LoV-Write

Dear You,

It’s been a long week. Stressful and trying in many ways, but it was, as so often happens, educational nonetheless.

The week (Sunday the 18th) started with an encounter with a woman named Bess. She’s homeless and working her way back to a state of solidarity. I talked with her awhile that day and we discussed God, and how these events teach us to know God and trust God, and realize the transience of this world. From here, the week rotted. It was busy at work, stressful all around, I’ve lost my patience on a few occasions and failed a time or ten. But, as they say, it works out in the end.

Now, in the quiet aftermath, I’ve had time to better digest these events and I’m left with this image: a figure, who is me but not me, hanging on a cross, while I look on with scars on my arms.

If this were a story, Bess’s conversation would be the foreshadowing; the week of conflict the journey; and the final image a resolution. Bess’s conversation points to God, as though to say “Listen, you are about to endure some things which will cause you grief, but will also temper you and your faith.”

The conflict acts as a microcosm of how it is to live in sin (which is to live for oneself and not for God). Because living a life of the self, by the self, for the self, leads only to malcontentment.

And the image of the cross is the completed idea that the old self is dead, and we have been resurrected with Christ- bearing the marks of our crucifixion and our old life, not as marks of condemnation, but as testimony to our transformation with and through Christ.

But this is the ongoing process- we learn by seeking God in all things, both good and bad, that we learn to pray (which is to turn our thoughts to God and speak to a friend). We learn to pray in triumph, in failure, in peace, in war, in calm, in chaos- in all times, at all times, praying to know God and seek The Kingdom, praising God that we may bless the world; all sinners and saints, friends and enemies.

It’s Ephesians, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),” (Ephesians 2:1-5 )

And you know, as is usually the case, all these sequences are just a reminder of what has been said and resaid: I am a sinner in need of help, full of flaws and imperfections. I cannot save myself with 10’000 good deeds or by any act of piety. I am saved by grace.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” (Galations 2:19-21 )

I hope things are well with you,

Your Friend,

Food is Pleasant

I’ve just finished First Bite: How We Learn to Eat By Bee Wilson. It was an interesting read which has given me plenty to think about in terms of how I eat and how I compel others to eat. There are a number of things I could reflect on: how to encourage guests to try new foods, how individual background influences choice, or how presentation and company changes the taste of food.

Instead, I’m left thinking that the core idea of First Bite is that food is pleasant and eating pleasurable- and that all our various diets, eating disorders, and malfunctions are signs that our relationship with food has lost sight of this fact.

To me, as ever, it all relates to the Beginning where God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food” (Genesis 1:29).  This direction from God comes in the broader context of Creation, where God blesses Adam and Eve and tells them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28).

This blessing is like saying “Enjoy this inheritance I have given you. Take what I have made and tend it, nurture it and help it develop.” Which is to say, that Adam and Eve were meant to find their labors pleasurable, which were multiplying and tending the garden; and find the fruits of their labor pleasant, which were the children their raised and the foods they ate.

You Touch It You Take It

I’m reading a book called First Bite: How We Learn To Eat by Bee Wilson. It’s an interesting discussion on the psychology of eating.

I’m on page 72 and she’s been discussing Children’s Health, namely: how should children’s diets be governed? She tells of a 1912 meeting of British educators who gathered to discuss the problem of children’s health in Britain. Because public education had become mandatory, they knew the problem was to find what to feed the children during school lunch and how to make them eat it.

What this episode did, according to Bee, is challenge the idea that, in children’s food, pleasure and health are enemies (71). Basically, how we tell children what to eat, and how we talk about what to eat, creates responses to the food we eat.

This information can hardly be read without remembering my own experiences growing up- the fusses I made and the food I liked. I hated lima beans, and though I’ve learned to eat them, every time I see them I remember an episode in my childhood where I sat, alone, at a friend’s dinner table, crying over a plate of lima beans because I had to eat some before joining the birthday party.

This bland memory contrasting the savory flavors of my family’s home cooking- mom’s spicy spaghetti, dad’s stir fried beef, my brother’s hot curry, sister’s desserts, and a family adage: You touch it you take it, you take it you eat.

The Road Goes On, Ever Ever On

A Draft From nearly two years ago, sometime late July.
******
Today I’ve realized that I want to be an adventurer when I grow up.

I’ve realized this, because in the last seven weeks I’ve traveled nearly 20’000 miles, visited two foreign countries and ten of the 50 United States, and flown from one side of the U.S. to the other; I’ve seen the Northern coast of Ireland and the faint outline of Scotland; I’ve walked the streets of Dublin, Salt Lake City, and Roswell; I’ve seen the lights of New York and Portland; I’ve waded in the Atlantic Ocean off Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula, and swam in a creek on the Big Horn Mountains 7500ft above sea level; I’ve driven from Southern New Mexico to North Central Wyoming in a single day, sleeping little en route, then worked a 10 hour shift as a waiter; I’ve visited the Green Giant, the Corn Palace, and Wall Drug, and soon: Chicago.

I’ve broken down, been caught in traffic, stopped to reminisce, and consumed coffee. I’ve written opening chapters, closing scenes, and wallowed in the divine frustration of writer’s block. It’s like the Walking Song from the Lord of The Rings (musical):

There’s a road calling you to stray, Step by step pulling you away,
Under moon and star, Take the road no matter how far.
Where it leads, no one ever knows, Don’t look back follow where it goes,
Far beyond the sun, take the road, wherever it runs.
The road goes on, ever ever on.

 

So I’ll follow on this journey, and continue to follow these never ending roads, and may God grant me the strength to live, and more, to write.

A New Beginning

I’ve been editing a short book by my relation E. Phil Thoreau, and today marks the completion and publication of said novella. It also marks the beginning of a minor scheme to employ Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing for a full canon of Thoreau / LoVato works. Time will tell if this scheme (the result of poor funding, and over confidence in our combined editing abilities) will actually work.
In the mean time, do have a look and purchase your eBook copy of Coffee Flavored Water–  A referential, pun infested, epic that chronicles the adventures of Zard, Ascha, Gig, and D as they are pulled into quest to save a land called Mooz from the terrors of Rebmuc.
 

Finding America: Love’s Labor Lost

I’ve been reading Fred White’s The Daily Writer (2008) and today’s entry is “Writing As An Act of Love” (59). In this entry, White writes that “Love not only makes the world go ’round, as the cliche goes, it inspires us to go around the world; it makes us care enough about the world to get involved with it, to contemplate its beauty as well as its ugliness, its past glories and future possibilities.”

It strikes me as a bit cheesy, but I think that is half the point. It is this idea that we need to see the world with a higher degree of innocence, that we can’t let experience harden our hearts and build walls where doors belong. It is the human experience, I think, to love and to hate, “to murder and create” as we struggle to understand our place in history.

It is this capacity to love (and in loving to hate), that makes us human. If we lived by logic, like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, or Spock from Star Trek, or Sherlock Holmes, we would lose as much as we gained.

Finding America: World Center For Birds of Prey

When I first came here to Boise, Id I lived with an acquaintance just South of town. While living there, I was introduced to the World Center for Birds of Prey and had the opportunity to go see a Fall Flight. 

Seeing a hawk on the wing and an owl swoop back and forth to their handlers was a wonderful sight.During the presentation Bill Heinrich, Education Center Director, told the audience about the Center.

The center is a part of the Peregrin Fund, a foundation that aims to restore rare species through captive breeding and release, and improve local conservation  capacity. The World Center houses the Peregrin Fund Research Library, one of the largest collections of scientific literature on birds in the world.

The center is open Nov – Feb 10am-4pm, Tues-Sun. And March – Oct 10am-5pm Tues-Sun. General admission is $7, with discounts for youths and seniors.

 

Finding America: Minimum Wage

I’ve been coming across a number of memes about minimum wage increase in the past couple days. Many point out that a minimum wage increase would create inflated prices and job loss:

Some suggest that the CEO’s and Business Leaders of the world are increasing their wage while letting the hourly employees suffer:

But the main point, I think is this: that cost of living has increased while wages have stayed the same.

I don’t yet know the full story, but I’m certain that raising minimum wage will solve nothing on it’s own.

Instead of asking how to raise minimum wage, we should be asking how we can increase the US Dollar’s value; how we can improve transportation and production to decrease food costs; how we can budget our private finances to live within our means; and how we can live with less waste and more efficiency.

These corporations and the 1% are the product of capitalism: they and/or their predecessors invested and built a massive wealth for themselves. I think we are in the middle of a paradigm shift where we can choose to re-embrace the damning freedom of entrepreneurship, personal responsibility, and self reliance; or continue this trend towards dependence, blame, and self-entitlement.

Personally, I want a USA where the mindset is that of the entrepreneur.

Book Blurbs (Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson)

Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson brings the reader observations on the interconnection between a technological and cultural history of cooking.
Wilson opens by bringing one of the most basic kitchen tools into focus: “A wooden spoon – most trusty and lovable of kitchen implements – looks like the opposite of “technology,” as the word is normally understood. … Countless decisions – economic and social as well as those pertaining to design and applied engineering – will have gone into the making of this object” (ix).

She goes on to discuss, chapter by chapter: Pots and Pans, Knife, Fire, Measure, Grind, Eat, Ice, and Kitchen. In each chapter contrasting tool usage across Western History, as well as comparing Western use with Eastern use. It is a book that brings the reader a fuller view of the products nestled away in the kitchen.

Wilson concludes, “The food we cook is not only an assemblage of ingredients. It is the product of technologies, past and present” (276).

Wilson, Bee. Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat. New York: Basic Books. 2012. Print.

Finding America: University Diversity

Finding America (Series I: Idaho)

I work in a restaurant, and in this industry I encounter all manner of people. Here in Boise it’s a mix of university students, locals, and those traveling through town on business. Today, I just so happened to encounter a pair of gentlemen from Kuwait. One fellow had a set of beads, called subha, which are prayer beads. I asked him about them, and he said “some call them religion”.

I didn’t talk to them long, just long enough to learn they were attending university here. This encounter, along with the blizzard across the Oscars, and the general question of immigration, I am thinking about the sheer variety of people in this country.

It seems to me that this country’s media- our literature, our movies, our programming, depict America as a country of white people, governed by aging white men, all of Anglo-European descent, and that this is the story we tell.

We know, of course, that these descriptions like Caucasian, Asian, or Black reduces a number of origins to a single physical trait. Caucasians can be Anglo, Scandinavian, African, Hispanic, Siberian; Asians can be Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Korean, Thai; Blacks can be African, Jamaican, Haitian, Australian, European.

Instead our genetic history is reduced to a pigmentation and facial construct, when the reality is that our appearance is only part of the story. It is a complex thing, and I wish it was as simple as reminding ourselves that America has become a country of variety.

That we share a political system, but we do not share one culture, we not share one religion, we do not share one ethnicity, we do not share one history- We are a mosaic that gains beauty from variety.

 

 

 

 

 

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