Minimalism, Monasticism, and Paris Hilton (my latest EO piece)

And here’s another one!

Minimalism, Monasticism, and Paris Hilton

My Writing on Evangelical Outpost

I meant to post links to these more consistently as they were published on Evangelical Outpost. Here are all of my current articles on the site (listed most recently to earliest), should you be interested in reading. (Another one is due to come out later this month.) Hope you enjoy!

How Should Christians Interact with Politics?

Learning to Not Be Judas

Ted Mosby Is Not a Hero

Giving Up: The Significance of Sacrifice

Finding Meaning

Force Yourself: Why Spirituality Sometimes Sucks

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This one’s for you, Miley

This one's for you, Miley

An original meme made by me.

For this journey we travel lightly

“We fast in order to be able to participate in the Passover of Christ, His death and Resurrection, at the end of our forty days. This is the work to which He calls us–to deny ourselves, to take up His cross and follow Him, to die with Him and rise with Him. For this journey we travel lightly, like the Israelites in the desert, hoping that God will sustain us to reach the goal of the great day of His rising, the day which has no end.

The Didache, an early Christian document which dates from the early second century and reflects the practice of the Church at the end of the first century, the apostolic era, tells us that the first Christians considered fasting an important part of their life in Christ. ‘Pray for enemies,’ it says, ‘fast for your persecutors.’ Fasting, we see, is a form of prayer, an aid to prayer. This document goes on to urge Christians to fast on every Wednesday and Friday. This practice of the very early Church, which we continue in the Orthodox Church today, is done as a way of partaking in the passion and death of the Lord, Who was betrayed by Judas on a Wednesday and put to death on a Friday.

To sum up our practice of fasting, we can say that we fast in order:

  • to repent of our worldliness
  • to weaken the tyranny of our bodily appetites and passions
  • to express our faith that it is the Word of God that sustains our life
  • to lighten our souls that they might face God in prayer and hear His word
  • to undergo a little death in and with Christ, in the chastening of our mortal flesh, so that we might rise with Him in the spiritually glorious body of immortality

Fasting must be positive, joyful. As Christ tells us, in Matthew 6:16, the Gospel read on the day before Lent begins: ‘When you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men…when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father Who is in secret; and your Father Who sees in secret will reward you.’ We cannot think that our fasting makes us better than others who do not fast. Such pride destroys and devalues the Fast. Fasting must be accompanied by humility, lowliness of heart, or it is worthless. It is this humility that enriches fasting and makes it joyful and radiant. The Fathers of the Church, as well as the Scriptures, make this abundantly clear. As Bishop Kallistos Ware tells us: ‘The tendency to overemphasize external rules about food in a legalistic way, and the opposite tendency to scorn these rules as outdated and unnecessary, are both alike to be deplored as a betrayal of true Orthodoxy.’ In the words of our Lenten hymn: ‘There are forty days in the Fast; let us keep them all with joy.’”

From “The Light of Orthodoxy” Radio Program, Fr. Thomas Mueller, Ss. Cyril & Methodius Orthodox Church, Milwaukee, WI

Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s trial should be a front page story…but it’s not

After inducing labor, Dr. Kermit Gosnell murdered live babies by severing their spinal cords with scissors. He spread diseases among patients with infected instruments. His practices resulted in the deaths of at least two women. He is charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, and his trial is currently underway in Pennsylvania.

And hardly anyone is reporting on it.

I don’t usually get involved in political issues through social media, but this is bigger than politics. Please, get informed about this and spread the word to as many people as you can.

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/04/why-dr-kermit-gosnells-trial-should-be-a-front-page-story/274944/

Recent (and successful!) adventures in food

The Orthodox Church is currently in its fourth week of Lent (our Lent varies from Catholic/Protestant Lent because we have a different date for Easter; the reasons for that merit their own post, but the “Date” section of the Easter Wikipedia page offers a pretty good summary, if you’re interested). As I’ve mentioned before, Orthodox Christians traditionally fast from meat and dairy products during Lent, so Jordan and I have been trying some new fast-friendly recipes this year. In the past week, we’ve made some delicious vegan discoveries that I’d like to share.

#1: Falafel. Or, really, most Middle Eastern food (they know how to eat). On the recommendation of our priest, we tried a little hole-in-the-wall Middle Eastern restaurant in town (aren’t those always the best kind?) and were far from disappointed. Good prices, better food. Fast, fresh, and the cook visited our table to see how we enjoyed our meal. We each got a falafel sandwich: falafel, hummus, and tabouli inside a pita pocket. We bought some frozen falafel and garbanzo beans (the restaurant is also a grocery store) and recreated the meal at home. We made fresh hummus in our Vitamix and vowed to never go back to store-bought again. This morning, I had a falafel “taco” for breakfast: falafel, spinach, onions, garlic, and tahini in a rice-flour tortilla. This leads me to another interesting discovery I’ve made, thanks to fasting: you don’t have to be limited to certain kinds of foods for certain meals. I eat vegetables for breakfast; I have soup as a snack. Just because it’s 9:00am doesn’t mean you have to eat bacon and eggs. Fasting encourages (to some extent, requires) me to think more creatively about what I eat.

#2: Ugly Soup.

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I have to credit this one to another blogger, Ruth, author of GraceLaced. I’ve been wanting to try this recipe for a while, and last night I got the chance. We shop at Costco, so often we find ourselves with half-full bags of vegetables on the verge of going bad just because we can’t eat them fast enough. I didn’t have the exact ingredients Ruth uses, but that’s the beauty of this recipe: you can use whatever you have on hand. We had tons of celery, carrots, and potatoes, so I used lots of those. I also used black beans instead of corn and spinach instead of cabbage. (And of course, I made it sans meat.) Like the ingredients, the measurements don’t need to be exact, either; I added a can-full of water to make it more “soupy” and help fill up the pot. It turned out great, and Jordan loved it, which is a win for me; I’m not really a natural chef, and sometimes when I try new recipes (especially when I deviate from the ingredients list) it doesn’t totally pan out. Thankfully, my own version of Ugly Soup was delicious, and I think it will be a new staple meal of ours, especially during fasting periods.

#3: Almond milk.

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Again, we have our Vitamix to thanks for this. It’s incredibly easy to make almond milk in the Vitamix: almonds plus water, blend until you have almond milk. Today, I wanted to make some coffee at home, and decided to try and make almond milk foam. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out, but I was pleased with the result. It wasn’t quite as foamy as what you might get at Starbucks, but after blending some almond milk in the Vitamix for a few minutes, I had a warm, frothy, creamy addition to my afternoon coffee.

Now, I want to emphasize that the overall point of physical fasting is one of spiritual significance. Lent is a time to prepare ourselves for the death and resurrection of Christ; it’s a time to foster spiritual discipline and growth, and fasting assists in that by reminding us of our physical limits as humans and freeing us from the control of certain passions. However, I like to document the other discoveries we make along the way, because changing your diet (for whatever reason) has multi-faceted results. I enjoy how the fast opens my mind about food in general.

First Contributor Article: Evangelical Outpost

I recently signed on as a contributor to Evangelical Outpost. My first article is live today! Check it out here.