Friday, September 25, 2009

The elephant in the room

Calgary zoo has erected a statue, in the image of the Hindu god Ganesh, in front of its elephant enclosure. Concerned Christians Canada (CCC) has launched a formal complaint regarding the display of this quasi-religious symbol. They claim that the image serves to indoctrinate people into the Hindu faith and that it contravenes the religiously neutral paradigm which must be honoured in public space. It also apparently makes the zoo into a less than safe family friendly venue.
See C.C.C. statement here --- CBC News story here
I have this weird image in my head of a family walking through the zoo and the Dad goes dashing on ahead to the Elephant area and throws himself in front of the statue to protect his family from the danger of looking at the statue.
This irks me. How can a modified symbol that has been stripped of its religious symbolism hold any power whatsoever? Can this thing really make the zoo unsafe for families? Is an exposure to muted version of another religious icon so powerful that it will cause unsuspecting onlookers to covertly be influenced toward Hinduism? Is the protective power of YHWH that weak? If seeing this image for Canadian Christian children is harmful should we not be making efforts to extract the children of missionaries in India for exposure to the more accurate version of the their gods displayed even more publicly?
Shouldn’t it be Hindus who are annoyed here? Isn’t this actually a flippant treatment of their religious symbols which are to be held in honour? Isn’t removing the religious symbolism a problem for Hindus?
Does anyone remember that this is the image placed in front of the elephant cage?
What about other Christian religious symbols that adorn the public spaces of space we live in? Should we remove these symbols as well?
In our own town a public museum has been developed with public monies in the space that used to be the Mennonite church, how inclusive is that imagery to the significant portion of Coaldale’s population that still adhere to the Buddhist faith?
Has anyone from the CCC really taken a look at the political optics on this?
How is this anything but an opportunity to demonstrate the resilient confidence that Christian virtue in the context of pluralist diversity? Is it not true that the Christian principles have their most salient meaning in the face of pluralist milieu?

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Recipe Bin 2

Ginger Peach Salsa
4 c diced peaches, skinned
4 c diced tomatoes
2 med chopped onions
2 Tbsp rhubarb jam
1 tsp coarse pickling salt
5 Tbsp sugar
1 c mango-pineapple juice
3 Tbsp vinegar
1 med ginger root shredded
4 c chopped peppers, green, red, yellow or just green
2-3 chopped hot peppers (1 jalapeno, 1 chilli)
Put together in heavy pot and cook 2 hours at simmering boil. Place in sterile jars with snap lids that have been boiling just prior to putting on jar. Cool and store.

Monday, September 7, 2009

espresso rub for steak

So I was thinking that I might include recipe around about once a week here on this blog. The focus will be on things I like to make so….

Espresso Rub (for steak)

4 of your favourite cut of steak
½ cup finely ground espresso coffee
Take a trip to your local micro-roaster and ask the staff to grind a half pound of their best espresso as finely as they possibly can (many of them can actually grind it to a flour like consistency). Otherwise use the finest coffee available to you. The courser the grind the more coffee you’ll want to use.
2 tbls of course ground pepper
3 tbls of seasoning salt
1 tsp of onion powder
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup of red wine or cooking wine

Allow steaks to slightly defrost (15 minutes or so)
Mix all ingredients except for wine in a small bowl
Rub onto steaks – reserve a few table spoons for later use
Pour wine into the bottom of defrosting container
Allow to defrost completely (turning every hour if possible)
Barbeque on high temperature and sprinkle steaks with reserved mixture
Continue to sprinkle with pepper throughout barbeque process
For a slightly more zippy flavour add a tsp of cayenne, Tabasco, or Cholula hotsauce

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Boxes and Baals

You might excuse him as na├»ve but truth-be-told he just really wasn’t all that sensitive – you know intentionally observant. If he had been, he never would have moved that old wooden box down into the storage room. Spoiling for a quarrel was never his intention.
He had a good reason.
The box had been in the way for several months and for all that time he and his buddies had carefully moved their musical equipment around it to avoid scratches. Drums and guitars and keyboards couldn’t just be left lying around after practice – they would certainly get into trouble for that. So the box quickly became a nuisance. Without it present in the storage room their mobility and space would be greatly enhanced. So one night after grumbling their equipment past it once again – they all stopped and someone suggested they should get rid of the box.
He made the call to send the box downstairs. He knew of a place where it would fit out of the way. So with the assistance of a couple of the guys he packed it away – down there. Slapping their hands together with that sense of authoritative satisfaction they marched back up stairs to finish their packing up…
That was Saturday night…
Monday morning dawned and he obliviously sauntered into his office without even a thought of the box or the impending conflict.
The man was waiting for him in his office. Normally meek the man was, at this moment, obviously agitated – in the way a well shook Pepsi can is before the unsuspecting person opens it. He was clearly upset.
He had a good reason.
You see the box was, as the man described it, not just a piece of furniture and certainly not just a box. It was a pulpit and this pulpit had been present at the consecration of the building in which it resided. It was invested with special spiritual meaning although what specifically that meaning was the man found it difficult to explain.
Taken off guard he wandered around the topic with the man till it became clear that nothing less than the immediate relocation of the box would do.
Chagrined he wrapped his arms around the box once more and carried the box back with the man to its place not in the off-stage storage room but to the very center of the stage.
As he glanced around room standing there he wondered about why people seem to need certain implements to access God. He had learned much earlier in his career has a minister that wearing a tie on a Sunday when he stood behind that box and preached seemed to help some people to listen more closely to what he said. It seemed to him that for some God needed to be confined at least somewhat to certain restricted locations and parameters. It seemed sad to him that after all these years since the veil had been torn in that temple long ago there where still those who preferred to encounter God at a distance.
He remembered the story in the Great Book that told of how Israel had pleaded with Moses to cover himself when he spoke to them after having encountered God directly. He thought about how easily those same people erected a golden calf to worship in the place of God. And he remembered the words of Jesus to the Samaritan woman when he told her that God could not be confined to one holy mountain or another but was to be worshiped in spirit and in truth. And his heart grew with acrid condemnation for the man.
He walked down to favourite spot in the youth meeting room and picked up his guitar – to clear his mind he reasoned – to connect with God…