No-Knead Bread

May 30, 2007

A few months ago, a recipe for no-knead bread raced around the internet. I finally got around to baking a loaf, and I have to agree with all the reviews: this bread is easy and far surpasses most home-baked loaves in crusty goodness and chewy and complex crumb.

loaf

cut loaf

Published article!

May 29, 2007

A colleague of mine and I have just had an article published on the online journal Refuge & Rejection. If you like scholarly articles, check it out. After you click on this link, I encourage you to click on the “html” version of the full text for the more creative lay-out of the article. For a more straight-forward read, which includes the two comments from Drs. Poethig and Saunders, click on the “pdf.” The two comments are also available in “html” format from this introduction page.

And, yes, this is my first published article!  Academia here I come!

Paradise and Humanity

May 28, 2007

Genesis 2.16-17:

16And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”

And after the fall, Genesis 3.22-24:

22Then the Lord God said, “See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— 23therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. 24He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life.

I was reminded at church last Sunday, by an old white man, that the “main point” of the creation story is human disobedience against God. He was comfortable with this main point. In fact, his faith is probably based on the idea that our disobedience occasioned God’s gift of Christ to the world, a gift which in turn leads to his moral code: be obedient and good out of thanksgiving for that gift. He might be exactly right.

I was so reminded because, thinking outloud, I had questioned this main point of the creation story. In the garden of Eden, as it is presented to us in Genesis, Adam and Eve live in a land where there was no need for suspicion. If all the animals were good and sin had not yet entered into the world, then how could Eve or Adam possibly know what obedience or disobedience was? There were no moral decisions in the garden of Eden. I imagine that it was natural and automatic for them to keep the only command they had received, i.e. to eat not of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Indeed, it seems that before eating of that tree, it would be impossible for Adam and Eve to make an informed decision on whether to eat of it or not–they had no knowledge of good or evil. They simply did not eat because God so intructed them. This was not obedience because no other option was possible. In other words, disobedience was impossible. Likewise, when the snake puts forward additional information, that the fruit of the tree will make them wise, they have no reason to doubt this. They had no way of recognizing bad, spiteful, or sinful information.

Adam and Eve then eat the fruit for two reasons. First, their sensory apparatus has shown them that the fruit was beautiful and looked nutritious. This information was always available to their animal senses. They didn’t need knowledge of good and evil to know this about the fruit. Second, they base their decision to eat on the new information about the fruit given to them by the snake. The snake tells them that the fruit is also good to make one wise and like God. There is a subtle implication in the text that the two will want to be like God, and might even be angry with God for not telling them up front that this fruit will make them like God. The only way they could have these desires in the garden of paradise, however, was if God planted these desires within them. These are not the desires of people who don’t know what jealousy, anger, deceit, and self-interest are.

Adam and Eve were singularly unprepared to make moral decisions by their previous experiences in Eden. They were little more than animals, with no ethical faculties whatsoever. The fact that they eat makes sense given that the last piece of information that they receive before eating the fruit comes from the snake. They had no way of weighing the snake’s words against the previous ones spoken by God. They had no values, no sense of scale, no ability to know right from wrong. They, in my estimation, were not humans as we know them. A possible exception to this would be if God had planted human sinfulness and judgment in them all along, thus equipping them for the confrontation with the snake. If this is the case, then the fall happened before the decision to eat; the fall happened at creation itself.

All of this is speculation, as is the original recording of the events in the garden. We don’t know what paradise looks like. The writer of Genesis didn’t know either. The problem with the scriptural depiction of paradise, as with many others, is that we have no idea of how to imagine humanity in Eden. We are sinful. That is who we are. In a place with no sin, we seem not to fit. Adam and Eve either don’t belong in Eden, or they are not human. True, sinful humans in paradise seem to be very threatening to God. God sends them out where we belong–out here in the world. How strange to be creatures that come from a place where we can no longer exist as we are.

(Sculpture is “Temptation” by Edgar Tolson, 1970)

Backyard

May 26, 2007

A little bourgeois dream of mine has been to have a house with a backyard on a street with other houses with backyards. For most of my life I have lived in trailer houses, apartments, or condos, and so I have been immensely pleased with our suburban house and yard. I’ve mowed twice, trimmed the hedges, and pulled weeds. I’ve got a garage with a remote door opener. I have a big black trash toter and recycling bins that I put out once a week on the curb. I have met our neighbors; one brought us treats our first week here while the other brought a stack of touristy information and a couple of phone books. I suppose it’s shallow to want these things, and transparent as to why I want them, but so be it. I continue to work out my salvation with fear and trembling–but now I have a yard!

For family and interested friends, I thought I would share some photos I took early this evening of flora and fauna in the backyard.

Here’s my cat, Bev. She is new to outdoor living and seems to enjoy it.

bev in roses

Kids.

slugger

pet

And a couple others.

roses

backyard sky

Hope you like these. If you need me, I’ll be out in the garage listening to Beethoven in my Toyota.

 

 

Why??!!

May 25, 2007

Why Elvis, my beloved Elvis, was it this? Why did you choose shilling for Lexus to be your feet of clay (assuming we forget the whole Burt Bacharach debacle)?  In this, your aim is decidedly not true.

From Your Daily Awesome comes this interview. (It’s in two parts.)

I believe many, if not all, of the things that Billy Graham is saying, and I find him to be urbane and funny. But ultimately, Woody Allen is a much more sympathetic character. I could never be Billy Graham–and not only because my hair is not good enough. I probably can’t be Woody Allen either, but my faith is so much more neurotic and fidgety than the confident stridency of Graham.

Normal, Illinois

May 20, 2007

According to an Associated Press analysis of Census Bureau data, our new state, Illinois, is the most average.  The story in our paper (not from IL) sums it up:

Illinois’ racial composition matches the nation’s better than any other state. Education levels are similar, as is the mix of industry and the percentage of immigrants. Incomes in Illinois are a little higher and the state is more urban than the rest of the nation. But the age of the population is very close to the country’s mix of minors, older Americans and those 18 to 64.

So, Illinois is normal.  Coincidentally, there is a Normal, Illinois, named after the normal school there, now Illinois State.  One of my wife’s parishioners has a son-in-law who lives in Normal; he is evidently quite active in the local farmers’ market of that part of the state and is something of a farmer himself.  This parishioner went to visit her daughter and kindly brought us back several bags of the Normal produce.  We received:

  • 2 dozen eggs
  • 4 heads of lettuce (romaine & leaf)
  • bag of mesclun
  • bag of spinach
  • beets & beet greens
  • green onions
  • green garlic
  • carrots
  • several small bags of herbs

I’ve never had green garlic, but instructions accompanied the food saying that the whole little shoot is edible, though the longer ends may benefit from a saute.

Farmers’ markets seem to be on the rise all over.  Here’s hoping that they also become the national average!  I look forward to exploring our local market very soon.