Spaghetti Squash with Homemade Marinara, Zucchini and Artichoke Hearts--4/2/18

Homemade Gourmet!

This dish was so rich, complex and fresh.  It was amazing!  We made it for dinner last night.  We worked off of this recipe, but we veganized it and used spaghetti squash instead of pasta.

Farmer's Market Pasta 

 

To veganize it, we just left out the pork and parmesan.  I must say, I know as a vegan I am biased, but I did used to love meat and cheese--what we made was so rich and delicious, I am not sure why one would want to add meat.  I feel like I have not given anything up in becoming a vegan.  In fact, I feel like I have gained a new universe, as my palate has been able to appreciate more subtlety and the rich diversity of plant based life.   The fresh tomato gravy for this dish was wonderful.

 

To use spaghetti squash as the pasta:  Cut a spaghetti squash in half, either by length or width.  Drizzle "flesh" with olive oil and salt.  Roast in oven at 400 degrees for 45-50 minutes (until flesh begins to brown slightly).  Remove and scrape out spaghetti to serve and plate.

 

Enjoy!

Garam Masala Daal--3/26/18

Amazing Daal

Last night Pappy made this Garam Masala Daal while listening to the Milk Carton Kids.

Milk Carton Kids

They are great to cook with--sort of a millenial Simon & Garfunkel.

We ate the Daal over brown basmati rice.  I used this recipe as a jumping board:

Daal Recipe

However, it was just a jumping board for Pappy.  Instead of sweet potatoes, I used russet potatoes.  I also used kale instead of spinach, and I didn't include eggplants.  We also had half a can of chipotle peppers left over from making Southwestern Hash, so I included those.   It worked!  Our goal in simple vegan living is eat good healthy food--but also to be creative in using what we have in the kitchen so that we only go to the grocery store once per week, and we keep expenses down.  Such living keeps a family detached from the ways of the world, and reduces one's part in the consumer drive creating wealth inequality and climate change.  Activism is not just screaming in the streets.  The most lasting activism comes from how one exists in the world.

 

 

  • Southwest Tofu Hash

    While the root vegetable and squash mix was roasting (see to the right), we made the hash in a sauce pan on the stove top. We glistened the pan with olive oil. We broke up two packages extra firm tofu into the pan with our hands so that it created a crumble. We then chopped peppers, oninons, carrots, cilantro, and garlic. We then added half a can of chipotle peppers. Then came the spices--tumeric, cumin, salt, smoked paprika and cayenne (about a tsp of each to taste). Finally, we added chopped fresh kale. After cooking this for about a half hour in the pan, we added the roasted veggies, and cooked for another 15-20 minutes. It was wonderful, hearty and filling! Just like cookie used to make for the vegan cowboys out on the range! This recipe makes enough for dinner, breakfast or lunch for several days.

  • Roasted Veggies for Hash

    First we chopped and roasted the veggies for the hash. We chopped onions, carrots, pepppers, garlic, butternut squash, sweet potatos, and russet potatos. We greased the pans with olive oil and drizzled olive oil on top. We roasted for 45 minutes, and then added them to the hash in a pan on the stove top.

Vegan Coco Mint Oat Cocunut Muffins with a Kick--3/24/18

Saturday Baking!

Oh My God, these muffins were so good.  Pappy did some Saturday baking with a twist.  Make some muffins and get creative with what you got.  Pappy starts with this recipe:

Muffin Recipe

For todays offering, he used Spelt and Oat Flour instead of buckwheat.  He also added about a cup of shredded cococunt.  Instead of almond and vanilla extra, he added a tsp of mint extract.    For fruit, you can add whatever you have on hand.  He also added about a half cup of pure coco (no sweetener, no milk, etc.)   And, finally, he added about a tbsp of crushed hot red pepper.   Just enough to sneak up and kick you in the cheekbone at the end of the bite.  Wow, they were simply amazing!  Miss Debbie loved them too!  She said they were wonerfully complex.  Isn't complexity wonderful.  There is not enough of it in this world.

  • Irish Stew with Mash

    Hearty potato and kale mash with Irish stew, Ezekiel Bread, and a pappy salad special.

  • Pappy Salad

    Pappy made this vibrant salad from--spring mix lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, apple, cucumber, cilantro and hemp seeds. The dressing was hemp oil with soaked garlic (remove raw garlic before serving), salt, and crushed red pepper. After eating, spring was inside us, even with snow outside!

  • Fresh Breakfast

    We had this amazingly fresh breakfast at Small Graces B&B--apples and blueberries, Walnuts fried in garlic and spice, and sweet potatoe hash. It was wonderful!

  • Tiny House Interior

    This is a view of the second loft bedroom and below from the first loft bedroom--built by our friend Dean.

  • Vegan Hash

    Our friend Jen made this great and healthy vegan hash for breakfast--included applies, kale, cranberries and hemp seeds.

Tiny House Inside Tour

We are almost done building our Tiny House on ourf friends' Dean and Jen (and family) homesteader farm in upstate New York. This summer we will be staying there and helping our friends farm.

  • Zucchini Pasta

    Crisp zucchini pasta being sauted in olive oil, with garlic and pepper.  We used a spiralizer to create pasta from fresh zucchini.

  • Vegetable Bolognese

    She made me a pasta I couldn't refuse!  Miss Debbie made an amazing vegan bolognese sauce!  The cauliflower and walnuts uses for the sauce gave it a real meat texture and taste.  Foget about it!!  This pasta was amazing!!!! Miss Debbie left out the nutritional yeast and added 1/2 cup of white wine.  I used a piece of Ezekiel bread toast to sop up the gravy.  I was in heaven!

Shakespeare does Indian! (3/6/18)

Tamatar Chana Dal

Now this one warmed our bones and stuck to our ribs!  Vegan ain't for light weights.  

 

We made a yummy vegan Tamatar Chana Dal with wild rice. Filling potatoes and yellow split peas with wonderful indian spices.

 

Tamatar Chana Dal Recipe

  • Saturday Baking

    Pappy made muffins again today.

    https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/vegan-blueberry-buckwheat-muffins-52459951

  • Blueberry Almond Oat Spelt Muffin

    For these muffins, double the recipe, using spelt and amaranth flour instead of buckwheat flower, and add almonds, flax seeds and sunflower seeds (lots of yummy plant-based protein--going to the gym today!)

Vegan Red Lentil Stew (3/2/18)

The Cure for Wet Cold Weather

So, we had an icy and windy N'oreaster yesterday!  This red lentil stew really hit the spot, and warmed our bones!  

 

Red Lentil Stew Recipe

 

If you have never cooked with smoked paprika, please do.  It is amazing!  It is great for vegans like me, or anyone who loves meat, who is trying to cut down on meat, as the smoked flavor reminds the palate of the days of care free carnavorism.  We also boiled some wild rice to add to the stew to make it chunkier.

 

We are currently planning our menu for the week as we prepare to go to the store.  Looks like roasted red pepper spelt pasta and/or zucchini pasta with a bolognese sauce, made with beans instead of meat.  Come on over for dinner!

Blueberry Hemp Seed Salad w/ Substitutes (3/2/18)

3/2/18

Doesn't this salad just look amazing!  My mama sometimes reads this blog, so I have to be careful the language and metaphor I use, but when I eat plant-based foods like this with such diverse and colorful freshness, I get quite an ecstatic feeling running through my bones.  It's like the spirt of all creation is directly flowing through me! Anyway, for this salad, we had run out of the cucumbers called for by the receipe below, so we substituted carrot and celery crunchiness that we had on hand.   It worked!

Blueberry and Hemp Seed Salad With Garlic Hemp Oil Dressing (2/27/18)

Blueberry Hemp Salad

Last night we made this salad to eat with our Squash and Sage Risotto.  It was wonderful!  The blueberries added just a little sweetness, and the hemp and sunflower seeds added a nice crunch.  Here's my confession--I got the munchies right before bed, but do you know what I craved and ate?  The rest of the Hemp Salad!

Blueberry and Hemp Seed Salad Recipe

 

Garlic Hemp Oil Salad Dressing Recipe

 

 

Trailer for that Sugar Film

Extremely insightful film on the effects of sugar in the average western diet. I saw it on hulu. We are eating wait too much sugar, located in all processed foods. Excessive sugar is converted to fat on our bodies, and in our blood, leading to diabetes, heart disease, cancer.

There is no video clip yet

  • Risotto in Pot

    This Sunday (2/25/18) we made yummy Butternut Squash Barley Sage Risotto. (see link below for recipe).  We made enough for the whole week.  The flavors really popped (such as the sage and toasted pine nuts), it was really earthy, and very filling!

  • Sauteed Greens

    We sauteed kale and spinach that we had left over, in olive oil, with sliced garlic.  We like to make sure we get greens in every meal.  We added this to the risotto, even though not in the recipe.

  • Plated Risotto

    Shakespeare approves of the plating, although, to be honest, he preferss bangers and mash!  Poor guy has to live now in a vegan household, with a cat that always attacks him!

Butternut Squash Barley Sage Risotto Recipe

 

We learned the difference between pearled and hulled barley. The recipe calls for hulled barley, which we bought from the bulk section of the store.   Hulled is better than pearled, because it is less processed, and retains more nutrients.  In hulled barley, only the outer inedible layer is removed.  Hulled barley is considered a whole grain, while pearled barley is not.  The recipe also calls for cheese, which we did not add, being the crazy vegans that we are.  I mean, if we are going to cheat and have cheese (thou shall not commit adultery!), we are going to have it on pizza.  But I am telling ya'll, you really don't need cheese: the casein protein in cheese really helps cancer cells grow.

Saturday Baking

Vegan Carob Oat Cookies

We wanted a snack, and it was Saturday--we were tempted to eat out for a snack, but we wanted to stick to our simple living budget.  So we made cookies with ingredients in the house.  We used this recipe for vegan carob oat cookies.

Carob Oat Cookies

 

We substituted monkfruit sweetener for brown sugar to lower the suger impact.  Pappy makes things thick, and Miss Debbie thought the cookies were more like biscuits or scones--she has a point.  To be more like a traditional cookie, you can use brown sugar and flaten the dought out when you put it on the baking sheet.  You could also use chocolate instead of carob chips.

 

We also used spelt and amaranth flour instead of wheat flour.

 

But it was a very tasty treat.  Pappy ate several cookies--so he ate more than he as been eating--but he stuck to his low glycemic vegan diet, and he is scheduled to run five miles tomorrow!

 

 

Key to Weight Loss is Quality, not Quantity

100% farm to table salad from food grown by Pappy

The Key to Weight Loss is Diet Quality, Not Quantity, New Study Finds

 

This article describes what Pappy has found to be true.  Pappy has lost 31 pounds by developing a life style that reduces sugars, white flour, and even much whole wheat flour (and eliminates meat and dairy).   He and Miss Debbie eat almost exclusively food they have prepared themsleves from whole (unprocessed) foods.  Instead of wheat flour, they use oat flour, spelt, amaranth, buckwheat, rice, and other flours.  They use very little sweeteners (no sugar).  If they do use sweetener, they use monkfruit or agave.  They get all of their protein from seeds, nuts and grains.  The key to health and feeling good is to stop supporting massive food industries which are often supportive by government subsidy, and get as close as possible to the food creation source, by buying locally grown food, growing your own foods, and preparing as much of your own food as possible.

 

 

  • Tagine Veggies

    Chic peas, tomoatoes, kale, spinach, onions, garlic, carrots, onions, peppers and spices stewing in the pot.  Warning:  DO NOT TRY THIS IF YOU DON'T WANT TO FEEL HEALTHY AND CONNECTED TO CREATION AFTER EATING!

  • Moroccan Veggie Tagine

    Today we made vege Moroccan Tagine with corn polenta (grits) and corn muffins.  It was so amazing and flavorful!  The corn muffins used amarnth and spelt flour, polenta, and corn kernals.  See link below for tagine recipe and video.

Moroccan Tagine Recipe and Video

 

Pappy created the Tagine while listening to country blue grass folk music.  The vibe all worked together, as creative cooking and great music from the soul of the heartland, created an atmosphere freed from the bickerings of our world.  Check out the link below for the bands Maybe April and Mandoline Orange that Pappy was listening to.

 

Maybe April and Mandolin Orange

 

Culture War Pacifism, Gun Violence, and Patrick Deneen's Revolutionary Thought (2/20/18)

What do you call a political philosophy that identifies the locus of America’s current challenges as located in both a libertarian view of sexual mores, and in an unchecked greed for capitalistic consumption and acquisition, including a myopic need to dominate nature?  Is this republican or democratic?  Is it conservative, liberal, or perhaps socialist?  Refreshingly, the answer is none of the above.  Yet, this is the political philosophy offered by Patrick Deneen in his much discussed book Why Liberalism Failed.  Of course, in one sense such views are not revolutionary as they reflect the orthodox thought of the Catholic tradition from which Deneen emanates, including ideas espoused by Popes Francis, Benedict, and John Paul II, even though in America the first is considered liberal, and the latter two conservative.  And, as a reformed Christian, I would argue that such thought is also very consistent with New Testament Biblical values of the early church.  Yet, in our stringently dichotomized American context where culture wars dominate, and nuance and complexity are quashed or ignored, Deneen’s thought, at this moment, offers hope for culture war pacifists such as myself, who believe our only chance at healing lies outside what seem to be the sole two American options.

            Deneen views the challenge to the rule of law in the Trump presidency, the clouding of truth with noise, the discontent over inequalities caused by globalization, and the atomization leading to the breakdown of family structure and social institutions--not as a matter of which political party gains ascendency or which leader is in office--but as signs that the entire American social and political order are engrossed in deep pathology.  For Deneen, philosophical Liberalism's focus (the ideas undergirding both democratic and republican beliefs) upon individual liberty and autonomy, and its reverence for the market, has inevitably led to gross inequality and social breakdown, with a natural progression toward the grasping after anti-democratic authoritarian solutions.  For Deneen, the ethos of the American constitutional democracy, and the intellectual thought undergirding it, themselves have led to this very moment.  The sexual revolution and the centralization of economic power based upon globalized consumerism, have destroyed relational community, and have thus destroyed our primary means of supporting the development of self-governance.  We have increasingly become hedonistic creatures, living a false freedom in which we can express our anger and libido, consume, and click links at will, when in fact we are becoming increasingly enslaved to our lower human impulses.

           

Liberalism was thus a titanic wager that ancient norms of behavior could be lifted in the name of a new form of liberation and that conquering nature would supply the fuel to permit nearly infinite choices.  The twin outcomes of this effort—the depletion of moral self-command and the depletion of material resources—make inevitable an inquiry into what comes after liberalism (Deneen, p. 41).

 

            Yet, the means of this inevitability is where, perhaps, Deneen departs from traditional Catholic thought and exhibits his fascinating eclecticism (and it is perhaps this eclecticism which is misleading his critics).  Deneen does not portray republican and democratic power brokers serving the Prince of Darkness with a grand master plan to produce economic inequality, family dissolution, and community breakdown.  Instead the values and assumptions of the essence of individuals realized as free agents removed from culture, race, religion, and local context, permeate down to create beings that are unable to self-govern.  And, ironically, relates Deneen, because we are unable to self-govern, an expansion of government influence is necessary.

 

Thus, for liberal theory, while the individual “creates” the state through the social contract, in a practical sense, the liberal state “creates” the individual by providing the conditions for the expansion of liberty, increasingly defined as the capacity of humans to expand their mastery over circumstances.  Far from there being an inherent conflict between the individual and the state—as so much of modern political reporting would suggest—liberalism establishes a deep and profound connection: its ideal of liberty can be realized only through a powerful state (Deneen, p. 49).

           

 

Such theory of operationalized consequences almost seems to echo ideas of hegemonic cultural domination delineated by Italian socialist Antonio Gramsci, which describes the great prestidigitation of wealthy capitalists as socially constructing a cultural and political order which simultaneously disempowers the working class while convincing them that such order is natural and inevitable (boy, could we go off on a tangent here and apply this to the current American context, and using the culture wars to divide the black and white working class!)  Forgive me if this excites me too much.  For many opt-out culture war pacifists (not necessary one that believes violence is never justified, but instead one that is a conscientious objector in refusing to participate in the culture war) such as myself, we often describe ourselves as simultaneously so far to the left and so far to the right, that the far ends of the continuum bend down and touch each other while creating a circle (The New Testament, after all, both suggests common property ownership and condemns sex outside of marriage.  How un-American is that!)

 

To make this more concrete, let’s consider our latest American screaming match resulting from the horrible and tragic mass shooting in Parkland Florida.  Both sides of the culture war are, understandably, angered and fearful from this event (although perhaps not enough pure sadness?)  However, given that our nation really has only two cultural languages, with few bi-lingual citizens, the two sides of the war are speaking two radically different dialects in response.  Conservatives feel safer with more guns, as it allows the majority not prone to unjust violence to defend them-selves when no state actors are there to provide such defense.  Liberals feel safer with less guns, as they feel the violence is part of a “gun culture” in which the very ubiquity of guns leads to masculinity run amok, vengeance, and violent impulse.   Liberals are arguing for assault weapons bans to quell future acts of mass violence.  Conservatives yell back that criminals will obtain illegal guns just as criminals obtain illegal drugs, that the only defense for law-abiding citizens is to have guns themselves, and that the real problem is the breakdown of family, community, self-discipline, and church going.

 

The revelation that I am an existential alien on American soil is that I think there is logic on both sides of this argument.  Ultimately, the phenomenon of mass shootings is so complex that it seems to be an empirical issue, but the level of emotion and vitriol in the debate makes empirical inquiry impossible, just as reality and truth are becoming increasingly irrelevant throughout American society (will save for another time the argument that spirituality is our best hope for empiricism restoration).  But perhaps a Deneenian application can help us.  Perhaps the issue is not whether we will solve the problem through government regulation or whether limiting government will allow for individual liberty to solve the problem.  Perhaps government regulation and individual liberty are part of the same problem.  One application of this belief would be to listen more to each other, and to truly attempt solutions that would strengthen community, protect the freedom of law abiding citizens to defend themselves, and limit the possibilities that those with a high likelihood to commit harm could obtain a weapon of mass destruction.  If this solution does not seem that radical—the radical part would be that we would have to listen to each other and acknowledge that both sides have legitimate insights, in order to obtain such a solution.

 

I want to be clear, that this last application is mine, and I have no idea how Patrick Deneen approaches the issue of mass violence.  My main point is that cultural and political theory such as Deneen’s possesses the possibility to embrace culture war pacifism, to find commonality among all Americans, and build a healthier future which neither rejects our history and traditions as fatally flawed, nor uncritically seeks to return to a former period, but re-invents something new using the best of the past, while discarding past injustices (Contrary to Deneen critics such as Timothy Fuller, Deneen does not reject important achievements in our political ideals, but states that such ideals have inevitably led to our current situation.  See Deneen, p. 182).  Complexity is more challenging, but it also may lead to a softening around the edges, and it may allow the nuances that already exist to bubble up.  I have not seen two possible solutions in American among its people—I have seen at least 20.  Healing will take insights from all of these, but such insights will only be heard if we create room and pay attention to their expression.  For this to happen, we have to opt-out and become culture war pacifists.

Simple Living--Developing Rituals to Slow Down (2/18/18)

Power Oatmeal

Miss Debbie made this power oatmeal for breakfast this morning. (Yes, there is oatmeal under there!).  She purposely made steel cut oatmeal, as it took one hour to cook.  She got frustrated in waiting, but she wanted to be purposeful in developing rituals to help her slow down (the idea came from our meditation teacher Kerry and his partner Gauri).  As you can see, Miss Debbie adds lots of fruit for nutrients, includes no sugar, and adds chia seeds for vegan protein to help with her cross fit training.

  • Garnishes

    We made black bean soup for dinner (see recipe link below).  We added fresh tomotoes, avocado, lime, and cilantro as garnishes.

  • Shakespeare Approves!

    The soup was so amazingly flavorful!!!

  • The brigher the colors, the healthier the food!

    We added roasted butternut squash and sweet potatoes to the recipe for extra chunkiliciousness!

Photo by Thoroughly Reviewed, https://thoroughlyreviewed.com

Little Boys (2/15/18)

 

Assault Weapons. . .children. . .families

Always men.  Always men.

Hating others as they hate themselves.

Have they seen many personalities too?

Neither restrained by custom or loved as they.

Scared little boys.

Picking on others.

Internet Porn Ubiquity and the Decline of Masculinity

In his writing and vlog video teachigs, Pappy has described the crisis of masculinity in the United States.  We have lost an elevated image of masculine values based on gentleness, humility, commitment, hard work, and love.  There are still men holding down the fort, but increasinly the masculine norm is brutish, braggardly, and predatory.  This can be seen in our politial and pop culture sphere, as well as the local street corner.

 

Ross Douthat wrote an important opinion piece in the New York Times this week, titled Let's Ban Porn.  I applaud Douthat for challlenging the mainstream acceptance of the ubiquity of use of internet porn, in a country where polls have shown that 70% of men view online porn on a regular basis (30% of women). Douthat rightly mentions the recent exposure of predatory masculine behavior, and its connections to a culture of porn.  He also interistingly mentions previous movements of feminists and conservative Christians working together to pass anti-porn legislation (or how about, "pro-sanity").  When Pappy was in law school, he studied feminist legal theorist Catharine MacKinnon (don't all country boys study Catharine MacKinnon?), who argued that porn is rape, and should be legislated:  not that porn produced rape or was metaphorical rape, but that porn was rape.

 

Internet porn certaintly degrades women and produces a predatoary sense of masculinity, but its ubiquity on the internet also removes all sense of social stigma, and the availability of intense privacy produces a cognitive dissonance in which an individual's moral impulse is allowed to take a nap, as the brain convinces the rest of the body that it is a victimless crime.  It scews expectations of social and sexual interactions toward a de-socialized male perspective (such perspective ain't good for no one---a man, by himself, without pro-social ambient forces, gets in a heap of trouble)  And, internet porn has become yet another addictive emotional depressent--one more example of the American proclivity to deal with stress, anger, and fear with unhealthy short-term fixes, instead of doing the hard work of introspection and spiritual healing.  Interestingly, there was a spike of porn use in Hawaii after it was determined that the missile threat was not real--porn to take the edge off--to wind down.  I am sure some folks had a whiskey as well. . .

 

Of course, believing in mass deleterious effects from a source, is different than seeking to make such source illegal.  One has to make a strong case in distinguishing porn from other expression that is protected by the First Amendent.  But constitutional law has always allowed "time, place, and manner" restrictions on the availability of pornography, recognizing that the effect of porn visability near schools or residential neighborhoods, for example, outweighs the free expression of sexualized nudity.

 

Gail Dines points out that there is extensive empirical evidence showing the detrimental effects of porn on relationships, families, communities, and relationships, in her article Is Porn Immoral: It Doesn't Matter, It's a Public Health Crisis.  The internet is a particularly non-neutral porn distribution system, as it has neurological effects that intensify our need for repeated stimulation, and make it more challenging for us to focus on deeper aspects of existence needed for existential flourishing. The combination of the effects of pornography and the internet lead the neuro-human to the lowest demons of our nature.

 

Pappy is a speech and expression libertarian in most cases, but a public health balancing test is necessary for this specific issue.   Boys no longer learn manhood from male role models, great books, scripture, or religious communities--they learn it from the delusional world of internet pornography.  And thus, they lose their abilities of self-governance, focus, processing emotions, and responsibility.  I agree with Ross Douthat.

 

 

Do You Wish to Become Healthy? How Christians Can Be Freed from Politics

Instead of hoping a political figure or party can save us, Christians should be freed from politics and seek to heal our country at the community level.
John 5:1-18
1 John 3:13-21
Book Cited: The Benedict Option, by Rod Dreher

A Biblical Response To Christians Supporting the Current Presidential Administration

Red Letter Christians Plan Revival Near Liberty

Pappy and Ma were in an adult Christian education workshop after church a few weeks ago.  Unfortunately, there was an assumption that everyone in the class lived in the same bubble--the workshop leader thus at one point quipped "conservatives are evil."  Although I try to remain patient and listen to alternate viewpoints, I was so angered by this statement that I had to leave the room, lest I say something, well, "unchristian."

 

I was angered because I know many who would call themselves conservative who are wonderful, good, and loving people, and I love all of them dearly.  I was angered because--although it would be very difficult to pin a label upon our family--we are in some ways very conservative.  And I was angered because it is precisely such thinking without nuance which is giving our country so many challenges in this moment.

 

Of course, I know anger is not the answer, and so I have been praying and meditating to understand the pain that caused this statement.  One of the important things I have realized is that folks such as those in the politically progressive and theologically progressive church in which I heard this comment (as well as secular progressives), do not know there is an evangelical theologically more conservative critique of the current administration.

 

The Red Letter Christians offer such a critique.  In April, they are holding a revival outside of Liberty University to counter the uncritical support of the current Presidential administration by many evangelicals.  Christian Group Plans Revival to Protest Toxic Evangelism

 

The name "Red Letter" Christians indicates a desire to follow closely the teachings of Jesus, which are outlined in red in the four gospels in many traditional Bibles.  As I read this critique, it is sometimes about policy, but more often it is a critique of the character of leadership.  Jesus teaches a very specific manner for all to live in this world, and the New Testament outlines clear values that should undergird Christian-supported leadership.  Values emphasized by the early church included humility, gentleness, truthfullness, and love of the least powerful in society.  Such values are directly conradicted in every word and move by our current President (and by may other leaders in today's world).

 

Biblically-based Christians, I believe, can authentically disagree about policy issues in love. However, perhaps the hope for Christians themselves to be more united in our nation, is for us to truly base our actions, and base our support, upon the teachings and community of Jesus and the early church.

The Tree of Life of the Garden of Eden, Negro Spirituals, and the Tree of Life Upon Which Jesus Was Hung

Pappy's New Tattoo

They led Him to Pilate’s bar
Not a word, not a word, not a word, not a word
They led Him to Pilate’s bar
Not a word, not a word, not a word, not a word
They led Him to Pilate’s bar
But He never said a mumblin’ word
Not a word, not a word, not a word, not a word

They all cried, “Crucify Him”…

They nailed Him to the tree…

They pierced Him in the side…

He hung His head and died…

Wasn’t that a pity and a shame…

 

--Negro Spiritual

 

The Christian faith is earthy.  It is a faith which grows out of God's corporeal creation.  God himself did not remain spiritual, but became incarnate (made of meat).  The Tree of Life of the Garden of Eden is restored by Jesus being hanged on the tree of life which restores humanity to connection to God, to the possibility of flourishing. . .the possibility of being re-united to creation and to each other in love.

 

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? (Romans 8:22-24)

 

The Negro spiritual quoted above, "He Never Said a Mumblin' Word," reveals how close slaves were to nature as a source of sustenance, as they drew upon the King James Version of the Bible in its interpretation of the Greek word wood, sometimes translated as cross, to more poetically be described as a tree.  For "civilized slaveholders," as most "civilized people," the woods and wilderness represented chaos, the unknown, and something to be conquered.

 

For slaves, the woods and wilderness represented the path to freedom, the place of worship, the place beyond control of the evil slaveholder, and the place of freedom schools.  Faith, woods, trees and communal love--both working class white folks and black folks have roots in local communal empowerment.

 

And, it seems, desribing the tool of Jesus' tree may not just be waxing poetical eloquent.  There is a great deal of evidence that Jesus was actually hung on a tree, as related in this interesting study:

 

The Messiah's Crucifixion Tree, by John D. Keyser

 

Keyser quotes religious Professor Ernest Martin:

 

"What we need to recognize, however, is that the Tree of Life was reckoned by the early Jews to have been the almond tree. And early Christians considered the tree on which Christ was crucified as being the Tree of Life....In Christian symbolism, the real 'fruit' of the Tree of Life is symbolically represented as the 'flesh of Christ' (John 6:51-58). He was the actual 'edible part' that all people must consume in order to inherit everlasting life. The life-giving fruit hanging on that symbolic Tree of Life (represented by the almond tree?) was reckoned by early Christians as the spiritual 'fruit' of immortality (John 6:51ff)" (Ernest L. Martin, Secrets of Golgotha, p. 257)."

 

The Tree of LIfe of the Garden of Eden; The Tree of LIfe upon which Jesus was hanged; and the Trees of Life that God created to sustain us--God gives us life through grace.

Worship God and revere His Creation, not as something to be conquered, but as a gift to protect and cherish.

 

Eat Plenty of Greens to Enhance Long-Term Brain Health

Is America Having Second Thoughts About Free Speech, Damon Linker

Photo by Fukt, http://www.isupportstreetart.com/artist/fukt/

Linker Article

 

Very good analytical article, examining the trend among all sides of the political spectrum to attempt to limit the political and social discourse by exluding certain viewpoints from democratic debate.

 

I am with Linker in supporting a more libertarian approach to dissenting discourse.  To limit debate and exclude even the far ends of dissenting opinion is an act of hubris based upon the assumption that the group within one's tiny cultural bubble has an inevitable possession of full truth. It draws protective circles separating irreperably the leftist academy, from the center-left suburbs, from the center-right and far right rural lands and small industrial towns.  Our democracy will flourish only when we find the commonalities among these circles--the overlapping portion of the ven diagram.  And using relative cultural power to suppress more extreme viewpoints will only build the anger and resentment that fuels them.

Celebrate Black History--Celebrate Black Vegans!

The Essential Importance of Urban Agriculture for Empowerment and Food Sovereignty

When Urban Agriculture Meets Food Justice

 

This is a good article on the power that can come from urban agriculture, as well as the complexity in building urban agricultural systems that actually have impact.

 

Pappy has spent a fair amount of time in both urban and rural American, and the issues are much more similar than people think.  In both settings, communities face signicant food and lifestyle related health challenges, suffer from the family decimation of substance abuse, and are increasingly gaining an understanding that our large and centralized systems are far too disfunctional to give them assistance.  And thus there is a growing awareness in both communities for the need for homesteading, farming, and other measures of self-determination. The rule of law may not even exist any more in our democracy--it at least is being severaly challenged.  And so we must all return to self-communal care, while continuing to care about all communities.

  • Roasting Carrots for Vegan Super Bowl Ragout

  • Chopping Parsnips, Onions and Potatoes for Vegan Super Bowl Ragout

Super Bowl Roasted Carrot and Red Lentle Ragout

We are making vegan Ragout for the Super Bowl!  Check out the menu here.  It is a very hearty stew, fitting for a football game.  I have found it interesting that our holidays and social events are the most challenging times to eat healthily.  I weigh myself every day, and I found that I gained 2 pounds on Christmas Day.  And I ate reasonably--I did not gorge myself.  I had one plate of Turkey, filling, etc., and one desert.  Because the next day I returned to a low-glycemic vegan diet, I was fortunate enough to loose those 2 pounds quickly.  But it made me ponder the necessity of holiday and event traditional eating.

 

It is very difficult to resist the social pressures of high fat, high sugar, meat and dairy-based eating during events and holidays.  And it is difficult to be mindful enought to resist the psychological associations of memories of such eating in years' past.  Most of my life, I have eaten pizza (usually with meat) or other high cheese content food during super bowls.  I mean, isn't that what you do?  I mean, life is rough, so I deserved taking my mind off of things and enjoying such food during the super bowl.  And not only was everyone else doing it, but commercials were replete with the brain stimulations of craving for pizza, chicken wings and other addictive foods (In recent weeks, during sporting events, I have mindfully watched the one-to-one correlation of pizza cravings and pizza commercials.  I wasn't even hungry until the commercials aired.  But I also realized, through mindfulness, that if the cravings arose during commericials, they eventually would cease after the commercials, if I did not act upon them.  And cease they did--I remained on my low-glycemic vegan diet).

 

I have always loved meat, cheese and bread.  But I have also decided that I want to be free--free from the prison of being influenced by the big money of advertising; free from the pressure of social convention; free from silly ruminations that manhood is based upon gorging upon very unhealthy food during sporting events.  After all, for most of history, most men did not have enough money to eat meat and dairy products more than rarely.

 

And ultimately, none of these influences are as important as putting ourselves in the best position to flourish in life by, among other things, being as healthy as possible.  Now, there are no guarantees.  You can be vegan or, in general, eat a lot of plant-based foods, and still get cancer or heart disease.  But one drastically reduces the possibilities of such illness with a plant-based diet.  I know this lack of guarantee can be a sumbling block.  I have heard many men say, "when it is my time to go, it is my time to go."  Perhaps--we shall save any theological discussion for later (I will say that I believe God gives us a tremendous amount of agency to co-create our lives with Him)--but don't we want to give ourselves the best chances possible?  Isn't life that precious?

 

And the deep secret is this--when we develop the habits to eat healthy plant-based diets, our cravings diminish, and we feel much better physically and psychologicall after eating.  We achieve true freedom.  I have had plenty of life epochs when I have been enslaved to various cravings--and I remain weak and feeble in resisting--but I know I feel the most blessed and at peace when I truly know I am making choices, including the choice to live a plant-based life.  Eating plant-based foods is not ultamately most importantly about extending our lives in the future--it is about living fully and freely now.

During Black History Month, We Celebrate Black Vegans (2/4/18)

Check out this article, Are More African Americans Embracing Veganism?

 

Well known black vegans include Venus Williams, Serene Williams (during tennis season), Coretta Scott King, Russel Simmons, Kimberly Elise, and may others.

 

100 Black Vegans to Check Out

 

 

Green Salad with Apples, Cranberries, and Pepitas (2/1/18)

Menu Link

 

We put together this yummy healthy salad last night to go with our yellow split pea soup.  We subsituted almong slivers for pepitas, because that's what we had.  We didn't include dried cranberries, because we didn't want the extra sugar (even if in the form of fructose) in the evening before bedtime.  And we didn't use goat cheese.  There are many scientific studies showing that the protein casein in cheese and other dairy products supports the growth of cancer cells, and increases risk of heart disease.  See The China Study.  The Salad was extremely tastey, and it is endorsed by William Shakespeare!!!

  • Simplicity Practice--Stretching Soup With Barley (1/31/18)

    We made the vegan yellow split pea soup on the weekend and stretched it during the week by adding barley.

  • Split Pea Soup Stretched With Barley

    We usually bake and cook large portions on the weekend and warm things up during the week when there is less time for food preparation.  This ensures we have healthy options during the week, instead of having an excuse to order out less healthy food.  Of course, this takes the discipline to have a slow weekend pace--meditation, church, and enough down time for space to enjoy cooking and baking--not as a chore--but as a mindful, relaxing, creative act.  We try to let go of the need for perfection in house maintenance and people pleasing on the weekend to slow our pace.

  • Yellow Split Pea Vegan Soup

    Miss Debbie made this yummy hearty soup.  It made Pappy's hair curlier!

  • Yellow Split Pea Vegan Soup Paired with Toasted Ezekiel Bread

Crisis of Masculinity

Jordan Peterson

David Brooks, in the article The Jordan Peterson Moment, explains Peterson's important and popular teaching that men have responded to the moral relativism of our cultural moment by abstaining from taking responsibility, and claiming victimhood.  (Brooks rightly claims a more relational side to the antidote than Peterson's "man-up" message).

 

Such analysis jives completely with Pappy's almost 20 years of experience in education, community organizing, and religious leadership.  There are undoubtedly still many good men of all races and backgrounds, who take responsibility, don't complain, work hard, and serve their families and communities.  Many of these  men deal with great hardship in doing so.

 

But there are an alarming amount of men, especially younger men, who profer excuses at every turn, perpetuate the pain they have experienced onto others, and blame everything in the world for their troubles, except themselves.  The conspiracy theory phenomena is part of this cultural response.  The whole ethos of conspiracy theories is to find as many external contingencies to blame for challenges as possible, so that one's own actions are obscured.

 

I have noticed for years, that masculinity is in the midst of great crisis.  And, unfortunately, I have seen it revealed in extreme pathological states--laziness, sexual obsession, lack of focus, addiction, etc.  And this is an equal opportunity crises, as it is effecting men of every race.  I find it fascinating that we are at a moment that many are now listening to those such as Peterson who are speaking directly to this very disturbing issue.

 

How to rebuild responsibility among men is a much more complex and nuanced question. For an explanation of how some charter school cultures have built responsibility by removing fault in understanding obstacles and focusing on causation, check out Unrelenting Expectations.

 

I invite you to check out the Pappy and Peterson videos below.

 

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A path of increasingly simple living allows for greater detachment from the burdens of the world.

Our Tiny House in Up State New York