Friday, February 26, 2010

Values

I am part of a wonderful book club that discusses various theological books. We try to read a wide range of ideas from different faith traditions. Our last discussion centered around John Shelby Spong's book "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism". He writes in an easy style and, if you aren't familiar with the influences of time/place/agenda of writers of the bible, it will be quite interesting. Having read many books on this topic, it wasn't particularly new information, but one point of his, I am still pondering. One theme of his book is many mainstream church goers lack of biblical knowledge. He cites an experience of his in an Episcopal church. He asked the congregants if they hold the ten commandments as their moral compass. There was an enthusiastic yes! Then he asked if anyone could name all ten of them them. No one could. Not even as a group. Thus, how can you hold them in such high regard if you can't even name them? I am not really surprised by this. I was raised Catholic and certainly could not name them all. Obviously, this is one example, one congregation, and I am sure that there a plenty of people who could name them all, but it is sad to see people blindly believe in them without really understanding their true meaning and importance. How can you be authentically living them?

This bring me to Unitarian Universalism. If you are subscribe to our Seven Principles, can you name them all? Granted, they are very wordy, but could you at least name the basic idea of them? I think they are a great reflection of my values, and I try to live them. Unfortunately, I find them very hard to keep in my head. So, I have them posted in my home. Every time I open the refrigerator, there is a magnet reminding me of them. Do I need them to live a moral/value filled life? No. But I find them centering. They are a reminder of what I am living for. They are a written form of what I feel in my heart. They are a reminder to my children of our family values and how we choose to live our life. During the summer months, we discuss each principle for a week, committing it to memory. It is a way to connect our church, home, and living to what we consider important. I encourage all of you to sit down, either with the Seven Principles, or your own particular value statements, and really think about how you are expressing them in your daily life. Truly living your authentic self can be freeing and inspiring to those around you. Your life has meaning and how you choose to live it is one of the most important decision you can make.

The Seven Principles:
*The inherent worth and dignity of every person.
*Justice, equity and compassion in human relations.
*Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.
*A free and responsible search for truth and meaning.
*The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.
*The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all.
*Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Breakfast

Daughter and I have a new favorite breakfast. In an effort to eat healthier and more whole grains, I have been sampling some new recipes from The Kind Diet*. So far, our favorite weekday breakfast is the Quick Date-Apple-Cinnamon Oatmeal (although we omit the dates). It is so yummy, that Daughter and I look forward to it every morning. I would post the recipe, but I have suspicion that it will break some copyright issues. I would really encourage you to buy it or check it out from the library. Every recipe I have made so far has been super yummy. I have sampled many vegetarian and vegan cookbooks, but I really don't like some of their reliance on "mock" foods. It is not that I am not a connoisseur of them, but I don't need a cookbook to tell me how to use them. While they are convenient and often tasty, they are pretty heavily processed.

What I am looking for is a more whole food options. While Silverstone does use processed food very occasionally, she has a more whole grain, macrobiotic outlook. So far I am enjoying it. I am trying to get a grip on my general health this year. I am tired of feeling tired, cranky, and generally blah. I am so fortunate that there is nothing seriously wrong with me, that I feel ridiculous in that I am not taking advantage of obtaining optimal health now in hopes that it will continue into old age. It is not like it will get any easier to break some bad habits.

For those UU's out there, I really enjoy its focus on the interdependent web of all living beings. Silverstone really grasps that concept. She also really gets the mind-body connection and how important a role food plays in it.


*Yes, I realize this was written by Alicia Silverstone of Clueless fame, but please give it a chance. She has a good sense of humor and puts in some good anecdotes. She is definitely an idealist, but so am I ;-)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday & Lent

Do Unitarians need Lent? The short answer would be a somewhat obvious "no". We don't need it. But, maybe we do. While I don't believe the Jesus died on a cross for our sins and was resurrected miracle, I do think there is something to be said for setting aside time to really reflect on your spirituality and the life you are living. Many religions have some form of this. For instance, Ramadan for Muslims and Aseret Yemei Teshuva for Jews. While these observances usually call for abstaining from certain foods or fasting and atonement, they are really trying to help the followerer come to a greater understanding of their God. It is a time for intense discipline within their faith. Many UUs balk at the idea of being forced to study their religion (if they are even comfortable calling UU a religion). Aren't we in it for the freedom of thought and ability to worship as we feel? Of course we are, but there is something to be said for taking the time to really work on your belief system. Take the time to really look inside yourself and figure out what is important to you? your family? What values do you hold dear? Where do you see yourself in this great universe? Have you ever taken then time to really ponder if you believe in a God? a Spirit? a life Force? Can you comfortably convey that to others? Can you explain it to your children?

Maybe these questions are too hard or too easy, but not enough of us take the time to really evaluate where we are on our journey. I would challenge each of you to take these next forty days to develop your own faith statements and start spring with a renewed Spirit!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Occam's Razor

This article from the St. Louis Post Dispatch has greatly irritated me. It basically states that farmers should plant "grassy buffers (to) help protect soil, water and humans from animal antibiotics". Scientists have noted that 30 to 80 percent of an antibiotic given to an animals ends up as waste. These antibiotics find their way into the soil and water tables. Thus, we (humans) are exposed to increasing numbers of them which, in turn, make our antibiotics less effective. Never mind just the general awfulness of ingesting a never ending stream of antibiotics in our system. Now scientist are feeling extra clever because they have discovered that by planting these grassy buffers, they help dissipate the drugs in the soil. Sure, it is great that they have realized (again) how wonderful plants are, but wouldn't it by a whole lot more effective and healthy just to institute better farm practices? Perhaps we should look more into sustainable, non-CAFO cattle production? This used to be the norm and, I don't believe, there were any worries about antibiotics in the soil. Perhaps the simplest solution is the best one.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Today

Today....

Someone is thinking about you

Someone is thankful for you

Someone is smiling because of you

You are so loved!


(author unknown)

Friday, February 12, 2010

For the Love of Winter: V

I love the Olympics. Especially the Winter Olympics. I love the skiing, bobsledding, speed skating, luge, and, really, the list could go on and on. I love them much more then the summer Olympics where everyone looks like they are dying in the heat. Give me the cold any day! Needless to say, we are having a family party tonight to celebrate/watch the opening ceremonies. I can't wait! Since the kids have the day off school, we have been busy preparing. Various Olympic sports posters have been made. Cupcakes are waiting to be frosted into the Olympic rings. We have blue jello on the ready for the ice-skating Gummi Bears. Sugar cookie medals shall be awarded (for what I am not quite sure...), and various around the world snacks will be eaten. Hopefully Vancouver will not disappoint!


Update: The kids are having a blast with the mascot site.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

So Looooong....

What is the downside of living in an historically Catholic city? All the Saint school names! Waiting through the the long list of Saint schools for snow closings is torture for anxious children. Or......, perhaps it is an exercise in patience?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Heavy

I have been hearing more and more sad news from friends. Every night, I say a little prayer/blessing for friends, family, the world. Lately, the friends portion has gotten longer and longer. I am not sure why, but this winter seems to have been a particularly hard time for many. From job loss to health issues, many friends are suffering. I feel at a loss for what to do. I try to be there, but I don't feel like it is enough. Saying, "I am sure a job will come through" or sending a card to a friend with Stage IV cancer seems like so little. I can't relieve their suffering and it makes me sad. Right now I wish I had magical powers and could wave my wand and make them all better.

Friday, February 5, 2010

King Arthur Baking

I don't have any ads on this site, but if I did, one of the very few I would consider is King Arthur Flour. I can't express how much I LOVE this company. I love that they are employee owned, I love their products, and I love the family feel the company has. Visiting their storefront in Vermont would be a dream come true. Every time I get their catalogue, I am instantly dreaming of what I will bake next. I have two of their cookbooks. Every recipe turns out fantastic. I almost exclusively use their flour and buy my yeast through them. I have tried other flours, but none of them have performed as well as King Arthur's. Their product is really that good. Recently, I purchased two new items that are making my world extra great.


First, is their sourdough starter. According to their site, it is over 250 years old. I have been using it non-stop for the last couple of weeks. It is by far the family's favorite bread. It comes with a couple of very easy recipes that have never failed to produce a wonderful loaf.

My second favorite item, that compliments the above bread wonderfully, is their butter keeper.

I really prefer real butter to margarine, but hate trying to spread cold butter. It is pretty much an exercise in futility. I have been wanting this little crock for ages and finally broke down and ordered it with the sourdough starter. I love it. It sits on our table and keeps the butter fresh and at room temperature.


As you see, the butter is in the "bell" and in the cup is about an inch of water. The water seals the butter and keeps it fresh and tasty. The butter spreads perfectly on the toast. I highly recommend it.

I will stop extolling the virtues of King Arthur Flour, but I do encourage you all to check out their site. If you happen to live in Vermont, visit their store and let me know how awesome it is!

(No, I was not paid to wax no about them, I just wanted to spread the joy!)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Why You Need to Go to Church

I just read this wonderful post by Lizard Eater over at her blog "The Journey." Please read it! I could not sum it up better.