Saturday, January 20, 2007

Constitutional Oath

Normally, public officials must take an oath of office in which they swear to uphold the Constitution. That's changing in Wisconsin, though.

In last fall's elections, Wisconsinites approved a ban on gay "marriage." In Madison, however, local results were strongly against the ban. Many public officials are scandalized by this constitutional amendment and are now unwilling to swear to uphold the state constitution. The Madison city council voted this week to allow elected and appointed officials to make their oath without swearing to uphold the constitution we actually have. They are given the option of making a statement (either verbally or in writing) that declares they are taking the oath of office "under protest" and will work to change the state constitution where they disagree with it.

I can understand a desire to go into politics to work for your cause, even if (maybe "especially if") you don't agree with the status quo. I can see that someone might say he can't support everything in the constitution. Theoretically, this exemption should be allowed for conservatives and liberals alike. It also seems that a candidate's desire for one of these exemptions should be known by the voters prior to the election.

But even if I try really hard to see their side of it, there's still one thing I can't get over. With that kind of disclaimer, one wonders, "What's the point of taking the oath at all?"

You can read the AP story here.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thesis XXIII

Yesterday, I was remembering a discussion with my father-confessor and his father-confessor, regarding one of "grandpa-confessor's" sermons. Because of recent discussions, I wanted to take a peek at which one of Walther's Law/Gospel theses fit the situation. So I quickly skimmed the first couple of pages of the book, and Thesis 23 caught my eye. I got distracted from my initial quest. Upon exploration, I noticed the following quotes.

From Walther's Law and Gospel:

The Word of God is not rightly divided ... when an endeavor is made, by means of the commands of the Law rather than by the admonitions of the Gospel, to urge the regenerate to do good.

And some quotes from the lecture in support of the thesis:

Page 381: The attempt to make men godly by means of the Law and to induce even those who are already believers in Christ to do good by holding up the Law and issuing commands to them, is a very gross confounding of Law and Gospel.

Page 382: Concerning the new covenant, ... [God] is not going to issue any commandments, but is going to write the Law directly into their mind and give them a new and pure heart, so that they shall not need to be plagued with the Law, with enforcements and urgings: Thou shalt do this! Thou shalt do that! because that will not help matters at all.

Page 384: This is an experience which you may have had personally. After a long season of sluggishness and lukewarmness, during which you began to hate yourself because you saw no way to change your condition, you happen to hear a real Gospel sermon, and you leave the church a changed man and rejoice in the fact that you may believe and are a child of God. You suddenly become aware of the fact that it is not difficult to walk in the way of God's commandments; you seem to walk in it of your own accord. [Almost sounds like Walther is saying that walking in the way of God's commands happens on spiritual auto-pilot.]

Page 386: To make people godly, [the rationalists] preach ethics with great earnestness.... [The papists] preach ethics continually ....

Page 387-8: This confounding of Law and Gospel occurs ... also in the orthodox Church... when ministers become aware that all their Gospel-preaching is useless because gross sins of the flesh still occur among their hearers.... The preacher may come to the conclusion that he has preached too much Gospel.... But he is mistaken.... The reason why congregations are corrupt is invariably this, that its ministers have not sufficiently preached the Gospel to the people.

I suppose it might not be helpful to toss quotes out there. After all, quotes "sound" different when they're taken out of context, and when the terms within the quotes are understood differently by different hearers. I've had conversations with homeschool friends where we can toss Bible verses back and forth at each other, and have not come to agreement. I've had theological debates with friends where Church-Father quotes are tossed around, or where we quote the Confessions back and forth at each other. I've seen "quote wars" where Luther appears to be contradicting himself. So I'm quite skeptical as to the benefit of putting quotes out there. Nevertheless, I thought these were rather interesting in light of recent conversations.

Care for a Snooty Title?

I saw this on Melynda's blog, and it just looked like fun!! ... even if it did pick "discombobulated" for me. LOL!

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Imperial Majesty Susan the Discombobulated of Kesslington under Ox

Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Vanilla Beans, Anyone?

I recently received my order from an herb wholesaler. With the price I was paying at the grocery store, I figured two packets of spices and herbs from the grocery store would be about equivalent to the price I'd pay for a whole pound from this wholesaler. So even if some of the spices got old and went to waste, I'd still be ahead financially.

I go through a lot of dried parsley. The minimum order for most items is a pound. I figured I'd go with two pounds instead of one because we use so much parsley. So I open up the box.... Do you know how much a pound of parsley is? It's like a gallon! Turns out that those huge jars of parsley I was buying at the store are only an ounce. Well, I won't need to buy parsley in 2007 any more. Maybe not in 2008 either.

I also bought a few pounds of dried apples. When we tasted them, they were a little bland. My guess is that the dried apples from the grocery store are spiked with sugar or corn syrup. I know they douse the dried pineapple and dried bananas with all sorts of sugar. These unsweetened apples may not entice the kids into snacking on them as I'd anticipated, but they'll be good for putting in oatmeal or cookies.

Now to the point of the post. Is there anybody we see in Real Life who needs a vanilla bean or two or three? Vanilla prices have gone up. Last time I started a batch of extract, the cost of one vanilla bean was $6, and two of them were $10. Shoot -- I liked paying $2 per bean at the health food store. (I can't imagine what they cost now at the grocery store. The grocery store used to charge three times as much as the health food store. I bet the price-difference between the two has narrowed.) So from this wholesaler, I ordered the minimum allowable amount of vanilla beans: 1/4 pound. I figured if I got four beans, I was already saving money; anything more would be a bonus. Turns out that I got 29 vanilla beans. 29! So Laura, Anthea, Leila, Katie, Mom, Wolfs? Anybody have a use for a couple of beans? I'd planned to start some more vanilla extract going, but this is a lot of beans for that. If nobody wants beans, we're going to grind some up in ice cream and have reeeeeally delicious vanilly ice cream. Yummmmmmm!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Pizza Lentils

Another one of my frequently used recipes came from Jennifer T. It too fulfills all five requirements for being an ideal recipe. If you're scared of lentils and legumes, I gotta tell you that many an avowed lentil-hater has loved this recipe.

Here is the "serves 8" version
(which really only serves 3-4 here).
In other words, this makes a 13x9.

Simmer together for 30 minutes:
2 cups dry lentils
4 cups water
1 tsp salt

While simmering,
brown 1-2# pork sausage
with a chopped onion.
Stir in 1/2 cup flour
and 1/2 tsp dried garlic.
Mix in 1 quart canned tomatoes.

Mix together lentils and sausage.
Pour into 13x9.
Sprinkle with mozarella.
Bake at 350 for about 25-35 minutes.

My family-sized version (two 13x9's):

1# bag of lentils
7 cups water
2 tsp salt

2# sausage
2 onions
several cloves garlic
1.25 cups flour
1 quart canned tomatoes

1-2# grated mozarella (or less)

Monday, January 15, 2007


Children were ecstatic when they went to bed last night, anticipating the snowfall they'd find in the morning. Our last snow was December 1. Our topmost snow-lover "couldn't" go out and play in it because he'd seriously outgrown his snowpants. Having received snowpants as a Christmas gift, he's been itchin' to break 'em in. Another little snow-lover was told by her cardiologist that "playing in the snow" for a few weeks must be confined to throwing snowballs at trees or other targets: no snowball fights, no sliding or sledding, no making angels, and definitely no snowmen! So she's been itchin' to get out in a real snowfall too.

So why have they no incentive to go outdoors this afternoon? Was shoveling the walks this morning enough snow-time? Maybe they're getting old and grown-up and boring like me.

I gotta admit, though, I am so glad I'm not trying to make my way to Fort Wayne today on these messy, slippery roads. But we sure are hoping all our loved ones and buddies make it there safely.

Is Sanctification Synergistic?

Probably every Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinist homeschooler has had the experience of being told that he isn't really saved. Many of our friends in the homeschool group believe that converion is a synergistic activity: it's something that God and I do together. If my children and I have not made a decision for Jesus, prayed the Believer's Prayer, and invited Him into our lives, we obviously have no use for conversion. We obviously are not saved. We haven't "done" the thing we need to do to participate in our conversion.

We know that's wrong, though. Even though we reject that we are participating in our conversion, we are still nevertheless converted. We cherish what God has done for us in our conversion. Our conversion is immensely important to us.

Some Lutherans believe sanctification and good works are "synergistic" activities: that is, I cooperate with God. Other Lutherans believe that sanctification and good works are monergistic activities: something God works in us though His sacraments, through the call to repentance (that is, real and smiting law), and through the forgiveness of sin (that is, the bestowal of the Gospel).

If a Lutheran believes that sanctification is a monergistic activity, he may be told that he has no use for sanctification. But it isn't true. He still values sanctification. He is still being sanctified. He may disagree with another Lutheran about how that sanctification is being wrought in his life. But that doesn't mean he's averse to sanctification.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Homeschooling a Doctorate?

My husband was interested in doing further study at the seminary. However, it costs a lot, and we don't have the money. It would take a lot of time in Indiana, and he doesn't have that either. And it would involve a lot of driving around the south end of Lake Michigan -- enough to drive a person insane. He didn't want the degree for prestige reasons: who's really gonna care whether he has letters behind his name? Another degree certainly wouldn't make any difference in his salary. So the only purpose of the study is LEARNING. (How's that for a homeschooler's viewpoint? Studying only for the sake of learning something?? Who'da thunk it possible?)

So he dove into teaching himself Latin. He and our friend Tim May got together every other Friday for a year, wading into the Wheelocks Latin textbook. (Mommies and kiddoes sure liked the excuse for play-dates twice a month!) Then Gary was ready to dive into translating, essentially teaching himself Latin through his translating efforts. (Reminds me of Nat Bowditch in one of our favorite books, Carry On, Mr Bowditch.)

A few weeks ago, he finished translating his book: Peter Zorn's The History of the Communion of Infants: Illustrated from the Ancient Times of the Church: First from the West then of the East, after a series of ten centuries and [after] manifold variations. It took a huge amount of work, translating not only Latin, but also some Greek, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, and Spanish. There were 1300 bibliographical references, and that was no small job to find the translations of all those personal names and place names. Coral and I each got copies of the book for Christmas. (Pretty thrilling until we found out he was looking for proofreaders. LOL!)

I want to brag on him and do the husband-version of the Genius-Child Dance. But somehow, "Genius-Husband Dance" just doesn't have the same ring to it...

Jane's Cowboy Soup

A couple of months ago, I declared Polly's recipe one of the ideal ones.
1) It is quick and easy to make.
2) It is inexpensive.
3) It is nutritious.
4) It uses whole-food ingredients that are often on hand or easily stored.
5) Most importantly, it tastes great!

Another recipe that meets those requirements is Jane's

Cowboy Soup.

Brown 1# ground beef
with 1 small onion, chopped.

Add (liquid and all)
1# can of pinto beans
1# can of black beans
1# can of kidney beans
1# can of navy beans (or great northerns)
1# can of tomatoes
4-oz can of green chilies (optional)
10-16 oz of frozen corn.

When heated, add seasonings.
Jane's recipe says to mix:
1 pkg Hidden Valley Ranch dry dressing mix
1 pkg taco seasoning mix
2 cups water,
and add to soup.
Simmer for 15-20 minutes or more.

I cringe at the price of those little packages, so instead of the seasoning packages, I add:
1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt (or more)
1 tsp dillweed
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
a few cloves minced garlic (or 1 tsp dried garlic powder).
Simmer 15-20 minutes or more.
Shortly before serving, remove from heat and add
1 cup buttermilk.

This soup is excellent when it's naked in your bowl; it's even better when dressed up with cheddar, asiago, or monterey jack, sour cream, and/or Fritos.

In this house, that recipe serves 3. I suspect (for most households) it would serve 8.