Thursday, June 22, 2017

3 Myths (and 1 Truth) About Grain-Fed Beef

I've been a fan of the Nutrition Diva for a long time. I especially love the way she looks into facts versus what "everyone knows" (a.k.a. "myths) on different topics.

This time she's looking at grain-fed beef, In particular 3 myths and 1 surprising truth about the impact of various feeding programs on the health of the cow and on the environment. That's an area where there are a lot of misconceptions. And I was really surprised by the truth ... also pleased.

You can listen her podcast episode or read the transcript — both are at Nutrition Diva.

Worth a Thousand Words: Sun and Sundial

Sun and Sundial, Wettenhausen monastery emblem

To go with today's quote!

Well Said: May the gods confound the man ...

May the gods confound the man who first found out how to distinguish hours, and the man who put this sun-dial here to cut my day to pieces.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Well Said: If you feel like fighting fire with fire ...

If you feel like fighting fire with fire, remember real firefighters use water.
I love this. It goes hand in hand with the quote someone used at dinner last night.
An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.
(attributed to many, confirmed for none)

Worth a Thousand Words: The Hours of Jeanne d'Evreux

Matins : Arrest of Christ - The Annunciation
Jean Pucelle, 1324-1328

This is via French Painters where there are a wealth of images from Pucelle's fabulous creations of breviaries for private devotions.

I'm always fascinated by these sorts of books and wish something like them were readily available today. They combine the best of words and images to help draw you out of yourself and into an encounter with God. There is also usually a playful element that I really love, as witness from this closeup.

Genesis Notes: Esau's Resume

I've already talked about my soft spot for Esau. Let's look over his resume to see what we can apply from his example to our own lives.

I haven't mentioned this before, but one of my favorite parts of these resumes is at the end when we see where else a person is mentioned in the Bible. I like to read up on how others use their examples also.

Francesco Hayez, Esau and Jacob reconcile
Common sense isn't all that common. In fact, the common thread in many decisions is that they don't make sense. Esau's life was filled with choices he must have regretted bitterly. He appears to have been a person who found it hard to consider consequences, reacting to the need of the moment without realizing what he was giving up to meet that weakness. He also chose wives in direct opposition to his parents' wishes. He learned the hard way.

Strengths and accomplishments:
  • Ancestor of the Edomites
  • Known for his archery skill
  • Able to forgive after explosive anger
Weaknesses and mistakes:
  • When faced with important decisions, tended to choose according to the immediate need rather than the long-range effect
  • Angered his parents by poor marriage choices
Lessons from his life:
  • God allows certain events in our lives to accomplish his overall purposes, but we are still responsible for our actions
  • Consequences are important to consider
  • It is possible to have great anger and yet not sin
Vital statistics:
  • Where: Canaan
  • Occupation: Skillful hunter
  • Relatives: Parents - Isaac and Rebekah. Brother - Jacob. Wives: Judith, Basemath, and Mahalath.
Key verses:
"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears." (Hebrews 12:14-17)

Esau's story is told in Genesis 25-36. He also is mentioned in Malachi 1:2, 3; Romans 9:13; Hebrews 12:16, 17.
All material quoted is from the Life Application Study Bible. This series first ran in 2004 and 2005. I'm refreshing it as I go. For links to the whole study, go to the Genesis Index. For more about the resources used, go here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Study reports beautiful churches important in young people's conversions

Inside of Notre-Dame Basilica (Montreal)
Now that there's a study proving what most of us already knew, can we return beauty to our churches?
The Telegraph revealed the results of the study, stating that, “Around 13 percent of teenagers said that they decided to become a Christian after a visit to a church or cathedral.”

Even more surprising was the report’s finding that the “influence of a church building was more significant than attending a youth group, going to a wedding, or speaking to other Christians about their faith.”

In fact, “The study suggests that new methods invested in by the Church, such as youth groups … are less effective than prayer or visiting a church building in attracting children to the Church.”
Philip Kosloski reports on this as well as considering how U.S. parishes have begun building traditionally beautiful churches again.

I still remember being in Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal and seeing a young man standing in the center aisle with tears running down his face. His concerned girlfriend was asking if he was ok. He looked somewhat embarrassed, responding, "No, I was just having a moment. It just hit me all at once."

Yes, that beauty does hit you and hits you hard. If we are open to it, often God's presence is using beauty to touch your soul.

More than beauty is converting young people

The Telegraph reports on the study's other points. Interestingly, the British are dumbstruck that one in six young people are Christian, saying how high these numbers are. I was interested in the point that it is not youth groups or guitar masses that pull people in but having read the Bible or being taken to visit a church.
The study suggests that new methods invested in by the Church, such as youth groups and courses such as Youth Alpha, are less effective than prayer or visiting a church building in attracting children to the church.

One in five said reading the Bible had been important, 17 per cent said going to a religious school had had an impact and 14 per cent said a spiritual experience was behind their Christianity.

“Things which we would class as old hat methods are some of the more effective ways."
Yes, the good old fashioned ways of personal encounter with Christ still work just fine.

Lagniappe: The Anti-authoritarian Authority

“Commander, I always used to consider that you had a definite anti-authoritarian streak in you."


"It seems that you have managed to retain this even though you are authority."


"That's practically zen.”
Terry Pratchett, Feet of Clay

Worth a Thousand Words: Mute Swan chicks following mother

Mute Swan chicks following mother, taken by Remo Savisaar

A Movie You Might Have Missed #67: The Founder

He took someone else's idea
and America ate it up.

The Founder is the story of Ray Kroc, a salesman who turned two brothers’ innovative  restaurant, McDonald’s, into one of the biggest restaurant businesses in the world with a combination of ambition, persistence, and ruthlessness.
This normally isn't the sort of movie I feature as "a movie you might have missed." It's got a big star, a director who's done movies people know (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks), and is about an American institution. And yet I'm continually surprised to find that so few people have heard of it.

We enjoyed it a lot both as a biopic and as a business movie. Make no mistake, it has a very definite point of view. If you check History vs Hollywood, as I like to do after watching any movie "based on a true story, you will see where the creators made story choices to enhance the points they were interested in discussing. The movie as a whole leaves you pondering innovation in its many forms and what it means "to invent" something.

Also, I defy anyone to watch this and not come away wanting a burger and fries. Maybe with a milkshake on the side.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Cypress at L’Arcade

Cypress at L’Arcade by Belinda Del Pesco

Well Said: Blandings Castle and the original garden

The gardens of Blandings Castle are that original garden from which we are all exiled. All those who know them long to return.
Evelyn Waugh on P.G. Wodehouse's Blandings Castle series

Friday, June 16, 2017

Well Said: The prayer is like the river itself ...

The words [of the Rosary] are like the banks of a river and the prayer is like the river itself. The banks are necessary to give direction and to keep the river flowing. But it is the river with which we are concerned. So in prayer it is the inclination of the heart to God alone which matters ... As the river moves into the sea, the banks drop away. So, too, as we move in to the deeper sense of God's presence the words fall away and ... we shall be left in silence in the ocean of God's love.
Robert Llewelyn
I don't pray the rosary often but I do find it very helpful occasionally for getting me back on target, getting me back in the river so to speak.

Worth a Thousand Words: An Out of Doors Study

John Singer Sargent, An Out-of-Doors Study, 1889,
depicting Paul César Helleu sketching with his wife Alice Guérin

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Well Said: I didn't go to religion to make me happy.

I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.
C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock
As is often the case with C.S. Lewis, truer words were never spoken (or written). Good thing the rewards are inestimably better than that.

Worth a Thousand Words: The Artist's Father, Reading a Newspaper

Albert Engström, The Artist's Father, Reading a Newspaper

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Well Said: Uncle Tom's Cabin and Achieving Your Goal

There’s no happy ending ... Nevertheless, we might well say that is exactly Harriet Beecher Stowe’s point. In 1852 slavery had not been abolished. Slaves were still on the plantations and many of them were in the hands of people like Legree. Her book was written to shame the collective conscience of America into action against an atrocity which was still continuing. So a happy ending would have been, frankly, a lie and a betrayal. ...

Most of the charges are basically true. Stowe did stereotype. She did sentimentalize. She offered a role model which later offended African American pride. On the other hand, what she did worked. She wasn’t trying to provide a role model for African Americans. She was trying to make white Americans ashamed of themselves. ...

Perhaps the short answer to her critics is to ask, “Do you want glory, approval, all those good things? Or do you want to achieve your goal?”
Thomas A. Shippey, Heroes and Legends
Shippey only had a half hour discussion of Uncle Tom as a hero and so he glossed over some of the things with which one could take issue in his statement. For example, I'd say that Stowe was trying to provide a role model for all of us, often in the slaves she wrote about, but you have to look at it with a Christian focus to see that clearly.

That aside, I love his defense because I love the book so much. Without context it is easy to cast stones at anyone. And we're all in that glass house where we don't want the stones cast back at us. Our lives and viewpoints have context which we'd like understood also before we are judged.

Genesis Notes: My Soft Spot for Esau

When you are reading slowly through a book the way we are through Genesis, you can never tell what might strike you.

In my case, reading Robert Alter's translation of Genesis what hits me are the details we're given about Esau. He's slow and simple, as we are shown, but darn it, he tries so hard to do what his parents want. And then he's always done down by his own mother as well as his twin.

I already was feeling this, pondering Jacob's theft of the birthright while knowing that at the end of their "twin" saga it is Esau who welcomes his brother home generously. It's one of the unexpected bits of the story that I love most — Esau's welcome home.

Then reading about Jacob going off to find a wife, I noticed for the first time that little insertion of Esau overhearing his mother's dislike of Hittite wives (which he's got two of) and how he went and got a wife from the tribe of Abraham.
And Esau was forty years old and he took as wife Judith the daughter of beeri the Hittite and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. And they were a provocation to Isaac and to Rebekah. ...

And Rebekah said to Isaac, "I loathe my life because of the Hittite women! If Jacob takes a wife from Hittite women like these, from the native girls, what good to me is life?" ...

And Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him off to Paddan-aram to take a wife from there when he blessed him and commanded him, sayng, "You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan." ... And Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan were evil in the eyes of Isaac his father. And Esau went to Ishmael and he took Mahalath daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to his wives, as a wife.
Genesis 26:34-35; 27:46; 28:6, 8-9, Robert Alter transl.
Darn it. Just made me feel worse for him.

It is proof that there is always more in Scripture than we can absorb in just a reading or two. Slow reading allows time to ponder and for it to come truly alive. I have a real fondness for Esau that I'd never have thought possible before.

Peter Paul Rubens, The Reconciliation of Jacob and Esau, 1624.
This series first ran in 2004 and 2005. I'm refreshing it as I go. For links to the whole study, go to the Genesis Index. For more about the resources used, go here.

Worth a Thousand Words: Lady Writing a Letter

Albert Edelfelt, Lady Writing a Letter