. . . figuring out what it means to love.

There are days when I just want to cry over humanity.

Many of you may have heard of Megan Meier, the 13-year-old girl who killed herself after her “online boyfriend” — actually the mother of a slighted friend — wooed her and then spurned her, saying “The world would be a better place without you.”

We know the name (and address, and workplace) of the woman who incited her death, but faces no criminal charges, because bloggers uncovered it. In fact, the blogging world has blasted a near-unanimous burst of fury against her. For some examples, read the post where her identity was first uncovered.

Read through the comments, if you like. Here are some typical examples:

“I seriously hope Lori Drew kills herself . . . Good riddance to bad effing trash.”

“If I was Megan’s father I would’ve put a bullet in her head. This is a sickening story. How dare LORI DREW, A KILLER not even have an ounce of remorse.”

“Some anonymous douche said ‘Do you want to drive this woman to suicide as well? Would that be fitting?’ Yes. Actually, it would be VERY fitting. And I highly doubt that any of us on here would feel any sympathy for the poor wittle witch who’d driven a little girl to suicide ON PURPOSE and WITHOUT REMORSE.”

Maybe I’m overreacting; I spent much of the day reading and talking about Civil War rhetoric, in which supposed moral and religious leadership sanctioned cold-blooded slaughter because they were so convinced that they were the right side. Well, some of them were. Slavery was a terrible wrong, just like Lori Drew committed a terrible wrong.

But that doesn’t mean that we can adopt the exact same tactics. And the fact that so many people see absolutely no contradiction in inciting the death of a woman because she incited someone else’s death . . . it makes me shudder.

This is how the church went astray, how it so often goes astray even now. We forget that the law of love governs all of our lives, and that even while we work for justice and righteousness, we need to constantly question whether each action fits within that law.

As is so often the case, the historic peace churches provide some of the best lived examples here. After the shooting in an Amish school that left five girls dead, the response from the grieving community was simple. “The Amish neighbor came that very night, around 9 o’clock in the evening, and offered forgiveness to the family [of the shooter].”


Buttery tart with red onion, bell pepper, and sharp cheddar

One of my contributions for Thanksgiving this year was my standard buttermilk pie, which is so yummy and easy that I make it whenever I have an excuse. I used the same pie crust recipe as last year: the NY Times’s all butter pie crust, which nicely expands to match a pound (four sticks) of butter with four cups of flour. I knew it’d give me extra pastry, even though I was using a double recipe of buttermilk pie to fill a rectangular cake tin, so I refrigerated the unbaked dough for later.

Today, I took the dough and pressed it out on a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet, shaping a rough circle with a rim around the edge. Meanwhile, I sliced a red onion into thin slivers, sauteed it in rendered turkey fat* until it was soft and starting to caramelize, and added thin slices of bell pepper to sautee until they were tender. I covered the crust with sliced sharp cheddar, piled the bell pepper and onion on top, and sprinkled it generously with salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme. Then into a 400 degree oven it went, until the cheese was melted, the peppers were beginning to crisp and brown, and the crust had turned a lovely golden-brown.

The result: savory, flavorful, gooey, crumbly perfection. Butter pastry dough really is a lovely thing. Next time, I must remember to photograph it before it gets devoured . . .

* – I am perhaps old-fashioned in this, but I love saving animal fat, on the infrequent occasions when I cook meat. It can be substituted for oil or butter for sauteeing vegetables, making a roux, browning lean meats, etc. Bacon/sausage fat adds smokey richness, and poultry fat (chicken, turkey, duck) adds a tantalizing savory flavor to any dish. It saves money, and you can get a surprising amount of it from a whole bird. I tend to toss all the scraps from a roast bird (bones, skin, fat, drippings, etc.) into a big pot with some water and chunks of onion and celery, simmer it for a few hours to get a good rich stock, then save the fat that rises to the top of the stock when it’s chilled.

Cranberry Sauce

Happy Thanksgiving, all. Have a recipe; I made this last year for Thanksgiving and amazed my friend CJ with the fact that non-canned cranberry sauce can be easy and addictively delicious. So upon his request, here’s my recipe. (Think of it as an approximation; for example, this time I substituted grapefruit for the oranges, and it was fabulous.)

3 lbs of cranberries (washed, with any bruised or bad cranberries removed)
3 cups of sugar
3 cups of orange juice or water
zest of 3 oranges
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
pinch of salt

1) Put all the ingredients in a largish pot.

2) Boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to keep the bottom from burning, until the berries have all burst and the liquid is thickened. This will probably take 20 minutes or so.

3) Taste for sweetness, and add more sugar if necessary. Once the sugar dissolves, cool and refrigerate.

Food shorts: roast chicken and walnut-olive pasta

I have half a dozen longer food posts written, and I really need to start uploading them. But in the meantime. . .

I’d been craving roast chicken for a while, and yesterday, stuck at home Saturday evening doing sermon edits and other work, I decided that I’d give in to temptation. The result was seriously the best roast chicken I’ve ever produced. The skin was crisp and salty and succulent, the drippings tasted so good that they made a fantastic side dish drizzled over plain rice, and the flesh was uniformly delicious, even the white meat; it managed to be moist and flavorful and rich-textured throughout. I began with a nice happy chicken (vegetarian, free-range, whatever; the corner Italian grocers sold it to me!), then mostly followed this roast chicken recipe, which various friends have recommended. I didn’t bother with trussing the drumsticks — partly because I couldn’t find my twine, and partly because I’ve never found it that necessary with a small chicken — and I stuffed the chicken with a lemon that had been pricked with a fork all over, so that the citrus aroma perfumed the meat and juices. Also, I find that one of the trickiest parts of roast chicken is figuring out what “done” is. I used a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat, took it out of the oven when it hit 160 (it rose to 165 while resting, which is the minimum that’s safe for poultry), and poked its thighs with a fork to make sure the juices ran clear. The result: roast chicken perfection.

Then, tonight, a friend came over to chat and cook dinner, and the grocer’s decided to close early, so we got to improvise, with highly successful results. I boiled water and tossed in some good tagliatelle pasta; really, any kind would work, especially those with a porous surface. While the pasta cooked, I heated two tablespoons of good olive oil over medium-high, then added a cup or so of coarsely chopped walnuts and sauteed them until they were brown and toasty. I tossed the oil and walnuts into the drained pasta, added about three tablespoons of black olive tapenade, and seasoned it with generous black pepper, nutmeg, and salt, adding some more olive oil to help it coat. The result was just wonderful, something I’ll have to add to my vegan cooking repertoire; the tapenade and toasted walnuts gave it a fantastic earthy richness. We ate it with my standard French salad (green leaf lettuce and a homemade vinaigrette) and some pungent Sicilian table cheese. Very satisfying.

Sermon: “Seeing with Resurrection Eyes”

Well, today was the big day. Today I preached to a full congregation for the first time.

And — despite a cold which my body decided to catch at the worst time! — I think it went well. My preaching class had gotten the “first-time jitters” out of me, and although I probably could’ve slowed down and paused even more, I think my delivery was good. (And everyone said very kind things afterward.)

I’ve been debating whether to upload my sermons and sermonettes in general, but I think I’d like to post this one, just to mark the occasion. I hope it doesn’t need to be said, but if you want to use this sermon elsewhere, I probably won’t mind — but you must ask me first.

The Lectionary readings for today were from Proper 27, Year C in the Book of Common Prayer. They may sound familiar to some of you from this morning, but if not, it’ll be helpful to read them before reading the sermon.

Finally, the writing style and layout may seem a bit unusual; it’s what my preaching professors call “oral/aural,” and it’s designed to facilitate writing (and reading) the text in a natural way for being heard.
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