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Thoughts & Visions


  Sunday, May 28th, 2017

Mung bean

The mung bean (Vigna radiata), alternatively known as the moong bean, green gram, or mung; Sanskrit मुद्ग / mudga, is a plant species in the legume family. The mung bean is mainly cultivated in India, China, Korea, and Southeast Asia.

While mung beans may be new to most people in the U.S, they’ve been a part of traditional Ayurvedic diets in India for thousands of years. Mung beans are considered “one of the most cherished foods” in the ancient Indian practice that’s been a traditional form of medicine since roughly 1,500 B.C.

Long ago in India, there lived a very saintly person. Mung beans and rice with yogurt was his entire diet (today known as ‘kitchari’). He would make it each night and eat it for breakfast the next morning. This man was a radiant light, just from the food he ate. People would come from all over to be healed by him. Each morning they would form a line outside his door. Whatever sickness they had, he would give them mung beans and rice with yogurt and they would be cured! Since then, mung beans have also been called the “food of the angels,” the sattvic, heavenly food of yogis. You can live simply by eating this diet alone for years and be very healthy.

  Saturday, May 27th, 2017

Hindu Hospitality

Sheela Venkatakrishnan of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, told Hinduism Today, “You offer your guest the same love and respect that you would offer to God. Simple! A striking example of hospitality is when the whole town of Kumbakonam, where my father hails from, turns host during the week of the Mahamaham.” Thousands upon thousands of people come for the holy bath in the tank of the Kumbareswaran temple, and every home opens its doors to accommodate and feed all who reach its doorstep. No one is turned away.

Sheela explained, “Houses in the villages and towns of Tamil Nadu usually have a fairly large platform just outside their front door, called a thinnai. This serves two purposes. One is temporary storage of grain during the harvest and also an airy place to sleep during the hot and humid summers. It is not unusual for a traveller to use this as a resting place. You could open your front door in the morning and find someone sleeping on your thinnai. This is where you would find the strangers during Mahamaham. Of course, family and friends would be accommodated inside the house. But everyone is fed, irrespective of caste. It is possible that in the morning there is one set of people, in the afternoon another and a totally different group at night. The meals served would be according to whatever time of day it is. Also, the bath area often has a separate access from outside the house.”

In her grandfather’s day, Sheela noted, it was the practice for the head of the household to stand at his doorstep at mealtime and ask loudly, not once but thrice, “Is there someone who needs to be fed?” Sometimes a traveler or a poor man would come in for food. It was only after the guest had been fed that family would eat—one of the explicit instructions in the dharma shastras.

  Sunday, May 14th, 2017

Sonnet to a Stilton Cheese

Stilton, thou shouldst be living at this hour
And so thou art. Nor losest grace thereby;
England has need of thee, and so have I—
She is a Fen. Far as the eye can scour,
League after grassy league from Lincoln tower
To Stilton in the fields, she is a Fen.
Yet this high cheese, by choice of fenland men,
Like a tall green volcano rose in power.
Plain living and long drinking are no more,
And pure religion reading “Household Words”,
And sturdy manhood sitting still all day
Shrink, like this cheese that crumbles to its core;
While my digestion, like the House of Lords,
The heaviest burdens on herself doth lay.

—G.K. Chesterton

  Saturday, May 13th, 2017


Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is a plant cultivated for its grain-like seeds and as a cover crop. Despite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat, as it is not a grass. Instead, buckwheat is related to sorrel, knotweed, and rhubarb. Because its seeds are eaten and rich in complex carbohydrates, it is referred to as a pseudocereal. The cultivation of buckwheat grain declined sharply in the 20th century with the adoption of nitrogen fertilizer that increased the productivity of other staples.

Common buckwheat was domesticated and first cultivated in inland Southeast Asia, possibly around 6000 BCE, and from there spread to Central Asia and Tibet, and then to the Middle East and Europe. Domestication most likely took place in the western Yunnan region of China. Buckwheat is documented in Europe in Finland by at least 5300 BCE as a first sign of agriculture, and in the Balkans by circa 4000 BCE in the Middle Neolithic. Russian-speakers call buckwheat гречка (grechka) meaning “of Greece”, due to its introduction in the seventh century by the Byzantine Greeks; the same is the case in Ukrainian.

The oldest remains found in China so far date to circa 2600 BCE, while buckwheat pollen found in Japan dates from as early as 4000 BCE. It is the world’s highest-elevation domesticate, being cultivated in Yunnan on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau or on the plateau itself. Buckwheat was one of the earliest crops introduced by Europeans to North America. Dispersal around the globe was complete by 2006, when a variety developed in Canada was widely planted in China. In India, buckwheat flour is known as kuttu ka atta and is culturally associated with Navratri festival. On the day of this festival, food items made only from buckwheat are consumed.

Kasha is one of the most popular Russian national dishes, the second after shchi. Kasha is commemorated in the Russian saying, “щи да каша – пища наша” (shchi da kasha – pishcha nasha) literally “shchi and kasha are our food” or, more loosely, “cabbage soup and porridge are our kind of food.”

Kasha can be used at any meal, either as a dish in itself, or a side dish. They are cooked from a great variety of grains and their derivatives. There are three main types of Russian kasha: liquid, viscous and thick. The most loved in Russia is crumbly kasha seasoned with butter. Hence the Russian saying, “you’ll never spoil kasha with a lot of butter.” The most common additives for kasha are dairy products—milk, thick sour milk, sour cream, curd and cream.

As an Ashkenazi-Jewish comfort food, kasha is often served with onions and brown gravy on top of bow tie pasta, known as Kasha varnishkes. Kasha is a popular filling for knishes and is sometimes included in matzah-ball soup.

The buckwheat plant is celebrated in Kingwood, West Virginia, at the Preston County Buckwheat Festival, where people can participate in swine-, cattle-, and sheep-judging contests, vegetable contests, and craft fairs. The area fire departments also play an important role in the series of parades that occur there. Each year, a King Buckwheat and Queen Ceres are elected. Also, many rides are available, and homemade, homegrown buckwheat cakes and sausage are served.

  Sunday, May 7th, 2017



  Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

—Susan Ertz

  Saturday, April 29th, 2017

Romans 8:38-39

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  Saturday, April 29th, 2017

Thy Will, Not Mine, Be Done

What really captured my attention is how Augustine’s description of humility doesn’t fit contemporary memory about Christian humility. The story is complex, but the argument I make is that Christian humility got repurposed for immanent political use by Hobbes, and most contemporary “memory” of Christian humility is really just dealing with this truncated version. To give an example, most contemporary scholars claim Christian humility was all about having a really low and debased self-estimate, recognizing you’re a sinner, a worm, etc. But when you read Augustine, you see that he had all that and still claimed he lacked humility. For Augustine (and Aquinas) humility primarily qualifies our will. Humility is the will to dependence over against the will to independence, which is pride. And for Augustine, this is the heart of the Christian difference. Once he was asked what is the heart of Christian teaching and he said, first, humility, second, humility, and third, humility. In the essay is shown how extreme and uncomfortable Christian humility is. I mean, it was the main thing that made the pagans say, “No thank you!” so you know something has gone wrong when contemporary secularists are championing humility. They’re working with a counterfeit.

—Kent Dunnington

  Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

John 3:19-21

This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.

  Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Durondeau pears

The Durondeau pear was originally cultivated in the garden of M. Durondeau, in the village of Tongre-Notre-Dame, Belgium in 1811. They are also sometimes called Tongre or De Tongre pears, after the city.

According to CF Fresh, the variety was grown in the US as early as 1858 but seems to have since largely disappeared from cultivation in the western hemisphere.

“It is not a long storage pear, but they are first-rate for fresh eating, tender and juicy with a sweet, rich, and delicious flavor. They have an attractive golden color with streaks of red blush.”

  Friday, April 21st, 2017

Love for Everyone

No need to hide. No need for secrets. There is enough. Always and forever.

  Thursday, April 13th, 2017

Matsyendranath, the Fish

Why is it inconceivable to us that a fish could have received teachings directly from God and gone on to become a yoga guru? It is because of deep rooted prejudice. We human beings arrogantly assume that we are the only species on the planet endowed with consciousness, intelligence, language and a soul. We think it has always been this way, when in fact, all living beings possess these qualities. Scientists today agree that there was life on this planet before human beings appeared. There was a time when aquatic beings outnumbered all other forms of life on this Earth. The Vedas speak of Lord Vishnu’s ten incarnations, and the first avatar was a fish!

I once heard someone tell the story of Matsyendranath and relate it to the biblical story of Jonah and the whale in an attempt to rationalize the “fish” issue. “Jonah,” the teacher said, “was a man swallowed by a whale. He’s inside the whale, which is sort of a big fish. Jonah was a wise and important person in the Bible. Matsyendranath was kind of like Jonah—a man inside a fish’s body. When you see Matsyendranath’s name at the beginning of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, you don’t think of it as referring to a real fish.” This teacher was adamant and to drive home the point and said, “Matsyendranath was a man, a person.” When I heard that, I wondered, are they saying that he was a person inside a fish’s body? And if so, don’t all fish have people inside of them? Isn’t every fish a person, truly, inside? Aren’t all living beings persons? If we define a person as someone with a soul—someone who can feel and think, who cares about their life, cares about their children, cares about their parents, cares about and feels things—then yes, a fish is a person.

The Vedantic teachings declare that all is Brahman—there is nothing in this universe but God. God resides in all beings concealed inside their outward form. But nonetheless, the essential nature of all souls is divine. The outer form of any being or thing is not their true eternal identity. I think the teacher who didn’t want us to think that Matsyendranath might have been a “real fish” was not prepared to think that way. Prejudice based on species can prevent us from embracing this idea. I hope the time will soon come when we do not look upon other animals as inferior and that, as teachers, we won’t be ashamed to teach that great gurus might not always appear in human form.

—Sharon Gannon

  Sunday, April 9th, 2017

Jesus Christ, Eternal God

In sum, God does not first create matter according to a regular pattern of movement that can be discerned through scientific laws, and then submit the Son to the authority of those laws in the incarnation. Jesus Christ is the lord of matter and thus the master of every scientific law, as demonstrated by his miracles. His body is not the exception to the rules that govern matter; it is the rule. The incarnation is not the story of a perfect soul trapped in an imperfect body; the body of Jesus is a perfect fit for God. Classical theism, as we have seen, involves a commitment to immateriality that inevitably treats embodiment as an imperfection or distortion of an ideal, a proposition upon which the category of the incarnation must be unsteadily erected. On the classical model, the Son does not need his body to experience the Father’s love or to experience anything at all. If the immaterial Father created the world through an immaterial Son and loves the world with the power of an immaterial Spirit, then how does the body of Jesus add to God’s relationship to us (or God’s understanding of himself)? If the incarnation is not the source of creation, then it must be the result of a choice God made in strategic response to our sin, and thus a choice God could have made otherwise. If the Son assumed a body just for us, then his body barely scratches the surface of the Trinity. If Jesus is not the flesh and bones of God, then how can we ever know what was really going on behind the curtain of his flesh? God did not stoop into the body of Jeusus, as if putting on a disguise, costume, or cloak. If Jesus Christ is the truth of God, then he is eternally true, and the truth is his eternal divinity.

—Stephen H. Webb

  Sunday, April 9th, 2017

Remembering Stephen H. Webb

This happens too often to an editor: You come across a gifted, prolific author who shares your perspective on important matters and you think, “Wow, this is going to be the start of a great relationship.” Webb was a catch, a wonderful writer with interests ranging far beyond our set of issues here, from Mormonism to Bob Dylan. (He wrote books on both. His book on evolution is The Dome of Heaven.) But then somehow the ball gets dropped and sometime later you wonder, “What ever happened to Stephen Webb?” Now I know. What a heartbreaking loss for his family and friends.

On matters relating to ID, he had a clear-eyed view that put theological objections to the theory into a proper perspective. On the evolution debate, he rightly observed that Darwin’s partisans commonly treat it not as an occasion for seeking truth but rather as a scorched-earth battle to the finish. They never really consider contrary ideas or admit weakness but only push relentlessly to the goal, which is the annihilation of dissent.

At stake in the controversy about origins, as we have said before, is the picture of what a human being really is: whether the haphazard product of random cosmic drift, without ultimate meaning or dignity; or instead, a soul passing temporarily through material reality, mysteriously reflecting the image of a creative intelligence beyond nature. I knew Stephen Webb only briefly and superficially. Now that he has died, I’ve received, too late, a glimpse of what he must have been like as a soul.

May his loved ones find comfort, and may he find peace.

—David Klinghoffer

  Sunday, April 9th, 2017

A Conclusion by Way of a Metaphysical Beginning

History is not just the study of the past; it is the moral debt we pay to the dead. When we assume the responsibility of speaking for those who face being lost in the vicissitudes of time, we should carry forward their hopes and try to fulfill the promises that guided their lives. This is especially true for Christian historians, who should see the dead as members of an ongoing community united by God’s providential relationship to time. God’s providence makes the past a gift, not a burden, because Christ’s coming renders all of time meaningful, just as the cross enables us to forgive the horrors that we would otherwise be unable to understand.

—Stephen H. Webb