Tag Archives: Culture

The Eagle & Child Presents: Marc’s Jamie’s Food Revolution Food Revolution Month, Day 1

Dixie is taking a course or two this month. I told her that I would start cooking in May and to that end, I acquired a copy of Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Food Revolution, which Joel tells me was actually revolutionary for his cooking. So May is Marc’s Jamie’s Food Revolution Food Revolution Month.

I’m not sure if I’m cooking supper every night, but today–May 1–was the first day. It was kind of a last minute decision as I hadn’t given it much thought beforehand. In fact, I had given it none. So I decided to make the Classic Tomato Spaghetti. Easy peasy.

First lesson learned: plan the thing beforehand. Usually when I cook, I don’t use a recipe. I did read the recipe and instructions through for this one, but promptly forgot (or ignored) them.

First problems: ingredients. The recipe calls for 2 cloves of garlic, 1 fresh red chili, a small bunch of fresh basil, sea salt, freshly ground pepper, spaghetti, olive oil, diced tomatoes, Parmesan cheese. Unfortunately, I did not have any of the fresh options. Instead, I had to go with freeze-dried garlic, chili powder, basil-in-a-tube (which was actually dill, so I went with dried basil), and kosher salt.

Further Problems: The garlic, which was to be browned, I promptly burned because I realized I didn’t have the tubed basil and I still needed to open the can of diced tomatoes. That garlic browns quickly! (I was told afterwards that freeze-dried garlic does not need to be browned.)

(I must have been frazzled by this. I just told Olivia  to get her soccer things on, but when I turned to look at her, I discovered I was addressing a pillow.)

Then I threw in random amounts of chili powder and basil and dumped in the diced tomatoes. Also, I cooked a random amount of spaghetti, which turned into an unfortunately high spaghetti-to-sauce ratio.

I guess it tasted okay, but probably more burnt, artificial, and weakly flavoured than Jamie would have it. I’d call it a failure, but everyone ate it without complaining.

The next meal will be planned in advance.

Spend Like Santa, Save Like Scrooge

I noticed today that next semester’s textbooks are starting to arrive at the college bookstore on campus.  I had considered buying them from Amazon–mostly because I wasn’t sure if the texts would be available before Christmas, but also because I could, in some cases, save up to 50% of the cover price by purchasing through Amazon.

I stuck my nose in a conversation after class yesterday. Two students were discussing the campus bookstore and various other campus business matters.  Business issues generally do not interest me in the slightest, but in the course of this conversation it occurred to me that fundamentally there is no difference between the independent bookstore and the big-box bookstores like Chapters/Indigo (or Borders or Barnes & Noble) or online retailers like Amazon. There is fundamentally no difference between them insofar as they are all businesses seeking a profit.  They are businesses and they want your money.*

And yet we tend to feel guilty about buying our books from Amazon or Chapters.  They are the big, bad retailers who buy at special bulk rates, which allows them to undercut their competition.  (“Competition” is an odd term for an independent bookstore relative to the big boxers, isn’t it?)  This kind of cut-throat competition gives me, as a Christian, pause: how do the commands play out in the business world? What does it mean to love your neighbour at a corporate level?  I don’t know the answer to that, although I’m tempted to think that it means absolutely nothing at the corporate level.  This is the capitalist, market economy, folks; that’s simply the way it goes. It’s the Darwinism of Wall Street: survival of the biggest and cheapest. It’s just business.

Our incredulity (even if it’s only in theory) is bit disingenuous, though. After all, if the independent local bookstore somehow managed to undercut the big-box retailers, no one would think worse of them.

But beyond that, I wonder if perhaps our finger-pointing at the big-box stores is too…finger…pointing…y.  The big-box stores may be offering lower prices than the independent store can afford, but the big-box store is simply offering what we desire (and what the independent store would presumably like to be able to do). We are obsessed with saving money on our purchases, but ultimately saving money is done by many of us simply to acquire more.

Many years ago, Canadian Tire ran an annual yuletide ad campaign with the mantra, “Spend Like Santa, Save Like Scrooge.”  The message was that you could get more stuff for less at Canadian Tire.  The irony that is often lost on us, however, is that our response is generally not to buy what we need and pocket the savings, but to simply buy more stuff and technically not save anything.  Christians tend to be consumerist creatures just as much as anyone.  Saving is good because it allows us to buy more.  We buy because we have the disposable income, not because we need something.  We buy because it’s on sale, not because we need it.

I often say something that drives Dixie nuts.  She’ll justify a purchase by saying, “It was 40% off!  I saved $30!”  And then I’ll respond with, “Yes, but if you hadn’t bought that item, you would have saved 100%”.

I don’t want to suggest that I always take the anti-consumerist high road.  I am as consumerist as your next person.  But that isn’t good and it is bothering me more and more these days.

My point in all this is that perhaps questioning what we purchase and from where can be a transformative experience, rather than an accusatory one.  Perhaps it would be more beneficial to me to not buy from a big-box store not because of their questionable business ethics, but because of my own questionable consumerist mindset.  Savings aren’t everything.  ”A penny saved is a penny earned,” as the saying goes. The question is, earned for what?

________________

*There is therefore little reason, if any, for a Christian to purchase from a retailer who happens to be Christian rather than one who happens to not be.

**I do think there are legitimate reasons to purchase from online retailers, but I’m beginning to realize that there are fewer reasons than I might think.  Instant access, for one, is generally not a good reason. Patience is a virtue nearly lost in the western world.

Wright talks about Philemon & Frye talks about Jesus and Women

Go here for a remarkable sermon by N.T. Wright on Paul’s letter to Philemon (there is both an audio and a video option–it’s just over 14 minutes long).  I just read Philemon a couple of times last week (it’s very short).  Afterwards I thought, “OK, Paul is embracing this former slave as a brother, but I’m not sure what else this letter is about.”  Wright does a nice job elucidating.  (It’s also an example in the value of being familiar with the historical context of a passage.)

* * *

John Frye, in his post “Jesus and Expectations: Part 7- Women“:

Whatever the debate is today, it is undeniable that Jesus had very liberal views and relationships with women in his 1st century Jewish culture. Whatever his culture’s boundary markers were, he broke them. I will present three episodes of Jesus’ relationship to women. (Link)

The three episodes are Jesus speaking “publicly and theologically” to the Samaritan woman at the well (in John chapter 4); the prostitute who anointed Jesus’ feet with perfume (in Luke chapter 7); and Mary anointing Jesus with myrrh (inMark chapter 14).  John ends the post with this:

Jesus’ relationship to women did not follow the cultural scripts. Neither does the Gospel follow cultural scripts. The Gospel liberates women to their rightful place with their brothers in the work of the kingdom of God. Phoebe was a leader, a deacon. Junia was an outstanding apostle. Priscilla was an effective discipler of Apollos. Many other women were co-workers, not sub-workers, with Paul in the ministry of the Gospel. It all got started with Jesus. (Link)

What has been interesting the learn in the last couple of years is that it’s not only Jesus’ words that are his teaching, but also his actions.  Both his teaching and living are theological.  (And, once again, a fine example of the necessity of being familiar with context.)

Like John does in the post, I highly recommend Scot McKnight’s book The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible.  I grew up in what was officiallycomplementarian home (I’ll let Wikipedia explain the term), though it wasn’t something I saw in practice very often.  Over the years I’ve slowly moved away from that view, and McKnight’s book was the proverbial nail in the coffin for any remaining complementarianism (I think).

(McKnight’s book is not, incidentally, about gender roles and the church or, for that matter, about the symbolism of Jesus’ actions.  The book is about how we read the Bible; women in church ministry is his chosen case study for that reading.)

More biblical than the Bible

Scot McKnight on the issue of alcohol (but it could apply to any issue):

It seems every year someone brings up the Bible and alcohol (the drinking kind)…What I find every year in this conversation is a serious, but repeated mistake. The tack is this: If I take a stand more “biblical than the Bible,” then I can’t be wrong. That is, if I choose not to drink at all, I will keep myself from sin and all appearance of evil and will be safe. This is what I call the sin of “zealotry” — the belief that if we are more extreme than the Bible, then we can’t be wrong. Wrong.

If God is God, and if God speaks to us in the Bible, then God spoke words that show that wine drinking is fine. One may choose not to drink, but that view is more extreme than what the Bible says. Drinking too much is contrary to the Bible, but not drinking at all is not what the Bible teaches (except for ascetic strands at time). 

But, let’s not fall for the idea that being more biblical than the Bible is safe ground. Extremism is not righteousness; extremism is zealotry. Trust that what God says is what God wants.  (Link)

What does the common good look like?

From the Center for Public Justice (via):

The view seems to be that in public life we are essentially identical and must be treated the same. No business may refuse to serve us.  And since government must serve all equally, private groups supported by government also must serve everyone equally.

But this public conformity concept of the common good is unsustainable.  It is a new secular theocracy.  Against it there is a strong commandment.  The commandment is the First Amendment of the Constitution, which protects religion from government imposition—protects not only religious belief but also religious exercise.  It protects doctors whose conscience forbids certain procedures and it protects religious charities when they insist that only applicants who share their convictions can join their staffs.

When government honors religious exercise in this way, some citizens will have to go to another doctor’s office instead of this one, and some citizens will find they cannot get jobs with some nonprofits.  Not being welcomed everywhere seems an intolerable imposition to the proponents of uniformity.  But it is the real consequence of protecting religious freedom.  There would be no need for the constitutional protection if religious freedom did not sometimes require some people to give way.

We must face the reality.  America is home to several moral communities.  The government should not be used to enforce a single code of behavior that denies the deep religious convictions of many people and institutions of faith.  The common good that the government must foster and protect is not homogeneous but includes diverse contributions from a diverse civil society.  The common good is comprised of multiple colors. (link)

It’s about the U.S., but I think it applies here, too.

An election must be nigh, take 2 (a.k.a. John Stackhouse says it better)

John Stackhouse says it better than I did:

Mr. Duceppe seems to be unhappy about people running for office who “share an ideology, a narrow ideology.” But surely most people who enter politics do have one or another ideology, and of a quite particular sort, that motivates them so strongly that they undergo the rigors of political life.

Furthermore, one might think that someone who spends most of his political life trying to achieve a single goal–removal of Quebec from the Canadian confederation–could be characterized as having “a narrow ideology.”

. . . but it is apparently the correct narrow ideology, one that corresponds with modern times in Quebec–during which, if Mr. Duceppe had his way, only his narrow ideology would count, and anyone else’s would be properly set aside. (Link)

Indeed.

An election must be nigh.

Which means I’ll soon have my hackles up about ridiculous statements about faith and religion from politicians and the media.

I noted this story on CBC Radio One’s noon news: “Quebec Tory candidate is Opus Dei member” (Opus Dei is a conservative Catholic organization, caricatured in Dan Brown’s fictional Da Vinci Code).  Why is this news?  We’re a multi-cultural, multi-faith country, so why is this a surprise?

Why is this newsworthy?  Are we not a multi-cultural and multi-religious society?  If so, why would this candidates affiliation surprise or concern anyone?

From the Montreal Gazette:

[Bloc Québécois leader Gilles] Duceppe seized on the revelation that one of the Conservatives’ candidates in Quebec is a member of the ultra-Catholic group Opus Dei as a candidate saying it is proof that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative party are narrow-minded right wing ideologues who would take away a woman’s right to choose.  (Link)

From the Globe and Mail:

“My problem is that Opus Dei is a rather secret society,” Mr. Duceppe told reporters in Quebec City. “Those people certainly share an ideology, a narrow ideology, that doesn’t correspond at all to the modern times in Quebec…. That candidate said very openly that self-whipping is a sacrifice they have to do. I question myself on such practices.” (Link)

An election must be nigh.