Category Archives: Art and culture

Reading list update, January 12

I’ve finished two more books — not on my list — since I last checked in. Relatively shorter and less difficult than what (I think) appeals to me, so I read them without discouragement!

  1. William L. Barclay. The Lord’s Supper. (2001, of 1965 ed.)
    Brief review of the history and meaning of the sacrament, useful (if gently dated) for ecumenically-minded mainline Protestant churches.
  2. Anya von Bremzen. Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking. (2013)
    Fascinating family memoir usung food to unpack 20th and 21st century Soviet and Russian history.

2014 book list: Whitebread Protestants

Well I was a little surprised I was able to finish my first book on my 2014 book list so quickly. Less a review to follow than a few notes.

Daniel Sack’s 2000 Whitebread Protestants: Food and Religion in American Culture — despite the title — is a quick but academic review of mainline Protestant food-related practices and politics. If you are looking for a cute book about Protestant food folk ways — Jello and casseroles recipes — you’ll be disappointed.

Its topics include the politics about how communion is served; the role of food in church socializing; the appropriate response to local and global food relief; and how we should live our with respect to food; indeed, I would’ve loved to see each of these chapters its own full length treatment, but if that happened I would have never finish the combined series. Of the chapters, the last one on food reform was the frustratingly thinnest. And I’d love to see how Sack would bring it up to date.

Unitarian Universalists will be particularly interested in chapters on local and global food relief and its politics, keeping in mind the postwar Universalist Service Committee work with the starving Dutch. Interesting pages on the Church World Service and CROP. And I wonder if Unitarian Universalists in the 1970s also used vegetarian-focused “lifestyle” curricula that stirred the mainline. Note to self: see if UUA General Assemblies from 1973 to 1980 took on hunger in general resolutions.

Worth a read.

Starting the new year, family style

Like most Southerners, I want black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. My husband and I thought this was the right time to inaugurate my late grandmother’s West Bend Slo-Cooker.

My father discovered it years ago when he was cleaning out his mother’s house. And wonders of wonders: the cooker, a bank account premium — if you’re old enough to remember those — had never been used. From 1976, no less.

It worked like a charm, and the peas are tasty and vegan. (I used olive oil, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika and dried basil to taste.)

Happy New Year!

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My reading list for 2014

I’m a notoriously slow reader, so what follows maybe a few weeks, months or the whole year’s worth of reading. In any case, I’ve cleared of my bedside table, called a jubilee for lost reading opportunities, and have replaced them with the following:

  1. Dorothy C. Bass, editor. Practising the faith. 1997.
  2. Douglas John Hall. Thinking the faith. 1991.
  3. Michael P. Katz. The undeserving poor. 2nd edition. 2013.
  4. Daniel Sack. Whitebread Protestants: food and religion in American culture. 2000. Read.
  5. Slavoj Žižek. The year of dreaming dangerously. 2012.

 

The Atheist Church hubbub

There’s been a bit of agita in the Unitarian Universalist blogophere about the propagation of The Sunday Assembly, an atheist church (or church-like experience) that’s getting a lot of buzz.

I wrote about The Sunday Assembly in March, and don’t have more to say on the subject. But whiff of impinged ownership I hear from some Unitarian Universalists — that the Assembly should align with us, or that Assembly-goers should go to Unitarian Universalist congregations instead — makes me chuckle. As Unitarian Universalists, I’ve noticed that we lack the capacity to make a grand, new religious expression — Humanist, Christian, Plural, something else — and even create practical and ideological barriers to success, but then get bent out of shape when anyone else does what we could or should be doing. Or simply pretend that the other effort is a clone of what we do (or think we do.) The flourish of theological universalism among Christian Evangelicals comes to mind. So does alternate Unitarian and Universalist jurisdictions.

The Sunday Assembly will have its own problems. It lacks generations of accumulated wealth churches have. Lacks the experience of managing crisis, and developing leaders. And popular movements often rise and fall as fast as they rise. But what they do is their accomplishment or failure. Some Unitarian Universalists might offer help, but the Sunday Assembly is its own thing and displays of jealously don’t help.

Universalist retro wall plaque

While I writing my blog post about Bible-quote wall hangings, I recalled a small “suitable for framing” poster of the 1899 Universalist “Five Principles” a former (now deceased) church member gave me.

Five Principles poster

I had made a scan of it to share, but can’t find that I had ever done. Over the years, the odd attack and data failure has taken it toll. Or I never put it up.

Let me remedy that.
Five principles poster (PDF, 4.4Mb)

Here’s the text:

Our Universalist Faith
The Universal Fatherhood of God; the Spiritual Authority and Leadership of His Son Jesus Christ; the Trustworthiness of the Bible as containing a Revelation from God; the Certainty of Just Retribution for Sin; the Final Harmony of All Souls with God…

A future for Bible wall art?

I got an email offer today from a religious publisher for, among other things, religious wall art. Which made me think of

  • framed flocked Victorian mottos
  • eagle-emblazoned God-and-country plaques
  • Jesus People Psychodelia from a Groovy God album covers
  • 70s sentimental seagulls and flowing script framed schuff
  • Hip paleo-orthodox Brotastic work riffed from corporate tropes

Absolutely nothing I would want non-ironically. But I would like an attractive word of encouragement framed and in sight.

  • I wonder what style
  • I wonder what it would say