Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Morning Pukes

This morning for our worship service I gave a children's sermon. I invited all the youngest children to have a seat on the steps in the front of the sanctuary. As I was asking my leading question of: "Does anyone know what holiday is coming up this week," one of the five-year-old boys threw up all over the place. And this wasn't just a little spittle. The torrents of Niagara flowed from this kid's mouth. I'm not really sure what I said after that, but I'm sure no one was listening. I think everyone's attention was on the kid being escorted to the bathroom and the two adults trying to clean up the mess. But I guess that's just the way it goes sometimes...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I Did It

I did it. This week I purchased and cooked with tofu for the very first time. And this isn't some random experiment. I'm sure that I will be purchasing and cooking with tofu more in the future. For you see, the incorporation of tofu signals a larger change in my overall diet.

Some time ago I read a book written by best selling author Michael Pollan called In Defense of Food. For someone who rarely ventures outside the realm of religion, I found the book to be a fascinating read that made me reconsider the kinds of food I put into my body. Although quite profound, the thesis of the book can be summarized in seven words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. By "Eat food," the author means eat food that is made from ingredients that you can actually pronounce. By "Not too much," he means stop stuffing yourselves you chubby Americans. And by "Mostly plants," he means don't forget to eat your veggies. This book sparked my reevaluation of what I put into my body. As a result, I started eating more fruits and vegetables.

Starting a few months ago, I began to think more seriously about the pros and cons of eating meat. Beef, pork, and chicken (the big 3) are rich in nutritional value and are a prime source of protein, but most of the meat we consume in the U.S. comes from livestock and poultry that have been raised in cramped facilities where they do not have the ability to move around and graze freely. And since these animals are crammed into confining areas, their bodies are prone to atrophy from the lack of mobility and from being in such close contact with so many other animals. To compensate for these sub-par living conditions, farmers inject the animals with antibiotics and artificial hormones to defend against sickness and to keep the animals alive just long enough to make it to slaughter. So I asked myself, "Do I want to be eating animals that have never seen the light of day and that are pumped full of drugs?"

Right now you might be saying to yourself, "I can't believe Ric is one of those wussy vegetarians." Well, I might be a wuss, but I'm not a true vegetarian. I continue to eat meat on rare occasion. My criteria for eating meat is as follows: 1) If not eating meat puts me in a position of being totally rude (like if I get invited to dinner and no vegetarian options are available) and 2) if I know that the meat is certified naturally raised, meaning humanly raised, organically fed, and free of antibiotics and hormones.

You may ask, "Where do I find naturally raised meat that doesn't cost an arm and a leg." For starters, one of my favorite restaurants, Chipotle, has a very high commitment to providing their customers with naturally raised meats. What all started with an attempt to find better tasting pork has turned into "Food With Integrity." You can read all about it here. Chipotle and its many patrons are largely responsible for changing the food industry at large. And that's why I want to eat meat at a place like Chipotle, because I believe I actually can have a greater impact on the improvement of our food industry by eating naturally raised meat as opposed to if I refrained from eating all meat.

So mom, it's not because I don't like your cooking any more, it's just that I don't trust what has gone into that cow, pig, or chicken... And you know what? Tofu ain't that bad.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tickle (and) Me

I hate talking about last week as though it is breaking news…

A few days after returning from my DC/NYC adventures, I attended a conference for east coast pastors connected to the Evangelical Covenant Church. The conference was held at a retreat/conference center that I have grown quite fond of and the keynote speaker was Phyllis Tickle. Tickle is regarded as one of the most respected authorities and popular speakers on religion in America. She is also one of the more prominent voices contributing to the emerging Christianity conversation.

After reading Tickle’s book, The Great Emergence, I already knew that I would enjoy whatever she had to say. But I was not anticipating how lively and hilarious this seventy-five-year-old woman with a southern accent would be in person. Her depth of knowledge about the sociology of religion, and how every five hundred years the Christian Church goes through a massive upheaval, was made all the more impressive by her ability to balance it all with humor and witty social commentary.

I became so enamored with Phyllis that I just had to get my picture taken with her. I'm also proud to say that we are friends on Facebook (I told you she was cool) and that she has since been a tremendous source of encouragement to me.

Although hearing from and becoming friends with Phyllis was certainly a highlight, it wasn’t the most significant thing to occur last week. The details I don’t find appropriate to share by this medium, but suffice it to say that it has something to do with the girl standing on the other side of Phyllis.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Goodbye My Friend

On Friday morning I said goodbye to Jake on the subway. I was headed to New York City's Penn Station to catch a bus, and Jake was headed to Central Park, later to catch a plane to Seattle. I don't know if it's cool to hug in the subway, but it didn't matter.

After a whole month in New Hampshire together, Jake and I headed down to D.C. and then to New York. Traveling by Mega Bus, we arrived in D.C. on the eve of the most significant presidential election of our life-time. I won't go into much detail, but I think we definitely made the most of our two short days in D.C., seeing nearly all the major attractions.

We got into New York on Wednesday night and made our way up to Spanish Harlem, where Beth Anne and friends live. Astounded by the expanses of concrete and the strange absence of trees, we tackled Beth Anne's ambitious check-list of things to see.

Jake, thanks for your friendship and for experiencing the east coast with me.