Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sub-creation with questionable materials

I used to have a cookbook that was peppered with quotes. My favorite one is:

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.

Today, after slipping in and crawling back out of the slough of despond for what seems like forever, but was probably only a few weeks, I woke up not automatically reaching for the ibuprofen. I'm still tired, six days straight at a job like mine will do that to a girl, while at the same time I am uplifted, exhilarated, noticing the sunshine.

So I decided to tackle the kitchen today. After throwing out a few things of questionable origin, I had enough space in the refrigerator to contemplate lightening the freezer's heavy load. So, I pawed through the things in that cold place and discovered I really don't need to do much shopping at all this weekend. I defrosted my Mexican Tomato Stew and it is still more than edible, it's darn good. The bread, which I feared would be freezer burnt when I discovered it, (since I couldn't remember when I had last made that particular kind) turns out to make very good toast.

Then I made my special no-fry refried beans and, since there were two pounds of carrots in the produce drawer threatening to look not so carroty, I grated some of them into the beans and chopped some fresh tomatoes, a little squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of olive oil and, voila! A bean dip worthy of the best cracker you care to dip into it. Then it was onto the packet of frozen mixed beans I had bought for a Thanksgiving potluck 2 1/2 years ago. I sauteed them in the two slices of pancetta I found hiding behind some frozen blueberries, then tried the teriyaki sauce I had never opened for a twist on chinese green beans. I am not quite sure about that particular result.

Then I saw a nice, big, plump chicken breast which had already been cooked, yearning to be free of the tundra. So I defrosted it and sauteed an onion to go with it (everything is better with onions, doncha know?), stirred the onions into the chopped chicken and, just because I was feeling adventurous, opened the sandwich pepper relish I'd been dying to try. It's a bit hotter than I expected but will still be perfect with a dollop of greek yogurt over rice. Oh, and the rice is in the cooker now.

Last, but not least, I made fresh limeade with Stevia. The hint I got about that worked -- you simply dissolve the Stevia in warm water first! Jasmine tea "brewing" in the fridge and then, to crown the day I made my very special salad dressing. Last night, on the way home, I stopped at the store and found a gorgeous fresh basil plant. I got it, figuring that even if I managed to kill it I would still get more basil from it and at a lower price than I would for the teeny little packet of fresh basil they sell. So, today I plucked the first leaves from the plant, crushed them and squeezed the juice of my last three lemons over them in my new salad-dressing shaker. A few crushed cloves of garlic, some olive oil, salt and pepper. Magic!

I also had a phone chat with my friend Carole while I was taking a break. So, that's been my day. Just call me Kamilla the Domestic Diva, ok?

Monday, May 25, 2009

By george, I think he's got it!

A little over a month ago, I had a delightful conversation with an author, a new acquaintance (and, hopefully a friend) who mentioned one of his books and how he thought he might be uncovering some new ground with the book's concept. Then he looked at me and said, "You know, there really aren't any new ideas out there."

He's right. A while back I became enamoured of the concept of The Dance to describe how men and women are to relate, especially in marriage. I don't know why or how the image first occurred to me, but it began to grow in meaning and importance and I still love it. Of course, I'm not the only one. Now, in the last half of Thomas Howard's Chance or the Dance?, I continue to be amazed at how much I'd want to be underlining, marking and otherwise highlighting if this copy belonged to me and not the University of Denver's library (as an aside, isn't inter library loan a grand thing?). I shall have to get my own copy soon.

Here is a passage I found particularly startling because it voices, in pitch-perfect fashion, what our nouveau sages (aka Egalitarians) think and often say about women of a more, ahem, traditional bent:

"We would all rather not be forced into fealty. And, under the new myth, fealty itself is a grating idea that drags up specters either of sycophantic courtiers bobbing about the throne, or of humpbacked clouts flogged into animal servitude by draconian overseers. It is natural that, with the disappearance of divine sanctions for authority, the notion of authority itself should come under surveillance, since the question of an origin for authority is thrown open. It was possible for a while, of course, to supplant the god with the idea of tradition, or history or consensus, as sources of authority, but the very nature of the new myth, since it arises from the notion of autonomy, is to tend toward the idea of autonomy in all regions. . .The gods are certainly dead -- that part at least is settled; and tradition is a gorgon that must be slain; and history has been so botched that it must be begun anew by a generation that has been delivered from the sins and mistakes of its fathers; and consensus is only bourgeois tergiversation for power politics."

-- Chance or the Dance? p. 95

Saturday, May 23, 2009

That is, to the darkened mind it did not mean nothing . . .

To them it was not for nothing that a man went into a woman in private and uncovered her and knew ecstasy in the experience of her being. This was simply a case in point of what was True anyway -- that there is a mystery of being not to be thrown open to all, and that the right knowledge of another being is ecstatic, and that what appears under these carnal forms is, in fact, the image of what is actually True.

-- Thomas Howard, writing of the "dark ages" in, Chance or the Dance?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The goal of CBE's blog

Recently, I made the singularly foolish move of becoming involved in a discussion over at CBE's blog. Calumnies abound, including the Godwin-invoking Hitler and a claim that the church has been supporting the hunting down and killing of Jews for two millennia. When I responded to such dreck by unwisely indicated how I would have dealt with such a response back when I ran CBE's discussion board, this particular post's authoress responded thusly:

Kamilla…….now that I have looked in the dictionary to see what ‘calumny’ means, I am sorry you feel certain posts have been slanderous. I was encouraged by Donald’s kind words and maybe have not been so vigilant in the last few days re writers’ comments.
I will check through and write to any folks whose comments could be construed to be critical. Attitude is all important and it is one of our mandates to promoted peaceful, fair and kind discussion.

So now we have it. More important than being truthful and dealing promptly with tired old canards, lies, and calumnies, we mussssst be nice, promote peace and fairness.

To hell with the truth, with godliness, with holiness and discipline. Above all else, let us be kind.

At this point, I can't help but recall Flannery O'Connor's words about where kindness leads us . . .

Thursday, May 7, 2009

In praise of Enchantment

Recently, I had a wonderful trip to Washington, DC where I spent a few days for my birthday. While there, I recall one moment on the subway when I noticed the cross looks I was getting, I realized I had been humming out loud. Joy tends to lead one to break out into song of one sort or another.

Here are four links. I have nothing more to say than this: If they don't leave you utterly echanted, with a tear brimming at the corner of your eye, well, I think you're missing somethng:

Susan Boyle

The Whimsy of God

Dancing in Antwerp train station

Cantare Amantis Est

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Conspicuous by its absence

I happened upon the latest post of CBE's "Scroll" blog, I think, just moments after it went up. I read it with some interest because the blogger, Liz, expresses one of the same concerns I had back when I was a religious feminist, too. Why do we patriarchalists (seemingly) adhere so rigidly to just that one portion of the "Curse" which says a woman will desire her husband and he shall rule over her -- and yet ignore the other bits about pain in childbirth and working the land with much toil and sweat? I mean, farmers even have air conditioned cabs on their combines now for mercy's sake - why would I still have to live under my husband's thumb? Or, at least, that's how the religious feminist views it.

You see there's a little wrinkle in that view. St. Paul has a thing or two to say about it. Most obviously that he links gender "roles", not to "the fall", the "curse" or our "sin nature" but to our undefiled created natures. St. Paul links that supposed curse of our fallen natures *not* to our fallen nature but our good, created natures as they were before the serpent whispered his lies to Eve. For Adam was formed first and then Eve and all that folderol.

As a somewhat humorous aside, note that Liz also wrote, "many believers teach that wives should show desire toward their husbands . . ." Well, thank heaven for that! I'm not quite sure, though, who else the wives should show desire towards other than their husbands. But there was another little nugget that intrigued me in tonight's post. It is this:

"The reality is now that many women do not have to experience pain in childbirth and many men do not have to work the land to make a living."

Epidurals and air-conditioned combines, right? But when I first read this I was caught up short and realized, once again, the connection to sex. How it all really does boil down to sex. And here is the bit that is conspicuous in its absence: the admission that many women now choose to entirely avoid not merely the pain of childbearing but the childbearing in itself - many women are now childless by choice. At the Lambeth conference in 1930 the Anglican communion became the first Christian body to officially approve of the use of birth control. The rest of the Protestant bodies followed like a line of dominoes, clink, clink, clink until, just a couple of generations later, birth control is a given in premarital counseling and many don't even want to know about, let alone seriously consider, the moral implications of contracepted sex. And heaven forbid we should talk about the dire consequences to our unborn children from some birth control methods we use without a second's hesitation.

So this is what we have come to. Without wanting to commit the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, I do take note that the acceptance of birth control as a matter of course was followed, very rapidly, by the advent of religious feminism within formerly staid and traditional BEAP denominations, churches and institutions. Religious feminism was certainly not "caused" by the advent of birth control, but it certainly wasn't harmed by it, either.

In an era when women increasingly choose not just to have painless deliveries but to experience no pregnancies and their consequent deliveries at all -- when they have increasingly forsaken and dismissed women's glorious vocations as beneath them, the work of "kitchen wives" and women too stupid to understand there is more to life than birthing babies, is it any wonder they turn to the province of men to fill their days?

Think about it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Fifth columnists

Since when are we ever guaranteed the outcome of any battle we engage? Since when does Scripture or our God promise victory in this world? Or that we won't be socially marginalized? Called a bigot?

In this case, we can't really call this sort of "warrior" a fifth columnist as his work to undermine the cause is hardly clandestine. But this is the sort of verbal grenade that does more damage to the cause of righteousness than the whole four columns waging battle from without. This was posted by a friend to another friend on a social networking site, names withheld because it isn't a truly public post. The poster holds a position of some influence in a local religious body:

ok took me awhile to jump into the controversy. gay marriage is coming, inevitable, and a no-win political issue for Catholics. it is a mistake for the bishops, k of c, etc, to make it a central concern. religious liberty and conscience rights can be preserved without attacking gay rights, which will continue expand in our democracy. I do not think you are a bigot (which has an interesting etymology from "by god" or visigoth", but it will be seen as such by the mainstream media and an increasing number of americans. I hate to see you become a warrior in this losing battle.

I can't help thinking of the famous quote from Martin Luther:

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.