is interesting in itself)
he is up and about and expects to be discharged Friday and ready to get back to work. Our prayers and best wishes are with him.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Could we have a little civility and respect in our congress???

Dear South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson - this is not a bar where people heckle the karaoke singers and throw peanuts on the floor. This is the United State Congress and you do not heckle the President of the United States. You putz.

Obama heckled by GOP during speech to Congress

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday Night in the Kitchen

I have two projects going on in the kitchen. It all began when I looked at my handful of beans in the garden and bell pepper tops I was cutting off and I started thinking about vegetable stock. Every time I roast any meat, I simmer the carcass and make stock. Turkey, Chicken, even ham. Ham stock is WONDERFUL in gumbo (it probably would have been good in the red beans and rice I made last week but I made pickled pork to go with it and that was probably enough).

I was looking around for ideas to put in the vegetable stock and saw the suggestion of squash peelings.
Well, it just so happens I made butternut squash soup just before my daughter left to go back to college and it was wonderful. There another squash in the garden and I've been thinking of roasting and pureeing then freezing it for the next time I want soup. Why not do that tonight and use the peelings for veggie stock?
The reason I have been thinking about vegetable stock is that many squash soup recipes call for chicken stock and that seems kind of odd and defeats the purpose if you are trying to make something vegetarian with the squash soup.

So here's what I did for my vegetable stock. But really you can put ANY vegetables in ...this is just what I had
I have a big cast iron pot. I put a little olive oil and sauteed one small yellow onion and a half a red onion that was in the fridge. I just like the taste of caramelized onions. You could skip this step.

From my garden, I picked a green pepper and cut out the bug eaten parts of a red bell in the garden. I have few red bells in the garden and I'm not wasting them on stock! But I did have some tops I saved thinking I would soup.
My green beans are done for the summer but there were about a dozen so I picked them and threw them in there as well.

The herbs are almost done. So I cut a handful of flat leaf Italian parsley, some basil - both purple and green - flowers and all - it was going to seed and a handful of chives. I did not put dill in because that's pretty distinctive flavor and just didn't want that.

I pulled up some carrots that tasted too woody to eat raw - threw them in along with the green tops. From the fridge, chopped up some celery-including the leafy top. The great thing about this is that you don't have to chop everything all nice, just in pieces. Don't forget the squash peelings. You cannot peel a butternut squash with a peeler and do it with a paring knife leaves a bit of flesh on so that works really well for stock. Nothing gets wasted. And don't forget several cloves of garlic. Oh, yea and a jalapeno that had gone red. I like a little heat.
I threw the peppers and celery in first after the onions were transparent and added about 1/4 cup white wine and let that reduce. Then threw everything else in the pot . Added about 6 cups of water. Some peppercorns, some kosher salt. Bring it to a boil, turn it down to low, cover and simmer a couple of hours. Strain all stuff out of it (and put in the compost pile). I pour my stock into quart size zip lock bags, label what it is and the date and freeze it. Next time you make mashed potatoes try boiling your potatoes in that! Oh come on PLEASE tell me you don't eat that crap out of the box.
And here's the recipe for the squash soup. It's a little time consuming because I roast the squash first but it's soo good that way. That's why it's a good idea to do that on a lazy Sunday night and freeze it. I got the basics for this recipe from the Food Network but I thought it had WAY too many herbs and spices. They call that "complex" flavors. I call that too much crap. But I loved the idea of adding balsamic vinegar to the roasting sauce.

The first step - Roasting the squash
Preheat oven to 400
1 cube butter (not margarine - butter) 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 2 Tbl Molasses 3 Tbl brown sugar (or more if you are like me) 1/2 tsp sage 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp ginger 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper 1/2 cup white wine So first, you peel a butternut squash, remove the seeds and chop into 2-3 pieces. Also, peel and chop an apple as well. An apple really adds to the flavor Toss them in a bowl with a little salt and pepper. Next heat the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter ceases to foam and has turned a light brown, pull the pan off the heat and immediately add the sage, sugar, vinegar (stand back so as not to get splattered), molasses and spices. Mix well and let simmer over medium-low heat for 1 to 2 minutes to meld the flavors.

Pour the vinegar mixture over the squash and toss well, then transfer to a heavy rimmed baking sheet or baking dish large enough to hold the squash and apples in a single layer. Place in the oven and roast, tossing at least once, until very tender and caramelized, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Set aside until cool enough to handle but still warm, so the liquids are runny. Then puree it in a blender with the white wine
Part two - making the soup
1 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped (not necessary but I always throw in bell peppers. Did you know they have more vitamin c than an orange?)
1/4 cup white wine
2 Cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups, more or less water to thin soup to your liking
1/2 cup heavy cream

Saute the onion and bell pepper in olive oil. When the onions are transparent, add the wine and cook a few minutes until it reduces. Add the stock and simmer a few minutes, then add squash and apple puree. Cook for a few minutes, adding water if it needs to be thinned. Then back to the blender and puree again. Then back in the pan, heat it up, add the cream.

If this is way too healthy for you, it tastes really good with crumbled up bacon. Enjoy.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

This will make you smile - Dancing at the Assembly

This took place before I got there. I promise you if I had been there, I'd be on there.

You HAVE to see Julie and Julia

I see Father over at Madeline's Egg has beat me to reviewing Julie and Julia even though I saw it a couple of weeks ago. I enjoyed that movie so much and wanted to write a review worthy of it and you know how you get so hung up on doing something well that you actually never to it?

Anyway someone has to mention there was more than the hot sexy scenes between a tall woman and short man which so impressed Father. I don't know how tall Father is, but you know....

As a someone who fancies herself a cook and grew up watching Julia Child, this movie of course was a must see. It's a wonderful portrayal of an amazing woman who was full of life and passion and confidence. She was tall and independent in an era when women were supposed to be dimminutive and dependent. And yet she was able to find that balance of independence as well as being supportive and loving and giving to her husband. Something a lot of modern women in the name of feminism seem to have a difficult time figuring out how to maintain.

Like that other girl in the movie what was her name, Julie? I have to say I was much less interested in her story, though I realize her book is the only reason we have this movie. I thought she was kind of a selfish little twit. But at least she sort of realized that at the end as well. I still can't figure out how she got famous by writing a blog about cooking. But if it bring this movie to theatres, I'm all for it.

At a time when Madison Avenue was convincing women they didn't have the time or the skill to do complicated things in the kitchen, Julia was telling women, yes you can. You can bake a cake from scratch. You can dress a chicken. You can make an aspic. (Although why you would want to, I don't know) And the storyline about Julie does show how being able to conquer these tasks in the kitchen gave a floundering young woman confidence and purpose and maybe even helped her become a better wife and human being.

This movie made me want to go home and cook something, which I think I did. I read somewhere that homecooking is now considered a "hobby". I'm just always amazed at the number of children that are fed frozen processed food when it's really NOT that time consuming to make a decent dinner out of real food. I can put some really good stuff together in a half hour. Anybody that is too busy to take a half hour to prepare healthy good food for their family needs to reevaluate their priorities. And no I don't just mean women. When my husband was alive, he did most of the everyday cooking. I was mostly in charge of special meals.

Anyway. Go see the movie. You will like it.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

He's not the Messiah, He's not the Anti-Christ - He's just the President of the United States of America

So get over it.

Upfront disclaimer. I was for Hillary. To the very end. I was happy she did not give up when she was being pressured to "for the sake of the party". She hung in there, not, I believe because of her ego, but because of the many women like me, who wanted some acknowledgment of her hard fought battle. I was pleased with how it all got worked out at the convention. I laughed my you know what off at the idea that women like me were going to support Sarah Palin because our girl didn't get picked. Oh puleeze. I've never picked the winner in primaries. Remember Jerry Brown? Jessie Jackson? Teddy Kennedy?

It wasn't just that it was a real chance for a woman to be president, although that was part of it. I thought Hillary had more experience and had a better grip on the issues. I thought Obama, frankly was a lot of pretty speeches and a lot of people were jumping on his bandwagon because they were just following the winner. I was a little concerned at what seemed like hero worship to me.

But he's turned out to be better than I gave him credit for. He's been good at picking folks to help him out. Giving Hillary Secretary of State didn't hurt either.

If I thought some of his supporters were giving him a super-human status, that's nothing compared to the super villain status that his opponents are giving him now. It's really frightening. I mean we hated Bush but I don't think anyone seriously compared him to Hitler. The fear and paranoia I hear on talk radio and the internet is just mind boggling. And now they are upset because he wants to talk to school kids about staying in school? Really?? I think it's very nice for kids to be shown they are thought of as important enough to be addressed by the president and I'd say that even if it was a Republican prez doing it.

"Yea, well that's what Hitler did...he went after the youth!"

Really? Hitler also probably peed standing up. And so?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pretty Good Lutherans

While twittering during the ELCA Churchwide Assembly I got to know Susan Hogan @pglutherans who was really on top of it with news articles and media about the ELCA. Well now she's got an independent news blog "Pretty Good Lutherans" I think the ELCA could learn something from her. Check it out.