Simply Seasoned: Venison and Friends

The carrot came out of the ground deformed. It was three-pronged, like a stubby hand digging in the dirt. And I was proud of it. I was proud of all my ugly carrots–some of them curled in on themselves, two twisted together like Siamese twins. They were mine. They were an art of their own, a created thing.

Carrot Harvest 12.7

Ugly carrot and friends.

Carrots are hard to grow in Northern Illinois, and here I was in December, overflowing with orange roots that weighed nearly half a pound each! I’d dug them out, even though the first snow was two weeks ago, even though it was 35 degrees and raining. I pulled up the fruit of my lazy labor, to see if there was anything to be redeemed from benign neglect. And so I spent the evening chopping carrots, eyeballing how many was two pounds and how many I would have left and how many more recipes I needed to come up with.

Would I have bought my three-fingered carrot in the store? Doubtful. Would I have selected it from a pile of more traditional-looking carrots? Unlikely. But gardening is the practice of falling in love with what you have. And I loved my ugly carrot. I arranged it in the front of my photo so everyone would know how homegrown and awkward it was. It was so intoxicating I ran out in search of rye flour, so I could make a new experimental batch of Seeded Sour Rye Bread. Continue reading

Guns, Guns, Guns, Guns, Guns. Or, don’t give Santa a gun.

And what about gun violence? Can we fix it? Can we fix America’s gun problem? Over and over, after shooting and shooting and shooting, people in the news have said “we need to stop this thing before it becomes normal.” It isn’t normal, still, not yet, there is still outrage and indignation everywhere–there are even still politicians offering “thoughts and prayers.” Mass shootings haven’t become normal. But they’ve become stories. I’m not a future-teller, but I know some things about stories.

People are creatures of habit, but we’re also creatures of story. And there’s a story about a man, he is probably white, and maybe he is young, maybe he is old, he is sad and he is lonely but mostly he is angry, and he wishes for recognition, to do something in the world that will mean something, even if it means something bad, and he sees a place, he knows a place, he goes to the store and he buys a gun and then he buys some bullets or maybe another gun, and this is a story. It’s the story of Colorado Springs and Charleston, South Carolina and of Umpqua Community College and of Sandy Hook. Continue reading

Injustice Requires Interruption–why Protestors needed to be on Michigan Ave

“Some of the most important moments in your ministry will happen in the interruptions,” a professor told me while I was in my first week of seminary. As I walked down Michigan Ave, speeding to keep up with the 15-year-old from my church, I wished I could say this to the shoppers around me.

Today, let yourself be interrupted. By God, let yourself be interrupted. I understand white Christians who are reluctant to take to the streets in protest–but I do not understand white Christians who justify the police’s murder of Laquan McDonald and find black anger “disruptive.” Injustice should be disruptive. Continue reading

On Captions

An article on the Mennonite Church USA website from Oct. 10 summarizes the recent Constituency Leaders Council (CLC) meeting, the following photo with caption appears:

Screen shot 2014-11-04 at 3.49.37 PMThe main conversation in the CLC meeting was about–surprise–homosexuality and inclusion of gays. Also, Monarchs are an endangered species. Also, as a theologian and poet, I’m invested in accurate metaphors. So I’ve re-captioned the photo: Continue reading

Speaking of Stones

The RockThis painting, “The Rock,” is by Peter Blume. It’s on display at the Art Institute of Chicago, where I saw it for free a couple weeks ago, thanks to my friend’s membership (thanks, Jessica!). It’s in the contemporary American painting section. The Art Institute says of the work, “Although Blume‚Äôs imagery resists easy interpretation, the work suggests a parable of destruction and reconstruction.” I don’t much like having art explained to me, but that one sentence leaves plenty of room for thought. This painting left me totally awestruck–for all its surrealism, it felt absolutely realistic to me. So the homework question for you is: Where is your church in this painting?