Away For A Few Days…

I’m going to be away for a few days welcoming some new life into the world, and not in any sort of professional capacity. Wheee! New Baby Smell, coming up!

In the meantime, can I give you a little seasonal advice?

Bit of Advice #1–

Wickham’s Fruit Farm Apples (find your local apples!)

Bit of Advice #2–

homemade donuts from the apple farm.

‘Tis the season to carpe donut.

The More Interesting But Less Provocative Way

The blogger Tony Jones (“Theoblogy”) as had a series of posts on why homeschooling is terrible and awful and bad for society and you’re a bad Christian who doesn’t really love Jesus or your neighbor if you do it. My friend Helen Lee (author of The Missional Mom) wrote an excellent response at Scot McKnight’s blog, Jesus Creed.

I don’t really have any desire to enter into this particular debate. (If you want to get some idea of part of why we homeschool, read anything by John Holt or John Taylor Gatto.) I bring it up only because as I read Tony’s posts, which seemed to base the critique of homeschooling on a skewed, small sample of isolationist-minded homeschoolers, it occurred to me that disagreement and ‘controversy’ often happens because it is more fun (and pageview-garnering) simply to poke at what other people do without asking the really interesting questions.

For example, there are people who intentionally give birth, at home, with no professional in attendance. And people often screech about these “unassisted homebirthers” as being crazy, reckless, dangerous folks. But isn’t it more interesting (and useful) to ask “what is happening in the hospital (and in the culture) that people feel that birthing at home, alone, is preferable to birthing in a hospital? What’s the history here?”

Judgment and declaration drive up pageviews and Facebook shares and retweets. It’s fun to be all righteously indignant and judge-y, and I know this because not infrequently almost every day I read the news and get all worked up and think of devastating critiques, some of which leak out into my online bile duct Twitter account. 

But I suspect that it is asking, not declaring, that opens the way to fruitful conversation.

What do you think?

Seeking the Straight and Narrow

I have a review in this week’s issue of The Christian Century, taking a look at this book:

Here’s how it begins:

Last year a furor erupted when Alix Spiegel’s story “Can Therapy Help Change Sexual Orientation?” aired on NPR’s Morning Edition. Spiegel talked to two men who had undergone what is sometimes called conversion therapy, briefly exploring the ethical questions raised by the controversial practice, which the vast majority of health practitioners regard as not only ineffective but harmful. For Rich Wyler, one of the men Spiegel interviewed, being gay and Christian simply cost too much; despite the substantial criticisms of “reparative” therapy, he wanted it. “How dare they tell me that my goal is not legitimate,” he said. “That is unethical.”

Some listeners complained that NPR was giving a hearing to a project that was discredited by the American Psychological Association in 1975. Others suggested that people wishing to become “ex-gay” have the right to engage even in disputed projects like reorientation.

Most people outside evangelical culture contest the legitimacy of groups like Exodus International, the world’s largest conversion therapy organization, with over 260 local organizations. But most people unquestioningly support and even share, at least in principle, the goals of groups like First Place, a weight-loss program associated with the Southern Baptist Convention, even though permanent weight loss is nearly as problematic and unsuccessful as sexual reorientation.

And you can read the rest here.

A Late Summer Recipe: Amazing Eggplant Dip

Come on. Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte does not get to redefine the scope of the seasons. I am not ready to strip over (has this typo really been up all day? Oy. I meant TRIP over) those plastic pumpkin buckets and bags of orange-and-black wrapped candies at the end of the grocery aisle. It’s still time for reveling in the bounty of summer.

But now that it’s cooling off, it’s also not awful to think of roasting things. Like food. Like this amazing eggplant dip, originally posted more than a year ago.

{Just made it again, and it is still delicious.}

Preheat oven to 450F.

{you don’t need to cut everything neatly, since it’s going to be almost-puree anyway. if you’re using Japanese eggplants, like I did, just leave the skin on–it’s quite tender.}

Toss all of the following together in a large roasting pan:

  • 1 large eggplant, peeled and diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (or 1/4 cup fresh seeded and diced tomatoes)

Roast for 45-65 minutes, or until the vegetables are fragrant and caramelized and reduced by 1/2 their volume. Cool slightly before pulsing in food processor to your desired level of chunkiness.

(We had a lot of eggplants and peppers, so I doubled the recipe and put what we didn’t eat immediately into 1/2 pint jam jars to freeze.)

{if you’re going to do the same, remember to leave 1/2″ of space at the top of the jar to allow for the expansion that comes with freezing!}

{small white bowl to the far right has the eggplant dip. my son, trying his best to look fierce.}

Delicious as an appetizer to Middle-Eastern or Italian inspired dishes. Yum!

I hope you’ll make some and enjoy it with friends this weekend. Peace!

The Grace of God in Salt Spray and Sweet Non-Essentials

Some weeks (months?) ago, I told you that I was aiming for a regret-free summer, and that, for me, that means a lot of beach-going. Since we live 15 minutes away from, oh, 15 or so beaches.

I’m never going to not have some regrets, alas, but it has been a beautiful summer.

We’ve eaten *whatever* for dinner so that we could go to the beach.

I’ve said, “it can wait” to writing, to laundry, to cleaning, to home-schooling so that we could go to the beach.

And now the days are growing shorter and cooler, and guess what?

There is still food to be cooked, posts to be written, laundry to be washed, children to be taught…

And what do we have to take with us into fall? Tanned arms, tanned faces, toughened feet…

…and some seriously happy memories of life-in-the-moment.

Life lived by the side of the sea, the sea that’s always changing and yet, somehow,

Always the same. Have we met God there? I think the answer is yes.

God, and the Mister Softee truck. Because what is the beach for, but meeting God

And tasting all the goodness and grace of God in salt sprays and in sweet non-essentials?

There are still 9 days left. What will you do to enjoy the last bits of summer?