Tuesday, November 22, 2016

beware false peace

I've been thinking about peacemaking recently - what it looks like, how one goes about it. There's obviously been a lot of talk about peacemaking since the election, too, within churches and communities, hence the thinking on it.
I think, though, that we need to be careful about the narrative and visuals we get in our heads when it comes to using the verse in Matthew 5:9, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

I think for many of us, when we hear the word "peacemakers", we visualize those people who we view as bridges - bringing two opposing sides together at the table, asking them to lay down weapons, to make amends (reparations or compensation). This type of peacemaking is important.

But sometimes, the job of peacemakers is to disrupt a false peace, or to keep it from taking root. We know what is meant by false peace, right? Simple absence of open conflict. Sweeping things under the rug. Ignorance, willful or not, of that which is really happening. It's the type of "peace" that looks neat and tidy and peaceful to anyone on the outside, but is full of decay on the inside.

As an example, Jesus was this type of peacemaker, I believe, when he "made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables..." (John 2). At first blush, his actions seem incredibly unpeaceful to my white, Western eyes - I wonder, sometimes, how I would have responded if I'd stood witness there. Almost surely, in some of the communities I've lived in, this would count as a "disturbance of the peace". Today, the police might have been called. He may have even been arrested. And yet, and yet, Jesus always knew exactly what he was doing. He saw the situation for what it was. This was no place of peace, at least not anymore - it had become a "den of robbers" (Luke 19). People were being excluded from worshiping his Father in that space, or at least having to bear the burden of overcoming financial and ethnic exclusion in order to do so, and that enraged him. To those people, those who were excluded, it was an act of disrupting false peace - an unburdening, a defeat of oppression, a breaking down of walls.

After the beatitudes in Matthew 5, Jesus addresses some specific sins - anger, lust, etc. He's clear that it's not just murder or adultery (outwardly obvious actions) that are sinful, but the heart attitudes that lead to such actions that are sinful as well. I wonder - in what ways may we be settling for a false peace within many of our churches and communities? Our homes?

Absence of conflict does not equal peace. May we have eyes open to root out false peace.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Chili Recipes Recommended by Friends



On Halloween night, we missed an opportunity to join friends for a chili dinner before trick or treating. The combination of no naps for either of my kids, Mark getting home a little later than I expected, and just a general lack of energy meant that I think we made the best choice for us by staying local (my husband took the kids to about 5 or so houses on our street before they were done).

But the hankering for chili hadn't left me by the next day, and with the cooler weather (by So Cal standards), I decided to crowd source Facebook for my friend's recommendations for their favorite chili recipes. And this time, I'm keeping a record of them! I've done too many crowd-sourcing moves on Facebook that then get lost in the shuffle to let this opportunity pass me by. 

So, while I have only made one of the recipes below, I imagine the folks who sent them my way to know good chili, and wanted to keep a compiled list and pass it on to you all as well. I've divided them into "crock pot" and "non crock pot" lists. Enjoy!

Non Crock Pot Recipes

1. White Chicken Chili from Taste of Home (Prep Time 15 mins, Cook Time 25 mins)

Recommended by my friend Daralynn, who says it is "super spicy if you use all the cayenne pepper". She recommends no more than 1/2 tsp. with little ones. 

For my own family, I'd probably cut out the jalapeno as well - Mark has super sensitive taste buds when it comes to spicy stuff. Zoe is starting to come around to appreciate a little kick in things like soup. 

2. White Chicken Chili from Cheeky Kitchen (Prep/Cook Time Approx 30-45 mins)

I made this one the other night. Recommended by my friend Rita, who says she likes it with the sour cream and cheese as a topping, and also with salsa.



I made it as instructed by the recipe, but substituted a quarter cup of white wine in for an equivalent amount of the broth (I probably could have done more!) and added a wee bit of corn starch in cold water near the end to thicken it just a bit more. Scrumptious, and delicious as leftovers the next day.

I love a recipe that starts with bacon. For this recipe, I might use a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken. Less prep and less mess!

3. CD's Chili Mole (Prep/Cook Time Approx 3 to 3 1/2 hours)

While this vegetarian recipe is easily the most complex (prep wise and taste-wise) recipe of those that were recommended (sounds like the perfect kind of recipe for a wide open Saturday morning or evening spent watching some Netflix or football in between tending to the stove), my friend Emily simplifies it by using canned beans. Still, well worth giving it a shot - I always appreciate eating recipes that are more complex! 

Most intriguing ingredients: unsweetened chocolate, peanut butter, raisins, lots of interesting spices and beer (note near bottom that beer can be substituted for a portion of the broth). 

4. Shrimp and Red Bean Chili (Prep/Cook Time 30-40 minutes)

If you like the good taste of shrimp, this sounds like a nice easy way to eat it other than in cocktail format. Like my friend Susana does, I'd likely reduce the amount of peppers/hot sauce to keep it on the mild side.

Crock Pot Recipes

1. Crock Pot Sweet Potato and Quinoa Turkey Chili from Iowa Girl Eats (Prep Time 15-20 mins, Cook Time 3 to 6 hours in crock pot)

Recommended by my friend Erin, I love almost any recipe that includes sweet potatoes - a low-cost way of getting some good nutrition. Plus quinoa!

2. Red Bean, Chicken and Sweet Potato Stew from BHG (Prep Time 20 mins, Cook Time 5-6 hours)

As my friend Jamie said, while not technically a chili recipe, it still sounds pretty good! I am so intrigued by the peanut butter - sounds like just the kind of oddball ingredient whose flavor I'd appreciate. 

Per Jamie, this is also easy to prep ahead of time, freeze, and then toss in the crock pot when you are ready to use it later. 

3. Three Bean Chili from Smitten Kitchen (Prep Time Time 30-40 mins, Cook Time 22 minutes to 7 hours)

Recommended by my sister in law, who really knows her stuff when it comes to cooking for health and flavor, this one is great because, as she said, it breaks down lots of options for cooking it in a pressure cooker, on the stove or in the crock pot, in addition to recipe notes and substitutions. So, this one could be a crock pot or not crock pot version.

Most intriguing ingredient: beer. I'd forgotten about how much beer can be just the kick you need for a good chili recipe. I think it helped influence my choice to substitute white wine for some of the broth in the white chicken chili I made last night.