23 May 2007

A Pentecost Feast

This Sunday is Pentecost Sunday, my favorite church holiday. Unlike Christmas and Easter it has yet to be over-commercialized but I wouldn't be surprised to see the rise of Pentecost stuff at Party City, Pentecost Sales at the car lots and special gifts or baskets for kids.

Christmas has Roast; Easter has Ham; the Derby has a Mint Julep, the Preakness has a Black Eyed Susan; but what about Pentecost? Someone at Bible Study yesterday suggested Blood Pudding as appropriate fare.

  • 1 quart pig's blood
  • 12 ounces bread crumbs
  • 1/2 lb. suet
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 quart milk
  • 1 cup cooked barley
  • 1 cup dry rolled oats
  • 1 ounce ground mint


Mix all ingredients together in a bowl; pour into a large kettle or Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Pour into a wide shallow bowl and season again if necessary. Chill thoroughly, until firm. When cold it may be cut into slices and fried.

Even with my supreme affection for the magical animal I dont think I can stomach Blood Pudding.

Perhaps the Acts story can provide some guidance:
And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

From the account the feast would need to be international served with Beaujolais Nouveau. Accessible ingredients will be tough to come by.

First Course: Matzo Ball Soup
Second Course: Koshary
Main Course: Rosemary Roaster Lamb
After Dinner: Feta and Parsley Salad
Dessert: Gruyere slices drizzled with honey.

I have no idea if this would work, but it does cover the majority of menus from the Pentecost languages heard that morning. I believe the fruity and lightness of the new wine wouldn't be too awful of a choice.

Any other ideas?

I almost thought about a red sauce with pasta but that just wouldnt cut it.

22 May 2007

How to Share Your Faith, volume I

I grew up in a congregation somewhere between a moderate-conservative and conservative ABC church, it wasnt a fundamentalists joint but it wasnt a hotbed of higher criticism or the place you would hear edification on our religious apriori either.

Out of the some of the 100s of sermons I heard I can only recall 1, it was on evangelism. The pastor really hit a home run with his use of metaphors, rousing language and unction. The theme was well repeated one, but I have to give him creative credit: change or go to hell. The avoidance of hell was the sole factor for evangelism.

Somewhere during my senior year of high school I stumbled onto a reference of the book Prayer by Richard Foster. Looking back, it was a surprise that my pastor had it in his library. He loaned it to me and I devoured it. From there I found Merton, then Hinson, then Kelly, then Steere, then Rauschenbusch, then King and Thurman, then McClendon, then Underhill and the rest is history. I found out about experiential religion that was not based on avoiding the heat of eternal damnation. Nevertheless, I have yet to discover the proper way to share this form of Christianity. I believe Thomas Kelly has come the closest, I would describe him as a mystical evangelist.

Jump to May whatever day it is 2007. Here at L. R. Bapt. we have a great church, good music, okay facilities, an open bunch and lively discussion. Yet we cant seem to get over a critical hump for energy, giving and people. We kind of hover around existence but havent got around to a ministry phase. My gut tells me that the folk need to discover a way to talk about their faith, get to know Jesus a little more and get involved in something bigger than 1075 Great Road.

I am now reading and boning up on evangelism from a liberal perspective (not too many resources here folks). I imagine our church in this situation. We are an old VW bug, neat looking, even fashionable if it had a new paint job, that wont start. We could buy a new a battery, clean the posts, maybe even buy some new cords, but we aint got time. So till we can manage an overhaul we decided to jump it on the run. One person gets behind the wheel pushing the clutch in while a few folk push the thing till we can get to speed so we can plop the clutch and turn the engine over.

My hunch is that if the folk here can start sharing the good news with themselves, each other and others it will jump start the spiritual life of the congregation. It is just a hunch...

Current Resources:
Unbinding the Gospel: Real Life Evangelism by Martha Grace Reese
Testimony: Talking Ourselves into Being Christian by Thomas Long

My pastor also was the one who once asked me about what method of inspiration my seminary was teaching me. Never heard it mentioned. He then went on and on about the Verbal Plenary Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures. The other day while going to Yale I mentioned this to my buddy (he grew up in a more conservative joint than I did and never heard of it).

The pastor before this guy received his ThD from Princeton - he was the moderate conservative to conservative person.

19 May 2007

New Color

Yesterday #2 and I were here at the house coloring. #2 told me I could color a pumpkin: baby purple. Baby purple, never heard of that color. But then he showed me baby blue.

18 May 2007

Expectations for Continuing Education Events

Yesterday around 2:30 me and a buddy headed down I-95 to New Haven to attend the Faith as a Way of Life National Pastoral Leaders Conference. The registration material asked that we get there by 5:00pm for the reception. Traffic on 95, however, had other ideas. We did make it to the Ivy League campus in time, registered then made our way to the Commons Room on the Divinity School Campus. (This room by the way has the best acoustics I have ever experienced in my life) We walked into the room and saw about 6 people, a table of light food and the all important drink table with three varieties of beer.

Being an introvert I looked at people and tried to imagine what they were doing here and why. After a few moments of sitting with my friend the extroverts began to find us. Why is it that 'they' think I need someone to talk to?

After three rounds of conversing with extroverts the conference began. Miroslav Volf was the evening's keynoter and the main reason I went. I have never heard him nor really read anything by him so I reckoned a trip to hear him was well worth it.

Volf's speech was okay, not ground breaking or earth shattering. After his speech there was the usual question and answering (read, folk trying to sound intelligent while most of the time dont make much sense). After the q&a I went up to Volf and to tell him that in person he is much bigger than in book form. He shook my hand, thanked me and that was that. (I believe he is about 6'2" easily.

Now on the topic at hand: Continuing Ed Event. I believe that Yale event was a good one on the planing side:good speakers, good workshops, and I suppose good music (we left Thursday night and didnt go back). Like most events the majority of folk are either in their fifties or they are 2nd careerers, or mesmerized with their own Episcopalian essence.

I would like an event such as the one planned at Yale but with a precondition that the clergy have to be under 40 and that only clergy can attend. I know that sounds a bit pretentious but I think it is vital and sound.

17 May 2007

Mixing Metaphors

While in the pulpit last week I had a feeling of awareness that I could not for the life of me figure out. There I was alone, with everyone looking at me. No one behind me. Where else had I experienced that feeling. Then it came to me: catching.

Somewhere along the way when I was ten years old the coaches thought I should be a catcher (read "husky" {what a terrible word} and slow). So I got my gear on and began to learn how to catch. I was a sub par catcher for the rest of my life. Although later on I was muscular and over 200lbs I had no arm. I could bench press 275lbs but couldnt throw runner out at 2nd base. Nevertheless, I liked catching. I had free reign to call the pitches, moved players according to where I thought the hitter would place the ball, even sometimes made a play at the plate.

As a catcher you see the game from a different perspective no one else can. You squat, angle is different; you face the field, everyone else faces the plate; and you have equipment on no one else does.

The Times article on Jorge Posada got me thinking even more about the similarities of preaching and catching.

In the pulpit you see the congregation as no one else does, usually the preacher is elevated and usually only the preacher faces the congregation; in the pulpit you place your words where you hope they will find expectant ears; and more than likely you are the only one wearing equipment that no one else has on.

I hope I am a better preacher than catcher. I never worked on my craft as a catcher. I never went down to the field and threw a 100 balls to 2nd; I never watcher films of Tony Pena; I never asked for help. As a preacher though I realize that if I am going to do this for another (lets see I am 32, hope to retire when I am 60, 60 minus 32 is - 10 from 2 is 8 drop the 6 to 5 then five from three is 2) 28 years I had better work on my craft.

That brings me to The Actor Speaks: Voice and the Performer by Patsy Rodenburg. I have a tendency for my voice to drop off at the end of sentences when I preach. My first line of improvement was to have a script in front of me for every sermon. Reason: I tend to read stronger when I have a script in front of me, which makes me more relaxed which eases tension which allows my breath to flow stronger and project my voice in a beefier fashion. Just a script, however, aint enough. I need to also work on my voice.

A few years ago while driving somewhere I was listening to Fresh Air. Terry was interviewing Patsy Rodenburg, a voice coach in England. I was amazed at her work and thought, aha here is a book for me. So I went out and purchased it. But like all bibliophiles I seldom read the books I purchase. Yesterday, however, I picked it up and am starting to read it again. Take a look at this:

Through physical work and special exercises the actor (read preacher) aims:
  • to release all useless tension which trap the breath and the voice;
  • to locate the real source of energy in order to support the voice and the word;
  • to find the vital 'centre' or the balance of the body which we can define as a state of readiness and a place of maximum physical and voice freedom;
  • to enter into a heightened physical state that will carry and support a heightened dramatic text;
  • to transform or characterize the body but stay free enough to use the voice;
  • to acquire status or ownership of the body and the space. We know long before someone speaks whether we will listen to him or her. We know as soon as an actor (preacher) walks onto the stage (into the pulpit) where she or he will engage us. (p. 14-15)
I like that approach to preaching.

I once heard that Jonathan Edwards used to preach with the text in front of his face, but his words were so powerful people "heard" them. I used to think that as long as my words were good then it didnt matter how I preached. But think about the possibility of a strong voice and a strong words; something to say allied with a way to say it. The best memory I have of this is Barack Obama's speech at the 2004 DNC. Something to say and a way to say it.

In regards to a way to say it... Reading Like a Writer (now in paperback) by Francine Prose (that has to be a made up name a writer whose last name is prose, come on.) More on the construction of good sentences later.

What do you do with all that Rhubarb?

Yesterday after going to the bank I stopped by the market and picked up two cans of pineapple (I got the chunk kind, shoulda got the crushed variety). Went home cut up some stalks of rhubarb, poured in the can of rhubarb (actually #2 poured it in) then let the mixture sit overnight in the frig. This morning I put the mixture in a pot, turned the over to medium heat and stewed it for about 25 minutes (till the rhubarb fell apart). After my bowl of granola I treated myself to a cup of the rhubarb/pineapple.

Well, no need for coffee this morning - the rush of tartness jolted my teeth and woke me up. Sure, I'll have it tomorrow. #1 liked, the first lady didnt care for it too much.

10 May 2007

Out of Control

Apparently, last week, I was on a bacon high. This week when the wife went to the grocery store she bought a 1 and a 1/2 lbs of bacon. I think my world is a little disoriented when the bacon amounts to at least 15-20% of our weekly grocery bill.

Speaking of out of control, yesterday I paid a visit to the New England Mobile Book Fair on my way to the ANTS library. I had heard of the place from advertising, no thats right it npr they call it underwriting. At first I thought it was some kind of school age kids book shop for teachers and such. Nope. As soon as I walked through the doors I knew I was in book heaven. I was grabbing books left and right like I was on some kind of Price is Right one minute shopping spree. After the initial rush wore off I settled on just a few. Books pack every nook and cranny of the building, all books are 20% off while remainders are slashed to about $4.00. The books are organized by publisher, then by title - a little odd but it worked just fine for me.
Here is a map of the place, amazing:

08 May 2007

From the Not a Clue Department

This weekend I gave someone some honey in thanks for a favor. #1 gave it to the husband, she told him what it was and he asked if she made it. Then I explained to the wife who was sitting near us that if the honey crystallizes just stick it in the microwave. She held the jar up to her cheek and commented that it was still warm (as if it had just come out of the oven). Oh brother. Amazing that folk dont know where the food comes from or how it is made.

now a story from a few years ago...After the professor's prolegomenon for the Intro to Biblical Literature class he opened the class to ask him anything they wanted to about the bible. One dude on my dorm floor, his parents were successful lawyers and influential WV Democrats in the Caperton administration, raised his hand and asked where it was in the bible that said it is easier for an eagle to go through the eye of a moose....

and now a story on me. This morning I read this headline from the BBC news.
Later, the traditional "Kirking" of the Scottish Parliament is to take place at St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh with Prince Charles in attendance.

I haven't a clue what that means, not for sure i want to know either.

07 May 2007

Let Your Garden Grow

Rhubarb, out of control.
You can order asparagus roots and plant them. Or you can grow them from seed (adds a year to the process). I ordered a 100 seeds a few years back and planted them in a seed bed. Then a kid (not one of ours) stepped on them, then once they made it to the garden the bunnies and deer ate them. This is all I have left:
I was able to till up the garden beds. I am especially proud of the first one. It is perfect, ages manure, peat moss, and organic material. It is so fluffy and soft I dont even want to plant anything in it.#2 helped me put some wild cherry limbs in the ground for the peas to vine around.I went out to the hive and added the super. The bees are crazy this time. Wow.You may see this field of dandelions as a nucance, but I dont. One, the pilgrims brought them over as a green. But to me they are colorful and bees love 'em. People often ask me what type of flowers should they plant for the bees. I tell them dandelions. Bees are lazy, they like to get the greatest amount of nectar with the least amount of effort.Finally, while walking around the hive I noticed the emergence of Jack In the Pulpits. What a wildflower to be growing in the parsonage yard...

A Weekend Report: Living in a Marshmallow World

The weekend went well. The Derby Pie was delicious as was the mint julep I made (mint from the garden, rye whiskey, and sugar syrup). The concert was a sellout, 126 in attendance!

T-Ball, the girl did great. I took my assumed position at second base. I point where second is and instruct them onto third. I encourage them to throw the refrigerator off their backs as they run from first to second. I also ask them what they had for breakfast to make them run so fast and when the play the field I ask them if their gloves are hungry (so their gloves will eat the balls.)
#1 at Bat:Here is me in a very descriptive photo essay on my job as second base adult:

On Sunday, a cool day we went outside:
to play in the sand
To swing
to eat smores
and live in amarshmallow world

06 May 2007

Peace Sunday

Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream
words and music by Ed McCurdy

Last night I had the strangest dream
I'd ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war

I dreamed I saw a mighty room
Filled with women and men
And the paper they were signing said
They'd never fight again

And when the paper was all signed
And a million copies made
They all joined hands and bowed their heads
And grateful pray'rs were prayed

And the people in the streets below
Were dancing 'round and 'round
While swords and guns and uniforms
Were scattered on the ground

Last night I had the strangest dream
I'd never dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war.

TRO-©1950,1951 & 1955 Almanac Music, Inc.
New York, N.Y. Copyrights renewed
Used by permission

05 May 2007

No Clever Title

Coffee: Narragansett Blend from Coffee Exchange.

Baking: Bake two Derby Pies (one with Rye Whiskey, one without - one for the house one for the concert). I know Bourbon, but I like the liveliness of Rye.

T-Ball: game #3. I have unofficially evolved into the parent who stands at second base letting the kids know where 2nd base is and to remind them to go onto third. The coach went and made hats for the players; i'll give him some honey today as thanks.

Garden: need to thin down the tomato plants. They are at the second leaf stage.

Reading: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. I think this is the best one volume vegetarian cookbook on the market. We have been checking it out forever, then finally bought it from Overstock.com for a good price and small shipping.

Listening: Daddy Raised a Boy by Scott Miller and the Commonwealth.

Sermon: On Worship, why we do it, the promise of it and what can happen.

The House: Is under contract and will be sold by June 4th, if all goes well.

Big Excitement: Bulldozer across the street landscaping the new lot!

Tonight: Concert at Church, third of the series - will be a sell out with probably over 125 in attendance.

Commercial Rip Off: Over 3,400 dead
Over 25,000 wounded
Over 100,000 civilians dead
Country in massive debt
Energy policy with no future
Great Distrust of Politicians

The Price of being Stubborn and refusing to admit a mistake: Priceless.

01 May 2007

A Cooked Breakfast

A few years ago I was eating breakfast at James Brown's Place with some friends when I noticed a man, middle aged, hung-over, unkempt (later learned he was a priest at a downtown Episcopal parish) who carried with him Death in Holy Orders by PD James. My friends were talking about the book so I decided to check it out when I returned home to WV. I put my name on the waiting list at the Princeton Public Library and about two months later was able to read it.

It was the first murder mystery I had ever read and it hooked me. Now I am somewhat controllably possessed with English murder mysteries. Currently I am reading Ian Rankin works. But James is still queen.

Anyway, one fun pick up from reading these works is the reference to British fare. James in The Lighthouse spent a full page on the breakfast of one gentleman. She described it as a cooked breakfast of sausage, eggs, bacon and toast friend in the leftover bacon grease. I have yet to do this but it is high on the list for this weekend.

Yesterday I placed the bacon steaks on the frying pan and tenderly cared for them till they were done. Verdict: too much like ham. Now dont get me wrong I love fried ham for breakfast but I had the expectation of bacon. I coupled this with two fried eggs (yes, I always use the left over bacon grease, and one slice of toast). The eggs were store bought and terrible. Once you have fresh eggs all the rest are crap. The shells are too thin, whites too runny and the yolks never have the proper carotene color. But till the Dominiques come and start producing they will have to do...

This morning Arts and Letters Daily directed me to this article on some major cooked breakfasts.