Thought for the New Year

December 31, 2008

From the essay “Do Not Lose Heart”, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by persevering on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails….

We are needed, that is all we can know….

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.  Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely.  It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.  What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing…

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul.  Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times.  The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire.  To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others, both, are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.  Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it.  If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

And, I believe, this is all we can do. What we can. Our best. Pushing ourselves to love when it is hard, to be kind, to try to be just, to speak up when we feel called. And to encourage each other in this, with understanding and strength.

On to 2009.

Much peace,
Elizabeth


The Rick Warren Bru-ha-ha

December 20, 2008

I am of two minds on the Rick Warren matter.

My first reaction is to say, “Look, I don’t like the guy either. I don’t agree with his theology. I don’t agree with his politics. But it isn’t like he was chosen to be the minister-in-chief or something. He is giving an invocation. I know it has a lot of symbolic meaning, but it doesn’t have any practical consequences in and of itself. It is a gesture of the president elect to say, ‘I am not a president only to progressives or to liberals, but a president to the whole country.’ And, there are big parts of the country that can identify with Rev. Rick Warren. And, as conservative evangelical pastors go, he is one of the less offensive ones who has at least made some overtures toward changing the tone of the rhetoric. My hope is that it is a gesture that will soften the hearts of those who would tend to be more opposed to Obama and his policies. It will not solve many problems, but it is a gesture of unity, which people are always talking about. You know, one country, working out our differences and that sort of thing. By saying all of this, I don’t mean to say that I don’t understand why people don’t like it. Heck, I don’t like it either. But I see it as a strategic move that may help in the long run with things that matter more than who gives the invocation at the inauguration.” (It is of course another matter whether there should be invocations and benedictions at inaugurations anyway.)

That said, it occurred to me how often discrimination against women or the GLBTQ community can often be chalked up to theology, while few people will stand for discrimination against ethnic minorities chalked up to theology. I try to imagine if someone gave the invocation that said that they still supported slavery based on theology. Or that women should obey thier husbands based on theology (heck, Warren may agree with the second of those statements). What would it mean to have someone give the invocation as a gesture of unity and goodwill who was known to support legalized discrimination against women – that they should get paid less, that rape should be less of a crime, that they should not have inheritance rights? Hmm. No matter how symbolic or strategic that would be, I would be feeling really unhappy about this. So then I started rethinking what I said above.

And now I just don’t know. The thing is, so many of these difficult issues are totally intrackable. “We” dig in our heals. “They” dig in their heels. We write on our blogs about why we are right. We affirm each other at our churches about why we are right. We are smug. We know whose side God is on. And where does this get us? What is the way forward toward better understanding each other, finding common ground to work on together, even, dare I say it, finding areas where compromise makes sense. I am not talking about any particular issue, but rather all of these very intense social and political issues that are so close to our hearts – all of our hearts – and where it seems so difficult to move forward.

I’m guessing having Rick Warren give the invocation at the inauguration isn’t the answer. But I wish we could come up with a better one that just insisting on how right and just we are and getting offended and indignant. Not that I am somehow immune to this. I do it to. But there must be a better way…


Links to good holiday recipes

December 18, 2008

I am doing this mostly because my mom is visiting and is a good cook and will cook whatever I ask her too. Isn’t that great? And I want to compile a list of good things she can make, or, if I am up to it, that I can assist her in making. She and my sister are super-cooks, and I am a pathetic delinquent that can make some things well enough, but I am not really that good and certainly not fancy stuff (although better than, ahem, my lovely and wonderful partner who has cooked almost NONE in his whole life, but always has lots of “advice” to give about how he can “help” me cook better – so good at the theory of things!).

So these are some recipes I have gathered for us to maybe try. Maybe you will find something fun too! Happy Holidays!

Cheesy Rice from VeganYumYum. I am interested to see if the cheese is at least somewhat cheesy-ish. Vegan cheese in one area where there is more work to be done in the vegan test kitchen. Maybe this is the answer! I ate this when I was little and it was a big hit.

Crispy hash browns via VeganYumYum. Thank you. I hate mushy ones. I know this doesn’t seem like a holiday food, but think how impressed your family will be with these puppies when you make them for breakfast one morning as a surprise!

Tahini Lemon Rice and Beans via VeganYumYum. There is kale in this which is a very good vegetable to eat. Extra good for you.

Crispy Sweet and Sour Seitan or Crispy Sweet and Sour Tofu which is supposedly a close remake of The Grasshopper‘s No Name (via VeganYumYum). If this tastes anything like sweet and sour chicken that ate in my pre-vegetarian days, then I am psyched to try this. I always try ordering things like this at Chinese restaurants but then I can only eat the crust of the tofu or seitan because the inside is too mushy. Maybe this will recipe will fix that. (Looking at the Tofu recipe, I would suggest smaller chunks of tofu if you want them to be less mushy on the inside, as I prefer.)

Baked Sundried Tomato Risotto with Balsamic reduction via VeganYumYum.

Gnocchi with Thyme Vinaigrette and Lemon Cashew Cream via VeganYumYum. Wow, this looks really involved. If you know a gnocchi you like, I would buy that and then make the sauce. But for you cookish people that like to make everything from scratch, this is the whole recipe.

Super Quick Tomato Basil Cream Pasta via VeganYumYum

Well. I wanted to find more from around the internet, but got caught up looking at every VeganYumYum recipie. Maybe more when I decide I need to procrastinate on final papers some more! I also wanted to include some of my favorite recipes but I always just estimate on the ingredients based on looking up four or five different version of the recipe online. And I wonder why I am not that successful as a cook??

One more addition!

Recipes from the Bradford Community Church

I have printed out the recipe book from Bradford Community Church Unitarian Universalist which is available as a pdf here. It was created for Thanksgiving dishes, but works great for all of the fall and winter if you ask me. Here are all the recipes that are in that book. Mmmm. Makes me hungry just reading over them.

Main Dishes
Butternut Squash with Whole Wheat, Wild Rice and Onion Stuffing
Harvest Stuffed Acorn Squash
Hot Tamale Pie
Pueblo Corn Pie
Thanksgiving Loaf
Thanksgiving Tort
Three Sisters Stew
Chili Roast Potatoes and Seitan
Walnut Loaf with Burgundy Sauce
Oven Roasted Tom Tofu Cutlets
Layered Seitan Vegetable Dinner
Shitake Pot Pie with Polenta Crust

Side Dishes
Mushroom Medley
Baked Sweet Potatoes and Onions
Baked Glazed Onions
Green Bean Paté
Pumpkin Apple Nog
Lemon Kale Sauté
Baked Sweet Potatoes and Apples
Scalloped Corn
Cranberry Apple Relish
Maple and Tarragon Sweet Potatoes
Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary
Glazed Baked Onions
Cranberry Chutney
Wine-Glazed Brussel Sprouts
French Beans with Walnut Garlic Oil
Roasted Fennel and Walnuts
Aztec Platter
Baked Stuffed Onions

Stuffings, Unstuffed
Walnut Apple Stuffing
Old Fashioned Potato-Bread Stuffing
Sourdough Stuffing with Pine Nuts and Raisins

Desserts
Pie Crust
Apple Pie
Easy Vegan Squash or Pumpkin Pie
Vegan Cheesecake
Cranberry-Apple Crisp
Pear and Apple Crumble
Lemon Bundt Cake


A Hard Winter for Animals

December 16, 2008

Here is an article in the Globe that deals with the issue of shelters being overrun (and adoptions being down) due to the economy. This relates to my post just a few days ago about little ways that you can help shelters struggling during this time.


On the question: Can you be a person of faith and a feminist?

December 16, 2008

Wow. There is a post over at www.feministing.com, a third-wave feminist blog which I tend to really like (although the style is not always exactly my style), titled Can you love God and feminism? I was a little shocked by the title, but thought that perhaps it was simply meant to be provocative.

Um, I think it was actually serious. And even if it wasn’t meant to be serious, many readers are taking it that way. The post is about a very conservative brand of Christianity that is very sexist, and then somehow asks, from that, if feminism and loving God are somehow incommensurable. I think the author of the post does not really think this, but also has not thought out (well-enough) the implications of her framing. It leaves open the door for the worst framings of Christians and feminists… Christians who must somehow be incapable of valuing equality and the full humanity of all people, or feminists who are somehow incapable of connecting with or unwilling or uninterested in the divine. I feel like to ask, “Can you love God and love feminism?” is like asking, “Can you love men and be a feminist?” Or “Are all feminists feminazis?” It is just a bad way to frame the question that doesn’t do justice to the complexity of the issues or people involved.

As someone whose job and studies as a doctoral student and, you know, like my entire life calling, is, in many ways, at the intersection of feminism and faith, reading many of the comments was like a huge punch in the stomach. I suppose it is good. A good reality check. A good time to reach out to people. A good encouragement to post more about this on my own blog.

I encourage those of you who are are feminists of faith to include your voices in the comments over at the post on feministing. You have to register once in order to comment, but it only takes a second. There are so many posters on there who have clearly been convinced by more conservative parts of religion, particularly Christianity, that the patriarchal versions of Christianity are somehow all there is of it. There are likewise rather naive framings of Paul and Jesus and the bible as all totally feminist friendly. Oh, is there outreach work to be done. What surprises me so much is so many self-identified feminist posters who are so dismissive of the experiences of people who are feminists and people of faith. Like just totally excluding them as valid, dismissing them as “duped” or tricked or just wrong. How very unfeminist.

One question that someone posted that perhaps readers here could help with is: Does anyone have suggestions on where to get your feminist Christian fix? I’ve been trying to find some sort of blog or magazine or anything, and I know there’s a lot of academic work out there, but is there anything a bit more…I don’t know, enjoyable to consume?

Sadly (I need to remedy this) I am much more familiar with the academic work, and not more popular stuff. Anyone have any ideas?


A Free Way to Help Others This Holiday Season

December 14, 2008

(Scroll down for bolded text to get to the gist of this message! And the free way to help…)

So, no-kill (and probably those that also euthanize animals) are being totally overrun in recent months. As people struggle to feed and care for the human members of their families and lose their homes, they are increasingly unable or unwilling to care for their animal companions. Donations are down to shelters. It is harder and hard to adopt cats and kittens OUT to families to make room for more (we have had four kittens since April that we cannot find suitable homes for). There is no room at the “inn” at all for many animals, but also no manger for them either. It is so difficult to watch for those that run and volunteer for these shelters that already operate on a shoestring budget and zillions of unpaid hours by people who really and truly give up big parts of a normal existence in order to care for abandoned animals. We do a little bit, but it is really quite little.

Of course, it is hard for many of us to give more money or time. But, for those that do Chrsitmas shopping online, there are ways to funnel a bit of money to these organizations. Animal Umbrella is a shelter in Revere, MA that kindly took three 15 year old cats from us that we rescued from a woman’s house who left town and left her five cats behind to freeze to death (you might remember reading about it a few years ago on this blog). We found a home for one of the kitties, kept for a year and a half Marisol the attack cat who was finally adopted by a kind and loving woman in New Hampshire who wanted to rescue an otherwise unrescuable kitty, and Animal Umbrella took J.R., Goldie and Mama Calico even though they were already truly overun by cats in a small area. Of course, you can imagine it is hard to find homes for very elderly cats. Someone from the shelter actually adopted them shortly after they moved in because they were so sweet.

Anyway, I realized that Animal Umbrella has a link to amazon.com on their website where they get a small percentage of all of our amazon purchases, and this is where we buy significant portions of our books (we buy a lot of books, as a student and professor) and we also buy many Christmas gifts here.

I bookmarked this link which automatically always links directly to amazon but with the code of the Animal Umbrella so they get some of (y)our purchases. So there is no extra work to do. Also, if you shop at other places online, you can register for igive here and part of your purchase price will go to Animal Umbrella. This lovely shelter operates on such a shoestring that seriously cents matter. So don’t think it doesn’t make a difference! This shelter is especially sweet in that they just can’t say no even if they are out of room. Which is sweet, but also causes a host of other challenges, so they are particularly in need of help.

If you feel like writing a check or gifting someone with a donation to a shelter, we volunteer for Second Chance Shelter in Jamaica Plain, MA and this is another small shelter all-volunteer run (just like Animal Umbrella) that is truly amazing. The person who runs the shelter really has dedicated her life (and her house – she turned her house into a shelter when she married/moved in with her husband) to loving and saving cats.

You can send donations, litter coupons, litter, toys, cat medicine, towels, food, to: Second Chance Shelter, 675 VFW Parkway #266, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467.

Anyway, just some thoughts. I have meant for a while to post something about Heifer International, and will do so soon enough. As you can tell from my lack of blogging, things have been a little hectic lately.

Happy Holidays, all! E

p.s. If you know of other good ways to “donate” without actually paying anything (i.e. clicking through or registering or whatever) feel free to leave in comments.

p.p.s. Isn’t is strange that wordpress spell check flags the word blogging as misspelled? You would think they would add that to the dictionary.