Sunday, February 28, 2010

Colorado Pork Green Chili

Hey! Our western green chili won the church chili cook-off at our very Midwestern church! That's a fun surprise. As promised, the recipe:

Colorado Pork Green Chili

2 lb pork roast, cooked and diced (about 4 cups cooked meat)
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 large fresh tomato, diced
2 7 oz. cans green chilies--undrained
1-2 fresh jalapenos, diced (seeded or unseeded, depending on your heat preferences)
1 tsp onion powder (or one medium onion, diced)
1-2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 chicken boullion cube
2-3 cups of water

Simmer on low until pork is extremely tender and stew is desired thickness. Works great in a crock pot.

Adapted from Colorado Collage cookbook

Friday, February 26, 2010

lots of rules of writing

The UK's Guardian asked a slew of authors to each give ten rules of writing. Part one is here. Part two is here.

Featured authors include Elmore Leonard, Diana Athill, Margaret Atwood, Roddy Doyle, Helen Dunmore, Geoff Dyer, Anne Enright, Richard Ford, Jonathan Franzen, Esther Freud, Neil Gaiman, David Hare, PD James, A.L. Kennedy, Hillary Mantel, Michael Moorcock, Michael Morpugo, Andrew Motion, Joyce Carol Oates, Annie Proulx, Ian Rankin, Will Self, Helen Simpson, Zadie Smith, Colm Toibin, Rose Tremain, Sarah Waters, and Jeanette Winterson.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Book Review: The Voice of Psalms

The Voice Project is, according to its website, "a retelling of the Scriptures . . . not of words, but of meaning and experience." You might call it a translation project. Its team of contributors is tackling the Bible one book at a time, publishing each book separately. It represents a "collaboration among scholars, writers, musicians, and other artists."

It seemed to me that the book of Psalms might be particularly suited for this kind of project--it is, after all, the hymnal of the Jewish Temple, the lyric book and liner notes for the songs of David (and a few others). Songwriters and poets have been re-translating, re-expoloring, re-singing the Psalms for centuries. "The Voice" has reduced them to prose. Here then, is the first of my complaints on this grievous, ridiculous, self-important re-telling project. (It's too far off to be considered a translation). It doesn't even succeed at what it purports to be trying to do. I presume that the meaning and experience of the original readers (and singers) of the Psalms would have been such that they could recognize what they were reading as song lyrics. But it is nearly impossible to imagine singing what is rendered in "The Voice," sometimes laughably so. Who thought it was a good idea to render Psalm 2:12 ("you will be destroyed" in the NIV and "you will perish" in the ESV) as "you won't stand a chance." ? Just one small example of how the book is riddled with unpoetic modern cliche.

Now, about the italicized material. The introduction says that it is "not directly tied to a dynamic translation of the original language." Put another way--it's interpolation. Or, let's simplify yet again, since "The Voice" seems to be all about simplifying--it's stuff that they just added in because they felt like it. And they don't want anyone to be distracted by footnotes or whatnot--so it's right there in the text. Italics or no, which of us can really read through a passage and keep ourselves from integrating the material? It's very troubling.

There's not much worth saying about the interpretive/devotional essays spattered through the book. They're pretty typical American, legalistic apply-it-to-me-and-how-I-feel and God-wants-you-to-work-at-this type fare. Utterly ignorable.

For more educated critique of the word by word translation and theological agenda of this project, see Chris Rosebrough tackling their rendering of the Gospel of John 1 here and Romans 3 here.

One half star for good paper, font and binding. Otherwise, none. If you want a dynamic translation, try The Message.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fear and Grace

From Pursuing Titus 2, via Jennifer F.

When we are simply imagining chilling scenarios, we are facing the horrible emotions without any of God’s sustaining grace. Every time we imagine something, we put ourselves through agony of a kind we will never have to go through in real life. Because when awful things are actually happening, God walks with us through them and gives us His grace and strength. The peace of God’s presence through a trial is something I can never conjure up in my imagination, and something that only comes with real trials, not the pretend ones I make up while driving.
Worry really doesn't serve us well. God calls us to live in each moment--which means to take the time and energy to actually be present in each moment. And each day has enough troubles of its own . . . when we actually go to the trouble enjoying God today, it doesn't leave us with time or energy to be making contingency plans for all sorts of situations which will never actually happen.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Book Review: Five Cities that Ruled the World

I review for BookSneeze

How could a man this smart, how could as good a writer as Douglas Wilson write a book this bad? Five Cities that Ruled the World is a popular history giving an overview of Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London, and New York. In the introduction Wilson informs the reader that he will be showing how "Jerusalem has bequeathed to us a legacy of spirit; Athens, reason and the mind; Rome, law; London, literature; and New York, industry and commerce." He also intends to explore the Platonic ideal of city with Revelation's Babylon and the heavenly City of God marking opposite ends of the spectrum.

He then takes each of the cities in turn and . . . does what? Okay, so he writes about Jerusalem and spirit--but the concept of "spirit" is vague enough that one could write about just about anything and tie that in. The section on Athens is supposed to be about its legacy of reason and intellectual influence, but he's halfway through the chapter and spent a number of pages retelling the stories of the War with Troy and the Battle of Salamis before he even touches on their intellectual history. The chapters on Rome, London, and New York are even less tied to the "legacies" promised in the introduction. In each chapter Wilson meanders back and forth across history, from pre-history to modern times, cherry-picking battles, quotes, myths and incidents in pursuit of some agenda sensed but never quite articulated. It makes for increasingly bizarre reading because Wilson's prose is actually very good. He's often laugh-out-loud funny and his paragraphs are well constructed. But his paragraph and larger sections seem to have little or no connection to each other--at least in light of the schema he purports to be following. Where are the transitions? Where is the connective material?

Finally, mercifully, the reader gets to the epilogue in which Wilson essentially says, "Aha! See what we've accidentally discovered along the way! Isn't it providential?" Well, no. It's not. We all learned the core of essay-writing in junior high school: 1. Tell me what you're going to tell me. 2. Tell it to me in detail. 3. Tell me what you just told me. Not: 1. Tell me what you're going to tell me. 2. Wander across 5000 years of history telling me things that almost have something to do with what you said you were going to do but not quite, and then 3. Suprise! Tell me you were really on about something else all together. The book is really about . . . Freedom. Freedom is good.

I was still in the first chapter when the similarities with The Mainspring of Human Progress (a screed which constituted a large portion of my "Economics" education at my conservative Christian high school) struck me. The breezy narrative style and casual treatment of history are unmistakeable in their flavor. And I am grieved because I sympathize with the libertarian instincts of both these books. And bad books do not serve to advance the causes of good ideas; rather the reverse. And this poorly structured, agenda-heavy, historically dubious text, I am afraid, will do little but persuade Wilson's choir that their cause has been adequately defended, when it hasn't.

Two stars out of five, because at least his retellings of many historical incidents are very good as scatter shot pieces of world history--whatever purpose they're supposed to be serving.

This is a review through Thomas Nelson's Book Sneeze program.