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Thoughts & Visions




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Thoughts & Visions


  Thursday, February 4th, 2016

Christianity Is Not Sadomasochism

To entrust something to the Lord, to entrust this difficult moment to the Lord, to entrust myself to the Lord, to entrust to the Lord our faithful, we priests, bishops, entrust to the Lord our families, our friends and say to the Lord: “Take care of them; they are yours.” This is a prayer that we do not always say: the prayer of entrustment: “Lord I entrust this to you; You help take care of it.” It is a beautiful Christian prayer. It is the attitude of trust in the power of the Lord, and in the tenderness of God who is Father.

—Pope Francis


  Thursday, February 4th, 2016


It looks like flat-leaf parsley, has a clean “green” flavor like parsley, belongs to the same family (Apiaceae) as parsley and is sometimes called wild Japanese parsley, but mitsuba (Cryptotaenia japonica) is a distinct herb that’s often used in Japanese and Chinese cooking.

Mitsuba means “three leaves” in Japanese and refers to the way the leaves grow on tall, skinny stems. The trefoil leaves are large and tender, with a subtle flavor that can only be described as a cross of parsley, celery, and maybe a hint of cilantro.


  Thursday, February 4th, 2016


Enokitake is a long, thin white mushroom used in East Asian cuisine (such as that of China, Japan, Vietnam and Korea). These mushrooms are cultivars of Flammulina velutipes, also known by the name golden needle mushroom or lily mushroom. Wild forms differing in color, texture, and sliminess are called names including seafood mushrooms, winter mushrooms or winter fungus, velvet foot, velvet stem or velvet shank.

This mushroom is available fresh or canned, with experts recommending fresh enoki specimens with firm, white, shiny caps, rather than those with slimy or brownish stalks that are best avoided. It is traditionally used for soups, but can also be used for salads and other dishes. The mushroom has a crisp texture and can be refrigerated for approximately one week.


  Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016


Manihot esculenta (commonly called cassava (/kəˈsɑːvə/), Brazilian arrowroot, manioc, and tapioca) is a woody shrub native to South America of the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae. It is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. Though it is sometimes called yuca in Spanish, it differs from the yucca, an unrelated fruit-bearing shrub in the family Asparagaceae. Cassava, when dried to a powdery (or pearly) extract, is called tapioca; its fermented, flaky version is named garri.

Cassava is the third largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics, after rice and maize. Cassava is a major staple food in the developing world, providing a basic diet for over half a billion people. It is one of the most drought-tolerant crops, capable of growing on marginal soils. Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava, while Thailand is the largest exporter of dried cassava.

Wild populations of M. esculenta subspecies flabellifolia, shown to be the progenitor of domesticated cassava, are centered in west-central Brazil, where it was likely first domesticated more than 10,000 years ago. Forms of the modern domesticated species can also be found growing in the wild in the south of Brazil. By 4,600 BC, manioc pollen appears in the Gulf of Mexico lowlands, at the San Andrés archaeological site. The oldest direct evidence of cassava cultivation comes from a 1,400-year-old Maya site, Joya de Cerén, in El Salvador. With its high food potential, it had become a staple food of the native populations of northern South America, southern Mesoamerica, and the Caribbean by the time of the Spanish conquest. Its cultivation was continued by the colonial Portuguese and Spanish.

Cassava was introduced to Africa by Portuguese traders from Brazil in the 16th century. Maize and cassava are now important staple foods, replacing native African crops. Cassava is sometimes described as the “bread of the tropics” but should not be confused with the tropical and equatorial bread tree (Encephalartos), the breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) or the African breadfruit (Treculia africana).

No continent depends as much on root and tuber crops in feeding its population as does Africa. In the humid and subhumid areas of tropical Africa, it is either a primary staple food or a secondary costaple. In Ghana, for example, cassava and yams occupy an important position in the agricultural economy and contribute about 46% of the agricultural gross domestic product. Cassava accounts for a daily caloric intake of 30% in Ghana and is grown by nearly every farming family. The importance of cassava to many Africans is epitomised in the Ewe (a language spoken in Ghana, Togo and Benin) name for the plant, agbeli, meaning “there is life.”


  Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

Saint Brigid’s Day

Imbolc or Imbolg (pronounced i-molg), also called (Saint) Brigid’s Day (Irish: Lá Fhéile Bríde, Scottish Gaelic: Là Fhèill Brìghde, Manx: Laa’l Breeshey), is a Gaelic festival marking the beginning of spring. Most commonly it is held on 1 February, or about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The date of Imbolc is thought to have been significant in Ireland since the Neolithic period. This is based on the alignment of some Megalithic monuments. For example, at the Mound of the Hostages on the Hill of Tara, the inner chamber is aligned with the rising sun on the dates of Imbolc and Samhain.

Imbolc is strongly associated with Saint Brigid (Old Irish: Brigit, modern Irish: Bríd, modern Scottish Gaelic: Brìghde or Brìd, anglicised Bridget) in her role as a fertility goddess. On Imbolc Eve, Brigid was said to visit virtuous households and bless the inhabitants. As Brigid represented the light half of the year, and the power that will bring people from the dark season of winter into spring, her presence was very important at this time of year.

Imbolc was traditionally a time of weather divination, and the old tradition of watching to see if serpents or badgers came from their winter dens may be a forerunner of the North American Groundhog Day. In some western countries in the Northern Hemisphere, the “official” first day of spring is almost seven weeks (46–48 days) after Groundhog Day, on March 20 or March 21; in others, that date is the middle of spring, just as the solstice in June is midsummer day.

The custom could have been a folk embodiment of the confusion created by the collision of two calendrical systems. Some ancient traditions marked the change of season at cross-quarter days such as Imbolc when daylight first makes significant progress against the night. Other traditions held that spring did not begin until the length of daylight overtook night at the Vernal Equinox. So an arbiter, the groundhog/hedgehog, was incorporated as a yearly custom to settle the two traditions. Sometimes spring begins at Imbolc, and sometimes winter lasts six more weeks until the equinox.

Illustration by Karin Bolstad

  Monday, February 1st, 2016

Made for Goodness

Before you speak the word of worry or worship I hear you.
Before you sing your delight or moan your anguish I speak.
I am here.
I am as close as prayer.
I am breathing in your breath.

—Desmond and Mpho Tutu

  Sunday, January 31st, 2016

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

—Galatians 3:28


  Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

PJ Harvey & Patti Smith

Photo by Flo Kohl


  Friday, January 15th, 2016


Tempeh is a traditional soy product originally from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form. Tempeh is unique among major traditional soy foods in that it is the only one that did not originate from the Sinosphere cuisine.

It originated in today’s Indonesia, and is especially popular on the island of Java, where it is a staple source of protein. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but it is a whole soybean product with different nutritional characteristics and textural qualities. Tempeh’s fermentation process and its retention of the whole bean give it a higher content of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamins. It has a firm texture and an earthy flavor which becomes more pronounced as it ages. Because of its nutritional value, tempeh is used worldwide in vegetarian cuisine, where it is used as a meat analogue.

Tempeh begins with whole soybeans, which are softened by soaking, and dehulled, then partly cooked. Specialty tempehs may be made from other types of beans, wheat, or may include a mixture of beans and whole grains.

A mild acidulent, usually vinegar, may be added to lower the pH and create a selective environment that favors the growth of the tempeh mold over competitors. A fermentation starter containing the spores of fungus Rhizopus oligosporus or Rhizopus oryzae is mixed in. The beans are spread into a thin layer and are allowed to ferment for 24 to 36 hours at a temperature around 30°C (86°F). In good tempeh, the beans are knitted together by a mat of white mycelium.

Traditional tempeh is often produced in Indonesia using Hibiscus tiliaceus leaves. The undersides of the leaves are covered in downy hairs known technically as trichomes to which the mold Rhizopus oligosporus can be found adhering in the wild. Soybeans are pressed into the leaf, and stored. Fermentation occurs resulting in tempeh.

Under conditions of lower temperature, or higher ventilation, gray or black patches of spores may form on the surface—this is not harmful, and should not affect the flavor or quality of the tempeh. This sporulation is normal on fully mature tempeh. A mild ammonia smell may accompany good tempeh as it ferments, but it should not be overpowering. In Indonesia, ripe tempeh (two or more days old) is considered a delicacy.

The soy carbohydrates in tempeh become more digestible as a result of the fermentation process. In particular, the oligosaccharides associated with gas and indigestion are greatly reduced by the Rhizopus culture. The fermentation process also reduces the phytic acid in soy, which in turn allows the body to absorb the minerals that soy provides.

In the kitchen, tempeh is often prepared by cutting it into pieces, soaking in brine or salty sauce, and then frying. Cooked tempeh can be eaten alone, or used in chili, stir frys, soups, salads, sandwiches, and stews. Tempeh’s complex flavor has been described as nutty, meaty, and mushroom-like. It freezes well, and is now commonly available in many western supermarkets, as well as in ethnic markets and health food stores. Tempeh performs well in a cheese grater, after which it may be used in the place of ground beef (as in tacos). When thin-sliced and deep-fried in oil, tempeh obtains a crisp golden crust while maintaining a soft interior—its sponge-like consistency makes it suitable for marinating. Dried tempeh (whether cooked or raw) is more portable and less perishable and may be used as a stew base. Sometimes when tempeh diced and left, they will create white feathery fluff which bonds the cut—this is normal and still edible.

  Friday, January 15th, 2016

Boredom and uncertainty—that’s where creativity is born.

—Lynda Barry

  Friday, January 8th, 2016

Many happy returns (greeting)

“Many happy returns” is a greeting which is used by some on birthdays, and by others in response to “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year .” The term itself refers to the passing year. Since the 18th century this has been used as a salutation to offer the hope that a happy day being marked would recur many more times. It is now primarily used, by some, on birthdays. Prior to the mid-19th century, it was used at any celebratory or festive event. The phrase is more common in British English and Indian English than in Canadian English or American English.

An alternative explanation is that “returns” here is used in the sense of “yield” or “profit” that it is still found in “investment returns.” Therefore “many happy returns of the day” would be a wishing a person a rewarding day, full of happiness. This use has been traced back to Joseph Addison in 1716.

“Many happy returns” is Winnie-the-Pooh’s preferred method of wishing people a happy birthday, as seen throughout the story “In Which Eeyore has a Birthday and Gets Two Presents” in the 1926 collection Winnie-the-Pooh.

  Friday, January 8th, 2016

Bread and Song

Ok, so when people in England started translating the Latin bible into Old English, somewhere around 800 A.D, they chose hlaford for the Dominus of the Latin. This word combines two Anglo-Saxon terms: hlaf, for loaf, and weard, for ward, and refers to the person who would make sure the community always had bread. Lady, similarly, is derived from hlæf-dige, “loaf-kneader.”

On the reckless and beautiful poetry that kicked off the translation of the Vulgate into English, cf. Caedmon’s Hymn, circa 670 A.D.

Ramshaw says that “all human speech must be broken to accurately describe God”—and points out that our propensity to forget that we are speaking in metaphor is most pernicious when we imagine the kingdom of God as being the perfection of existing pyramidal power structures. She says we know when we pray to God as our rock that God is not a rock but one does not respond quite so quickly “But of course God is not a king.” She keeps appealing to the flip-side of the incarnation message: we can’t know God by imagining ourselves made larger or better. There will always be at least one human loaf-watcher on the make. We can only know God through Christ (which I’ve heard you say time and again). If there’s a particular theme in her reforms it would be that all our conceptual mappings be threaded with the significance of God’s mercy.

I think we love the Word, as we love any name, not for itself, but for the way what it signifies transforms our hearts, our minds and our world.

Like Caedmon, we have the need to sing.

There’s a old familiar story
An old familiar rhyme
To everything there is a season
To every purpose there’s a time

A time to love and come together
A time when love longs for a name
A time for questions we can’t answer
Though we ask them just the same

—Kate Wolf, Here in California

  Friday, January 8th, 2016

Caedmon’s Hymn

Now we should praise the Guardian of the Heavenly Kingdom
the Ruler’s power and understanding
the work of the Bringer of Glory.
How you, eternal Lord, established the beginning of every wondrous thing.
You first created Heaven as a roof for the children of human kind;
the holy Creator.
Then the Guardian of human kind, the eternal Lord,
afterward adorned the earth.
The Lord Almighty created the world for us.


  Friday, January 8th, 2016

The Difference Between Fruits and Vegetables

According to botanists, a fruit is the part of the plant that develops from a flower. It’s also the section of the plant that contains the seeds. The other parts of plants are considered vegetables. These include the stems, leaves and roots—and even the flower bud.

The following are technically fruits: avocado, beans, peapods, corn kernels, cucumbers, grains, nuts, olives, peppers, pumpkin, squash, sunflower seeds and tomatoes. Vegetables include celery (stem), lettuce (leaves), cauliflower and broccoli (buds), and beets, carrots and potatoes (roots).

  Friday, January 8th, 2016


The concept of hypostasis as the shared existence of spiritual and corporal entities has been used in a number of religious and intellectual settings. The word hypostasis (Greek ὑπόστασις) means underlying state or underlying substance, and is the fundamental reality that supports all else.

In Neoplatonism the hypostasis of the Soul, Intellect (nous) and the One was addressed by Plotinus. In Christian theology, a hypostasis or person is one of the three elements of the Holy Trinity.

Aristotle used hypostasis in reference to a material substratum underlying change in the unqualified sense of generation and corruption, and otherwise in reference to ousía or substance in a secondary sense for genera and species understood as hylomorphic forms. Primarily, however, he used it with regard to his category of substance, the specimen (“this person” or “this ox”) or individual, qua individual, who survives accidental change and in whom the essential properties inhere that define those universals. In contrast, Plato and later Neoplatonism, spoke of the objective reality of a thing or its inner reality (as opposed to outer appearance or illusion). Plotinus taught that God exists in Three Hypostases, The One, The Divine Mind and The Word-Soul. In the Christian Scriptures this seems roughly its meaning at Hebrews 1:3. Allied to this was its use for “basis” or “foundation” and hence also “confidence,” e.g., in Hebrews 3:14 and 11:1 and 2 Corinthians 9:4 and 11:17.