Let me start off by saying that I don’t know too much about Catholic theology as it differs from other Christian denominations. Growing up, there were no Catholics where I lived (or at least, I never knew any until at least my teenage years, and there still is no Catholic Church within 20 miles of my childhood home); Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians a-plenty, along with smaller segments of many various other denominations, but no Catholics. In school (private, Christian school), we mostly stuck to things that all Christians had in common, though in our history lessons of Western civilization, of course we had to get into religious wars and Catholic dominance of Western Europe, etc., so I had a good overview of Catholicism generally. Since growing up, I’ve learned more about Catholicism, even engaging in a couple of online forums (fora?) for a short while, but never delving very deeply into it; and most of what I learned was from an anti- or at least non-Catholic position (or from pop culture, like the christening scene in The Godfather, and the Christmas Day Mass in While You Were Sleeping).
However, now I have several Catholic friends on facebook, and am currently living in an area that is predominantly Catholic, so I don’t want to unnecessarily offend Catholics, even if I do think they’re wrong; and at one point I previously said something to a Catholic about “praying to saints”, and she said that they don’t “pray to saints” as if praying to God, but rather asking them to intercede, just as you might call up a friend and ask them to pray for you about something; therefore, in order to meet Catholics where they are, I can’t go based on what I have read from non-Catholic sources about what Catholics believe, because they tend to reject such language. Yes, the non-Catholics are right in that Catholics pray to dead people, but Catholics reject the unbiblical insinuations of it, and put a Biblical (or quasi-Biblical) twist to it, so that they can hold what seem to be two contrary opinions at once. [I say "quasi-Biblical", because I do agree that it is Biblical to ask people to pray for you, but that it is unbiblical (perhaps even demonic or approaching witchcraft) to communicate with the dead, and that there is nothing in the Bible that indicates that living Christians should ask dead Christians to intercede for them.]
So, Catholics claim they don’t “pray to dead people” in a bad/unbiblical sense, and they also claim they “don’t worship Mary” (another common charge leveled against Catholics by non-Catholics). No matter how many non-Catholic resources I could quote confirming Mary worship, Catholics wouldn’t accept them as truly understanding Catholicism, and they would brush off any such statements as being inaccurate, so I decided to go to the source. Just about every movie that depicts Catholics or Catholicism at all includes one person with a rosary necklace and/or praying the rosary, but I never knew exactly what it was; at some point I learned that the necklace is used as a reminder of the form of the prayer, with every bead being a different thing to say or think about, so that once you go all the way around the necklace, touching each bead and saying the right prayer attached to each bead, you were done. But here is the rosary from a Catholic source.
It starts off good enough with the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, but then comes three Hail Marys. So God gets one prayer, while Mary gets three. Okay…. The first part of “Hail Mary” is taken from the Bible in which the angel Gabriel visits Mary and tells her that she will become pregnant and give birth to Jesus, but then it devolves into asking a dead person to intercede on behalf of the living — again, perfectly acceptable to Catholics, but nowhere said or implied in the Bible. Continuing the rosary is again something that no Christians so far as I know would have a problem with, “Glory be to the Father”, followed by the first “mystery” (there are 4 different types of mysteries, with 5 mysteries in each type — more on that later), then “Our Father”, then while contemplating the “mystery”, the person is to say 10 Hail Marys followed by another “Glory be to the Father”, then repeat the cycle with the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th mysteries, saying each mystery followed by “Our Father”, 10 Hail Marys and “Glory be to the Father”. Does anybody else see the problem of the ratio of praying to and hailing and honoring Mary vs. praying to and honoring God?
Now a brief sidetrack into the discussion of the “mysteries”. Most of the things in the “mysteries” are taken directly from the Bible, and are basically just a recitation or repetition of stories in the Bible, although with some occasional non-Biblical/extra-Biblical things thrown in — but for the most part, are things that no Christian would disagree with until… the last two of the “Glorious Mysteries”, “The Assumption” and “The Coronation”. Having read that, I just have to say, “WOW!!” Whoo, boy!
The Fourth Glorious Mystery: THE ASSUMPTION
- After the apostles have dispersed, the Blessed Mother goes to live with John, the beloved disciple.
- Mary lives many years on earth after the death of Christ.
- She is a source of comfort, consolation and strength to the apostles.
- As she had nourished the infant Jesus, so she nourishes spiritually the infant Church.
- Mary dies, not of bodily infirmity, but is wholly overcome in a rapture of divine love.
- Her body as well as her soul is taken up into heaven.
- After her burial the apostles go to the tomb and find only fragrant lilies.
- Jesus does not permit the sinless body of His Mother to decay in the grave.
- Corruption of the body is an effect of original sin from which Mary is totally exempted.
- The bodies of all mankind, at the last judgment, will be brought back and united again to the soul.
Spiritual Fruit: To Jesus through Mary
The Fifth Glorious Mystery: THE CORONATION
- As Mary enters heaven, the entire court of heaven greets with joy this masterpiece of God’s creation.
- Mary is crowned by her divine Son as Queen of heaven and earth.
- More than we can ever know the Hearts of Jesus and Mary overflow with joy at this reunion.
- Only in heaven will we know the great majesty of that coronation, and the joy it gave to the angels and saints.
- Even the angels, who by nature are greater than humans, hail Mary as their Queen.
- Mary shares so fully in the glory of Christ because she shared so fully in His suffering.
- Only in heaven will we see how central is the role of Mary in the divine plan of redemption.
- The angels and saints longed for the coming of her whose heel crushes the head of the serpent.
- Mary pleads our cause as a most powerful Queen and a most merciful and loving Mother.
- A great sign appeared in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
Spiritual Fruit: Grace of Final Perseverance
Really? First, there is nothing in the Bible of this; it’s just Catholic additions. Secondly, if Mary were sinless (4th mystery, #8 & 9), why does she need a Savior and Redeemer? — Luke 1:47. Thirdly, the “spiritual fruit” that is supposed to come from this 4th mystery is “To Jesus through Mary”?? In a recent discussion with a Catholic friend of mine on facebook, I told her that one of the problems I had with Catholicism is that it puts the priests as a mediator between God and man, while the Bible says that there is One such Mediator, Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5). She basically said that priests weren’t mediators in that sense, and affirmed that Jesus was the only Mediator. I still insist that Catholic priests are mediators in a way that the Bible forbids, and now after reading this, I must add in that Mary is another such mediator. If we have to go through anybody but Jesus to get to God, whether that is priests or as this says, “through Mary to Jesus”, then that is putting an unbiblical mediator between God and man. Now Catholics may say that it’s not putting a mediator between God and man, but it is. Fourthly, aside from the blatantly unbiblical nature of all this (except #10, which is a quote from the Bible and may or may not refer to Mary at all), #7 — “only in heaven will we see how central is the role of Mary in the divine plan of redemption”?? Oh, dear! And #8 is not just “extra-biblical” (meaning, outside of the Bible, like the existence of the Mayans and Incas) but absolutely **UN**Biblical. The Bible says that it is the heel of the Son, the offspring of the woman, that crushes the head of the serpent, *not* the woman’s heel!! — Gen. 3:15.
Okay, enough of the “mysteries”. Back to the rosary, which is technically finished, but after the end of the rosary, this is supposed to be said:
HAIL, HOLY QUEEN, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!
So now MARY is “our hope”??? We cry to Mary, and “send up our sighs, mourning and weeping”? Why not just straight to God? Why this other mediator between God and man? And MARY is our advocate? How unbiblical can it get!?
Finally, I also take issue with them saying that we are “poor banished children of Eve”. While technically true in that Eve is the mother of all living, it is through Adam that we have our federal headship, and we sinned in Adam, not in Eve. That is just one more twisting of the Bible by misplacing the emphasis that the Bible gives, putting it on something that is not emphasized.
Romans 1:26-27 reads (KJV), “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” [You can click this link and change it to any number of different versions if you want, but most read very similarly.]
I’ve read this passage in numerous versions, in pondering this topic, and most basically say the same thing: the women turned a natural thing into an unnatural thing, and in a similar way so did the men, leaving the natural use of women, and began lusting after each other, committing homosexual acts. A couple of versions, those which do not pretend to be literal translations, but rather intentionally take the literal words and turn them into what the author thinks the original meaning was, outright say that this means, “women started having same-sex relations, and the men did also.” Any time I’ve encountered this passage, no matter what the version, that has been what the preacher or expositor says it means — it’s a condemnation of homosexual relations, whether female or male.
To be honest, I can certainly understand where that came from, and it may indeed be the correct way of looking at it, and I may be totally off-base. But something (and I can’t remember what) got me to thinking about this and looking at it in a different way, and wondering if the common understanding is the correct one, or if people misunderstood the “natural vs. unnatural” and the connection between “the women having unnatural relations” and “likewise also the men”.
So here’s how I’m wondering how it can be taken: the “changing of the natural use into that which is against nature” may refer not to the unnatural manner of female same-sex sexual relations, but rather be referring to anal sex.
Yes, it may be that two women together may be rightly considered as “against nature”; after all, what is natural is males with females and sex ultimately creating children. Not only is female-female unnatural, but it is a sterile form of sexual relations by its very nature, and as such could be said to be “against nature”. But then, so is anal sex. The “lower alimentary canal” (large intestine, rectum, anus) is naturally used by the body for elimination of undigested and indigestible food and toxins and all other sorts of stuff that would be bad for the body to retain. What could be more unnatural than using this excretory system/organ(s) for sex? [Plus, there are all sorts of diseases that can afflict the participants in anal sex (passing of STDs and other germs), and sex can damage the anus, rectum, and lower bowel because it is not designed for sex, and sex can tear the delicate lining of the bowel, leaking toxins, fecal matter, and other germs into the interior of the body, where it is not supposed to go.]
Backing up a little bit in the Bible to add context, Paul says that even the ungodly, heathen sinners are “without excuse” (v. 20) because they shoulda, coulda, woulda been able to recognize God and His rules by nature, except for the fact that they didn’t want to. They refused to glorify Him as God, and became idolators, worshiping other gods and making images of these false gods, using things in creation as their model, rather than retaining the worship of the Creator. So, God turned them over to their own imagination and lust; and because of their lust and idolatry (and wicked imagination) they began to commit strange sexual practices. [This much, I think pretty much everyone agrees the passage means.] And if I’m right, these strange and unnatural sexual practices included anal sex, which led to male homosexual relations. So, the “likewise the men” would not mean, “the women entered into same-sex relations, and so did the men”, but rather, “the women allowed unnatural anal sex, and then the men did too, leaving women entirely and began lusting after other men, engaging in homosexual (anal) sex”.
Again, pretty much everyone agrees that the end result of whatever the women did “and likewise the men” was unnatural and anti-God homosexual sex, which brought a greater and just curse upon the participants. (The only ones I know who would disagree are those who want to rewrite the Bible and pretend that homosexual relations are not condemned in the strongest terms throughout the Bible.) The only question is does this passage condemn lesbian sex, or is it more proper to use it to condemn anal sex?
I can see it going either way. Using the understanding I’ve outlined above, it seems pretty easy to step from “men started having anal intercourse with women” to “men started having anal intercourse with men” — as if once they accepted non-vaginal or anal intercourse with women, it became even easier to start lusting after other men and having anal intercourse with them. But using the common, perhaps even near-universal understanding, it could also be easy to understand this as “both women and men started having homosexual relations”.
After writing the above but before hitting “publish”, I read what Dr. John Gill (eminent Baptist preacher from the 1700s, whose Exposition of the Whole Bible my husband has in our library) has to say about it, and he basically says what I say above — the first option he gives is that it is referring to the practice of sodomy (male-to-female anal sex, perhaps as prostitutes) “and likewise also the men” (male-to-male anal sex); while he gives as other possibilities the women sexually gratifying themselves or each other without men (and as I read it, I’m uncertain whether Dr. Gill was saying that these women were sodomizing each other and/or themselves [by use of sex toys, I suppose, or other such objects], or whether he was referring to other non-anal sexual practices of a lesbian or self-gratifying nature). So, if I’m wrong, at least I have good company, since that seems to be the same line of reasoning and train of thought that one of the greatest theologians had 300 years ago.
I agree with this article, “A Response to the ‘No Lesser of Two Evils’ Crowd“. This part is especially thought-provoking:
“What’s so irritating about those pushing a third party is that they never really do it. The presidency is the last political office they should be pursuing. If the no lesser than two evils crowd were really serious, they would be putting up local candidates in elections all across the country. They should have been doing it for 30 years. If you can’t win locally, you’re not going to win nationally. If there is no broad-based national grassroots support and a demonstration of success politically,what do the critics of the ‘Republicrats’ expect to accomplish at the top of the ticket?”
Fight and argue about it some other time. Get involved in local and state elections — maybe even run for office yourself! — make the changes during the off-years so that it will make a real change during election years. Waiting until 2012 to try to change the 2012 elections is just too little too late. Refusing to vote for Romney because “the lesser of two evils is still evil” — well, news flash! — Jesus isn’t running for President, so ***everybody*** (including Ron Paul) is “the lesser of two evils”.
Romney has faults — no argument here! He was my least favorite GOP candidate in the field. I know his faults, and don’t need to be reminded of them. — And that’s another thing! Why do these folks who are anti-Romney because he’s “too liberal” don’t expend at least as much time, energy, and effort in exposing Obama’s faults, which are even greater than Romney’s? Much like Ron Paul during the debates never criticized Mitt Romney, but went about criticizing everybody else who was closer to his own position than Romney, these folks are criticizing the better candidate while leaving the worst candidate unscathed. And for what? Oh, I understand their stated purpose, but the actual outcome is far different. All they will do is end up getting Obama elected, as the anti-Obama crowd will have their vote split — I don’t know what Romney will do as President, but I can guarantee he will disappoint all of us. And so would any other candidate. I don’t know what Romney will do, but I *DO* know what Obama will do — this past four years has shown some of what he is capable of; if he is reelected, the veil will be taken off and he will go into overdrive — and that is enough reason to vote for the guy who is the only one who can stop him. Work on building grassroots support for third parties and Constitutionalist, libertarian, and/or conservative folks *after* Nov. 6, so that they can win the next election, since they can’t possibly win this year. Live to fight another day.
A few weeks ago, someone suggested the book “Wheat Belly“; the title, description and Amazon reviews intrigued me, so I ordered it on Kindle. [Just an aside, I like the Kindle better than print books for a couple of reasons, including being able to search for text, and having a built-in dictionary if you ever encounter any unfamiliar words.]
The author, William Davis, M.D., has come to the conclusion based on his own personal experiences, the experiences of thousands of his patients, as well as published research, that what we call “wheat” today is bad for us, in really all of its various forms.
He notes that modern wheat has changed substantially in just the past 50-60 years, so that the “wheat” our ancestors of 100 years ago ate was quite different from what we eat today; and both today’s wheat and the wheat from a century ago are quite different from wheat of a thousand or more years ago. Last century’s wheat grew about 4′ tall and did not have as full or heavy a head of grain as today’s wheat, which usually tops out at around 18″ tall, and also has a shorter growing season (all these things making it more profitable for the farmer to grow). It is his contention that the genetic differences that allowed these changes are also at the root of a whole host of problems people have with wheat and wheat-based products.
Much of the problem, he believes, is due to the way the body breaks down the carbohydrates (wheat and white flour have a higher Glycemic Index than white sugar!), so he spends a good deal of time talking about insulin and diabetes, and how wheat — even “healthy” whole-grain wheat — causes a great deal of harm to the average person, and even more so to diabetics or pre-diabetics. Of course, he talks about celiac disease, and how that many people are undiagnosed, misdiagnosed, or don’t have “classic” celiac disease, yet are unable to properly digest wheat, so have a whole host of health problems. There is evidence to suggest that some 40% of the population (either worldwide or just in America), while never having full-blown celiac disease, would benefit from reducing or eliminating gluten from their diet.
The book is actually fun to read. While of necessity he must speak of dry, boring things like studies and ancient history, and how exactly wheat (or components of wheat, including gluten mostly) interacts with various body systems — and wreaks havoc with them — he makes it interesting and enjoyable to read; frequently throughout the book, I smiled or even laughed at the humorous way he put some things. Sprinkled throughout the book are many personal and professional anecdotes of how getting rid of wheat changed someone’s life for the better — lost weight, “cured” diabetes or prevented pre-diabetes from becoming full-blown diabetes, improved cholesterol, reduced acne and other skin ailments, even regrew hair! Plus, he has a rather lengthy recipe section of alternatives to gluten-containing and even “gluten-free” foods. [He notes that most "gluten-free" foods that are meant to substitute for gluten-containing foods, like "gluten-free" pasta, breads, etc., use corn starch, rice starch, or other carbohydrates that will provoke the same insulin response as gluten-containing foods, so he does not recommend these foods to be consumed on a regular basis, especially if you're diabetic or pre-diabetic.]
I would highly recommend that anyone who is even curious about whether wheat is causing them health problems — such as the “spare tire” around your middle, which Dr. Davis calls “wheat belly” — read this book, especially if you are wanting more and deeper information about what all problems may be caused by wheat, cured by giving up wheat and other gluten-containing foods, how wheat/gluten causes the body to react, and/or the science behind all of this. There is so much information, I couldn’t begin to do the book justice by trying to summarize it, so you should read it yourself.
If you’re skeptical (either now, or after you read it), try giving up wheat for 4 weeks and see if there is any difference in your life and health — and especially your weight! He says that most people feel a significant health difference within a week or two — some in just a few hours; though he does warn that the addictive effect of wheat may make you have withdrawal symptoms for several days, which may make you feel worse before you feel better, as your body demands the near-constant supply of wheat to which it has become accustomed.
Now, onto my personal experience…
A couple of months ago, I was eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), though probably more “whole foods” based than most people, since I tend to cook from scratch as much as possible, and drink almost only water. Then, I read some article somewhere that suggested that people give up gluten, corn, soy, dairy, peanuts, yeast and eggs for 3 weeks, and also take probiotics three times a day during that time. I thought, “Why not?” and did it. I was also doing a 40-day fast from sugar, so I was sugar-free — no sugar or artificial sugar substitutes (only honey, maple syrup and stevia). I felt better and lost weight (probably about 5 pounds or so), though I didn’t change my (lack of) exercise. But when the three weeks was up, I went back to eating normally (going to visit my mom, the baking queen, didn’t help). A few weeks ago, I was tired of the way I looked, the way I didn’t exercise, and the way I felt, so I made some big changes. I started doing the P90X exercise program (tomorrow is the last day of the third week), so was looking over their diet recommendations… and remembering how I lost weight with those previous dietary changes. So, I decided to give up gluten and corn (I don’t eat much soy anyway; and most if not all of the yeast I consume is in wheat/gluten products), along with the sugar that the P90X diet requires, but not go hog-wild with dairy. So, I have been doing (mostly) gluten-, corn-, and sugar-free (my husband has taken me out to eat sometimes, and for the most part, I try to stay on the diet, but I know I’m probably consuming hidden “bad” stuff).
I have noticed positive health experiences related to these dietary changes (though I can’t say for sure it’s being off of wheat/gluten, since my diet is quite different from what it was before; plus I’m exercising). I am less hungry, eating less, sleeping better, yet feeling better with less sleep than before, rarely get “the afternoon slump”, etc. Since I haven’t been perfect, I don’t know if I would feel even better if I was completely off gluten and corn, but I feel better enough to keep wanting to keep on going — and if I get off-diet, to get right back on it.
Some fifteen years ago, I was gluten-free for several months, though I didn’t go on the diet *intending* to be “gluten-free” (I’d probably barely heard of a substance called “gluten” back then, much less any negative effects it might have had). Someone told me about “The Hallelujah Diet” — called that in part because you’re supposed to feel so great that you just want to say “Hallelujah” all the time, and partly because it is based on the Bible — “The Garden of Eden” diet — namely, only fruits and vegetables, and preferably raw. The goal was 100% raw and vegan, though he allowed a baked potato — no cheese, sour cream, butter, or bacon!! — for supper. I did feel great, though I probably was eating a lot of food that raised my blood sugar. I didn’t like (and still don’t, to be honest) a lot of vegetables, plus we had a limited selection of fruits and vegetables at our local grocery stores, so I didn’t eat a wide variety of things, eating mostly grapes, apples, bananas, oranges, pineapple and carrots. Still, I must say, I felt great, and I lost weight (though I was working out quite a bit at the time, as well). I fell off the wagon for my mom’s birthday, and instead of getting back on it, I rediscovered how *yummy* sugar and other bad foods were, and started eating “normally” again… and predictably gained weight. Sigh. And I stopped exercising so much — double-sigh.
Now that I look back on it, I wonder if I stopped exercising because I was tired, and if I was tired because of my food choices. After reading “Wheat Belly”, I wonder if I started eating so much because wheat triggered my body to want more and more food. I am certainly more able to pass up food — food in general and also particular “bad” foods that normally I would eat substantial quantities of — since being on this diet. I would normally attribute it to my strong will-power (which, usually, I say I have little or no will power, but when I have a plan such as I now have, I do have a certain amount of stick-to-it-iveness), but now I wonder whether it’s more because the addictive hold that food has on me has lessened because of giving up wheat. The other night my husband blended up dried apricots in vanilla ice cream — and normally, I have a HUGE sweet tooth, with almost no food being “too sweet” for me, and also with it being difficult for me to pass up any dessert, especially ice cream. But while I mentally assented that, yes, I did sort of want ice cream, I more wanted to stay on my diet. My husband insisted I try his concoction, so I had a taste, but it was too sweet for me to want any. Weird, huh?
When I started P90X, I intended to be on my diet — no wheat/gluten, no corn, no sugar or artificial sweeteners, no alcohol, no fruit juice, no more than 1-2 pieces/servings of fruit per day, 5 servings of veggies per day, no “bad” fats, and drinking at least 3 quarts of water per day — for 90 days, the duration of the program, and possibly longer. While I haven’t been perfect these past three weeks, I’ve done rather well, especially compared to my previous normal diet, and can see me keeping it up, more or less, for longer. This doesn’t mean I will never have a piece of chocolate cake again, but I can see many health benefits to keeping my intake of carbohydrates — especially wheat and sugar — low.
For years, my family has used the same recipe for sweet and sour sauce which I really enjoy; it came from a Joyce Chen cookbook from back in the 70s, I think. Currently, I’m trying to be sugar-free and corn-free (and gluten-free and alcohol-free, fwiw), and I was making a stir-fry, and really had a hankering for that sauce, which uses quite a bit of sugar and also is thickened with cornstarch. I wondered if I could “tweak” the recipe to make it good by substituting liquid stevia instead of sugar, so I tried it. The end result is, in my opinion, delicious, especially for being sugar-free. In fact, it was close enough in flavor to the original recipe, that I didn’t miss the sugar at all.
Here is the original recipe, in case you want to make your own modifications, or just make the original yummy recipe:
Sweet and Sour Sauce
- 2/3 c. sugar
- ¼ c. ketchup
- 1/3 c. pineapple juice or water
- ½ c. apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 Tbsp. oil
- 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1/3 c. water
- 1 c. pineapple chunks
Whisk together the first five ingredients. Heat oil in saucepan; brown garlic and discard [actually, I never discard the garlic, but then, I like the flavor it adds and don't mind the pieces in the sauce]. Add sugar mixture and heat until mixture starts boiling. Combine cornstarch and water and add to saucepan, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and becomes translucent. Add pineapple chunks.
And here is the sugar-free version:
Sugar-free Sweet and Sour Sauce
- 1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
- 1/3 c. pineapple juice or water
- 1/4 c. soy sauce
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 Tbsp. oil
- ½ c. raw apple cider vinegar
- 17 drops liquid stevia
- 1 c. pineapple chunks
Whisk together first three ingredients. Heat oil in saucepan and brown garlic. Add tomato mixture to the garlic, and stir until combined. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Add vinegar and stevia, and stir until thoroughly mixed. Add pineapple chunks.
Notes, explanations and details:
Since ketchup has sugar (or high-fructose corn syrup — even worse!) in it, I substituted plain tomato paste. Do check labels, since some companies add different ingredients to their tomato products — imagine my surprise when I picked up a can of “tomato sauce” to find that it had sugar, salt, herbs, and spices added to it, when I thought it would be just plain tomatoes, or at most, tomatoes and salt.
Since I didn’t need to dissolve sugar, I didn’t need to really cook this at all, but I do like the flavor of sautéed garlic, so kept that step in. You may decide to skip that step, and even skip the oil entirely, and just add fresh or powdered garlic to the sauce, and not cook it at all. If you do that, let me know how you liked it.
You can use plain apple cider vinegar (or even white vinegar if you don’t have the good stuff), but I’ve started using the raw, organic (Bragg’s) ACV as a sort of health tonic (it started when my husband had a wicked sinus infection over the weekend, and looked for home remedies, and it lessened the symptoms almost immediately and he was nearly 100% better within a day or two), so I figured I might as well use it in this recipe, since I didn’t have to cook it. Because it was raw and I wanted it not to get cooked, I let the tomato mixture cool down a bit before adding it, but if you use the conventional stuff, it doesn’t matter if it gets cooked. Also, the raw stuff tends to be a little milder and sweeter-tasting, so you may want to use more or less of the conventional vinegar, and be prepared to use more or less of the stevia as well.
I used 17 drops of stevia, and that was pretty sweet. Of course, the original recipe is quite sweet, and I wanted to replicate that; you may wish to use less, especially if you don’t have as big a sweet tooth as I do. In fact, I would recommend that you start at no more than 10 drops and taste it after each addition, just to be on the safe side.
I won’t lie and say there was no difference between the two recipes, but I will say that there was no significant difference, and the sugar-free version was just as yummy and satisfying to me as the original high-sugar-plus-cornstarch recipe.
I just read this post from Freedom’s Journal, and have mixed feelings about it. While appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”, evangelist Franklin Graham was asked whether he believed Barack Obama was a Christian; he responded, “I cannot answer that question for anybody.” Then he was called a liar and forced to apologize for that. This author calls him weak for his apology, saying, “Anyone with any insight can see Obama is not a Christian”, going on to reference many things, including his opposition to the Born Alive Infant Protection Act.
I think a different response would be better, and I propose two possibilities, that could be used separately or together, instead of refusing to answer or giving a mealy-mouthed response.
1) Ask the questioner why he’s asking the question. It’s possible that the questioner prefaces the question by referencing others who have called Obama not a Christian, but even then, it’s a valid question for Graham or others to ask: why is my opinion on this matter important? what the Bible says about it is more important. If I say yes or if I say no, will you believe me to be correct? or will you attack me if I say no and praise me if I say yes? Are you asking me only to make me look bad, or cause controversy if I don’t say yes? In short, put the attacker on the defensive, and show his bias and true colors.
2) Answer the question with a question: “Do *you* think he is, and why?” If the questioner cannot answer smoothly and quickly, with good evidence of Christian fruit and Christ-like behavior from Obama, then he has impaled himself on his own question, while the intended victim goes free. And if the questioner responds with things like, “He’s taking care of the poor, with things like expanded food stamps” (or whatever social programs he might come up with), Graham or whoever could respond that the true Christian response is to do these things yourself, not to take money from one group of citizens to give to the other. And to point out that there are many other things (like, the rest of the Bible that talks about moral issues that are conveniently forgotten by liberals) that are also hallmarks of being Christian, and these are not hallmarks of Barack Obama. Then maybe quote “by their fruit ye shall know them”, and say that I am not being a judge of the heart, because only God can do that, but Jesus said we *are* to judge/discern/know people based on their actions, so if Barack Obama wishes not to be questioned as to his Christianity, then he should be bearing more Christian fruit.
Another possible response by the questioner-turned-questioned, is that he might say something like, “I’m not a Christian, while you are, therefore I’m not qualified to judge”, or “I’m wanting to know your opinion, not mine”, or “you’re a leader, looked up to by fellow Christians, so people will follow you”, etc. While that wouldn’t be as satisfying as successfully being able to impale the impaler, being questioned probably will throw off the questioner, and cause some confusion; and Graham (or whoever the person is) can still point out the Biblical hallmarks of Christianity, and say, “I do not — cannot — judge his heart, but based on the fruit he evidences in his life, he is at best very weak, and at worst a false professor. Jesus said that there would be people who claimed to follow Him, and even believe to follow Him, but they would be disappointed to find out at the end of their lives, that Jesus would say, ‘I never knew you.’ I hope Barack Obama — and for that matter, I hope that I myself — will not find ourselves in that position; indeed the Bible tells each of us to ‘examine yourselves, to see whether you be in the faith or not.’ While Barack Obama’s positions on abortion and the sanctity of human life, as well as the God-given definition of marriage, trouble me, I am more concerned about myself, and examining myself to see whether I be in the faith, rather than examining others, to see if they are.”
My top choice was Herman Cain, but sadly, he is not running any more. Of the remaining candidates, Rick Santorum is at the top of my list. If he weren’t running, I’d have to go Ron Paul, even though his foreign policy scares me. If Paul had a different foreign policy, he would be my top choice, or very close to it (although I do disagree with him on some other issues as well).
I don’t trust Romney — he was a liberal for far too many years, and (imo) became “conservative” only when it was politically expedient to do so — and that about sums up his character, imo — political expedience, rather than character and backbone. Besides, I think he is least likely to win against Obama, because he’ll be like McCain, only worse — even less likeable, and also bland. He won’t get conservatives fired up and lining up to go to the ballot boxes.
Newt… he’s an excellent debater, but I think he is too much of a “say what I need to get elected” kinda guy (like Romney, but not quite as bad, because Newt does at least have a conservative background and record). But he seems to be pandering to get elected. I think he would be the most effective President, because he knows how Washington works and can get things done… but I’m not sure if I’d always like what he could get done. Plus, he has character issues, and I don’t fully trust him. If he can’t be trusted to take his marriage vows seriously, why should I trust him to take his Oath of Office seriously?
Any of them would be better than Obama, but here’s how I rank them:
Who I’d vote for — Santorum, Paul, Gingrich, Romney
Who would be most effective as President — Gingrich, Romney, Santorum, Paul (although perhaps I should bump Paul up a bit, because he’d veto probably 90% of legislation Congress passed, and that’s probably a good thing, and can be a measure of effectiveness)
Most likely to beat Obama in a general election — Paul, Gingrich, Santorum, Romney
- Paul gets much of the youth vote, as well as brings in the most liberals, libertarians, and independents, without losing too many conservatives — his anti-government, pro-small government, cut-spending message will resonate with many of us, and hopefully his libertarianism on social matters and his isolationist foreign policy won’t turn off too many (if the choice was between Obama, Paul, and a handful of 3rd-party people).
- Gingrich is a good campaigner and speaker, and he can get the conservative base fired up (even if it is somewhat empty words), and it’s votes that count, so getting voters fired up is key.
- Santorum is a rock-solid conservative, so may lose a few independents and centrists, but he’s somewhat small-government (but who isn’t, compared to Obama?), so may keep some libertarians; but the biggest thing he has going for him, is his ability to keep and solidify the conservative base, more so than Paul, probably more so than Gingrich, and certainly more so than Romney. His biggest problem is that he doesn’t generate much enthusiasm from his manner and mannerisms. If he could change that (add a dose of Herman Cain, for instance), he’d probably be better even than Gingrich in this matter.
- Romney is bland — he can’t get people fired up to vote for him (he’s even struggling in the primary, when he’s outspending his opponents right and left — how much worse will he do when he’s being outspent by the Obama machine?), and that’s a huge problem. McCain’s problem in 2008 was that he induced a yawn in the conservatives, and they didn’t so much vote *for him* as *against Obama*. That doesn’t win elections. From my understanding (and mostly memory) of past elections, the winner is the one who generates the most positive — the most people voting *for* him; and the nominee whose best selling point is, “Vote for me, I’m not the other guy”, loses every time. It happened in every election in my memory, but particularly Dole, Kerry, and McCain.
Quite frankly, Rick Perry scares me. Yes, the Gardasil decision was horrible, but rather than downplay it as “just one misstep… and besides, he apologized!” I look at it as a serious, very serious character issue. As Michelle Malkin pointed out, it is just one example of many that indicate that what Perry says he is for (small govt), and what he actually does are quite different.
Additionally, in 2010, Rick Perry vowed to finish his term as TX governor and as recently as May of this year he affirmed he would NOT run for President. He has broken that pledge.
I have heard of Alex Jones (libertarian political commentator/reporter), but haven’t watched much of him; yet there was this video he made just the other day (also posted below this paragraph), and if Alex Jones is right, then Gardasil wasn’t included in the federal protection for vaccines until Perry, as the first US governor, mandated it, and then federal protection kicked in, insulating Merck from any lawsuits stemming from Gardasil injuries or deaths. Even though the mandate was overturned, the federal protection remains, and that is a HUGE protection of profits for Merck — worth billions — even though it technically “did nothing” because the mandate didn’t kick in. And despite what Perry said this week about “going along with the legislators” and quietly accepting and backing off when they tried to curtail his power grab, he actually was quite defiant at the time. So he sounds even more like someone I couldn’t trust.
Some of Perry’s closest friends and advisors are current, and/or former Merck lobbyists (were current lobbyists at the time of the mandate). So, basically, Rick Perry gave Merck a “get out of lawsuit free” card with his mandate; and quite frankly, vaccine manufacturers **need to be held accountable** when they make dangerous vaccines that injure and kill.
Right now, vaccine manufacturers enjoy immunity from lawsuits from any vaccine damage (including death), PLUS they get all the profits from the sales PLUS they have multiple vaccines mandated/required for things like school and/or day-care attendance — it’s a vaccine manufacturer’s dream!! If you could make a product that you would a) make money from; b) force other people to buy; and c) have freedom from any lawsuits, why WOULDN’T you make such a product, and do everything you could — including buying off politicians — to try to get more people to have to buy your product. That isn’t freedom! — it’s government coercion and crony capitalism!! It’s the antithesis of the Tea Party movement, and stands in stark contrast to everything those of us for small government and parental rights stand for.
Finally, one of my Texas friends was asked for her opinion of Rick Perry, and she said the following (quoted in full):
For what it’s worth (in my opinion) Rick Perry is a golden boy. What I mean by that is regardless of what happens he always seems to come out shining. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Texas was once a weak governor government with the lieutenant governor, house and senate having the most power. In 8 years he (Perry) single-handedly took power away from those institutions and made himself a very strong governor. He has the brutish ability to push things through the house and senate. However, I am not aware of a single thing he is actually responsible for -yet he gets all of the credit for it. Somehow he’s managed to become the longest seated governor in the history of the United States. He has the uncanny ability to be likable, yet perhaps more importantly it’s almost impossible to not like him. On occasion he has come across bullish on certain policies (i.e. Remember the HPV vaccine he mandated for all girls under the age of 16) but at the slightest hint of public disapproval he manages to flip-flop and reverse course. I’m not convinced he’s qualified to lead the U.S., but strangely, based on the past 8 years of Texas politics, he may be the best qualified candidate in the race.
Quite frankly, this assessment scares me more than anything else I’ve read. Do we really want a recent “convert” (or possibly, just political posturing, since conservatism gets the votes these days!) who bullies people into submission “leading” this country? He’d get things done, but WHAT might he do? He now claims to be for small government, but he mandated a vaccine for little girls — how much more government intrusion can you get? And he stuck by that decision as recently as last year, and it’s only been since he joined the race that he has disavowed it. Sounds like pandering to me, and I simply don’t trust him to give him the job of President for four years.
I’m no great fan of Rick Perry. If he runs for President, I won’t vote for him in the primary (mostly because he way overstepped his bounds as TX governor, mandating that 11 & 12-year-old schoolgirls receive the Gardasil vaccine), but this post isn’t about him, except that his call for prayer has instigated this post: Five Scriptures You Won’t Hear at Rick Perry’s Prayer Event. Click over to read the verses and what he says about them, then come back here to read my opinion.
Before Jim Rigby even starts on the five verses, he sneers at those who “ take the Christian and Jewish scriptures seriously”, saying that doing so makes for an “unhealthy religion.” Really? A Christian minister says that taking the Bible “seriously” sets you up for being in an unhealthy religion. By what criteria does he judge this?! Does he mean that we should take the Bible flippantly, or carelessly, or ignore those parts we disagree with? Is that what his version of Christianity teaches?
1) “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray in public places to be seen by others… But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your heavenly parent, who is unseen.” (Matt. 6:5-6) [I don't know what version or perversion of the Bible he uses, but the fact that he says "parent" instead of "Father" says a lot! I digress...] As the verse itself states, it is a warning against being hypocrites more than against public prayer. If the person praying in public prays only prays in public, he is being a hypocrite (literally, a “play actor”); if he is praying just to be seen, he is being a hypocrite. There is no injunction against praying in front of others — in fact, public and/or corporate prayer is mentioned with great frequency as a hallmark of the New Testament church and early Christians. This is probably the one that I least disagree with him on; he says this verse teaches, “Don’t make a show of prayer,” which is true enough; but it’s more in the idea of a false show of prayer, rather than an absolute injunction against praying in front of others at all.
2) “God doesn’t withhold rain because we’ve done something wrong,” he says, pointing to, “God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt. 5:45) as his proof text. However, he neglects (once again) the context, and also doesn’t point out the little thing like Elijah praying that God would not let it rain on the nation of Israel, under the rule of wicked Ahab, and it didn’t rain for 3 years, but when Elijah prayed for rain, God sent rain. I would ask Mr. Rigby if he believes that God can and does answer prayer. If no, why does he call himself a Christian?; if yes, why not pray – as Jesus commanded — for those things that you need? The true meaning of this verse is pointing out that God is good even to those who don’t deserve it, and He is merciful even to the wicked, unjust, and unrighteous, and that we should likewise be good. It teaches that when it rains, the rain is from God; it does not teach that God never withholds rain from the wicked.
3) “God doesn’t have favorites” – this is the one that makes me call him a heretic. First, the verse: “Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism.” (Acts 10:34) Now what Rigby says it means: “When the Bible says that God is not a ‘respecter of persons’ it means that God doesn’t have a favorite country or religion.” This couldn’t be further from the truth! God may not have ”a favorite country” (although I would argue that God has favored the United States, as our Constitution and early foundation was on His principles), but to say that God doesn’t have ”a favorite religion”!! The context (that pesky context again, that Rigby never considers!) is that Peter has just preached to the first person who was not Jewish by birth or by conversion. Up to this point, the gospel of Jesus Christ had been preached to Jews only, and it seems that the Jewish Christians still believed that Christianity was to be limited to Jews only. In a vision, God tells Peter to eat “unclean” animals, to show him that the division between clean and unclean animals was done away with in Christ, just as the division between Jew and Gentile was done away with in Christ. In preaching to Cornelius, and his subsequent conversion and being blessed with the gift of speaking in foreign languages, Peter realizes that God has elect among more than just Jews. If God doesn’t have “a favorite religion” — and Rigby sneers at the possibility that Christianity might be considered God’s “favorite religion”, thus implying here and elsewhere throughout his article, that all religions are equal before God — why did He send His Son to die on the cross and say that there was salvation only through Jesus Christ? If Christianity is the same as any other religion before God, why did Paul and the other early apostles and Christians risk their lives and many die a martyr’s death, if it didn’t really matter whether the Gentiles worshipped the God of the Bible or their heathen idols?
4) “Worship by those who neglect the poor is offensive to God” — “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me… Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:21-24) It is true that God hates pretence and hypocrites; but Rigby trumpets so-called “social justice” and decries what he believes to be mistreatment of the poor as being offensive to God. True mistreatment of the poor is indeed offensive to God, as are laws that give favor to the rich because they are rich, while punishing the poor simply for being poor; however, the things he enumerates are not “mistreatment” or “neglect” as God sees it. He decries the fact that Texas has the largest gap between rich and poor, and that they have the largest number of uninsured citizens, among other things. What is his solution for that? He doesn’t say explicitly, but it seems that he thinks that it is the job of the state to “even things out” and to provide health insurance to those who don’t have it. There were plenty of very rich and very poor people in Bible times, and those who could not afford doctors. However, the Bible does not mandate nationwide, statewide, or other governmental handouts; rather, it tells individuals to be privately charitable. Going back to the Sermon on the Mount, which Rigby joyfully quoted from for points 1 & 2, Jesus told His followers — not to march on the Capitol and demand that the government take from the rich and give to the poor — but to give of their own money, and not only of their own money (rather than other people’s money), but so privately that, in a figure of speech, the left hand would not know what the right hand is doing!
5) Using the parable of the Good Samaritan (which he wrongly says was directed towards a “rich, young zealot,” [probably meaning "the rich young ruler" who was told to sell all and give to the poor; something modern "social justice" types conveniently ignore] when in fact it was directed at a self-righteous lawyer — i.e., one well-versed in the Law of Moses, not a modern litigator – who was identified neither as rich nor young), he somehow twists it into a slam on the American Family Association. He says, “the heart of Christian ethics is being a good neighbor,” which I don’t totally agree with, but don’t strongly disagree with it either. First, we are to love God, and secondly, we are to love our neighbors. The story of the Good Samaritan was told because the lawyer wanted to justify himself by limiting those who were his “neighbors”, and Jesus was showing that everyone is our neighbor; but how do we love God? According to the Bible, by keeping His commandments. Among those commandments is to obey Jesus Christ and bow to Him, but that would mean that Christianity would be God’s “favorite religion”, which Mr. Rigby sneers at. So-called Christians have to do so many mental contortions and back-flips that it’s no wonder they sound schizophrenic, picking out only those passages of the Bible they like, while conveniently ignoring others.
But back to the AFA – Rigby says that because one liberal organization considers the AFA a “hate group”, that this proves that the AFA doesn’t have “Christian ethics”, since they so obviously “hate” their neighbors. The AFA is a strong defender of Christian morals as outlined in the Bible, so since when does standing for truth = hating your neighbors? Um, yeah. How does the Bible define loving your neighbors? Wouldn’t that be a better place to start, than taking as truth the opinion of some liberal think-tank?
I was a little perturbed at how difficult it was to find who was running for the MS House and Senate this year. Eventually, I found the two parties’ pages (GOP, Dem) with the information for their own qualifying candidates, and put them together into a spreadsheet. Ahh, finally in one place, who’s running in which district in the 2011 MS elections. [I haven't found any independent or 3rd-party candidates running, but if you know of any, lemme know and I'll add them.] And as an added bonus, those qualifying for state races (governor, lieutenant governor, etc.).