Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Window on the Future

I haven't written as regularly as I might like but do want to welcome many new readers to In the Pantry--and to say thank you, also, to longtime readers and blog friends--and to thank you for your comments. It is gratifying to have a diverse group of people who read and follow my blog and want to add to the conversation. Please feel free at any time--there is no judgment here and I welcome a good dialogue or healthy debate. I try to avoid contentious topics but lately I've been feeling a bit riled up about all of the nasty politics and haven't been able to keep that to myself--I am looking forward to November 5, and with HOPE.

I currently have a "back blog" of topics: on quilt auctions and other local festivities, a special trip to Akron, making and canning grape juice, our "eat down the freezer" campaign (which really isn't working as much as I'd like as we keep adding to it!), more pantry stuff, and other goodies.

Please be patient with me and check back soon. One problem of blogging is that I'm part of several blogs now--one a book group blog at Cupcake Chronicles with two friends from New Hampshire (where I'm very behind in my reading and posting!) and the others of my own creation. But it is good fun and forum and I guess keeps me out of mischief. Yet at times it does keep me from other things--lately two friends in Kentucky and I have been bantering back and forth about blogs and their purpose. One has even suspended her blog and for that I am sorry but I can understand her reasons.

I'm also anxious while hoping for a needed change and turnaround for this great country of ours. I don't know about you but I'm tired of the nasty and vitriolic political sniping. I don't want to hear about the inadequacies or perceived and greatly spun and distorted negative aspects of someone else -- I want to know about what's ahead for our future. I want a clear and intelligent visionary who will galvanize Washington and also our country. This has been on my mind a lot as I know Obama is the right choice. However I fear, and know from first-hand interactions, that many--out of ignorance or bigotry or religious preference--see Obama differently for the wrong reasons.

On the flip side of all of that, I look for silver linings. Perhaps the silver lining to this economic crisis is that it is a reality check for all of us. We need to look at what is good and well in our lives and improve on or slough away the bad. For my family, moving to south central rural America was a start in this direction. Forget "small town values"--try rural reality. I want a full pantry for the right reasons--to feed my family--and not because we have hard times coming. But if they are, we are prepared to meet them as we know what is important and we know we are now better poised to live a sustainable lifestyle.

In the meantime, Happy Harvest and Halloween! I'll try to write more again soon.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Love, Honor, Negotiate

I don't talk about my faith much on this blog because it is a very personal and private thing for me but I did have a revelation, well, an epiphany tonight which I'd like to share with anyone who might want to listen.

This evening I was reflecting on the words Christian and feminist and how, if paired together, it might seem like an oxymoron. This conflict, perhaps, comes from the core of the idea that women should honor and "obey" their husbands and put them, and God, before all else. So naturally a feminist Christian perspective might jar or rankle the litany. It doesn't have to, especially when you consider the role of the two Marys in the Bible--both Mary Magdalen and also Mary the Mother, who is acknowledged in different ways depending on the religious interpretation. It also doesn't have to when you consider that feminism is really humanism as applied to the equality of all people. Radical? Well, no more so than in reading what Jesus said and taught in his own words. He was the greatest egalitarian: of gender, races and creeds of humankind.

We live in an area of the country where there is a sizable Old Order Mennonite community (as well as more modern Mennonites). Many women in this church--especially in the Old Order groups but also the more modern--wear head coverings. I see nothing wrong with this if that is their choice but at first glance it seems a form of submission. I believe the head covering is meant to be an act of humbling in the eyes of God and the church (and maybe why, in addition to fashion, women are allowed to wear hats in church but men are not, unless they are yarmulkes). In Judaism the headcovering is used to signify that "God is above us." Likewise, in Yiddish the word yarmulke comes from the Aramaic, yira malka, which means "awe of the King." There is something fundamentally lovely in that idea when you think of it that way. I could not choose that for myself but respect those women--and men--who do. Equal opportunity head coverings.

Here is another take on the idea of women wearing head coverings, from an interesting blog of a modern Mennonite female seminary student at Stories from the Red Tent -- that it is an act of power. As this blogger notes:

(The Mennonite headcovering) is a symbol that has been used in the past to represent female submission--to God, to men, etc... Liberating that symbol (as a symbol of submission to men) has been a good thing for Mennonite women. But, let's not throw it all out. Rather than meaning a symbol of submission, why can't it represent authority?

I never thought of it that way before. I have many Mennonite friends in the community and have never asked them about their head coverings but now I will see them in a different way. As Amy notes in her blog, it sets these women apart by their own choice and it distinguishes them as women of God.

So I'm up late, as usual, and thinking of these two words in light of many recent conversations with friends via email and blogs: Christianity and feminism (and fashion, I suppose, too). And then the epiphany: that's it! I'm a Christian feminist. I don't mean in the sense of the radical feminism associated with the 1960s but more in a disassociation from the Biblical texts and interpretations that would serve to subjugate women.

All of those readings of Anne Lamott and for some reason it didn't occur to me then, but I get it now. I didn't think about it when I was 12 years old and one of the first female acolytes at our Episcopal church. I didn't think about it when several women were lay readers and some now ordained priests in that church. I didn't think about it when I learned, recently in fact, that the Shakers in their complete embracing of egalitarianism also believed in a duality of God who, rather than a male trinity, is a combined force of Mother and Father. I didn't think about Christianity and feminism as a potentially merged expression of belief because it hadn't really been an issue before. Yet further down in the South where we live now, I think that it perhaps might need to be a way that I have to define myself, my own way of distinguishing myself as a woman of God.

At supper tonight at our favorite regional watering hole, The Bread of Life Café in Liberty, I saw one of those primitive embroidered framed passages for sale in the dining room. It said: Love, Honor, Negotiate. I thought about it several times and took it off the wall and showed it to my husband. He smiled. I put it back and looked at him again. Now I have to tell you, this is the man who jokingly told the reverend who would marry us that he wanted one of the Bible verses read at our ceremony that said something like "cleaving unto him" knowing full well that I wanted to replace "obey" with something less submissive in the marriage vows, as we did.

My husband said, with a bemused twinkle, "you're going to sneak it out to the gift shop, aren't you?" No, I'm going to take it off the wall in front of you and buy it and put it in our kitchen over the sink (and hey, it was about $8.00 framed). It just seemed to be one of those messages that beats me over the head from time to time. God doesn't want us to necessarily obey, he wants us to think for ourselves and to negotiate with each other when there is conflict: whether it is spousal, familial, between friends, political parties or nations. To do our best to get along, to respect, to love each other. It's that simple. In that realm of thinking and being there is no control over others, no right or wrong answer, just what is and what will be. Amen.

[For an interesting well researched article against the more negative stereotypes of feminism as they apply to some Christian women, read this. For one interpretation of Christian feminism read this and another, with three addresses worthy of hearing, click here.]

Saturday, October 11, 2008

New Blogger Feature: Groupies!

I enjoy the regular new features on Blogger. Now you can be a "follower" of a website, either publicly or anonymously, and have updates sent to your blog (I think that's how it works). I encourage you to join and it is an invaluable link to your blog, too.

Just click on the column at left under "PEOPLE in the PANTRY" where you will find this option:

Start following . . . in the pantry

Follow publicly as Catherine

  • Follow publicly to tell the blog's author and the world that you're a fan.
  • Stay updated with this blog's posts on your Blogger Dashboard.

Follow anonymously

  • Keep your subscription private.
  • Stay updated with this blog's posts on your Blogger Dashboard.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

It's Raining!

National weather map at 4:30pm EST - October 7, 2008 (Note large yellow blob in central Kentucky! It's heading this way!)

This link might change (at least the image above is fixed) but says we're poised for the most rain in the southeast since Tropical Storm Fay. Problem is, the remnants of that storm went to the left of us (west) and the hurricane off the southeast coast went to the right (east) so we haven't had a drop since late August and even then it was minimal. Well, no actually, we had a few drops in Casey County on my way home from Chicago a few weeks ago--and I mean a few. [You know that big splotchy kind that fall for a minute and then make dried dust polka dots all over your vehicle? Down here, by the way, they say VEE-icle instead of car.]

I've never experienced drought conditions before. The boys, who are on October break this week, and my husband have been haying. It is a futile attempt to get a last crop of hay which turns to chaff when they mow it. But the fields need to be mowed off before spring, regardless. We often keep the windows closed just to avoid the dust that kicks up outside and the cars need to be hosed off once a day, especially if we take them on any dirt roads (which are actually finished with crushed limestone).

You know that feeling you get before a big blizzard or major storm event? Well, that is how it feels around here. I feel like hunkering in tomorrow, doing some more canning, and more unpacking. I was actually getting tired of hot sunny days. Besides, like Melville, I've always had "November in my soul."

Tomorrow I will post about how we're doing with our USE UP THE FREEZER MONTH vows, some recipes I've tried and also about that grape juice operation last week. We're enjoying fall and getting ready for winter and it feels productive in the midst of national news of gloom and doom.

Who needs the stock market when you can stock your own pantry?