Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lessons from Roger Williams

I am reading to my 9 year old a little book called Once Upon a Time in RI which was written in 1914.  It is not a first source or anything; it’s just a collection of historical stories (true stories, it says) telling of some major events in the founding of RI for children. 

I am only in the second chapter, but I think that modern Christians have much to learn from Roger Williams.  I think some have forsaken the priority and call to share the gospel and love the “heathen” and are instead trying to use government power to force what they perceive as God’s agenda upon them. 

Christ’s love is much more powerful.  I am not saying that Christians shouldn’t run for office or vote or advocate their position. I am just saying that forcibly imposing our will through government....even if it is in keeping with God’s standard, was not God’s chosen way for “change”.  His chosen way was Christ and the gospel. 

Roger Williams had the same issues,  “Moreover, the Puritan rulers in Boston allowed the Magistrates there to punish people not only for breaking the laws about lying and stealing and so on, they also had the right to punish people for not going to church, or for breaking the Sabbath day, or for not believing as the Puritan ministers taught them.  This seemed to Williams very wrong.  He did not think the magistrates could have any such power as that.” 1  Instead, Williams “busied himself with teaching and preaching, and also began to seek out the Indians and make friends with them.” 2

He spent much of his time with the Indians.  He wasn’t reveling in or approving of their sin, unbelief, etc. but sharing Christ with them with his very life.  They seemed to welcome him.  He had respect for them.  One thing that got him into trouble with the Governor was that he believed that all the land belonged to the indians, and only they had the right to sell or give away portions of land, not the King of England. 

And let’s not say that Williams was some wishy-washy Christian, his true agenda was the gospel, that is clear.  He wrote and lived the truth and challenged the establishment’s doctrine.....sounds a lot like Luther.

I wonder how much further we would get in “encouraging” righteousness in our society, if we took our time to seek out the lost and live among them, invited them to our tables or dined at theirs, learned their language, and respected their rights as people.  I know there are Christians out there doing just that, many, many of them. Unfortunately, they are not the Kings and Governors and Puritan rulers.  So I guess this is a thought for the leaders and talkers who are called Christian.  

I know there is truth to be defended, consequences to curtail, Christian persecution to consider, but we cannot coerce people to believe as we do. Do we really want to use the government to do so?  (This goes both ways, do those who do not believe as we do, really want to use government to force us to believe what they do?)   
Even those things that are no-compromise issues for us - abortion for example.  How was it that the barbarians and savages of old stopped sacrificing their babies to their gods?   Missionaries came.  Missionaries were martyred.  Savages came to Christ and stopped killing their children.  That’s the power that changes.  Not government laws or edicts.

Why not try Roger’s way?  Why not try Christ’s way?

1  Once Upon a Time in RI by Katherine Pyle pg. 24-25
2 Ibid  pg. 22

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Waste Not

So, I got this cookbook for Christmas called "More-with-Less".   A friend and mentor of mine when I was in college cooked from it all the time, but we were a "Fanny Farmer" cookbook family, so I never thought much again about this cookbook until I read three or four blogs where the individuals used recipes that came from the book.   So I asked for it for Christmas and now this waste not post.

It always really gets to me when I go to dinner parties or gatherings where people throw away perfectly good food!  I watched a friend of mine throw away about a pound of fresh vegetables off of a veggie tray into her trash can.  I tried not to gasp!  Well, after reading this book, I realized how very wasteful I was being myself.  I would buy fresh herbs for a recipe, which would of course, go bad in my fridge after I had used what I needed.  Heels of bread would mold in the bread basket until they weren't even acceptable to feed the chickens.  

At the end of each chapter of More-with-Less is a section called "Gather Up the Fragments".  I have been trying to follow this advice, although I haven't quite grasped how to use the meat scraps.  However, I probably have made about 3 cannisters' worth of perfectly good (better than store-bought) bread crumbs and cubes from my bread scraps.  Can you believe I was just throwing away the stumps of my home-made bread!  For shame! 

I save all of my bread ends, old (but not moldy) bagels, rolls, etc. and throw them in a bag in my freezer.  (This bag is not truly representative as I didn't think to take pictures of my first batch, but you get the idea.)

When I have a good amount saved, I cut any chunks into slices and put them on a cookie tray to toast in the oven. 

Then I put the toast into my food processor.  Some of it comes out a little chunky, and some of it comes out as crumbs.  The chunky pieces I can use for stuffing (which I make maybe once a year.)

Here's my step-mother's grandmother's recipe:  

Kate Larsen's Bread Stuffing 
(this got rave reviews from the cooks in the kitchen at our church Thanksgiving dinner...).

1 large loaf of white or wheat bread- leave out to get stale for about two hours...
OR substitute the leftover bread-end, bread cubes from your freezer! 
Cut into cubes or use as is if small enough.
Place in large bowl and moisten with a little water or broth (enough just to moisten - about 1 - 1 1/2 cups?)
Add to bread:  1 medium onion chopped fine, 1 stalk celery chopped fine, LOTS of fresh Parsley (don't use dried, this is the secret ingredient that makes this fabulous - use the whole bunch!),  6-8 stalks fresh thyme  (dry is fine for this ing. about 1/2 t.),  1 1/2 t. salt, 1/4 t. pepper, and about 3-4 eggs, enough to make it bind.  Mix well with your hands and stuff it in your turkey/chicken or bake it in a covered dish. 

I use the crumbs for any breaded recipe.

Like Eggplant Parmesan - I made extra and put that in the freezer too.

I have also been drying any leftover herbs that I buy on a nail above my sink and I have been freezing any veggies that are not going to be used in the immediate future....except lettuce, of course.  

Maybe next I can render the fat I cut off of our meats to make my soap?  Nah. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More Insights from Laura Ingalls Wilder

I am reading aloud to my daughter, "These Happy Golden Years".  In the beginning of the book, Laura is teaching at a school about 12 miles from her home and boarding with a man and his wife while she teaches the school for, I believe, 8 weeks.  The wife is sullen, rude, silent and brooding.  She does not speak to Laura at all, even though Laura tries to be pleasant to her.  The wife even threatens to kill her husband one night with a knife if he won't take her home back east.  Granted, the homestead winter was not easy, but the contrast between Laura's time with this family, and the Long Winter with her own family, is sharp.  Laura refuses to complain about her time out with the Brewsters because she knows her family needs the money to keep Mary in college, even though her very life may be in danger.

She is so overjoyed and thankful at the end of the term, when she returns to her own peaceful home.  There is nothing amazing about their home, but Laura's love for her parents and their mutual love and respect for each other sits in sharp contrast to the Brewsters' home.

This morning, I read this scripture:

"Better a little with the fear of the LORD
than great wealth with turmoil.

Better a meal of vegetables where there is love
than a fattened calf with hatred."

- Proverbs 15: 16-17

Although the Brewsters fed Laura sufficiently, the food was flavorless; the atmosphere was heavy in the little claim shanty.  She could not break the sullen weight of that disgruntled wife.

Her home with Ma and Pa and her siblings was peace and joy.  They never seemed to get ahead materially, but they made do and were thankful for the little they had, even if it was the blackbird pie that they made from the blackbirds that ate their entire cornfield.

It was like the perfect story-picture of this proverb.

Then I thought, how is the atmosphere in my home?  Are my children and husband ecstatic to be at home?  Is there fear of the Lord and love in my home?  or turmoil and strife?

I'd like to think that I have a peaceful and joyful home, but it is something to continually strive for.  Circumstances can so often bring turmoil, and those circumstances are so often financial.  It's funny that the Proverb not only contrasts love and hatred, but plenty and want - with plenty on the side of hatred, and want on the side of love.

It is best to be content with little, and not to allow the fear of want to squander the faith and love in our homes.