Archive for June, 2010

Summer Suppers and Questionable Quotes

   “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” or so penned some dyslexic copywriter in that 70’s public service announcement, thus driving my grammar-conscious father mad with frustration.  While I would agree that to waste one’s intellect is appalling, I rather think the mind can be a weird and wonderful apparatus.  In my case trending toward weird, as when I get an out-of-nowhere quote stuck in it, setting off an inexplicable flash through neural pathways that seem to have little connection to one another.

A recent example is the clever Charles Dudley Warner quote cited in a lecture by Mark Twain, “Everybody complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it.”  This lodged itself in my thoughts during a recent rainy spell and set me to imagining what it would be like if God got bored and handed the weather-management assignment off to a human being.  Who would possibly qualify for that responsibility? 

Or (flash) what if every one of us possessed that power?  Here my intra-cranial movie screen projects an image of each of us walking around in our own little sub-climate bubbles, everyone indulging in their own idea of ideal.  We might never get enough accumulated rain to avoid parching, and then there would be all of those mini tornadoes whenever one person’s bubble of warm and dry bumped up against the next guy’s pocket of cool and wet. 

The current arrangement certainly makes more sense:  If you like dry heat, there’s Phoenix.  Prefer distinct seasonal changes?  Try Minnesota or Illinois.  Dreams of a tropical paradise?  Move to Hawaii or even Samoa.  Cool and remote?  Alaska, of course.  Eventually my fanciful flight touches down on the reasonable conclusion that I should stop, already, with the “complaining about it” and adapt.  I put on a water-repellant hat and rediscover the childhood joy of walking in the rain, and later, as things get steamy,  plop a roast into the crock pot and watch the neighbor’s dog dive into her own inflatable kiddie pool. 

With the air conditioner circulating dehumidified air and no heat emanating from the kitchen, our dinner of Loin Pork Roast with Onions and Sweet Potatoes, and sides of Sauteed Bok Choy with Sugar Snap Peas, Cucumber and Tomato Salad, and  Raspberry-Nectarine Five Grain Muffins goes down just fine.  We finish the meal with our own cool splash in the form of Slabs of Chilled Watermelon, and think ahead to a leisurely evening stroll in whatever conditions the Master Meteorologist doles out to us.  No complaints; I promise.  (more…)

June 25, 2010 at 5:30 pm Leave a comment

Holey Bible vs. Holy Bible

   Here’s a comment you’re not likely to hear around the water cooler:  Let’s talk some more about the Good Book.  I’ll walk you back to the last “Advice” blog where you were introduced to Getting Acquainted with the Bible, by Martin Hegland, which I discovered tucked away in my collection a few weeks ago.    

That same session of letting my fingers do some walking across dusty basement bookshelves turned up another interesting title, The Jefferson Bible.  I had given this (according to a reviewer) “odd and fascinating document” to my father in the 90s because, at a glance, it sounded like good fodder for discussion.  Reading the cover flap and the introduction today has left me stunned and distressed.   

I should first say that in my teens and twenties I was surrounded by religious skeptics.  In my college years I allowed myself to be caught up in that net of human arrogance which insists that everything worth grasping is entirely explainable in a tangible way, so I understand the defensive reflexes by which agnostics scoff at the notion of Divine Mysteries knowable only to a Creator God and at the concept of unseeable forces moving among us, influencing our hearts and minds.  And by definition an atheist will reject the very possibility that the Bible is the true Word of God. 

This I accept.  But I can’t make sense of professed Christians’ failure to comprehend that a God capable of Creation – think of it:  by the sheer power of His Word, in a mere six days, the spinning, out of nothingness, of the full fabric of existence; of material entities of every nature, from the one-celled amoeba resting on the ocean’s floor to the supervolcanoes of Yellowstone and North Sumatra – is equally capable of inspiring and preserving His Words of instruction for mankind.  That I find baffling. 

When news drifts about of church bodies setting aside those portions of scripture that might cause squirming in the pews, I am flabbergasted.  Once we have carved away all the “outdated” bits, which portions shall we then believe?  Can any of what’s left be Truth if the excised chunks are discardable at whim? 

Any section of the New Testament which troubled Thomas Jefferson apparently received just such treatment in his redacted version the story of Christ’s life.  The publisher notes, in an alarming case of situational irony, that Jefferson (more…)

June 21, 2010 at 4:04 pm 1 comment

Frankfurter Fantasies and Quick Quiche

   Sensory memory.  For me, that concept translates to strolling by a grammar school cookout in June, 2010, and being engulfed by multiple vivid sensations, a surge of yearning swelling my chest.  Dramatic, perhaps, but this passing exposure to youthful laughter and romping third graders transported me right back there

With the snap of a mental shutter, I could see my eight-year-old self scuttering along in my little blue, knife-pleated cotton skorts, gleefully hopping onto the child-propelled park merry-go-round; with the whiff of grilling Oscar Mayers, I could sense that great mushy fluff of bun filling my mouth and feel the pop of the hot dog skin against my teeth, spilling rich, juicy goodness and the sting of yellow mustard onto my tongue, soon followed by the substantial crunch of a cascade of curly Fritos from my own little personal chip bag.  Later, maybe a  Hostess Twinkie® or a banana Popsicle® for dessert. 

I used to cherish the specialness of such a break from the yearlong routine, and today a warm flush creeps over me just contemplating the multiple joys of picnic food and sweet anticipation captured in that last-day-of-school outing.  Being blessed with a greater understanding of nutrition and a body that has acquired its own wisdom, I doubt that I’d find the same innocent pleasure in those fondly remembered treats now.  But I do rush home from my walk and grill up a nice chunk of smoked turkey sausage, slap it on an Ezekiel bun slathered with dijonnaise, and throw some carrot sticks and radishes on the plate for that requisite complementary crunch.  Add a mound of simple Three-Bean Salad, and my grown-up palate is saturated with satisfaction.  Yogurt-Dipped Frozen Bananas could serve as an updated dessert. 

Meanwhile, the combined lifetime habits of word-association and multi-tasking soon lead me back to the future to devise the perfect after-church brunch menu for a beloved former pastor and his (equally beloved) wife, which I offer to you as a reward for having indulged me in my hazy ramble through a snippet of childhood.  We’ll start with a Sausage and Cheese Two-Way Quiche, then add Broccoli Salad, a big bowl of Cubed Apples with Grapefruit and Orange Sections, and to round things out, Squash-Sweet Potato Bake and Toasted Whole Wheat Bagels.  And for the reformed Twinkie eaters in the group, Whole Grain Banana-Pear Date Cake.  See; being a grown-up can be fun, too. (more…)

June 14, 2010 at 4:18 pm Leave a comment

America’s Future: Glory or Profound Obscurity

   The other day I plucked a volume from my collection of older titles, Getting Acquainted with the Bible, by Martin Hegland, Ph.D., copyright 1936.  The book’s introductory chapter includes quotes supporting the thesis that understanding scripture is “an intriguing prospect,” and range from Henry Ward Beecher’s insistence that, “Religion is but the expression of man’s deepest and noblest nature,” to John Quincy Adams’ assertion, “The first and almost the only book deserving of universal attention is the Bible.” 

Dr. Hegland’s comments reminded me that I have long been dismayed by forces in contemporary secular society which strive to re-frame the concept of “freedom of religion” – an energizing principal for our country’s founding fathers – as if the original yearning had been to establish an American culture guaranteeing “freedom from religion.”  Historical documentation shows this to be false, but the movement gathered great momentum in the jadedly “sophisticated,” intellectualized post-World War II era.  That “old time religion” was, as it turned out, no longer “good enough” for many of grampa’s progeny.  (more…)

June 6, 2010 at 8:32 pm Leave a comment

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