Monday, April 19, 2010

Liberal or Progressive?

When it comes to religion I thought these terms were interchangeable. That is, until a few days ago. I have been at the Common Dreams Conference these past four days and this distinction has been the stand out learning for me.  While "Liberal" churches  would probably describe themselves as open minded and open hearted, Hal Taussig would suggest that they have not changed their practices much in the last twenty years or so.  They may well have
"maintained a strong intellectual openness, an emphasis on social justice, a traditional worship with a lot of preaching and very little participation or expressiveness by the people, and not much attention to feminism, gay and lesbian issues, spiritual renewal and experimentation or other religions"  - Taussig in Grassroots Progressive Christianity: A Quiet Revolution
And it is these things that the Liberal religious have not paid much attention to that the Progressives are passionate about. The Progressive Religious are marked by what they do rather than what they believe. The key note speaker at the Conference, Gretta Vosper's book is titled With or Without God: Why the way we live is much more important than what we believe.  Another of the presenters, Margaret Mayman talked about the connection between the poetic and the prophetic and stated that the defining difference between liberal and progressive was that the latter are as much interested in practicing justice (for humans and for the earth) as they are in practices of spirituality, and that there must be connection between everyday life and liturgy/ritual: "If this is not a place where tears are understood, where shall I go to  cry?"

So why does this learning matter to me?  I have long been attracted to the irrational and dont want to live with the austerity of the rational alone but I have become disillusioned with Church - the spiritual practices offered in the Churches I have been in mostly bore me (at best) - apart from the Eco-faith community that I was part of in Adelaide.  I certainly do not believe in a god who intervenes.  When it comes to the supernatural, i dont know what I believe and I dont really care.  I like the mystery.  I like the mystics, one of whom said "God is silence". I do believe in the power of people to change things, and the power of community to change, transform me, and it these things I long for.  This hope to be part of a community that makes a real difference in the world but who has also developed some practices for sustaining and nourishing each other in this work is not something I want to go on ignoring.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

One Perfect Day...

I've just had a couple of days in the country. What a tonic for the soul that was!  Both days were amazingly wonderful but here is the catalogue for the first blissful day:

7.30 - 8.30 reading magazines in bed

8.30 - 9.30 scrumptious breakfast of muesli apricots and fresh passionfruit, looking out on to wet garden

9.30 - 10.00 luxuriate in bubble bath

10.00 - 11.00 listen to Yo Yo Ma play some Bach cello suites while dreamily perusing the weekend papers and making plans for the future

11.00 - 1.30  walk around town 

1.30 - 2.30 home for lunch - home grown tomato, mushroom, cheese and avocado on toasted rye bread then bush honey biodynamic yoghurt with fresh passionfruit - yum!

3.00 - 6.00  drove to near by town for afternoon tea.  Fed and watered the horse

then wandered the streets, looking in shops.  My favourite was the one selling linens

then drove the long way home, through magnificent wooded, green countryside - and a rainbow

6.30 - 9.30  cooked bacon and eggs (from the chooks in the back yard), mushrooms and more of those home grown tomatoes for tea. Then, with my best friend, watched a superb thriller starring Anthony Hopkins, Fracture, borrowed from my favourite video store before I left Melbourne

9.30 went to bed, one contented little bunny!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

So True!

Trying to hasten the ripening of avocado and then cutting one up for lunch yesterday that wasn't quite ripe reminded me of this cartoon

It is so true.  You can see more funny cartoons like this one on Simon Drew's website. Also here

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fast and Delicious! - Chickpea, mushroom and spinach curry

I made this for tea the other night and it was sooo good I thought I'd share it with you.
The quantity is for 2 people.
1 small onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic paste
200 g mushrooms
1 heaped Tablespoon of Pataks mild Korma Curry Paste (add more for a stronger curry taste or use a hotter curry paste if you like hot curry - I'm a wimp when it comes to hot and spicy)
400g can diced tomatoes
400g tinned chickpeas
100g of spinach (I used baby spinach leaves)
1/2 a cauliflower head
1 Tablespoon olive oil

1. heat the olive oil in a non stick frypan. Add onions and minced garlic paste. Stir until onions soften. Add curry paste and stir until onions are coated.
2. Add tinned tomatoes, chickpeas and sliced mushrooms. Simmer for 10 minutes
3. wash cauliflower head, break into flowerets.  Cook on high in microwave for 5 minutes. Use a hand held blender to pulverize - until the cauliflower looks like rice. I use this cauliflower rice instead of rice all the time now.  It's delic.
4. Add spinach and stir through. Cook for just a couple of minutes, until the spinach is wilted.
5. Make a ring of cauliflower on serving plate.  Serve the chickpea mixture in the centre of the cauliflower and Bon Appetit!

I am using veggies instead on carbohydrates when I can these days.  Last week I made a vegetarian lasagne - using up all the left over veggies in the fridge for the tomato sauce part but then used sliced zucchini instead of lasagne sheets.  That worked well.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

War and Peace

I'm reading War and Peace.  For my bookclub.  I'm only a third of the way through and bookclub is next week.  I'll never make it.  My experience of reading the book matches what one critic wrote:  "you dont read War and Peace, you live it".  It is so immediate, all action and dialogue, no asides or reflection.  I think that might explain why I dont 'feel' anything about the book.  It just all happens. Parts of it are very funny. In fact, I wonder if the whole thing has been written kind of 'tongue-in-cheek'.  Perhaps that is my own projection and reflects how I feel about the privileged class of two centuries ago.  I dont like or feel connected to any of the characters yet.  That feels strange. Anyway, I'll persevere. Reading this book definitely feels like a discipline. That's not always a bad thing. I'm going to watch the movie this weekend - the version with Audrey Hepburn in it.