Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Postprandial Meditations

It's after lunch, and time for Fausto's Bible verse of the day.

"Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgement on those who eat; for God has welcomed them."

[Romans 14:2-3]

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Stem Cells Again

Well, Bush appeared with the "Snowflake Babies" again, this time to veto the stem-cell research bill.

He tries to frame it as a moral issue, but I think he's dead wrong on the morals.

This is a very personal one for me. I'm on record with my position, and why I care so much, here.

Middle English Grilling Tips

Bored with the same-old same-old on your backyard gas grill? Here's a 15th century recipe for barbecued peacock that will have them talking about your cook-out for weeks afterward! Of course, you'll need a spit attachment, and a real fire with real coals is so much more authentic.

Pecok rosted. Take a Pecok, breke his necke, and kutte his throte, And fle him, þe skyn and the ffethurs togidre, and the hede still to the skyn of the nekke, And kepe the skyn and the ffethurs hole togiders; drawe him as an hen, And kepe þe bone to þe necke hole, and roste him, And set the bone of the necke aboue the broche, as he was wonte to sitte a-lyve, And abowe the legges to þe body, as he was wonte to sitte a-lyve; And whan he is rosted ynowe, take him of, And lete him kele; And þen wynde the skyn wið the fethurs and the taile abought the body, And serue him forthe as he were a-live.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Another typical UU day in Boston

So recently, fausto's office has seen fit to shuffle desks a little bit, and so by the agency of panentheistic grace it turns out that fausto's new closest working colleague is another UU from the parish three towns over.

So now this morning fausto and "alt-fausto" climb into a cab to go downtown and call on some clients and tell them about the desk shuffle, and lo and behold, the cabbie picks a route that swings right past 25 Beacon Street, and right next door is the Massachusetts State House, and the legislature happens to be meeting in special session as a constitutional convention to decide whether to endorse a referendum that would amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage, and there is a big "marriage equality" rally going on on the lawn, and fausto says to alt-fausto, "I wonder if we'll see anyone we recognize?", and alt-fausto says, "Gotta be," and fausto says, "Oh look, that looks like Kim Crawford Harvie, right in the middle, all decked out in her vestments," and alt-fausto says, "Pretty hot day for all those vestments," and fausto says, "Yeah, I thought I was uncomfortable just in this suit and tie," and then we're past the rally into the next block, and staring down the street at the front of Kings Chapel.


In a display of political courage not seen in Boston since the Tea Party, the legislators voted to adjourn the constitutional convention and resume debate two days after Election Day in November.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

In which fausto gnaws on a bone

PeaceBang surprised many of us with her sharp reaction to the comments that her blog post on the Epistle to the Ephesians drew.

She's right, I think, in her observation that we overeducated and argumentative UUs can get so absorbed in the sport of the argument that we can lose sight of the spiritual succor that religion and religious community are supposed to provide. However, I think she was also being somewhat unrealistic in her expectations of the kind of discussion that her initial post was likely to provoke.

It sounds as though she expected us all to gush, in chorus with her original comments, "Ooh, yeah, look how warm and fuzzy Ephesians is! What a great model for community! It speaks directly to my heart! You're right, he spoiled it at the end with the wives and slaves stuff, but let's ignore that!"

But the only word in her entire post that she boldfaced was the word "hate". So that, and not the warm fuzzies, was the cue everyone seemed to take up in their responses.

A serious UU examination of Ephesians has the potential to branch off in so many different directions that it seems naive to expect it to follow any preconceived path. As far as my own reactions go, if the conversation had not been so abruptly cut short, things that I think it would have been entirely appropriate to mention include:

(a) that Ephesians 4 informed John Winthrop's "City on a Hill" sermon directly (he quoted from it), and at least indirectly, the Mayflower Compact and the gathering and covenanting of most of our oldest UU churches, including (presumably) her own.

(b) that Christianity traditionally has been more concerned with personal relationships and less concerned with the structure of a just society than we UUs are, and it should be no surprise to see that same relative emphasis in Christian scripture.

(c) that it was the historic witness of our own churches and members, at least in large part, that helped bring broader questions of social structure into Christian and national consciousness, beginning not in the 20th century civil rights era nor during the Civil War, but even before our member churches began to call themselves "Unitarian" or "Universalist".

(d) that reading Ephesians 5-6 to condone the subjugation of wives or slaves is just plain bad exegesis, contrary to the author's intended meaning; and that we, as the heirs to a tradition of critical thought, should not uncritically accept such interpretations even if we do so only to disagree with them.

(e) that it's a fair guess that most UUs aren't familiar with any of the epistles; and if one swoops in out of left field to invite UUs to a close reading of Ephesians, filling in some background is necessary just to be sure we're all singing from the same hymnal; and if the instigator of the conversation doesn't, some other egghead will.

(f) whether, if our own churches once did possess the sense of community described in Ephesians, we have since lost it, and if so, why.

(g) whether it's an abandonment of our historic witness and (according to Winthrop) commission to conceive of our role in society as a "prophetic voice" warning society of its inherent injustices from the periphery, rather than as supplying an essential moral center and foundation, and doing the hard work of forming community from the ground up as Ephesians instructs, and leading society toward justice from within.