Saturday, November 4, 2017

Really Good Chili

For today's Annual United Methodist Church Charge Conference and Pot Luck Dinner, I made a new chili recipe that came out really well!

About little bit about the conference: it is always a nice event when we get together with the other local United Methodist Churches and give an accountability report of what has and will transpire for the year.  Out little Saint Andrew United Methodist Church, and sister churches in the area are doing great things to show people the love of Christ.

The Chili I made from scratch, and not really following a recipe, so therefore I have to jot down how I did it so it can be done again.  It's like any good scientist would do in documenting an experiment with procedural notes, so as it can be repeated by someone else.

Really Really Good Three Day Chili

I used a 5 quart Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven, and a 10 inch cast iron skillet.

Dry Red Kidney Beans, 1 pound.
10 cups of water
1 large white onion, peeled and cut in half
2 chopped cloves of garlic
5 Bay Leaves
1/2 teaspoon Chile Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
2 teaspoons of Salt
1 pound cubed steak, finely chopped when partially frozen
2, 10 ounce cans of Original Ro-Tel Tomatoes with green chilies
Additional Salt and Pepper to taste.

Thursday night, I cooked the Kidney Beans exactly according to Pati Jinich's recipe Beans: Frijoles de Olla or Beans from the Pot, then I put them in the fridge until the next evening after the dutch oven cooled a bit.

Friday night, the next day, I put the pot back on the stove on medium heat.

At the same time in a skillet I browned the chopped beef and added 1/2 of the onion and the garlic all chopped fine.  The beef was so lean, that I had to add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.  When it was all nice and brown and the onions translucent, I deglazed the skillet with a little (1/2 cup) water and added it all to the bean pot.

Next into the bean pot I added the spices and Ro-Tel.  Then I let it simmer about 4 hours. It was time for bed again, so I let it cool and put it back in the fridge until the next day. This rest time for the chili lets all the flavors marry and deepen in flavor.

Saturday morning simmered it for 4 more hours prior to serving. I removed all the Bay Leaves, so the consumers of my chili wouldn't die with a Bay Leaf in their throat. The crowd seemed to enjoy it and I would absolutely make it again.

The total cost of the dish was about $13 and served about 15 people.
Beef - $6.00
Beans - $2.00
Ro-Tel - $2.00
Spices and Vegetables $3.00

I hope this recipe works out for you!  

- gus

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Am I A Bigot? Needed Public Survey

Today on NPR I heard the results of another public survey conducted, Poll: Most Americans Think Their Own Group Faces Discrimination. 

Americans are saying "I feel discriminated against." "I feel disenfranchised." "I feel the population is against my race, gender (pick another demographic here), my etc."

When are we going to flip the coin and say, that a study was done and those surveyed admitted they had bigoted tendencies against one or another identity groups?

When I self-admit my own biased tendencies, that is when I can reevaluate how I treat others and begin to make corrections to my behaviors and attitudes to affect positive change.

I urge the media and those involved in making decisions affecting public policy to consider a self-diagnosis test for bigotry, so community leaders can start to address those with the illness instead of those who the disease impacts.


My story originally published August 21, 2017...

The following is a letter I submitted to the Pew Research Center as an idea for a future public opinion survey. Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

Dear Pew Research Center,

Subject: Idea for a public survey
Sent To:

I try to be open minded, and I am to a degree.
I do my best to be accepting of others, and I am to a certain level.
I would like to say I have a high moral standard, and I do – sometimes more than others.

It seems like our country is moving toward a situation of complete polarization.  It seems for example, if you are not completely pro-LGTBQ issues, then you’re against. Why does that have to be?

I would like to see a series of questions, a scientific social survey conducted (such as) for Racism (example):

1) Do you consider yourself a Racist? Yes or No
2) Would you hire someone of a race different from your own? Would you hire an                   African American, a Hispanic, an Asian, and so on...
3) Would you approve of your child dating someone of a different race?
4) Would you consider dating or marrying someone of a different race?

I realize I am a racist and bigot by certain definitions out there in the world, but I do my best to stay open, accepting and caring.

Why do I have to accept all races, ethnic and lifestyle options, when my faith and upbringing goes (at times) contrary to some social practices?

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would like my bigotry to be quantified so I know where I stand and how I can improve.

I am sure other people are the same way. Not everyone is a complete right wing fundamentalist or completely left wing tolerant ACLU card holder. We are all somewhere in a spectrum of acceptance and bias. I would like to consider myself non-biased, but I know that is not true.  It would be more useful to have research based data determining I am (for example) a R5 and H3 (Racist 5/10 and Homophobe 3/10), than a false idea of my own identity.

Thank you.

Follow Up - Pew Research Center never replied back to me on this. (27 Oct. 2017)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

EMS Clergy Survey

To all pastors and church leaders in Brevard County, Florida.  Please take this short, 5 minute survey. Follow this link... Brevard County, Florida Places of Worship, Volunteer and Clergy Enrollment for Disaster Assistance (Church Survey)

In the spring of 2017, just prior to hurricane Harvey, the Brevard County, Emergency Management Services, in cooperation with VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster, Brevard), and the American Red Cross acknowledged it would be of benefit to have Chaplains or Spiritual Support Counselors in emergency shelters to provide counseling to the occupants. These counselors would speak with the residents, then link the clients with a permanent faith-based organization of their choice, near them in their community.  Hence, this survey. Read more and take the survey.

Thank you for taking the time to complete this survey,

-  gus

Monday, September 18, 2017

Cam, Joey and the Turtles

This story is by Julia Koerner, about Cameron Koerner and Joey Fairbanks back in 1999. I am posting this today as a birthday present for Cameron, who is unavailable to receive gifts right now, due to his Marine Corps obligations.

Cam, Joey and the Turtles

I took these photos on a day when Cameron and Joe were on a self-initiated,100% official turtle rescue.

There was talk around the (Royal Oaks) golf course that a small alligator had been spotted in the pond just a few hundred feet from our backyard. Groundskeepers had been looking for the Jurassic critter for a couple weeks, but had nothing to go on but golfer tales up in the clubhouse.

That same pond was actually one of Cam and Joe's favorite spots for collecting abandoned golf balls, but this one particular morning they had found a hidden nest of hatching turtle eggs.

When the boys heard tell of the baby alligator from a few golfers, they came running into the house - frantically asking for a bucket they could put their newly hatching turtles in so the alligator wouldn't eat them.

We found a bucket - and I, of course, followed them out to the spot with my broom in hand to retrieve the turtles and assure their safety from any free range gator babies that might be lurking in the rushes...and of course, bash the gator with my weapon, if necessary.

Now, 18 years later, these are still 2 of Joe's favorite photos. He posts them on his bedroom wall with a push-pin wherever we live. Joe can't remember how many turtles they rescued that day. Perhaps Cameron will remember.

That same afternoon, the boys and Mother and I made an official trip to the wildlife preserve so the boys could deliver their treasured find to the appropriate authorities and ensure the safety of the hatchlings.

You should have heard Cameron retell their tale of danger, intrigue, excitement and wonder at having watched turtles hatch; kept a look-out for the mystery alligator; collected their specimen and escaped without harm. He spoke almost all in one run-on sentence...with Joe piping in, "Me, too! Me, too!" as often as he could squeeze it in.

The rangers were amazed and entertained, to say the least! On the drive home, Mother decided the boys deserved ice cream from her favorite haunt, the Moonlight Drive In.

I'm sure you heard this whole tale first hand on the day it happened - but now, nearly 20 years after the fact, here's the photographic proof of the boys' humanitarian efforts.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Letter to Sister Roberta

This is my letter to Sister Roberta, the Prioress of Holy Name Monastery, Benedictine Sisters of Florida, a long time friend and counselor.

Dear Sister Roberta,

I send my love and greetings to you all.

I am still in the Candidacy for the Ministry for the United Methodist Church, working locally in my congregation, city and county.  One of my major projects I am working on right now is to get a Chaplain assigned to every county emergency shelter during natural disasters.  That suggestion has just been approved for Brevard County. Praise God.

One of my challenges right now is the acceptance of less traditional sexual identities into the ministry, marriage and society.  Even the discussion causes me great anxiety.

This is my favorite song right now.  I hope you enjoy it.  It is Ancient Words, by Michael W. Smith.

Thank you for your support and prayers.  Bless you  all in Christ our Savior.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Silently Gazing Upon God

I absolutely love reading and hearing about others interpretation of God, and His work within their lives and in the world. One of my favorite theologians is Father Richard Rohr, but sometimes he’s a little too deep for my understanding. I read his work anyway, and try to pull out the meaningful pieces that can make a difference in my life, and how I should respond to the call of God in my relationships.

Today in his daily meditation, Monday, July 10, 2017 the topic was Rebuilding on a Contemplative Foundation by Silently Gazing upon God.

This title really caught my attention,
Silently Gazing upon God. Immediately it made me think of seeing God through the eyes of a child and how we see His influence in nature.

Rohr quotes Rowan Williams, the 2012 Archbishop of Canterbury by saying, “To be fully human is to be recreated in the image of Christ’s humanity; and that humanity is the perfect human 'translation' of the relationship of the eternal Son to the eternal Father, a relationship of loving and adoring self-giving, a pouring out of life towards the Other.”

Coming up is the word 
contemplative (noun and verb), which I like to partially define as spiritual listening. One who is contemplative is a Contemplative.

Rohr goes on to say, “To be contemplative as Christ is contemplative is to be open to all the fullness that the Father wishes to pour into our hearts. With our minds made still, and ready to receive, we are at last at the point where we may begin to grow… and we seek this not because we are in search of some private “religious experience” that will make us feel secure or holy. We seek it because in this self-forgetting gazing towards the light of God in Christ we learn how to look at one another and at the whole of God’s creation.”

One way we can experience this oneness with God directly, physically and spiritually by observing His universe in nature. We can gaze towards the light of God in Christ through His creations.

For example, in the image left we see a time-lapse image of all the stars rotating around Polaris, the North Star. I have experienced this only once in my life. The image 'Star Trails' was taken by Marjan Lazarevski, Skopje, Macedonia (formerly Yugoslavia). Photo caption: While other stars apparent positions in the sky change throughout the night, as they appear to rotate around the celestial poles, the Pole Star (Polaris) apparent positions remain virtually fixed.

I hope we will all find the time to look closely and gaze upon God through his creations, either earthly or heavenly and realize how close we are to the presence of our Creator.