Human Book.. yep.

Well, I wanted to be a pocket watch when I die…

“Harvard discovers three of its library books are bound in human flesh”

See: http://roadtrippers.com/blog/harvard-discovers-three-of-its-library-books-are-bound-in-human-flesh

Seriously, I wanted to be cremated and the carbon from my ashes made into diamonds to be cut into jewel bearings for a pocket watch.

(“That’s Grandpa Watch.” — “Don’t you mean ‘Grandpa’s watch’?” — “No.”)

However, I wouldn’t mind being a book.

It just has to be a good book.

And the binding materials must be harvested post-mortem.

Peace,
-Steve

PS: This is creepy, nonetheless.

UPDATE: One of the three has been disqualified as human flesh. That leaves two to test.

The Great Panic Toast Cookoff!

The Great Panic Toast Cookoff! (Feb 2014)

UPDATED: The February 2014 Great Panic Toast Cookoff begins on February 13th. Details below!

“Into each life, some snow must fall, but the denizens of the little state of New Jersey know there is but one response… keep calm and toast on.

When the snow comes down, each home becomes an island with its own insular cuisine.  Until now, we’ve just assumed that one family’s ‘panic French toast’ is the same as another’s.  Today we find out for sure.  Use the marvel of modern technology to share your secret French toast recipes and photos for a chance to win one bottle of (Vermont) maple sugar, one trophy creamer, and bragging rights over all of Jerseydom in the coming year!  You know you want to – what else are you going to do when all cooped up?”

If you don’t know what Panic Toast is by now, then where have you been? Well.. probably not in New Jersey. Click here for more information. It’s fun!

Da Rules

  1. During and after the next snowfall (predicted to be Wednesday into Thursday, Feb 12-13 ON February 13th) cook up your best shot at Panic Toast. Be creative. Nothing is off limits! It just needs to follow the basic theme of Panic Toast and must primarily consist of all three traditional Panic Toast ingredients (eggs, milk, and bread).
  2. Take pictures of it. Again, be creative! Show off your photographic skills.
  3. Go to the official Facebook page, and post your pictures in the appropriate thread (one will be open as soon as the snow starts falling) right here along with what you’ve named your interpretation, and how you’d like it to go down in history. :-)
  4. Once the snow is over and all toast is eaten, I’ll open up a poll where you can vote on which Panic Toast you like best.
  5. The winner will be given a jar of Vermont Granulated Maple Sugar and a Trophy Creamer! — And bragging rights. Those are important, too.

 

One of the glorious prizes!

One of the glorious prizes!

Also, feel free to spread the word by changing your Facebook profile image to one of these:

Peace,
-Steve

Required Disclaimer: This contest isn’t affiliated with or endorsed by Facebook.

Boelge_stor

Drowning From Young Earth Creationism

Ah, Young Earth Creationism. The belief that the world is no more than 6,000 years old and that it was created in a literal 7-day week of 24 hour days. It is the ultimate anti-scientific hypothesis, and adherents to this ideology loathe the theory of evolution, the big bang, and other mainstays of our conventional understanding of the universe.

As a Christian, myself, I find this idea frightening, but not in the way you would immediately think. Where I do have a serious ideological problem with it (I often take solace in the fact that such figures as Mendel and Lemaître were devout Christians) my fear comes from a distinctly theological cause…

The Barna Group did a survey where they found — among other things — that current young adults had the following perceptions of Christianity:

  • “Christians are too confident they know all the answers.” (35%)
  • “Churches are out of step with the scientific world we live in.” (29%)
  • “Christianity is anti-science.” (25%)
  • “[I have] been turned off by the creation-versus-evolution debate.” (23%)

These numbers are disappointing, especially since according to Pew Forum surveys, the vast majority of Christians — like I do — embrace science. Most Christians see the beginning of Genesis as allegorical. A story about why and not how. Not a textbook for the origins of the universe.

So where does this perception come from? Predominantly Fundamentalist Evangelical churches. A relatively small, minority group that make a lot of noise and (speaking of textbooks) have a number of politicians in the wrong places.

These are the culprits who are causing our youth to flee from the church, and in many cases from their faith due to their belligerence in spreading their ideology — insisting that your salvation is in peril if you do not believe that the world was created in a literal 6 days.

Now, this is where my fear, and the title of this post comes in: Christ had a lot of things to say. We can probably agree that many things that are attributed to him could be ambiguous or potentially had hidden meaning, where one needed to think, meditate, and pray hard in order to fully understand. He did teach in parables after all.

However, out of all of his teachings there was one that — although it is certainly figurative — it is hardly ambiguous or unclear at all:

But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. – Matthew 18:6

I contend that these individuals who are anti-science are the ones who are in peril with how hard they push our nation’s youth away — but unlike them, I can point to a definitive place in the Bible where it says so. :-)

Peace,
-Steve

PS: Here’s a meme to share:

Say No To Fundamentalism v2

PPS: You probably thought I was going to make a crack about Noah’s ark, did you? :-)

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New Jersey Panic Toast!

Haven’t you noticed that right before a snowstorm people act like this:

And then wondered, “What happens to all of that bread and milk, anyways?”

Well, allow me to share with you one of New Jersey’s favorite snowstorm pastimes:

New Jersey Panic Toast!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 snow storm, blizzard, or hurricane
  • 8 slices of white or whole wheat bread cut into triangles
  • 3 eggs
  • two cups milk
  • salt, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon to taste

Instructions:

  1. The day before the storm, panic and buy the ingredients. Seriously, panic!! There’s a storm coming! Gotta get the bread, milk, and eggs!
  2. The day of the storm wake up and feel a bit safer that you panicked the day before and got your fixings while you find a large bowl.
  3. In that bowl, beat the three eggs with the cinnamon, vanilla, salt, and sugar. (Keeps the cinnamon from poofing everywhere and lessens the panic.)
  4. Beat in the milk.
  5. Arrange the bread in a svelte pattern on a greased cast iron skillet.
  6. Pour the batter over the toast to ensure maximum soakage.
  7. Bake at 350-400 degrees until crisp on top and the custard is puffing.
  8. Stop panicking and serve with appropriate collops (especially pork roll, ’cause it’s New Jersey; but bacon, sausage, etc. work too).

Enjoy!

Peace,
-Steve

Grandpa DeMatties Fixed

“Thanks, Grandpa”: Our Ghost Story

So with the recent sighting of one of the Christ Church Ghosts (the Little Boy), it reminded me of a Christ Church Ghost Story of my own.

In life, my late grandfather was a man of many talents. He was the People’s Warden at Christ Church for many years, an avid carpentry hobbyist (if it something in the Church made of wood, he and the late Jack Newton probably repaired it at least once in their lifetimes), but above all his favorite hobby was Numismatics. He was a coin collector.

He had an entire room dedicated to his coins and stacks of them in his closet (so many that my Grandmother would joke that one day they’d fall through the floor and into the dining room). He would also, every year, buy the proof and uncirculated sets and give them to his grandchildren in the hopes that one of them would one day share his hobby.

Sadly, that hope was not immediately realized, and when he passed away, his entire collection was sold off and converted into a smaller number of pieces, safely locked away for the future.

My present interest in Numismatics came about when my Grandmother found a number of pieces from his collection that had been misplaced prior to the sale. In a gray parts container (he also used to be a part of the old family business, DeAngelis Buick) he ferreted away a number of interesting pieces. 3¢ Nickels, Morgan Dollars with character, Indian Head Pennies, even an old 8 Reals (a piece of eight) with a curious counter-stamp on it. These weren’t the most expensive pieces in his collection — he certainly had some that were worth quite a bit — but these were his favorites. It was this little neglected capsule that really struck up something within me, and that — along with what he had given me over the years — began my own serious collection.

So every year at Christ Church there is a tradition that at the All Saints Day service, we read the names of those we have lost the prior year.

Right around the time that Grandpa’s name was coming up in the list, our youngest daughter was getting fussy, so my wife took her outside to walk her around a bit with our eldest. The list continued on and finished, and eventually they  came back indoors.

However, my wife had a very astonished look on her face. Jokingly and in the spirit of the holiday I asked her if she had seen a ghost. She didn’t say anything in response except to open up her hand.

In it was an almost perfectly preserved 1915 Barber Dime.

She had found it lying in a crack in the side of the building, simply sitting there in the same shape as one would expect to find one in circulation in the early 1900s. Almost 100 years old, lost to time.

The next words that came out of my mouth, however, I’ll never forget:

“Thanks, Grandpa.”

-Steve

Weihnachtsbaum Römerberg

Why I Say “Happy Holidays”

Weihnachtsbaum Römerberg

I’ve always been one who has scratched his beard over the whole “War on Christmas.” Aside from the occasional, rare, and laughable “Really, now?” moments that crop up in the press (like the whole “How the Grinch Stole the Holiday” debacle), Christmas is vibrantly alive and well in the United States. One only needs to walk down a main street to see the festive decorations and lights adorning nearly every storefront and front yard.

Regardless, sometimes when I discuss how I wish people “Happy Holidays” some people get indignant. “What other holidays are there other than Christmas? Especially this year when Chanukah is over and done with!”

As a Christian, when I say Happy Holidays, I am acknowledging my own Christian tradition.

Christmas is but one holiday on the Christian calendar that falls around this time of year, so allow me to show you precisely what I mean. When I say Happy Holidays I am personally referring to:

  • Advent – A holy seasons of 4 weeks leading up to Yuletide, where the following holidays fall:
    • Dec 4th: The Feast of St. John of Damascus: An amazingly educated man and defender of religious art.
    • Dec 5th: The Feast of St. Clement of Alexandria: An early Christian philosopher who focused upon equality among other things.
    • Dec 6th: The Feast of St. Nicholas of Myra <—- This is Santa Claus’ feast day. Has to get his energy up before Christmas, I suppose. :-)
    • Dec 7th: The Feast of St. Ambrose of Milan: Patron saint of bees, beekeepers, wax, and candles. A neglected saint nowadays in the era of electric light.
    • Dec 24th: Christmas Eve (you probably are familiar with this one). Major holiday.
  • Christmastide or Yuletide – Christmas actually lasts 12 days. Not one day.
    • Dec 25th: Christmas Day! The celebration of Jesus’ birth. Christmas carols begin. Major holiday.
    • Dec 26th: The Feast of St. Stephen. You’ve probably read about him in Acts.
    • Dec 27th: The Feast of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist. (Not St. John the Baptist, that’s in June.)
    • Dec 28th: The Feast of the Holy Innocents. The day we remember the slaughter of the children at Herod’s command and celebrate young children in general. With a new baby this year, this feast is particularly important to me.
    • Dec 30th: The Feast of Francis Joseph Gaudet, Educator and Prison Reformer. He’s a more recent saint and a bit obscure despite it.
    • Jan 1st: The Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus. Commemorates the circumcision of Jesus and his naming, eight days after Christmas Day.
  • Epiphanytide – A season that lasts 8 weeks which starts off with:
    • Jan 6th: Epiphany –  The day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus. Major holiday.

So when I say “Happy Holidays” this time of year, as a Christian I am referring to three seasons and over 10 holidays, at least 3 of which are fairly major on the Christian calendar. Christmas is but one of them, and the shortest season of the three. :-)

Also not in that list are civil holidays like New Year’s Day (which lands on the same day of the Feast of the Holy Name) and Boxing Day (mainly for my friends in the Commonwealth, piggybacking on The Feast of St. Stephen). So there are a few more.

If you want to talk about a more true-to-form “War on Christmas” I personally find it irksome that Christmas music — rather than Advent carols — are played all throughout Advent, and after Christmas Day they simply vanish, as if the other 11 days don’t exist. Episcopalians tend to celebrate all 12 days with fervor, sometimes to the point of odd stares. However, I’ve found that odd stares are best dealt with by means of education. Simply start singing a few lines of “The 12 Days of Christmas” and they’ll say, “Well, I’ve just had an epiphany! That’s what that song is about!”

But then then I tell them that they’re jumping the gun: Epiphany’s the next season. ;-)

Peace,
-Steve

(PS. It also doesn’t hurt that at around this time of year there are other holidays celebrated by other religions. Just sayin’. ;-) )