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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Quips, Quotes & Questions 10-26-14

I suggest you take the time to look over some of the lives of some of these people who are quoted. They are astounding saints and worthy role models.

Praying in faith comes from an abiding faith in the Person
prayed to -- the confidence is in Him. It is based on a knowledge of who He is, and on a trusted conviction that He is worthy tobe trusted. Praying in faith is the act of a simple-hearted child of God.

The only Christian way to treat a slave is to set him free.

Never again are we to look at the stars, as we did when we 
were children, 
and wonder how far it is to God. A being outside our world
would be a spectator, looking on but taking no part
in this life where we try to be brave 
despite all the bafflement. A God who created, 
and withdrew, could be mighty,
but he could not be love. 
Who could love a God remote, when
suffering is our lot? 
Our God is closer than our problems, for
they are out there, to be faced; 
He is here, beside us, Emmanuel.
Joseph E. McCabe

Often we hear the remark that we have to live in the world without being of the world.  But it may be more difficult to be in the Church without being of the Church.   Being of the Church means being so preoccupied by and involved in the many ecclesial affairs and clerical "ins and outs" that we are no longer focused on Jesus.  The Church then blinds us from what we came to see and deafens us to  what we came to hear.   Still, it is in the Church that Christ dwells, invites us to his table, and speaks to us words of eternal love. Being in the Church without being of it is a great spiritual challenge.
Henri Nouwen

If prayer is not a play of the religious fantasy, or a
routine task, it must be the application of faith to a concrete
actual and urgent situation. Only remember that prayer does not
work by magic, and that stormy desire is not fervent, effectual
prayer. You may be but exploiting a mighty power; whereas you
must be in real contact with the real God. It is the man that
most really has God that most really seeks God.
    ... P. T. Forsyth (1848-1921)

Andre Trocmé, who pastored the remarkable Le Chambon community during World War II, said, “Nonviolence was not a theory superimposed upon reality; it was an itinerary that we explored day after day in communal prayer and in obedience to the commands of the Spirit.”

We may have as much of God as we will. Christ puts the key
of the treasure chamber into our hand, and bids us take all
that we want. If a man is admitted into the bullion vault of a
bank, and told to help himself, and comes out with one cent,
whose fault is it that he is poor? Whose fault is it that
Christian people generally have such scanty portions of the
free riches of God?
    Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910)

Let our whole body, then, be preserved in Christ Jesus; and let everyone be subject to his neighbor. Let the strong not despise the weak, and let the weak show respect to the strong. Let the rich man provide for the wants of the poor; and let the poor man bless God, because he has given him a community that can provide for his needs.
Clement of Rome

The Church often wounds us deeply.  People with religious authority often wound us by their words, attitudes, and demands.  Precisely because our religion brings us in touch with the questions of life and death, our religious sensibilities can get hurt most easily.   Ministers and priests seldom fully realize how a critical remark, a gesture of rejection, or an act of impatience can be remembered for life by those to whom it is directed.

There is such an enormous hunger for meaning in life, for comfort and consolation, for forgiveness and reconciliation, for restoration and healing, that anyone who has any authority in the Church should constantly be reminded that the best word to characterize religious authority is compassion. Let's keep looking at Jesus whose authority was expressed in compassion.
Henri Nouwen

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Quips, Quotes & Questions 10-18-14

Faith, in the religious sense, is not simply belief; it is
inseparable from the sister virtues of hope and love.
    William R. Inge (1860-1954)

We mostly spend our lives conjugating three verbs: to Want, to Have and to Do. Craving, clutching, and fussing, on the material, political, social, emotional, intellectual, even on the religious plane, we are kept in perpetual unrest, forgetting that none of these verbs have any ultimate significance, except so far as they are transcended by and included in the fundamental verb, to Be, and that Being, not wanting, having and doing, is the essence of the spiritual life.
Evelyn Underhill

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will.
American abolitionist Frederick Douglass

Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and that there is only one glory, which is eternal. If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.
Teresa of Avila

I want to beg you as much as you can, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer. Perhaps you do carry within yourself the possibility of shaping and forming as a particularly happy and pure way of living; train yourself to it—but take whatever comes with great trust, and if only it comes out of your own will, out of some need of your innermost being, take it upon yourself and hate nothing.
Rainer Maria Rilke

Change of one sort or another is the essence of life, so there will always be the loneliness and insecurity that come with change. When we refuse to accept that loneliness and insecurity are part of life, when we refuse to accept that they are the price of change, we close the door on many possibilities for ourselves; our lives become lessened…. Life evolves; change is constant.
Jean Vanier

The delights of this world and all its kingdoms will not profit me. I would prefer to die in Jesus Christ than to rule over all the earth. I seek him who died for us; I desire him who rose for us. I am in the throes of being born again. Bear with me, my brothers and sisters. Let me see the pure light; when I am there, I shall be truly a human being at last. Let me imitate the sufferings of my God.
Ignatius of Antioch

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Quips, Quotes & Questions 10-11-14

Each one of these items -- quotes, Bible passages or links -- are worthy of separate posts in and of themselves. How impossibly grateful I am for the wealth of thought-provoking words that pass through my life each week. If you have some spare moments, linger over each one and allow them to penetrate your soul.

Indeed, obedience must be given with genuine good will, because God loves a cheerful giver. If obedience is given with a bad will and with murmuring not only in words but even in bitterness of heart, then even though the command may be externally fulfilled it will not be accepted by God, for he can see the resistance in the heart of a murmurer. One who behaves in such a way not only fails to receive the reward of grace but actually incurs the punishment deserved by murmurers. Only repentance and reparation can save such a one from this punishment.
Benedict of Nursia, in his Rule for monastic communities

Childlikeness is lost in life and recovered in holiness.
    ... Alexander Yelchaninov (1881-1934)

I dwell in the high and holy place,
    and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the humble,
    and to revive the heart of the contrite.
Isaiah 57:15

Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of injustice,
    to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
    and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
    the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
    you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.
Isaiah 58:6-9

Only, live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent and hear about you, I will know that you are standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, and are in no way intimidated by your opponents. For them this is evidence of their destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing. 
Philippians 1:28-29

It is worse than useless for Christians to talk about the
importance of Christian morality, unless they are prepared to
take their stand upon the fundamentals of Christian theology.
It is a lie to say that dogma does not matter; it matters
enormously. It is fatal to let people suppose that Christianity
is only a mode of feeling; it is vitally necessary to insist
that it is first and foremost a rational explanation of the
    Dorothy Sayers

Incredible NYTimes interview of Marilynne Robinson, a gifted author whose
"novels are in conversation with -- at times tacitly, at times explicitly -- the stories of the Bible."

Yes, I'm a shameless cat lover. But this story should warm anyone's heart:

(The painting posted at the top of this post was made by Iris...
I'm still swooning over the artwork and the story behind it all)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Spaghetti Squash Part Deux

I bought a 3 lb spaghetti squash this week at Trader Joe's, so I ended up using the first half of the squash on this delicious recipe earlier this week, and used the second half tonight for this new recipe. Oh my stars -- I thought the first recipe was REALLY tasty, but this one approached perfection. I'm not kidding. Not only was it crazy easy (and fast) to make, but the textures and layers of flavor were fantastic. The mixture of spaghetti squash with the pasta noodles made the dish really hearty, the smokiness of the walnuts paired perfectly with the cheese, and the combination of breadcrumbs sauteed with garlic and rosemary coated the squash and pasta throughout with a light but tasty sauce. Best of all, the whole dish was very filling, yet was incredibly low in calories. So maybe I had two helpings...

I take no credit for either recipe -- both came from Vegetarian Times.

Seriously... do not skip this one.

Serves 4

1 small spaghetti squash (1½–2 lb.)
4 oz. multi-grain thin spaghetti or angel hair pasta (or gluten-free spaghetti)
⅓ cup chopped walnuts
2 Tbs. olive oil
¼ cup plain dry breadcrumbs (yep, I used GF breadcrumbs here)
3 cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
1 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2.  Pierce squash in several places with knife. Microwave 3 minutes on high power to soften. Slice off stem and blossom ends, and stand squash upright. Cut straight down length of squash. Remove seeds with spoon. Place squash halves cut side down on rimmed baking sheet, and add 1 1/2 cups water to cover baking sheet surface. Bake 30 minutes, or until squash yields when pressed.

3. Cool squash 10 minutes cut side up. Scrape with fork to release strands. Transfer strands to bowl.

4. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, and add to squash strands, mixing with two forks.

5. Toast walnuts in small skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes, or until browned and fragrant. Transfer to plate, and set aside.

6. Wipe out skillet, then heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs, and cook 1 minute. Add garlic and rosemary, and sauté 2 minutes, or until fragrant, and breadcrumbs are toasted. Add breadcrumbs to squash mixture, and toss to combine. Serve sprinkled with walnuts and cheese.

Vegetarian Times, October 2014 p.67

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Shpaghetti Shquash and Shpinach Shpecialties...

OK, maybe the title for this post is lame, but the RECIPE IS DEEEE-LICIOUS! I had bookmarked this when I saw it in my latest issue of Vegetarian Times, and I made it tonight.

Can't say I would have predicted that I'd be putting "spaghetti squash," "spinach" and "fritter" in the same sentence, but I'm a believer now. These little flying saucers of goodness melted in our mouths and were totally satisfying. Give 'em a try!

My only caveat: the recipe says the recipe will make 16 2-inch fritters; I made 8. I don't think I did anything wrong, but...

serves 4

A lightly spicy combination of spinach and spaghetti squash is shaped into 
crisp oven-baked fritters.

1 spaghetti squash (1½–2 lb.)
2 cups packed baby spinach
½ cup diced red bell pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs (I used some gluten free breadcrumbs I have stored in my freezer)
¼ cup all-purpose flour (again, GF)
¼ tsp. ground chipotle chile powder

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Pierce squash in several places with knife. Microwave 3 minutes on high power to soften. Slice off ends, and stand squash upright. Cut straight down length of squash. Remove seeds with spoon. Place halves cut side down on rimmed baking sheet, and add 11/2 cups water to cover surface. Bake 30 minutes, or until squash yields when pressed. (OK, this method of prepping the squash to be cut is PURE genius. SO. Much. Easier.)

3. Cool squash cut side up 10 minutes. Scrape halves with fork to release strands. Measure out 21/2 cups strands.

4. Meanwhile, spread spinach on baking sheet. Bake 2 minutes, or until just wilted. Cool. Squeeze dry, and chop.

5. Stir together spaghetti squash, bell pepper, egg, breadcrumbs, flour, chipotle powder, and spinach in bowl. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

6. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray, and increase oven temperature to 425°F.

7. Divide squash mixture into 16 2-inch disks; place on baking sheet. Bake 18 to 20 minutes, turning once.

from Vegetarian Times, Oct 2014, p. 69

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Quips, Quotes, & Questions 9-27-14

I suppose I should not try to look for a theme in the words that came my way this week. Nevertheless, there does seem to be several different streams that touch on how to shed the distractions that keep us from focusing primarily on Christ. Take some time to let these rattle around inside your head and heart.

God insists that He set up His throne in the heart, and reign in it, without a rival. If we keep Him from His right, it will not matter by what competitor.
William Wilberforce (1759-1833)

The cross for the first time revealed God in terms of
weakness and lowliness and suffering; even, humanly speaking,
of absurdity. He was seen thenceforth in the image of the most
timid, most gentle and most vulnerable of all living
creatures--a lamb. Agnus Dei! [The Lamb of God!]
    ... Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990)

Prayer is the act by which we divest ourselves of all false
belongings and become free to belong to God and God alone.
    ... Henri J. M. Nouwen (1932-1996)

We all want to turn away from anything that reveals the failure, pain, sickness and death beneath the brightly painted surface of our ordered lives. Civilization is, at least in part, about pretending that things are better than they are. We all want to be in a happy place, where everyone is nice and good and can fend for themselves. We shun our own weakness and the weakness of others. We refuse to listen to the cry of the needy. How easy it is to fall into the illusion of a beautiful world when we have lost trust in our capacity to make of our broken world a place that can become more beautiful.
Jean Vanier

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:18-19

Really excellent essay on our tendency to want to leave, rather than remain and build a community of stability where we are.

I did not intend my creatures to make themselves servants and slaves to the world’s pleasures. They owe their first love to me. Everything else they should love and possess, as I told you, not as if they owned it but as something lent them.
Catherine of Siena

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
(Ephesians 4:11-13)

Two years later, do not relent in praying for our brother in prison, Pastor Saeed Abedini, in Iran.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Quips, Quotes & Questions 9-20-14

“Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it had sprung from a wish dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams. By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. The sooner this shock of disillusionment comes to an individual and to a community, the better for both.” 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

(These words are especially poignant as we seek to build missional community on Santa Barbara's Westside, since Spring 2013)

To thee, O God, we turn for peace; but grant us, too, the blessed assurance that nothing shall deprive us of that peace, neither ourselves, nor our foolish, earthly desires, nor my wild longings, nor the anxious cravings of my heart. 
Søren Kierkegaard, 1813-1855

“When we are really honest with ourselves, we must admit that our lives are all that really belong to us. So it is how we use our lives that determines what kind of men we are. It is my deepest belief that only by giving our lives do we find life. I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness is to sacrifice ourselves for others in totally nonviolent struggle for justice.”
Cesar Chavez

“We can do not great things, only small things with great love. What is important is not how much you do, but how much love you put into doing it.”
Mother Teresa

You hollow us out, God, so that we may carry you, and you endlessly fill us only to be emptied again. Make smooth our inward spaces and sturdy, that we may hold you with less resistance and bear you with deeper grace.
Jan Richardson

Thou wilt never be spiritually minded and godly unless thou art silent concerning other men's matters and take full heed to thyself.
Thomas a Kempis, Of the Imitation of Christ, 1380-1471

“The Good News of the resurrection is not that we shall die and go home with him, but that he is risen and comes home with us, bringing all his hungry, naked, thirsty, sick, prisoner brothers with him.”
Clarence Jordan

And from the sublime to the ridiculous. My friend Nancy sent me this:

"From a non-cat person.  This is good.  Turn the sound off so you don't have to hear the giggling in the background and it's even better."