Wednesday, April 16, 2014

"I thought you said it was spring." 

Yesterday was mild and rainy; today there is snow on the ground. This is spring in New England, my dear Puggins. Despite the fickle weather, everything is right on schedule. The radishes are up, the chickens are laying jumbo eggs, and the trees are ready to burst forth in blossom any day now.



This week, I haven't had much time for knitting due to doctors' appointments and other matters, but the last few days have renewed my hope in so many things. I still have more answers than questions, but I am encouraged and very optimistic about the future. Perhaps I will have some good news to share with you soon.

My son has been bravely hobbling along on his sore knee all semester. There is a "loose body" in it--probably a piece of bone from an old injury--about the size of a grape that needs to be surgically removed as soon as school is out. I've been driving him to class so he doesn't have to walk the huge distance from the parking lot to the hall. The college is far enough away from home that it makes sense for me to hang out at the library in town while he's in class. This is a new-to-me library, and I have had great fun exploring it. I found these wonderful books about Leo Tolstoy's wife--a very engaging biography by Lady Cynthia Asquith and Sofya Tolstoy's personal diaries. I do love diaries. You can learn so much about a person by what they choose to record. I keep one myself--a paper record of the past day's events, my thoughts, quotes and snippets about things I've read, seen, or heard. It is a rare day that I don't write in it. Do you keep a diary?

 As violets so be I recluse and sweet,
     Cheerful as daisies unaccounted rare,
Still sunward-gazing from a lowly seat,
     Still sweetening wintry air.

While half-awakened Spring lags incomplete,
     While lofty forest trees tower bleak and bare,
Daisies and violets own remotest heat
     And bloom and make them fair. 

 ~Christina Rosetti, "Who Hath Despised The Day of Small Things?"

Friday, April 11, 2014

 
  
 

A lovely break in the midst of a busy day full of errands: Gold Rush Griddle Cookies (Welsh Cakes). Scone-ish but moister and more delicate, southern biscuit-ish but sweeter; made like a pancake but nothing like a pancake. They defy all description except: delightful.

                       Gold Rush Griddle Cookies 

3 1/2 cups flour                                   1 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar                                      1 beaten egg
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder                           3/4 cup milk
1 tsp. salt                                        1 1/4 cups raisins
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Cut in shortening until mixture is mealy. (I always use my fingers to do this: gently rug flour and shortening together with fingertips. This method works well for pie crusts, too. It is the way my mother taught me.) Add egg & milk (already mixed), & then raisins. Now mix all until moistened and dough forms.
-Roll onto floured surface to 1/4" thickness.
-Cut with cutter or glass
-Heat griddle to about 325° F  (Adjust heat as necessary. These cakes can take awhile to cook. You have to be careful the bottoms do not burn. It is better to cook them on low heat for a longer time.)
-Do not grease griddle.
-As bottom of cookies brown, top becomes puffy. Turn & brown other side.
***These cookies are best when completely cooled and topped with butter.*** 
Makes about 3 dozen

PS: Comments are open again . . . I missed the conversation too much. : )

Wednesday, April 9, 2014



 

Trader Joe's had pretty bouquets for $3.98. Although money is tight, I couldn't resist bringing home a little springtime.: ) Other than that, I've been keeping house, teaching my children, guarding my garden (what is getting in there and digging, I wonder?), and reading mysterious, ghost stories at night. : ) In my free time during the afternoons, I've been listening to debates between atheists and theists on whether God exists. (While listening, I am making good progress on my sweater, so it's not a complete waste of time!)

The thing that has impressed me most about the atheists is their contempt for suffering and oppression (this moves me, despite their cynicism). Contempt for suffering is what lies behind many of their arguments against the existence of God (who they believe traditional monotheism portrays as a "dictator in the sky"). They ask: "If God exists, then why would he allow suffering? Such a God would mean that a) he is indifferent to his creation; b) his "intelligent design" is flawed and therefore unintelligent; c) he is evil. Since I can imagine a better world--a world without suffering--then I am greater than God. Therefore God does not exist."

Suffering is hard to understand and even harder to experience; yet, when you think about it, because all living things are dependent upon other things for survival--and because everything dies--suffering is essential to our existence. The interconnectedness of the universe requires all forces, matter, and organisms to maintain a delicate balance. As soon as something acts against its purpose or denies the boundaries of its purpose, it creates a domino effect of disorder (disease, natural disasters, etc.). Following scientific explanation, wouldn't the fittest organisms be those that were not dependent on something else for survival (and were not genetically determined to age and die)? In a stable environment, what would cause organisms to evolve? Likewise, in a harmonious environment, what would be the need for competition? And, what would cause constant forces to become unstable in the first place? Most importantly, what keeps these forces in balance (so that the destructive forces of decay/chaos do not overtake the constructive forces of life/order)?  The fact that this tension exists suggests that nature is invested in its own survival and points to Intelligence.

As I think about it, suffering may offer the best argument for the existence of God. The late Father Bede Jarrett O.P. wrote, "Can we not describe perfection as implying completeness in a particular order, so that the perfect thing does completely what it is wanted to do, exactly fulfilling the purpose for which it was designed? Thus also we can say reverently that God is perfect because he fulfills all that he is: "I am who I am" (Ex. 3:14). God is perfect; in him everything is in order." God is perfect, therefore, what he creates is perfect. But, if God made a creature with free will (as opposed to creatures governed by some other internal impetus, such as instinct), then these creatures would have the ability to act in ways that are disordered, disturbing the perfection of nature and causing suffering.

Atheists would argue that God could have used a different design--one that would exclude the possibility of suffering. The problem with that argument is, as soon as you remove free will from humans, you have either non-humans or slavery (a form of suffering). Free will allows us to come to God by choice--not as slaves, but as friends, thus fulfilling our purpose and transforming suffering to something meaningful: "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."