Friday, July 29, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Volume 46

The idea of 7 Quick Takes Friday comes from blogger Jennifer Fulwiler, who hosts it weekly at her site, Conversion Diary.


Sorry for the late post. I wasn't going to do a 7 Quick Takes post this week, but my friend R. did one and pointed her readers back to me (and this has happened before — you'd think I'd learn).

So if you're here from Simply Urban Living, welcome! If not, take a minute and read R's 7 Quick Takes. And please make sure to read the article she links to at the end.


The Boston Globe ran a nice article on literally the most misused word in the English language.


From NPR's The Picture Show comes this feature on art and ads that can be seen from space.


A friend and classmate has been posting little videos on Jean Piaget's developmental stages. If you wonder what amuses people in the mental health field, well... take a look:


So, it's blueberry season here. Our local farmer's market is full of the wonderful little blue orbs. I like them on salad. (Yes, I said the same thing a few weeks ago about grilled asparagus. It's true about blueberries too — but probably not on the same salad.)

The funny and talented Farmer's City Wife posted what looks to be a great recipe for Sour Cream Lemon Blueberry Scones — maybe I'll try this with the next batch I buy.


While we're on the topic of food, today I'm making moussaka for my son's birthday celebration. (The recipe is somewhat of an amalgamation of this one that I used last year and this one. I have no idea which one is more authentic, but I figure what's "authentic" varies by region and even by household anyway. We'll see how this variation turns out.)

We're actually doing a Greek feast: Greek salad, hummus (made Greek-style with oregano and extra lemon), and stuffed grape leaves (dolmades).

And we'll be capping the evening off with this movie.


And finally, because culture is important:

Happy Friday, friends!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

There's always room for cello

photo: New Cello School
My friend Mandie passes along this gem from Craigslist:

So my sister gave me this cello a couple years ago. It's a nice cello. Actually, it's a great cello. It's probably the best cello, but I don't really know much about cellos. Also the neck snapped off. Of the cello. So it's really more like 3/4's of a cello, but the other 1/4's still there, it's just not attached. It's kind of like you're getting two cellos, only one of them doesn't have a body and the other doesn't have a neck. But if you stand them up next to each other it's like old times. You could probably fix it with like some music glue or something like that.

She also gave me a cello bag that I can give to you too, now that I won't have a cello. It's a really nice cello bag. You can fit everything in it. Actually, there might even be a bow in the bag, I'm not sure. I don't want you to think that there's 100% a bow in the bag. It's way over there, I can't check right now. But if it's in there it's yours.

If you're like me and you don't know how to play the cello then you could use it as a coin bank. It's hollow and there are two S's on the front that you could drop the coins through. Then when it's filled up you could drop it off of your roof or carry it around like a change purse. Ooh, in the cello bag. It'd be like a cello purse. I'd do it but I'm moving across the country and it won't fit in my car. What else could you do with it. You could saw the front off and use it as a sled. Or give the neck to a baby as like a wizard stick for Christmas. Totally give this cello to someone for Christmas. Or Hanukkah.

Please come get it. I'm in Echo Park. I'd actually go somewhere to meet you if wherever we're going is a cool place. Like the desert or something.

I'm 90% certain the bow's in there.


Friday, July 22, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Volume 45

The idea of 7 Quick Takes Friday comes from blogger Jennifer Fulwiler, who hosts it weekly at her site, Conversion Diary.


This is so cool:

And the rest of the story:


Great quote from a fellow book lover who moved around a lot as a kid:

"We could instantly judge the quality of life in any town by how many books you could check out of the library at a time." - John Grisham, Parade, 7/10/2011


A couple of years ago I heard that hummus is the new salsa.

If that's true, what's going to be the new hummus? I vote for baba ghannouj.


Possibly the coolest house ever:

Piano House in Huainan City, An Hui province, China.
More photos and info here.


Do you ever wonder what really happened to Stonehenge?


And speaking of England... did you hear about the Harry Potter-themed corn maze in York?


And in further Pottermania, how about this little gem:

Happy Friday, friends!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On stereotypes and how they drive

A real woman always keeps her house clean and organized, the laundry basket is always empty. She's always well-dressed, hair done. She never swears, behaves gracefully in all situations and circumstances. She has more than enough patience to take care of her family, always has a smile on her lips and a kind word for everyone.

Post this as your status if you, too, have just realized that you might be a man.

— recently seen on several female friends' Facebook statuses

Lately I've been thinking a lot about stereotypes. More accurately, I've been thinking about the process that causes us to stereotype other people, and what that habit might say about us.

Before I go any further, I have to confess: I stereotype people. I do. I think it comes out most strongly when I'm driving.

If I'm driving past a local retirement community and a Buick or an Oldsmobile pulls slowly into my lane, I make an immediate assumption about the driver's age.

If I see a shiny red convertible sportscar, I make an immediate assumption about the driver's age and gender.

If I'm following a large pickup with a certain accessory attached to the bumper, I make a whole set of immediate assumptions about the driver's age, gender, education level, and probably several other things.

But it doesn't stop there.

Based on those assumptions, I label. I categorize. I judge. And I mentally distance myself from the real people driving those vehicles.

The word stereotype was originally a printing word, having to do with printing from a solid plate of type (rather than movable type). This idea of a printed image being perpetuated without change later came to be applied to human attitudes, meaning "preconceived and oversimplified notion of characteristics typical of a person or group." (source: Online Etymology Dictionary)

The real danger of stereotypes is that they are reductive — they reduce a person to a thing. And once a person is reduced to a thing, I'm no longer obligated to treat him or her as a person, as a full-orbed human being created in the image of God, just like me.

Once a person is reduced to a thing, I'm no longer obligated to treat him or her as I would like to be treated.

Once a person is reduced to a thing, all sorts of horrors become possible: rape, slavery, genocide, trafficking... to name just a few.

What got me thinking in this direction was reading and listening to the words of a well-known pastor. This pastor is loved and respected by many of my good friends, but I find myself having a strong aversive reaction to everything he says. As I was trying to figure out why, I realized that he tends to speak using lots of hyperbole and stereotype.

Hyperbole from the pulpit I can handle. Stereotype, not so much.

Whether based on mannerisms, choice of clothing, mode of transportation, or anything else, stereotypes are an insult to the humanity of the person being stereotyped. And because that person bears God's image, it's an insult to God.

I think that might mean that stereotyping is sin.

What do you think?

* I started composing this post while reading a book during a cosmetically-forced lull. As my hair and face were absorbing the beautifiers I'd applied, my mind was absorbing theology. So stereotypical... yet so not.


Friday, July 15, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Volume 44

The idea of 7 Quick Takes Friday comes from blogger Jennifer Fulwiler, who hosts it weekly at her site, Conversion Diary.


Hey — it's the middle of July! The perfect time for this song:

I won't grow up
I don't wanna wear a tie
Or a serious expression
In the middle of July
And if it means I must prepare
To shoulder burdens with a worried air
I'll never grow up, never grow up, never grow up,
Not me!


If I searched my blog archives for the phrase "Jon Acuff wrote a great post on Stuff Christians Like," I'd probably find more than a handful of entries. I love Jon's work. He's quirky and fun, and his writing is consistently great. He manages to write satire without meanspiritedness, which is quite a skill.

Jon recently wrote a post called Seeing People that started one place and went somewhere entirely unexpected. Even after reading his work for — what, a year? two? — I still found myself thinking I knew where he was going as I read that post's opening paragraphs, and I was way off (and happily so). He does stuff like that, and makes it work.

A few months ago, Jon launched a second blog to talk about topics like creativity and writing. His first post was about perfectionism, and included the following gem:

"90% perfect and published always changes more lives than 100% perfect and stuck in your head."

I think I need that stitched on a pillow.


Speaking of pithy phrases:

Punny bumper sticker found on In a Mirror Dimly.


Last weekend, we watched a documentary on asparagus.

You're jealous right now, aren't you?

You might not think there's much controversy surrounding asparagus, but the movie touched on several issues, including locally produced food, U.S. foreign policy, and most importantly, the reason behind the veggie's... um... aftereffects.

Plus, asparagus-inspired parades, pageantry, and disco.


Take a look at the trailer:

Asparagus! Stalking the American Life (trailer) from Spargel Productions on Vimeo.


When I went to the farmer's market the day after seeing the documentary, I made sure the asparagus I bought was Michigan-grown. (Though I probably would have done that anyway.)

Here, Mark Bittman gives a few ideas for what to do with asparagus.

Me? I like it fixed all sorts of ways. This time I grilled it with olive oil, salt and pepper, then cut it into bite-sized pieces to scatter over a salad of mixed greens and strawberries (also from local farmers). It was great.


Somehow my name got on the mailing list of one of the big casinos in our state. That in itself isn't so unusual, I guess... except that it's addressed to me, at the place where I'm interning. Which is an addiction treatment facility.

I might as well tattoo an "N" on my forehead and an "S" on my feet. I am a magnet for irony.


Speaking of gambling, who's up for a little horse race?

"The hare wins by a hair!"

Happy Friday, friends!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Christian tribalism: looking forward to the "love winning" thing

For those interested in and affected by the Rob Bell/Love Wins kerfuffle, that book's editor makes several good points in an article entitled Rob Bell's Hell. For example:

As a young evangelical, I was socialized to see the biggest threat to the church as theological liberalism. But now I think the biggest threat is Christian tribalism.... Such is the challenge facing the church today and what the reaction to Love Wins reveals.
This tribalism isn't just about eternal destiny (the subject of Bell's book). It can be about so many other things. A current favorite on the divide-and-bicker list is the topic cluster of masculinity, gender roles, and sexuality.

For example, on Monday, Rachel Held Evans called out a well-known pastor who posted a polarizing statement on Facebook.* That pastor provided the "divide," and some of Evans' commenters supplied the "bicker" portion of the equation.

Later, Brian McLaren, reflecting on Evans' post, wrote about the two tribes in this Washington Post article.

Now, I want to say this next part carefully, knowing that it's likely to be misunderstood by some from both tribes.

As a preface, I come to this whole discussion with a graduate degree from a conservative seminary, including as many credits in Bible and theology as comprise a university master's degree. That's not to wave credentials around, but just to say I know a little about biblical subjects, and I try to approach theology carefully.

image: Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet
by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872)
from Pitts Theological Library's Digital Image Archive
But before I ever took a theology class, before I ever even opened a Bible, I was an atheist from a mostly unchurched background. When I first came to Christian faith and started seeing the disagreements between (and within) churches, I was shocked.

To me, it seemed like infighting over small issues. Honestly, it reminded me most of bickering siblings (another subject in which I have some expertise).

I realize there are important theological points to be made, and we Christians don't all see things the same way. But can we please agree to disagree agreeably? When we think of our approach to relationships with our brothers and sisters in the faith, can we be less like bickering siblings and more like suffering servants?

Can we be less about polarizing rhetoric and more about self-emptying?

Less table-overturning and more footwashing?

One of the comments on Rachel Held Evans' post was pretty telling:

"Aren't Mark Driscoll and Rob Bell part of the same outfit?
I'm looking forward to the love winning thing, when's that gonna start?"

Another commenter corrected this misperception, explaining that Driscoll pastors Mars Hill Church in Seattle, and Bell pastors Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids (actually Grandville). To which the first commenter replied, "I guess I thought 'Mars Hill' was a franchise."

And indeed, it should be — at least, in the sense of outsiders being able to see some similarity between the two. Some love. Some Jesus.


* For the record, I don't disagree with everything I've heard from Mark Driscoll, and I don't agree with everything I've heard from Rachel Held Evans. In case you're wondering.


Friday, July 08, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Volume 43

The idea of 7 Quick Takes Friday comes from blogger Jennifer Fulwiler, who hosts it weekly at her site, Conversion Diary.


With the Summer Term of Craziness behind me, I'm ready to get back into a blogging routine for a few weeks. (At this point, longtime readers will be scratching their heads in puzzlement, as there has never been much of a routine to this blog.)

But, onward!


This week's episode of 7 Quick Takes is brought to you by multitasking:

by Jessica Hagy of Indexed


Tuesday, I took a walk through the neighborhood.

This doesn't sound like such a huge thing, but it's my first such walk in a few months. I injured my knee in April ("injured" sounds so much better than "hurt" — as if it happened during my pro football days...). Then my class schedule in May and June pushed all fitness pursuits to the back burner. The way back burner. Right off the stove, really.

But an Important Family Event is coming up in just a few months... one involving a photographer, and extended family I rarely see. And that, friends, is a formula for motivation.


I figured everyone knew about this duo, since they won a Grammy for Best Album in 2009. But when I mentioned the pairup to my husband and son, separately, they both had the same incredulous reaction:

"Robert Plant and Alison Krauss?!!"

Yes. Old-school rock and roll meets bluegrass. The combination is brilliant. Somehow both their styles come through. And Plant's voice still sounds great.

Check out their cover of the old Everly Brothers tune "Gone, Gone, Gone."


In the process of shopping online for an outfit for the aforementioned Important Family Event, I'm noticing quite a few items that have "crocheted" as part of the description. Many are not actually crocheted, but machine-made lace. But some are truly crocheted.

It's more than a pedantic distinction. Crochet can only be done by hand, and it's time-consuming. Ever since reading Elizabeth's post on the subject, I can't look at a $20 crocheted sweater the same way.


But speaking of online/catalog shopping... it's been a while since I featured a post from Catalog Living. This one made me chuckle.


NPR just ran a series called I Was Absent That Day, based on the stuff people probably should have known, but just recently figured out. They posted a request on their Facebook page asking fans to tell them about "something you were embarrassed to learn as an adult that you should have learned much earlier."

One reader responded, "I was so pleased when I found out that guerrilla warfare is not gorilla warfare. I thought it was so cruel to make gorillas fight in our wars."


To end on a light note, here's a great quote from Sophie, a.k.a. BooMama: "...sometimes shopping at Kohl’s stresses me out because there’s the “retail” price and then the sale price and then the Power Price and then the extra 10% off that you get if you stand in front of a cashier and do the hokey-pokey and turn yourself around."

If I happen to find an outfit for the Important Family Event there, I might just try that.

Happy Friday, friends!