The Two That Got Away… April 15, 2013

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MosesYesterday, as I had the honor and pleasure of sharing my thoughts and feelings in front of the beautiful souls at Helotes Hills United Methodist Church, it registered deep in my heart what is necessary for human beings to step out of their commonplace mundanity and reach for the heavens with their dreams.

We have to quell two nasty portions of our behavior that certainly cling to each and every one of us: rebellion and revenge.

Every fussy iniquity and mean-spirited event that has happened in the history of mankind has been initiated by one or both of these tyrants. You want to know what the problem is? Both of these can be backed up by individuals with a lack of understanding, grabbing pieces of the Holy Bible and using it to foster their rebellious nature or their instinct for retaliation.

I guess I would refer to it as the two that got away: “Thou shalt not” andan eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

These two statements are countermanded by ninety percent of the Bible.

“Thou shalt not…”

I’m sorry. I believe that God is my Father–and I, being a father, know that the LAST thing you want to say to your children is “don’t do this.” It is a guarantee of turning them into rebellious brats, totally preoccupied with what has been refused, until they finally partake of the forbidden fruit. I proved this once with my oldest son when he was thirteen years old. I walked in the room and said, “Jon Russell, whatever you do, don’t EVER chop off your foot.”

You know what he responded? He asked, “Why?”

You see what I mean? Even something obviously painful that is taboo draws us like flies to crap. God, being a wise Father, knows it is much better to extol the virtues of an issue than it is to turn it into cherry pie hidden away in the cabinet.

And the other one that got away is “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

I find it difficult to believe that a God who proclaims Himself to be love and light, and insisted that vengeance is up to Him and not us, would actually have slipped up and suggested that human beings wreak havoc on one another. Yet to this day in the Middle East, Abraham’s children by Sarah are poking out the eyes of Abraham’s children by Hagar, who quickly retaliate with jabs of their own.

Even though there are countless enlightened scriptures that contradict this philosophy, because it appeals to our darker nature of revenge, we keep it high and lifted up.

You will never become a good citizen of Planet Earth, a follower of Jesus or valuable to your fellow-man and fellow-woman as long as you live a life of “thou shalt not” and believe in “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

I insist that pair slipped through the cracks–and when they are mentioned, God rolls His eyes and says, “How many times must I send words to replace those before people will finally retire them?”

We had a great morning in Helotes Hills. It was an event free of rebellion and completely devoid of revenge. That’s what creates the possibility of revival and renewal.

So on behalf of myself, other human beings I know quite well, and an exasperated God who is fed up with rebellion and revenge, I would humbly ask you to erase these two notions from your mind and disinclude them from the holy writings.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

If I was going to make a cherry pie … June 7, 2012

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I’m not, by the way … going to make a cherry pie.

I don’t like to bake. It’s not some chauvinistic sensation that the kitchen belongs to the woman, for pot and pan rattling. I like to cook. I just never got into baking confections and such. Lots of people like to do that kind of thing. I have a granddaughter who thinks that baking a cake is the easiest way to get close to God (or at least to get people to worship you like you are one…)

I am more a baker of good intentions, similar to the individual who came up with the phrase, “If I had known you were coming, I would have baked a cake. But since you didn’t give me much notice, you’re stuck sharing a Little Debbie…”

Oh, how handsome this one turned out. Tasty, too.

Oh, how handsome this one turned out. Tasty, too. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But due to the magic of story-telling, and just my particular whim for the day, let us imagine that I WAS going to bake a cherry pie. Now, let me tell you, I picked cherry pie because it is NOT one of my favorites, but if you run across a particularly good one, it is well worth the exertion of picking up a fork. So what makes a good cherry pie? There are four elements.

1. The crust. Putting together a good crust for a pie is underestimated in my opinion. I once purchased a frozen pie crust from my grocer and tried to use it to construct some sort of dessert possibility. The crust was so tough after it was baked that even my dog wouldn’t eat it. (And let me tell you, he has astounded me with some of his choices…) Yes, a crust is more than an outer garment for a good cherry pie. It is more or less the tantalizing part that draws us into the concoction in the first place. It should be flakey, tender and really, almost be able to stand alone as a pastry unto itself. Lots of people spend a lot of time on a good crust.

2. The next thing is determining the sweetness. Cherry pie should be sweet, but not too sweet, very similar to the personality of the cherry itself. It is almost the definition of sweet and sour. It shouldn’t make you pucker but you also shouldn’t require a shot of insulin after indulging. Picking the right amount of sweetness for your cherry pie is probably better suited for the angels. How much sweetness IS good to put into such a project before the grains of sugar grit in your teeth or each bite from your particular piece reminds you more of lemons than cherries?

3. The filling. Now, you might think that the filling is the same thing as the sweetness, but not so. The filling has to have a particular thickness, depth and texture to it–and be present enough in the mixture to hold the lid of the pie up so it doesn’t sink down–with top crust nearly lying on bottom crust. How you fill your pie determines whether one slice actually looks like a serving, or if it just lies there on the plate, flat and lacking promise.

4. And finally, the cherries. You might think they are the most important ingredient in the cherry pie, but I don’t believe so. Certainly it would be wonderful to have top-notch A-1 cherries in your pie, but if the sweetness, crust and filling have been given enough tender loving care, you can put in a few second- and even third-string cherries for the line-up. As long as they attempt to hold their shape, maintain their color and could pass for a cherry during a blind taste test, they should be just fine.

Yes, most people are more concerned about the fruit in their pie than the outer crust that introduces itself to the public. But it’s rather doubtful that you will ever get people inside to inspect the fruit if the outer casing is unappealing or drives them away with its nasty taste.

So if I was going to make a cherry pie, I would put my main emphasis on the crust, which we might refer to as “the greeter.” Then following that would be the sweetness, which we could call “the host.” And then, I would carefully concoct a filling that was suitable for my endeavors, which we might name “the guest speaker.” And finally, I would select good cherries, but not be too bigoted in my perspective, creating the all-important “janitorial staff,” which is there for the clean up.

Now, of course, there is a certain amount of hypocrisy to this whole essay–because I don’t know what I’m talking about and there will never be a practical application produced by my hands. Still, sometimes it is fun to project forth images of what you think you might be able to accomplish–and then to intelligently NOT proceed to demonstrate your ineptness.

But in conclusion, this has been what I think about what makes a good cherry pie. Otherwise, you ought to just go down to the grocery store and pick up one of those Hostess ones in the wrapper, which have been tested and proven to be able to survive a nuclear winter.

Cherry pie:

  • good crust
  • stay sweet
  • lots of filling.
  • and a family of different-sized and quality cherries.

There you go. (For what it’s worth.)

Maybe this is why the myth was begun that George Washington chopped down a cherry tree. Maybe it was his way of getting back at his mother, who was a really, really terrible baker.

   

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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