What I’d Like My Children to Know About Politics and Jesus (w/ a recipe for Non-Partisan Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies)

A few nights ago we were talking politics at dinner, much to the boredom of my children, one of whom finds it hilarious to proclaim, loudly, that he is going to vote either for John McCain or for “Bushel.” We’ve explained that neither of these people are candidates, but it seems not to matter to him. He is only four.

My seven year old, on the other hand, is bored by politics (“why all this talk of PRESIDENTS?” he’ll say, sounding vaguely Biblical somehow) yet wants to know who we’re voting for and why. It’s been an interesting challenge to explain to him what we think and why, and how that’s different from what others think (and why), without making anyone out to be the “bad guys.”

I slipped up, though, at dinner the other night, clutching my head and moaning, “What if [Candidate X] wins?” as if his victory would slay me. “What does it really matter?” Aidan said.

And I didn’t explain why it did, even though it does. Instead, I turned the tables and asked the kids:

“Hey, guys–who or what could bring hope to everyone in the world–not just this country. Not just us?”

Graeme (4), without hesitation: “God!”

Aidan (7), solemnly: “Yes. I agree.”

There you have it–out of the mouths of babes, as they say.

My post today was going to be partisan, I’ll admit. But then I couldn’t bring myself to hit “publish.” There has already been so much talk, and, really, at this point, I’m convinced that the Undecided Voter and the Sasquatch are one and the same. Even Family Circle has created a way for you to show partisanship–you can bring Ann Romney OR Michelle Obama cookies to the office, you know?

And in any case, the hope of nations is Jesus, not any of the candidates nor the USA.

Am I encouraging Christians not to vote, or not to care about the elections? Not at all. There are real and important issues at stake in this election, and I believe voting can be an important civic duty, though not the only one that Christians have. There are good and sincere Christians all along the political spectrum.

And, though there have been ugly words on all sides, some of the worst of which are those insinuating that other Christians are not ‘real’ Christians, in the end, we follow a risen Christ who spoke peace and showed it, too, in the breaking of the bread.

That is why some Christians are starting an inter-denominational movement for Election Day Communion.

It’s not that there are not real differences between parties and denominations, for there certainly are. It’s that the breaking of the bread crosses all the lines. That’s what Jesus did. Oh, it didn’t win him popularity–quite the opposite, in fact–but he did it.

And in the early days of America, there were no magazines hosting partisan cookie contests. In those days, people had to travel such distances to vote that hosting towns would bake and serve Election Day Cake as a gesture of hospitality, presumably, the cake was shared regardless of affiliation.

Now that’s an American tradition worth reclaiming, no?

So instead of a partisan post–or partisan cookies!–I decided to offer this recipe I’ve created, Peaceful Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies, as something seasonal to bake and to share with Democrats and Republicans and Libertarians and non-voters.

To speak peace in the breaking of the brownies, as it were.

And so, the recipe…

He’s envisioning world peace. (Or, whirled peas.)

Peaceful Pumpkin Brownies

I make them without leavening; the absence of baking soda or powder is not an error. That makes them chewier, as I lean chewy on the chewy-cakelike spectrum of brownie politics. If you are on the other side, please don’t feel marginalized–just add 2 tsp. baking powder and an extra egg.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin-pie spice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/4 cup pumpkin puree, cooked down to 1 cup, and cooled (or skip step 1 and use 1 cup pumpkin)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips dusted thoroughly with 1 tsp. flour
  1. Cook your 1 and 1/4 cup of canned pumpkin, stirring constantly, until reduced. But you can skip this step, and I will not judge you for doing so. Just use 1 cup puree instead.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with baking parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, pie spice, and salt; set aside.
  3. Cream butter and sugar together until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in cooled pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in flour-dusted chocolate chips.
  4. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out nearly clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan, before lifting out and cutting into squares.
  5. Share across party lines.

{And they were very good.}

President Obama’s Nazi Lunch Inspectors Confiscate Child’s Lunch

Did you hear about the girl whose lunch was confiscated and whose mother was forced to pay for a school lunch of chicken nuggets that met government school lunch guidelines instead?

I did, and I was properly outraged until I came across this blog post suggesting that what actually happened was merely this:

“A child brought her lunch to school. The lunch consisted of a turkey and cheese sandwich on white whole wheat bread, a banana, potato chips and apple juice. Someone decided the lunch wasn’t up to snuff and gave her a school lunch in addition. Reports say she ate three nuggets from the school lunch, threw the rest away, and took her packed lunch home.”

 And, yeah, that shouldn’t have happened. But neither, says Robin Shreeves, sustainable food mom blogger, should it have incited such sensationalism:

“This sensationalism over one incident hurts the discussions and changes that are happening. It makes some people who are wary of government intervention even more wary and closes their minds to dealing with the real issues. It doesn’t even look like it was government intervention. And, even if it turns out that the one person who made the decision to give the girl a school lunch did work for the government, it’s still not intervention based on any government guidelines or laws. It’s one misguided employee’s judgment.”

What’s your take? I find the “outrage” mode that seems always to be on (and in which I more-than-occasionally indulge) to be very tiring. But I don’t like the thought of schools having the right to rifle through lunches. But then again, I feel for students who lack parents who know/care enough to make a reasonably healthy sack lunch. I feel that nutrition standards in school have a place. I don’t know.

What say you, gentle reader?

 {Have a beautiful weekend! See you Monday!}