Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fasting Coconut Soup

This recipe is adapted from a favorite soup (Coconut Chicken Soup) served at Surin of Thailand, a particularly awesome restaurant. Ok, so it's better with chicken, but it's pretty darn good the way we make it too. (: This is a good festal or company recipe.

[Your only issue may be finding the ingredients. I managed to work around it for the most part and it still tastes authentic so substitutions seem to be ok.]

1-2         canola oil
3 T         lemongrass (I used the paste but the original recipe calls for fresh lemongrass, the
              outer sheath removed, bottom three inches trimmed and minced.")
2 T         fresh ginger, minced (I sliced it instead so I could avoid the slices while eating.)
1            clove garlic, minced (I used pre-minced.)
2-3 t      Thai red curry paste (This is the one you may have trouble with. I used 1/2 t. red
              pepper instead.)
6 cups    vegetable stock/broth
3 T         fish sauce or soy sauce (I encourage fish sauce but don't smell it closely...)
1 T         sugar
2 14 oz   cans coconut milk (Regular works better than lite but either will do.)
1 pkg      extra firm tofu, slice into 1inch x 1/4 inch pieces and drain
1 lg pkg  mushrooms, sliced
               juice of 2 limes

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot. Add the lemon grass, ginger and garlic and cook (stirring constantly) for about a minute. Be careful not to let the garlic burn - remove from heat temporarily if necessary. Add the curry paste (if you have it) and continue to stir for another 30 to 60 seconds.

Add about 1/2 cup of the vegetable broth to dissolve the spices and stir well. Add the rest of the broth, fish sauce and sugar (and pepper if you didn't use curry paste) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Add the coconut milk, tofu and lime juice. Stir carefully (so you don't demolish the tofu). Bring back to a simmer and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes.

Serve immediately (but if you're still working on dinner for the kids and it has to wait on the stove for another 20 minutes, don't panic, just reduce the heat to very low, cover and serve it when you can.) You can garnish with chopped green onions or cilantro if you like.

(Here's a link to a non-fasting variety. It's incredible.)

Life in the magazines

I only get one magazine: Southern Living. I used to get others (Better Homes and Gardens, Living, Victoria), but I got rid of them one by one. [I'd probably get Victoria again because I only stopped getting it when they stopped the magazine (temporarily as it turned out).] I like the recipes, I like the decorating ideas, I like having something to read. But magazines are weird.

They'll tout something like "simple living" and show a room full of "simple" things that cost an arm and a leg. They'll show a house that purports to be "authentically antique" full of things the designer/decorator found at auction, on the side of the road (in Virginia, of course), or in the home-owner's third home. The house itself is a recreation of an old design and cost a bundle. They'll show a house that's "green", full of energy-saving devices, reclaimed wood, etc., but it's on a small island off the east coast and everything had to be brought across by ferry to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.

The featured dinner parties, barbecues, crab boils, etc., are attended by nicely dressed people in their late thirties to forties who do not have children (or whose children must be home with the nanny). Any parties that show children feature three at most (for all of the guests) and they are treated as fashion accessories.

They tout "flirting at work" as good for your career and include articles which mean that you'd better not leave those magazines around for your children to find. "Look sexy at any age" is a frequent cover story. [Let me tell you: when I'm 65, "sexy" had better not describe my "look".]

Let's just say that these magazines do not reflect real life.

"Simple Living" means living with what you have, making do, or doing without. "Authentically antique homes" feature doorknobs that stick, drafty windows and very few closets. "Green" means a clothesline in the backyard, bathing children in batches and letting your yard turn brown when it doesn't rain. And if you flirt at work (God forbid), you're probably going to get what you deserve.

I guess it comes down to what life is supposed to be. Is it supposed to be about impressing people, having the "right" things, buying extravagantly, winning "home of the year" contests and constantly feeling discontented? Or is it supposed to be about having humility, raising children, saving your soul and glorifying God?

Monday, November 28, 2011

12 Weeks 5 Days

That's where we are today. That was what Innocent measured when he died.

I don't think I properly realized the miracle that Innocent was. That something so precious and complex could grow from the union of two cells. Before he died he was kicking, moving around, possibly sucking his thumb. I never got to see it, but it was there. I try not to dwell on it but I wonder from time to time when exactly he died. What happened? Did he struggle? What did he think when he saw his guardian angel?

With this baby, I am in awe every time I find the heartbeat. I slowly move the transducer, marveling that he or she is in a different spot every single time. When I finally lock onto the heartbeat, trucking away at around 155 now, I heave a sigh of relief. I listen for a while. I know exactly what this baby looks like right now, having held the older brother in my hand at the same age. Occasionally I'll hear thumps and realize I'm hearing kicks. The last few days I'll be listening and suddenly, without my moving a millimeter, the heartbeat will disappear and I'll have to move over a bit to find it again. This little one likes to swim. (:

Miraculous indeed.

(This is NOT our baby, but a baby about the same age whom you can see moving quite a bit.)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Crocheted Lacy Baby Cap in Wool

(Don't ask for the pattern. I made it up as I went along.)


We saw a parhelion (or "sundog") on the way home on Saturday. I'd have gotten better pictures if they hadn't been snapped through the windshield as we were driving. *grimace*

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Top 10 Things I Thought About Today

1. I love Mentholatum. Love it.

2. Washcloths are rougher than handkerchiefs, but you'll use anything in a pinch.

3. The Hitchhiker's Guide books weren't as funny this time around.

4. I hate packing for trips.

5. Naps are a double-edged sword: helpful if you're exhausted but they leave you groggy and don't help your nocturnal sleeping pattern.

6. Is it worth it to suffer with only Mentholatum and Tylenol to keep the medication miscarriage risk to zero? Yes it is.

7. You know, I really like some 80's music.

8. I'd forgotten all about Micky Mouse Disco until Father pulled it up on Youtube. Hahahahaha....

9. I meant to cut my hair, but I'm too tired and feel to bad to care.

10. Twelve weeks tomorrow...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Entrance of the Mother of God into the Temple

Joyous Feastday!

Today is one of the 12 great feasts of the Church. We commemorate the day that Mary, the Mother of God entered the temple as a three-year-old.

When Mary was three years old, Joachim and Anna decided that the time had come to fulfill their promise and to offer her to the Lord. Joachim gathered the young girls of the neighborhood to form an escort, and he made them go in front of Mary, carrying torches. Captivated by the torches, the young child followed joyfully to the Temple, not once looking back at her parents nor weeping as she was parted from them.

The holy Virgin ran toward the Temple, overtaking her attendant maidens and threw herself into the arms of the High Priest Zacharias, who was waiting for her at the gate of the Temple with the elders. Zacharias blessed her saying, "It is in you that He has glorified your name in every generation. It is in you that He will reveal the Redemption that He has prepared for His people in the last days."

Then, Zacharias brought the child into the Holy of Holies—a place where only the High Priest was permitted to enter once a year on the Day of Atonement. He placed her on the steps of the altar, and the grace of the Lord descended upon her. She arose and expressed her joy in a dance as wonder seized all who saw this happen.

The Virgin Mary dwelt in the Temple for nine years until, reaching an age for marriage, she was taken from the Temple by the priests and elders and entrusted to Joseph as the guardian of her virginity.

Troparion - Tone 4

Today is the prelude of the good will of God,
of the preaching of the salvation of mankind.
The Virgin appears in the Temple of God,
in anticipation proclaiming Christ to all.
Let us rejoice
and sing to her:
“Rejoice, O Fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation!”

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Oh, and the sky isn't blue.

Wow, did you know that drinking water will not combat dehydration? According to the European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) it won't.

EU officials concluded that, following a three-year investigation, there was no evidence to prove the previously undisputed fact.

Producers of bottled water are now forbidden by law from making the claim and will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the edict, which comes into force in the UK next month.

German professors Dr Andreas Hahn and Dr Moritz Hagenmeyer, who advise food manufacturers on how to advertise their products, asked the European Commission if the claim could be made on labels.
They compiled what they assumed was an uncontroversial statement in order to test new laws which allow products to claim they can reduce the risk of disease, subject to EU approval.
They applied for the right to state that “regular consumption of significant amounts of water can reduce the risk of development of dehydration” as well as preventing a decrease in performance.
However, last February, the European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) refused to approve the statement.
A meeting of 21 scientists in Parma, Italy, concluded that reduced water content in the body was a symptom of dehydration and not something that drinking water could subsequently control.
Now the EFSA verdict has been turned into an EU directive which was issued on Wednesday.
This is nuts.
Ukip MEP Paul Nuttall said the ruling made the “bendy banana law”* look “positively sane”.

He said: “I had to read this four or five times before I believed it. It is a perfect example of what Brussels does best. Spend three years, with 20 separate pieces of correspondence before summoning 21 professors to Parma where they decide with great solemnity that drinking water cannot be sold as a way to combat dehydration.

*I couldn't not look this up. Apparently in 2008 a law was passed by these same folks (and subsequently repealed) that regulated the maximum curvature of bananas that could be commercially sold, and said that cucumbers had to be straight.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fasting Recipes

I was looking back in my archives for some fasting recipes and thought I'd just put together a list of some of my favorites.

Lentil Soup

Muffin Experiment (This one is more hilarious than helpful but I'm including it anyway.)

Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes with Maple Frosting

Marinara Sauce

Coconut Cream Pie

Fasting Cracker Snacks

Biscuit Dough Doughnuts

In addition, Michelle posted a great (and easy) recipe for fasting Pumpkin Blueberry Muffins. Yum!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Handmade Endeavors

Let me preface this by saying gracious, am I tired. So I apologize for being skimpy lately and stingy with the photographs. Getting the camera out and focusing in so as to exclude the mess feels like an insurmountable effort.

So I really hope you appreciate this. (:

My mother sent me a book late spring which I have read but (shamefully) haven't actually used yet. Well, yesterday I decided that was absurd. I know many of you have heard of it (and probably have it): Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I got the ingredients I needed yesterday (I had never even heard of vital wheat gluten) and finally scraped up enough energy to get started a little while ago. I'm pinning my hopes on the payoff: good, homemade bread and making it again in the days to come without all the prep work. With the Nativity fast here, we all tend to eat more bread (yes, yes, carbohydrate addicts) and not only am I picky about the bread I eat but I don't want to have to shop multiple times a week to keep it fresh. Plus, it gets expensive.

The only picture I have to show you at the moment is the dough. That is some sticky stuff, let me tell you. It will go in the oven after Vespers tonight.

The other thing percolating is also from a book, one my sister just sent me. I had to tear myself away from it so I could start the bread. I had heard of this before on Pleasant View Schoolhouse and admired it but hadn't ever thought to get the book. It's Alabama Studio Style by Anna Chanin (click on her name to visit the studio site). How nice to see that raw edges can be beautiful. It's the edging that has always kept me away from applique. Thanks, Em!!

I wonder what I will make first?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Repurposing Tutorials

I love turning something into something else. That doesn't necessarily mean clothing.

Over the years I've found some of the niftiest repurposing tutorials ever. Some of them people have sent me and some I've just stumbled upon. I decided they were too fun not to share.

This Shirt Skirt Tutorial has got to be one of my favorites. Laura just sent it to me the other day and I'm sold. I haven't been to the thrift store yet but I'm heading there soon and will look at the 2-3X t-shirts.

These are extra large men's t-shirts lopped off below the sleeves and shirred at the top with elastic thread. No hemming.

This Smock from a Man's Shirt is from Anna at Pleasant View Schoolhouse. She is big on repurposing thrifted items and if you haven't visited her site, do it.

I myself have made aprons (here and here) from linen sheath dresses from the thrift store. I need to keep an eye out for more dresses...

This is one I haven't tried yet but I'm going to. Wool Soakers from Sweaters. Seriously easy.

What are your favorite repurposing projects?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

"Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world."

--Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:1 (22a)

Friday, November 11, 2011


Gee, I guess I've "arrived". Someone pinned my crocheted scallop border tutorial on Pinterest. (: I couldn't figure out how on earth I was suddenly getting all this traffic... (bemused look)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

No, I swear, this is for real:

Father brought home a CD courtesy of his spiritual father. I'm still wiping away tears. Sensitive people may want to sit down and put cotton in their ears to dampen the effect. Florence Foster Jenkins (born Narcissa Florence Foster...aptly named...) was a popular operatic singer in the first part of the 20th century. A famous quote: "People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing." Um, right. Being the generous person I am, ever willing to broaden people's musical horizons, I am sharing this with you tonight.

(Anyone ever watch Keeping Up Appearances??)

She's not the only thing that's gaga...

From Occupy Seattle General Assembly:
"Some people using labels, boxes, terms, on bodies and equipment, and telling people how to be or what gender to be. This is part of the system we're fighting against. We should respect people's own determination, living, and labeling of their own bodies and parts." --Lady Gaga
Labeling body parts? So what else do you call an arm? I can tell you one thing, I certainly would never call what's under her skull a brain. That would be so wrong of me.

(h/t Rod Dreher)

Do you know where your honey comes from?

Ok, I like honey direct from the "farm" when I find it or someone gives it to me, but I've never deliberately sought it out. I figured the primary reason for using such honey was taste (plus, supporting small producers). Oh, how wrong I was.

This article on the purity of honey is sickening. Especially since Pickles' favorite sandwich is PBH and he eats it daily. 
click to enlarge

More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn't exactly what the bees produce, according to testing done exclusively for Food Safety News. The results show that the pollen frequently has been filtered out of products labeled "honey."

The removal of these microscopic particles from deep within a flower would make the nectar flunk the quality standards set by most of the world's food safety agencies.

The food safety divisions of the World Health Organization, the European Commission and dozens of others also have ruled that without pollen there is no way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate and safe sources.

In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says that any product that's been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn't honey. However, the FDA isn't checking honey sold here to see if it contains pollen.

Ultra filtering is a high-tech procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen, which is the only foolproof sign identifying the source of the honey. It is a spin-off of a technique refined by the Chinese, who have illegally dumped tons of their honey - some containing illegal antibiotics - on the U.S. market for years.

Food Safety News decided to test honey sold in various outlets after its earlier investigation* found U.S. groceries flooded with Indian honey banned in Europe as unsafe because of contamination with antibiotics, heavy metal and a total lack of pollen which prevented tracking its origin.

Toys aren't the only thing you shouldn't buy from China:
Chinese honey has long had a poor reputation in the U.S., where - in 2001 - the Federal Trade Commission imposed stiff import tariffs or taxes to stop the Chinese from flooding the marketplace with dirt-cheap, heavily subsidized honey, which was forcing American beekeepers out of business.

To avoid the dumping tariffs, the Chinese quickly began transshipping honey to several other countries, then laundering it by switching the color of the shipping drums, the documents and labels to indicate a bogus but tariff-free country of origin for the honey.

Most U.S. honey buyers knew about the Chinese actions because of the sudden availability of lower cost honey, and little was said.
The FDA -- either because of lack of interest or resources -- devoted little effort to inspecting imported honey. Nevertheless, the agency had occasionally either been told of, or had stumbled upon, Chinese honey contaminated with chloramphenicol and other illegal animal antibiotics which are dangerous, even fatal, to a very small percentage of the population.
Good heavens!! So how do you know what you're getting?
Ambrose, who was co-chair of the team that drafted the state beekeeper association's honey standards says the language is very simple, "Our standard says that nothing can be added or removed from the honey. So in other words, if somebody removes the pollen, or adds moisture or corn syrup or table sugar, that's adulteration," Ambrose told Food Safety News.
But still, he says he's asked all the time how to ensure that you're buying quality honey. "The fact is, unless you're buying from a beekeeper, you're at risk," was his uncomfortably blunt reply.
Well, that's it. The only honey we will have in the house from now on will come from local beekeepers who process and bottle their own honey from their own bees. Mom, since I know you're reading this, pick up a few jars when you come for Christmas. I'm dumping what's in the pantry.

*Read this article - even more chilling.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pro-choice? Think abortion is ok?

Then you should have no issues whatsoever watching this video.
If you can't you are a coward and a hypocrite.

Oh, and the baby pictured? The same age as Innocent.

Photo of my perfect 12 week 5 day old son after the jump.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Think about it...

Some things never change...

"Eggs --Clear, thin fhell'd, longeft oval and fharp ends are beft; to afcertain whether new or ftale--hold to the light, if the white is clear, the yolk regularly in the centre, they are good--but if otherwife, they are ftale.  The beft poffible method of afcertaining, is to put them into water, if they lye on their bilge, they are good and frefh--if they bob up an end they are ftale, and if they rife they are addled, proved, and of no ufe."

--from American Cookery, or the art of dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry and Vegetables, and the best modes of making Pastes, Puffs, Pies, Tarts, Puddings, Custards and Preserves, and all kinds of Cakes, from the imperial Plumb to plain Cake. Adapted to this country, and all grades of life by Amelia Simmons, an American Orphan c. 1796

Monday, November 7, 2011

Cloth Diapering (and accessories)

I used cloth diapers on Pickles and had planned to use them on Innocent. As you may remember from my previous post I chose AIOs because Father wasn't entirely sold on them and I wanted them to be as easy to use as disposables. The big problem was the laundry - they're so hard to wash and dry.

Now that I'm looking forward to another baby in cloth diapers, I'm taking a look at what I have (figuratively - I haven't gotten diapers down from the attic). I do have lots of prefolds but they're pretty large. I have the AIOs. I have a couple PUL covers and some Snappies. That's about it. Thinking about the laundry issues with the AIOs is kind of depressing. I'm actually considering selling most of them on Diaper Swappers or Ebay and then buying smaller prefolds (and maybe some decent flats). I'll probably keep a couple (most likely the ones that have stains that won't come out) but I think the AIOs have had their day.

This is what I'm considering doing:


or Flats:


Fleece cover:

or Wool cover:

I plan on making my own fleece and wool covers. I can't knit, but I can turn thrifted wool sweaters into covers! There are many sites on how to do this. I am also considering making some of my own fitted prefolds. Again, there many sites with instructions. Old flannel cut up and edged with a zig-zag stitch will make good reusable wipes. It feels nice to get rid of all the synthetic stuff.

Probably will be more posts on this in the future.

(Most photos from Green Mountain Diapers)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

If it looks like trash...

...maybe it is.

See that bag of trash? "The bag filled with discarded paper and cardboard was part of a work by Gustav Metzger, said to demonstrate the "finite existence" of art. It was thrown away by a cleaner at the London gallery, which subsequently retrieved the damaged bag." (2004)

(2001) It is often said that modern art is rubbish, but never did it ring as true as when an art gallery cleaner binned a work by Damien Hirst because he thought the installation was exactly that - leftover rubbish.

Emmanuel Asare thought the piles of full ashtrays, half-filled coffee cups, empty beer bottles and newspapers strewn across the gallery were the remnants of a party in the west London gallery.

Although that is what it was, this rubbish had been arranged by Hirst into an impromptu installation, which increased its value by thousands.

Hirst had arrived at the launch party of a new exhibition of his work, Painting-By-Numbers, on Tuesday night at the Eyestorm gallery. When asked how he would like his prints to be displayed in the windows, the artist, famed for his formaldehyde animals, decided to create a new work.

The next morning when Mr Asare arrived for work, he decided to clean up the mess straight away by putting it all in bin bags. Mr Asare said: "As soon as I clapped eyes on it I sighed because there was so much mess.

"I didn't think for a second that it was a work of art - it didn't look much like art to me. So I cleared it all into binbags and dumped it."

Staff were dispatched to find the binbags in the rubbish, and salvaged the various objects, which they used to reconstruct the installation from photographs taken earlier.

(2011) An overzealous cleaner in Germany has ruined a piece of modern art worth £690,000 after mistaking it for an eyesore that needed a good scrub.

The sculpture by the German artist Martin Kippenberger, widely regarded as one of the most talented artists of his generation until his death in 1997, had been on loan to the Ostwall Museum in Dortmund when it fell prey to the cleaner's scouring pad.

The work, called When It Starts Dripping From the Ceiling (Wenn's anfängt durch die Decke zu tropfen), comprised a rubber trough placed underneath a rickety wooden tower made from slats. Inside the trough, Kippenberger had spread a layer of paint representing dried rainwater. He thought it was art: the cleaner saw it as a challenge, and set about making the bucket look like new.

A spokeswoman for the museum told German media that the female cleaner "removed the patina from the four walls of the trough".
"It is now impossible to return it to its original state," she said, adding that it had been on loan to the museum from a private collector and was valued by insurers at €800,000 (£690,000).

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Christmas Craft Projects: Friend or Foe?

It's that time of year when we start thinking about what to make for Christmas. [Ok, I lie. We've been thinking about it for a month now.] I've been looking at a Martha Stewart magazine from Christmas 2010 and have gotten all sorts of shining ideas in my head. Knowing how these things tend to turn out, however, I've decided to take a practical look at the projects to see what can realistically be done and what will be usable. For instance, am I really going to go to Lowe's and buy PVC piping, light fittings, paint, etc., and make out-sized electric candles to put on and around the front steps? No, probably not, plus it won't quite look like the photo in the magazine where the candles were staged in front of a snow-covered colonial with columns. Also, I don't have a ton of "old, rubbed-off" small ball ornaments to hot glue onto a foam cone to make a "glittering, vintage Christmas tree". Ornaments haven't lasted long enough in this house to get that "old, rubbed-off" look anyway. I don't even need to state the arguments against packing snow into gelatin molds to create a stacked effect on the front porch with candles inside. In comparison, stringing buttons onto wire, twisting into a wreath and tying a bow on looks a lot more attainable.

Somehow I always tend to forget that I don't have a month of cozy winter afternoons in front of the fire in which to lovingly sew scraps of subtly colored wool into vintage-style ornaments. I have to keep the house going as usual, homeschool, run errands, etc. Those "cozy winter afternoons in front of the fire" are in reality bits of late mornings trying to simultaneously grade history tests, coach on subject-verb agreement and negotiate arguments while losing the needle and dropping the wool. They slowly turn into late nights after the children are in bed. I start cursing my perfectionist tendencies while still trying to hold onto that shining ideal.

Baking is just about the same situation. I think I confessed last year that I hate making Christmas cookies. I am such a Scrooge. Mother of five and I hate Christmas cookies. I don't even like eating them. We do it anyway because otherwise I will carry the load of guilt around for years picturing my children in counseling later ("and she wouldn't even let us make Christmas cookies!") and having it cast up to me every year. But I still won't eat them. How many people really like crunchy sugar cookies with a glob of icing and 20 colors of sprinkles on them? They turn your tongue blue.

So this year I'm trying to turn the perfectionist high-beams off and not be blinded to why I'm really doing this. I want to have fun, I want the children to have fun, I want to make things other people will enjoy. I don't want to have five children in tears while I grumblingly finish five styrofoam snowmen that have lost their heads.

Those button wreaths however...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Oh no, not that again!

Abortion. Yes, this is something I'll never stop fighting. I've certainly heard that I go on about this too much. If you put together everything I've ever posted about abortion and it saved the lives of one mother and baby, then it would have been worth it.

The specific reason I'm dragging this up again this morning is the release of the new movie, "October Baby". I'm a little slow on the draw because it released last weekend, but that's pretty quick for me. This movie was made in Alabama but they released it early in Mississippi along with Alabama because we have the incredible landmark vote coming up in a few days on November 8th. This is the "infamous" amendment 26 which would declare "the term 'person' or 'persons' shall include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof." If you live in Mississippi, get out there and vote for this measure. You will be saving lives (and I don't just mean the babies).

So what about the movie? At the risk of spoiling it for everyone, I'll give the gist of it as posted on the website:
OCTOBER BABY is a coming of age story of Hannah, a beautiful 19 year old college freshman. In spite of her energetic (if somewhat naïve) personality, Hannah has always felt like an outsider. Something is missing. She has always carried a deep-seated sense that she has no right to exist.

When she discovers she was adopted it comes as a shock, but Hannah's world is rocked even more when she learns why she was never told before – because she was the survivor of a failed abortion. Desperate for answers, she embarks on a road trip with some friends (including her oldest and closest friend Jason) to find her biological mother. In the process she unexpectedly discovers hope, love and forgiveness.

This uplifting and beautiful film may change the way you look at the world, your loved ones ... and life.
 The real story that inspired this is that of Gianna Jessen. This movie is primarily about forgiveness and there are no spelled-out "pro-life" or "pro-abortion" statements in it. I haven't been able to go see it (and probably won't - when was the last time I was in a movie theater? I forget.) but I watched all the trailers and interviews on the movie website and so have a general idea of the story-line and production. It appears to be very well made. There is a map on the site that displays all the theaters which are currently showing October Baby. They're scattered across AL and MS and there is one showing in Memphis, TN.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

How do you choose a church?

Let's say you just moved into town from another state and tomorrow is Sunday. You may have done some looking online for churches before you moved, or driven around town while looking for a house, but you haven't actually attended any services yet.

These are all reasons I have heard/read:

1. It was such a welcoming/vibrant/energetic/happy/peaceful place.

2. Our neighbors recommended it.

3. The pastor/priest/minister was so sweet/gave such a good sermon and we liked him very much.

4. They have a wonderful family center (the big building with meeting rooms/classroom space/gym/disco)

5. They're so involved in the community.

6. The so-and-sos go there.

7. It's such a beautiful place.

8. I saw the numbers and they're really growing quickly.

9. They have a good women's group/Sunday school program/men's group/youth group.

10. It's close to our house.

Now, with rare exceptions, Catholics, Episcopalians, Orthodox, some protestants from churches like Church of God, and Mormons look around for a Catholic, Episcopalian, etc., church because that is the communion to which they belong. AME church-goers tend to stick with AME churches. But lots of people from other churches feel free to move around from one church to the next. I don't mean they won't stick with one church once they've picked one (sometimes for 40 years), but if they move from town A to town B it doesn't follow that they will automatically continue to attend denomination C church.

I find this very interesting. It's kind of hard for me to fathom to be honest because it would never occur to me to start attending a Methodist church if I moved simply because it was closer. (Let's set aside for a moment the obvious point of my being an Orthodox priest's wife.) I always look around and think, what about the doctrinal differences? Doesn't it matter to you that church A that you had been attending believes this, while church B that you're attending now believes that? The answer to that seems to be no. It doesn't matter. Other things like the people, the building, the pastor, etc., matter more. And why is that?

I am speaking off the cuff here because I haven't done formal research. It has been my experience that a number of protestants who are attending any given church (Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian and sometimes Episcopalian) cannot accurately recite their church's creed or explain the doctrinal differences between one protestant church and the next. Growing up as a Catholic, I had no idea what the differences were between the protestant churches. I'd ask people to explain and they couldn't. That didn't really change as I got older. [Since then I've been able to grasp the basic differences between them but only because I looked them all up. Learning church history helps a lot here.]

So if we take as a premise that a given person does not know the creed/doctrines of the church they have been attending in town A, then moves to town B, they will probably not include doctrine as a criterion for selecting a new church. Again, this is hard for me to fathom, but I've watched people do it often enough that I have to accept that this happens. I can only assume that this has a lot to do with the relativism that is so prevalent today (i.e. - no religion is any better than any other religion). Tying into this may be (1) the increasing number of churches that identify with no denomination and (2) the deliberate absence of denominational indicators on church signs (i.e. - "New Beginnings Church" with no indication that it is actually Baptist). Maybe churches are just caving into the knowledge that even if you have people sitting in the pews of a Presbyterian or Catholic church, those people are actually practicing cafeteria Christianity and have essentially written their own creeds.

I find this weird, sad, interesting and frightening at the same time. Does anyone else have any light to shed on this topic? [And yes, I know that these are generalizations, as all such conversations must be, and there are lots of exceptions - staunch Methodists who wouldn't consider going anywhere else for instance. So let's not let this turn into a discussion of how you or your aunt so-and-so has been X denomination your/her whole life and can recite all the beliefs of your/her church at the drop of a hat. I'm talking about trends, not individuals.]