18 March 2019

Typology


As Typology is such an important tool for understanding the Bible - in fact, the Bible is meaningless without it - it can seem odd that it's largely unknown outside of the Orthodox and Catholic churches. For 1,000 years Typology was really the primary tool used to understand the scriptures, but today the twin errors of fundamentalism and literalism, both of which come in liberal and conservative versions, have deprived readers of this understanding. Those same errors have provided ammunition to antichristian attitudes which claim to know what the Bible says, based on the same fundamentalism and literalism. If you hear a politician or other "Talking Head" expounding on what "the Bible says" or "your Bible tells you to..." they have bought into these false ideas. The Bible is the Church's book: reading it outside of the Church's authority and spirit will always result in grave errors. You may read the text and even understand the meaning of the words as strung together, but if you have not the Holy Spirit and the mind of the Church, you will still be wrong.

Typology allows for the literal meaning of the text, the historical context, and the writer's intentions whilst opening our eyes to the Spirit's action in using the story to bring us, through the Bible, to the one and only proper context: Jesus, God and Man made one, dead and raised.

What is typology? Reading text while acknowledging and using the repetition of patterns.

Imagine a still, clear lake. Along the shore, there are massive groves of trees growing in the water. Everything is clear, still, silent. Imagine we are above the exact center of the lake. We can ses fish in the water. They swim here and there, but the lake us so deep and still that they do not disturb the surface. Everything is in perfect, quiet balance.

Now we drop a small pebble into the lake. Plop!

Ripples move out in perfect circles, but, eventually, the motion stops. The shape of the stone was repeatedly echoed in the widening circles.

Now... Let's take a giant bolder and drop it in the lake. Kerploosh!

The widening circles will be giant and strong. Waves will wash on the shores. The fish will run away, the bottom of the lake will be churned up. The muddy water will wash among the trees around the lake, leaving high-water stains easily seen. Anyone with eyes to see can see the evidence of the event.

Typology reads the Bible in that way, tracing ripples from the central event of all history: the incarnation of God in human flesh, his life, death, and resurrection. The ripples are everywhere in our timeline: from the fall of Adam and Eve to the myths of the Hopi, from the Chinese Lao Tzu to the Irish Lugh. These ripples go from the past to the future as the life of Christ is continually echoed in the lives of his people, in the actions of the Church, in the Holy Mass.

Typology allows us to read history not as linear tedium, nor as a cyclical return, but rather as a great work of music carrying leitmotifs and interwoven fugal tapestries.

To correct Terence Mckenna, all of history is the shockwave of the Incarnation.

The question is not does this ancient event foreshadow Jesus, but rather how does it do so? The question is not does this current event echo Christ, but rather how faithfully does it do so?

11 March 2019

Lent's Here. Let's talk food.



+JMJ+

BBC Radio 4's The Kitchen Cabinet is one of my most favourite things, right after whiskers on kittens and Atmospheric River Events on roses. They travel the UK looking for regional specialties and sharing cooking advice. Most of the members of the panel are from some part of the UK (I think), but they even have a token American who is called on to explain things like corn dogs. I love them not just because they read one of my recipes on the air (and raved...) but also because I keep learning stuff from them. Some cooking shows only make me hungry, this one makes me laugh and also put on that "thinking emoji" face that spins.

The recipe they shared from me involved split peas, or, as they seem to prefer it spelled, pease. You've heard the nursery rhyme, "peas porridge hot". Or, to use the correct spelling,

Pease porridge hot. 
Pease porridge cold.
Pease porridge in the pot
Nine days old.

The Wiki notes that "pease" was the original mass noun like "sheep". Pea is a neologism and "peas" is even newer.

To make pease porridge, one uses yellow split pease. The nutrition information for this is really quite surprising. In 100 grams (uncooked) we find:

Dietary fiber 50g
Sugar 16g
Protein 48g

Fiber and protein far out-weigh the sugars. That same cup of uncooked veggies has a tiny bit of fat and a whopping 341 calories. (100 grams of brussel sprouts has 46 calories. 100g of russet potatoes has 79 calories.) Pease are high energy, high protein treats! No wonder they were a huge part of the diet not only in the Mediaeval period but also in the many parts of the world right up until the modern era. They don't have a lot of different vitamins, but they are very high in magnesium and iron (nearly 50% RDA of each). This is a good food value for folks.

It's simple to make: soak 200g yellow split pease in water overnight. (It's the 21st century, folks. Buy a scale. If you prefer traditional imperial weight measurements: .03 stone.) Drain but don't rinse. My rice cooker is perfect for this: just add water to cover and then run in through a cycle, stir, add water to cover again, and one more cycle. Done. Texture is an issue for some folks: if you like it bit on the chewy side and you can add about a quarter cup of raw pease before the second cycle. Other's like it very smooth and will run an immersion blender through it. Simple, right? As it cools it turns into a think goop rather like very stiff mashed potatoes. Add butter if you want. The trick is how you decide to flavor it.

Traditionally, you would dice a carrot and a small onion, add salt and paper and a bay leaf or two. There is a California Bay in the back yard and I can vouch for the goodness of this recipe. You upscale with bacon or ham. Serve it on bread, toast, biscuits, etc. Some Bisto gravy makes this completely amazing. It seems it's also traditional to use this as a sandwich spread of some sort, but I can't figure that out.

But flavoring, or flavouring...

The first time there was no ham so broth was made with red miso paste. It was amazing.
The second time there was no miso, so only bacon went in. That was astounding.
The third time I used a packet of onion soup mix in the water. Sooo good! Add garlic!
And this time, going a little crazy, a packet of mild chili mix was whisked into the second addition of water.

Also: evidently the Greek food "Fava" is sometimes made with split peas... but I don't know if that's really the case. I can see this being used  for hummus, too.

When it gets cold it's quite like mashed taters. I've fried it up in pancakes at that point. It's really good on toast and my best way of eating it has involved a garlic naan (from TJ's) with a mound of pease. Put a deep divet in the pease and break an egg into it. Put it in the toaster oven until you're ready to eat the egg: sunny side, over easy, over medium, etc... it just takes getting used to your oven.

Some like it hot.
Some like it cold.
I like it in the pot
Nine days old.

Benedicto benedicatur!

08 March 2019

You're Not From Jerusalem, Are You?

+JMJ+

When I moved here in 1997, I was told that I would have to have been here for 6 months before anyone would believe I was staying. Until I hit six months, even with a job, I was just a tourist. In no time at all, it was evident that there were a lot of tourists here. It had not been 10 years since the Loma Prieta earthquake had scared the world during the World Series. After that tremblor, all the Bay Area ingenues pulled up stakes and hied hence to other coasts where plate tectonics are more constipated making room here for my new generation of not quite hippies and cultural creatives. Once, working at a bookstore, I met the rarest of gems: a native. Larry worked parttime at Borders and full time for the City. Born and raised in this 49 square miles woven of urban posh, temperate clime, natural beauty, and sex he was always game to admit he was the last native. No, everyone else is gone. It's a line I've heard several times now.

Then when I began working in higher ed and tech support, I was again surrounded by out-of-towners and transients. The California Institute of Integral Studies is a classic SF institution: catering as it does to upper-middle-class folks from everywhere but here. Then I moved into working in the Tech community, and if there is anywhere not-from-here it's Tech. Yes, the industry was practically invented here on an afternoon commuter train over cocktails with a banker, but the workers are from somewhere else. Orthodoxy was no change: the cradle-born are mostly (not all but mostly...) from elsewhere. The converts are - like me - transients who may have found a home, but we keep moving. We are a city of immigrants, transients, and rootless cosmopolitans. And, apart from Larry, all the natives are gone.

Then I joined the Catholic Church. It feels as though all the clergy in this archdiocese were introduced to each other in pre-school. The social structure of this Archdiocese is, across all ethnic lines, local and native. Yes, there are some folks from elsewhere. We would not be a living city if that were not the case. Some even work in tech or higher ed, but did I mention Larry is Catholic? Generations of families buried in the cemeteries of Colma. Decades - if not centuries - of history in family names that link back to the first folks on boats watching shores warily.

At the consecration of Bishop Robert last year, we sang "The Holy City" as a communion hymn. It may seem an odd choice, true, but have you ever watched the movie San Francisco? At a crucial point, in a Catholic Church a beautiful and young... mmmmmm. Wait, don't tell me... *checks notes*

Jeanette MacDonald (that's right) sings this:


It was never clear until that day in a Cathedral filled with folks from here, but while the rest of the world may think of this city as the Capitol City of Neo-Liberal and Capitalist Hedonism, the reality is this is a holy city in our self-conception. The city is filled with Holy Ground. Saints have walked here from "both lungs" of the Church: St Tikhon the Patriarch of Moscow and St Peter the Martyr of Alaska, St John of San Francisco and St Raphael of Brooklyn, St Sebastian and Fr Seraphim Rose in "The East"; St Junipero Serra, St Theresa of Calcutta, Ven Fulton Sheen, Pope St John Paul II, Dorothy Day, and others in "The West". This is a city of Saints worthy of the name. The natives know this very well. This self-image is parodied in a New Age dream of some secret Atlantis calling all the crystal folks back to the sea, the foundations of several occult movements, the People's Temple, and one of the wealthiest lodges in the State, but where there is much that is holy, the other side will shout all the louder.

That other side has deeper roots than just the 60s as well: yes our city was built by Missionaries, but the Gold Rush made it rowdy, the Railroad made it racy, the Silver Boom built mansions and ballrooms. 1906 tore it all down and we built up even better: a pre-Disney Land of the American Dream for the Panama–Pacific Exhibition in the Marina and the World's Fair on Treasure Island. The Beatnicks, the Hippies, and then the sexual revolution, and the fiscal booms of Banking, Real Estate, and Tech. It's one long chain of that energy. It's not all evil, no. But it's rowdy and it's the other side. it's an economic engine that drives both Jerusalem and the Barbary Coast.

Like all Cities, not everyone who is rooted here was born here, but everyone who is rooted here can't seem to get away: God knows I've tried several times. But something here keeps calling me home, deeper and deeper.  In someplace there must one day be an icon of the Synaxis of the Saints of San Francisco. It will show this holy slice of the Kingdom, the Eucharist, a bread made from the grain on many hillsides into one loaf, the Body of God, this is home.


Here's more context...


01 March 2019

Homeless Life in SF

+JMJ+

Homo quidam erat dives...
There was a certain rich man...

We have a huge homeless problem in San Francisco. 
The problem is we have a huge, wealthy population that's scared of homeless people.
They are scared that property values might fall.
They are scared that job candidates might get turned off.
They are scared that poor people might cause crimes.
They are scared that someone might say something uncomfortable-making to them on the street.
They are scared that some people smell.
They are scared that some people are not on meds.
They are scared that living in tents make us look bad as a city.

We have a huge homeless problem in San Francisco.
The problem is that we don't remember them.
We don't remember that the second set of shoes we have belongs to the poor - not to the consignment store.
We don't remember that the extra clothes we have belong to the naked - not to Goodwill.
We don't remember that the extra food in our fridge belongs to the hungry - not to the dog or compost.
We don't remember that the extra anything we have belongs to the poor - or else we are stealing it.

We have a huge homeless problem in San Francisco.
The problem is that we tend to trust gov't blindly without calling it to account for failure.
If we manage to elect persons of all colors, genders, and sexual orientations we feel good about ourselves - even though they are as unjust to the poor as anyone else. 
If we manage to elect only one party (we really only have one party in SF) we feel good about ourselves - even if they are just as beholden to big corporations, property developers, and the wealthy as the party we don't have. 
If we manage to elect people who actually try to do something we pass ballot measures that undo their good works.

We have a huge homeless problem in San Francisco.
The problem is we ask too many questions.
How did he get that way?
Did he do drugs?
Is she abusing the system?
If I give her money will she just buy drugs?
Is that even any of my business?

If I give money to that organization how much of it goes for wages?
Won't the gov't support them so  that if I give them money, it's  just double.

We have a huge homeless problem in San Francisco.
The problem is that we nullify any moral teaching that might make us feel obligated.
We are obligated to charity in Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, Hindusm, and several others. We prefer instead an odd combo of Prosperity Gospel and Newage, Neognostic Victim Blaming that allows us to imagine no deity will hold us responsible as long as we feel good about things.
This coupled with an entitled NIMBYism means that no one is obligated to care if they don't feel like it and those that do care can be called to the carpet for making the rest of us feel guilty.

We have a huge homeless problem in San Francisco.
It has nothing to do with homeless folks.
It has nothing to do with the govt.
It has everything to do with the rest of us.

And in the end, we will find ourselves beyond Abraham's bosom on the wrong side of the great abyss. The Fathers are not kind here:

AMBROSE; From this we learn then, that we are not ourselves the masters, but rather the stewards of the property of others.
THEOPHYLACT. Next, that when we exercise not the management of our wealth according to our Lord’s pleasure, but abuse our trust to our own pleasures, we are guilty stewards. 
CYRIL. This discourse concerning the rich man and Lazarus was written after the manner of a comparison in a parable, to declare that they who abound in earthly riches, unless they will relieve the necessities of the poor, shall meet with a heavy condemnation.
AMBROSE. But the insolence and pride of the wealthy is manifested afterwards by the clearest tokens, for it follows, and no one gave to him. For so unmindful are they of the condition of mankind, that as if placed above nature they derive from the wretchedness of the poor an incitement to their own pleasure, they laugh at the destitute, they mock the needy, and rob those whom they ought to pity. 
AUGUSTINE. For the covetousness of the rich is insatiable, it neither fears God nor regards man, spares not a father, keeps not its fealty to a friend, oppresses the widow, attacks the property of a ward.
Pope GREGORY. Moreover the poor man saw the rich as he went forth surrounded by flatterers, while he himself lay in sickness and want, visited by no one. For that no one came to visit him, the dogs witness, who fearlessly licked his sores, for it follows, moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. By one thing Almighty God displayed two judgments. He permitted Lazarus to lie before the rich man’s gate, both that the wicked rich man might increase the vengeance of his condemnation, and the poor man by his trials enhance his reward; the one saw daily him on whom he should show mercy, the other that for which he might be approved.
 CHRYSOSTOM. He died then indeed in body, but his soul was dead before. For he did none of the works of the soul. All that warmth which issues from the love of our neighbor had fled, and he was more dead than his body. But not because he was rich was he tormented, but because he was not merciful.
Pope GREGORY. We may gather from this, with what torments he will be punished who robs another, if he is smitten with the condemnation to hell, who does not distribute what is his own. 

In San Francisco, each one of us has the nearly unique opportunity to be Dives to our own private Lazarus. I think, though, most of us would rather banquet in linen and purple robes. We're doomed.