Saturday, February 25, 2012


Baklava would be an elegant thing to take to the bake sale tomorrow that's in conjunction with the Goods & Services Auction. With company this weekend and too-much-sleepiness on my part, the timing wasn't so good. Baklava is easy; it's just time-consuming. But worth it -- ah, deliciousness!

This morning I hauled out my thawed phyllo dough, ground up a pound and a half of almonds and walnuts and honey, melted nearly a pound of butter, and started assembling.
Pricing is hard. Marcy told me that desserts were selling for $2.50 a package, and to package my amounts accordingly. With it being all nuts and butter, it's not cheap.

There was a bake sale at our old church once, and I took baklava. The ladies couldn't understand why I had such a high price on such a small piece of dessert. Nobody touched the baklava for the first hour. Then a guest noticed it. "Baklava? For only $1.50?" She bought one piece, took it back to the dinner table, sampled it, and told everybody else at the table about it. Most of them went over to the bake-sale table, bought a piece or two, and then the Discoverer went back and purchased every single piece that was left after her friends had had a shot at it. The church ladies were puzzled. :-)

I did some online hunting for baklava prices at restaurants and through online sales. It looks like I came up with a good size to fit the appointed price-tag. And worst-case scenario is that people look at the price, avoid it, and I have to bring it home and eat it myself.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Science and Christianity

Most of us learned in school that science disproves Christianity.

But when we begin to look at science, it doesn't disprove anything in the Bible. This year at church, we've been watching some documentaries. They aren't apologetics, intended to "prove" details of the biblical record. But they are neat! God made things that we are only now discovering (and presumably things that we have not yet --and may never-- discover). But it delighted Him to create the intricacies of mathematics and the universe, the varieties of plant life, the loveliness of all the animal life, whether it's in our back yard or in the depths of the Pacific.

Christians revel in the beauties of creation. Science is something that Christians DO. Throughout history, the vast majority of scientists were Christians, spurred on by their faith in the God of the Bible.

So what happened?

Pastor suggested that the devil had to attack scientific knowledge and true scientific pursuit. If science is what Christians do, then that's something the devil can't let stand. Well, of course! Why didn't I see that?

Oh. Yeah. Because I'm still imbued with the brainwashing we got in public schools and from books and from the museums.

But the tide is turning. Christians are no longer shunning the sciences like we did for so many years.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rescued Pizza

Let's say a pizzeria was going to trash a pizza because the person who ordered it didn't bother to pick it up for hours and hours, and it was finally time for the restaurant to close. Which emotion rules? Gratitude that you are allowed to dumpster-dive the pizza (before it splashed into the garbage can)? Or disgust with the people who would do that to a business owner?

Few people would use a gun to threaten someone into handing over 20 bucks from a cash register. And yet it's very common for people to steal from a businessman by requesting services and then not coming in to pay for it.

A Holiness in Uncleanness?

It's rather oxymoronic, isn't it? And yet, where do we most clearly see God's holiness? In His separateness? In His perfect awesomeness? In His awesome perfectness?

No. His holiness is that He is willing to be contaminated by my uncleanness.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Let the Little Children Come to Me

I'm used to seeing the pastor lay his hands on adults and speak to them. It might be an ordination or installation. It might be while you're waiting in line for private confession. It might be in the hospital when a family member is ill. It might just be Bible class with an animated pastor.

But the children. There is something so dear and precious about seeing the man dressed in the stole and chasuble, down with one knee on the ground, placing his hands on the head of a toddler or preschooler, to speak Jesus' word of forgiveness into the child's ear -- a picture of Jesus' tenderness and compassion.

When Your Conscience Troubles You

Luther, on the Lord's Supper:

You've sinned here.  And you've sinned there.  When you want to be free from your trouble, then go to the Sacrament.  Say, "Although I have sinned, this body has not sinned.  This body is without guilt.  This body is offered for me, and this blood is shed for me for the remission of sins.  This I believe, and as a token of it I will receive the Sacrament."  When you do this, your sins are taken away and can cause you no more distress.  For who can then do any harm to you? 

Sermons, volume 2, published by Baker, page 229, paraphrased

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fat Tuesday


There was a Fat Tuesday party planned for today at Gary's work place.  Something else came up.  The party was not canceled.  It was rescheduled.  For Thursday.


A few of my co-workers brought goodies to work today.  After all, it's Fat Tuesday.

I heard the DJ's on the radio wishing people a fabulous Fat Tuesday.

When I was growing up, I'd never heard of Fat Tuesday.  I had some awareness that Mardi Gras was going wild in New Orleans.  But nobody we knew lived it up prior to Lent.  (That might've had something to do with Lutherans not fasting like the Catholics.)  I don't know if it's a cultural difference because of living in a different state or living in a different decade now.  But Fat Tuesday sure is a bigger deal than it used to be.

What blew me away this week, though, was the utter lack of understanding as to what it IS.  People think it's a day to eat treats and get fat.  Hence, Fat Tuesday.

[head shaking in astonishment....]

Monday, February 20, 2012

Presidents' Day

It turns out that it's not really Presidents' Day after.  It's Washington's birthday.

People had been celebrating Washington's birthday for nearly a century when Congress made it an official, legal holiday.  Then in the late 1960's, Congress was discussing the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill.  (That's the law that bopped nearly all the holidays to Monday, so now there are few people who actually know when Columbus landed in the Americas or when Washington's birthday is or when MLK's birthday is or when Memorial Day was.) 

Along with the UMHBill, Congress debated whether to change Washington's Birthday to a celebration of Washington's and Lincoln's birthdays.  I remember the fuss in Illinois from government workers who would be cut from two paid holidays to one, should this legislation pass.  That part of the bill failed.

But "Washington's Birthday" was no longer celebrated on Washington's birthday.  Somehow, as the years passed, Washington's birthday began to be known as Presidents' Day.  Part of it was because of teachers wanting to touch on more history than just the one president.  Part of it was advertisers.  There were probably other influences too.  Whatever the causes, the creation of "Presidents' Day" was something that grew out of society instead from a declaration of the government. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Chariots and Horses of Fire

In the story of Elijah's ascension (2 Kings 2), Elisha and Elijah are separated by the chariot and horses of fire, and then the whirlwind whisks away the senior prophet into heaven.

Interestingly, a few chapters later we read about the Syrians trying to continue their attacks against Israel.  But Elisha kept telling the Israelite king where the Syrians would be sneaking in, so the king kept putting watchmen in those spots.  When the Syrian king found out who was thwarting his attacks, he decided to take down Elisha.  He sent chariots and horses and a great army to surround Dothan.  When Elisha's servant woke up the next day and saw the armies, he flipped out.  But Elisha told him to chill because "there's more on our side than on theirs."  Then Elisha asked God to open the eyes of his servant, and the fellow saw hordes of chariots of fire and horses of fire.

I couldn't find anywhere else in the Bible where it spoke of chariots of fire and horses of fire.  The fact that these stories both happened to Elisha means something.  I don't know what.  At least, not yet.   (If you know, give me a hint.)