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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Rediscovered on my theology blog

This evening I'm posting this on this far by faith because (as usual) I’ve been wondering what on earth God is doing in my life; as usual I’ve been asking "What now and what next?"
here’s a link to the entire post over on Desert Spirit's Fire:

From a Distance Comments,

which I wrote in response to a comment on this one:

From a Distance,

posted sort of as part of a pair with this song:

Glory River!

Here’s some of my original response.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Of course our God is immanent, and I'm in total accord with Luther's theology of the ubiquity of the risen and ascended Christ. But just as much as we need to look to the manger and to the cross to *see* the fullness of God's power, sovereignty and glory, we also need to affirm His transcendence as the One whose presence in glory, sovereignty and power fills all of creation as well as the heavens and spreads out far beyond the finite limits of the humanly knowable cosmos.

I posted both "From a Distance" and "Save the Country" (styled "Glory River" in my title, since Glory River so fittingly describes the waters of baptism) in response to the current war (no surprise?). And I absolutely agree the theology is far too complex to visit upon that prototypical parishioner, so because of your pointing out some people "couldn't get a handle" on your theological argument and my observation about complex--or maybe complicated would be more accurate--theology, I'd definitely not program "From a Distance" for worship or at any other church-related event, either. A whole lot of what I call pre-catechism folks are hangin' out there in the world and hangin' out here in church, too, and I need to rejoice in the fact they acknowledge God, talk about God's acting in their lives and want to know God better and trust God more, while saving the fancy God-talk for people who can do it. That's a perspective I'm slowly learning. Really!

Then again from my respondent:

Leah,
No question....Even as I experience God's immanent presence I have to realize that this One is far more than I can ever hope to explain or understand. … A point I really liked was "we have to set aside what we believe we know about God to open ourselves to what God really is." Something like not trying to restrict God to the box we have used to define God. Your God is Too Small: A Guide for Believers and Skeptics Alike.

More of my observations:

Martin Luther talked about the domesticated God--a God at humanity's beck and call, actually a God very much like those others gods of the Ancient Near East, the ones in competition (not!) with Yahweh, those pathetic, petty twerp-tyrant gods who demanded and required tribute, propitiation and even human sacrifice but still remained far-off, at "a distance." And sad to say, though while trekking through the Exodus desert Israel learned to live in covenant with the free and elusive God Who cannot and refuses to be contained, just like us they wanted a tame domesticated God rather than the wild, completely untamable and totally undomesticated God of their Exodus into freedom, and that old, old story of that oh, so very human desire played out in their begging for, building and finally in the fall of the Jerusalem Temple. The God of the Bible chooses not a temple made of brick or stone, but in mercy and love elects us as living temples. And for all concerned parties, that's scary and risky.

"Your (our?) God is too small?" Luther spoke about the God Who became small for us in Christ--small enough to die: for us! But that's not the*smallness* we humans often crave; rather we're looking for a littleness we can manipulate and control, we tend to look for maneuverability and manageability rather than the very opposite. Evidently we don't want or expect surprises, despite our histories with the God of the prophets, the God of Jesus the Christ?! God is watching us from a distance? Yes, watching us and caring for us from a distance, while just as much God remains with us and shepherds us closely and nearby. Humans might be ok with a far-off god or a nearby god, but One Who is both at the same time and Who has other attributes humanity only can remotely imagine, is far too much for comfort, though more than plenty enough for everlasting sanctuary.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

images!

Now that I have image hosting I can post some pics! However, since I've scanned only a few dozen, it looks as if more scanning or a digital camera needs to be in my near future.

For this afternoon here are a couple of my graphics:


Isaiah 43:11-12


Isaiah 43:11-12

Psalm 111:5


Psalm 11:5

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Mainline

These days still I claim to be "from the protestant mainline," but I feel anything but mainstreamed. A while ago in a discussion someone asked what's not mainline? and I replied "spurline." In terms of church and churches, sideline might work better, but spurlines terminate abruptly without going further, exactly what my life has been doing: not going any further. However, since our way of reading and interpreting scripture distinguishes the mainline churches from other churches, in those terms I'm still mainline.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Holy Shelter

On a private site I've belonged to for a couple of years, a few days ago in our ongoing game of "this or that" someone offered the choices, chapel or sanctuary?" I had to answer sanctuary! Not only do I love imagining the concept of holy shelter; closely related to sanctuary, frequently I think of Martin Luther's referring to the cross as the Gnadenstuhl, paralleling one of the appointments of the tabernacle. In biblical theology, mountains are the places of God's most significant self-revelation and as Christians we claim God's majesty, sovereignty and glory most fully and compellingly revealed to us in Jesus of Nazareth dying defenseless outside the city on the cross of Calvary Hill--or in the words of the Welsh hymn tune, "Bryn Calfaria."
Exodus 25

17 You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two and a half cubits shall be its length and a cubit and a half its width. 18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of one piece with the mercy seat. 20 And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat. 21 You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. 22 And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.
And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat...

God promises to meet us at the throne of sovereign mercy and grace; God meets us at the cross of Mount Calvary...

On my theology blog, part of my answer to "Where can Hong Kong celebrate their "slow" (=Christian) thanksgiving / homecoming liturgy?" (this related to Kosuke Koyama's Water Buffalo Theology, which - among other things - is an offering in the Christian-Buddhist dialogue) included:
Though initially it may sound astounding to make Jakarta or anywhere else "as central as Jerusalem," if the person and work of the crucified and risen Jesus Christ is not for Jakarta just as much as it is for Jerusalem, he truly is not and cannot be Lord of all.

I think Hong Kong will be able to celebrate homecoming (after all, isn't homecoming the ultimate thanksgiving?) within a community gathered not only to perfunctorily and ritually evoke the presence of the risen Christ in Word and Sacrament, but when that gathered people attests to the presence of the Christ in each another: having gone slowly enough to know and to call each others' names; having gotten sufficiently grounded to ignore at least some of the babble of commerce and consumerism; having decided to "seek the welfare of the city" (city=civilization) where they are rather than seeking the wellbeing of their purses and properties; looking outward to the other's interests and inward to an authentic, relational and re-creative self.

Again from my own experience: although compared with the lives of our 3rd and 4th world sisters and brothers I've always had a relatively abundant diet and, by grace, despite some financially and otherwise precarious times I've never lacked physical shelter, some time ago I experienced a series of significant losses and subsequently for several years I sensed what felt like a real loss of self as well as a lack of the life giving and life enabling refuge, shelter and sanctuary of Christian community.
Also on my blogs, as recently as late August 2004, when I was writing about God, Strangers and Saints, from Linda and Robin Williams' I posted over on Desert Spirit's Fire:
Words from a haunting song (you need to scroll way down the page for the complete lyrics) by Linda and Robin Williams:

Don't Let me Come Home a Stranger

As I walked out one evening to breathe the air and soothe my mind
I thought of friends and the home I had and all the things I left behind

Will there come a time when the memories fade
And pass on with the long, long years?
When the ties no longer bind, Lord save me from this darkest fear:
Don't Let me Come Home a Stranger
I couldn't stand to be a stranger

In this place so far from home, they know my name but they don't know me
They hear my voice, they see my face; but they can lay no claim on me

© Robin Williams, J. Clark
From Kenny Loggins, over on my city safari blog I've posted "Celebrate Me Home"; here's a little of the song:
Home for the holidays, I believe I've missed each and every face,
It's time I found myself, totally surrounded in your circles
Please, celebrate me home,
Play me one more song, that I'll always remember,
and I can recall, whenever I find myself too all alone, I can sing me home.

Uneasy highway,
Traveling where the Westerly winds can fly...whenever I find myself too all alone,
I can make believe I've never gone, I never know where I belong,
Sing me home.
Please, celebrate me home; play me one more song,
Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate me home
But I'm bound to roam, come on, celebrate me home! Please, celebrate me home...
Sing me home, celebrate me home--a song lives, breathes and changes, never quite the same another time (clearly not a comment about recorded music), always a little imperfect...a song is human! I'd asked,

...after all, isn't homecoming the ultimate thanksgiving?

Forever I've been seeking shelter, hoping for home; for this entire past decade, I've longed to be celebrated home - preferably by a community - rather than rejected back into home-less oblivion. The church was my first home and my first real family, too; Sunday morning used to be the most joyful time of the week for me...

Asking myself some questions: on Sundays as I wait on the Word, what do I expect to hear? What do I want to hear? And what have I been teaching and preaching of late? Probably not much more than a single refrain: God's unmediated presence absolutely everywhere all the time and the crucial fact that evidence of God's presence typically is both somewhat apparent and somewhat hidden; often God's presence is paradoxical, as in the anything-but-obviously "spiritual" earthbound expressions of the sacraments, as in the anything-but perfection of the people of the churches.

To be continued in a while? Maybe.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Anticipation

I'm cross-posting this on desert spirit's fire, my theology blog with no changes, so please bear with me if you visit both blogs! This testimony blog is becoming my place for theology light; Desert Spirit's Fire is the place for my more intentionally formal writing, but this post contains both approaches, so it belongs both places. The ideas I'm posting this evening could be developed far more, so one more time, here are some more sprawling connections—but they do cohere, however jaggedly.
Anticipation is another pungent biblical theme!
Friday afternoon at the 99¢ Only Store (local-dwellers know the store's addictiveness), for the first time in close to forever I heard Carly Simon's haunting Grammy-winner

Anticipation. Both music and lyrics are Carly Simon originals:

from Anticipation:
We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway
And I wonder if I'm really with you now
Or just chasing after some finer day

Anticipation, Anticipation
Is making me late
Is keeping me waiting...


© 1971 Quackenbush Music Ltd.

Reformation Notes
Because of their historical location the Reformers, especially Luther and Calvin, necessarily concentrated on a highly humanity-focused theological model, and theologizing within that, they also developed a compelling concept of God's gracious descent to all creation, which I believe laid open extensive possibilities for developing a comprehensive theology of redemption and sanctification that would include all creation. Both of those magisterial Reformers viewed all creation – not only human creatures – as an arena for the revelation of God's glory. In the Hebrew Bible there are ample precedents for this kind of holistic view of God's passion for creation and for an all-encompassing view of the sovereignty of Jesus Christ. I love the deuteronomic historian's relentless refrain, "into the land, into the land, into the land!" Hebrew Bible scholar Walter Brueggemann is one of my favorite authors; in his The Land: Place As Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith, he insists theology and theologians have concentrated far too much on covenant to the often near-exclusion of The Land.

As I continue my still very preliminary study and writing for my future book about ecological theology, besides the Bible, Brueggemann's plentiful work has influenced me a lot; Matthew Fox has influenced me some (though my theology is far more sacramental than Fox's); also, I'm drawing on the historical and still-present influences and insights of Celtic spirituality. Paul Santmire and Jürgen Moltmann are a pair of contemporary theologians in the Reformation tradition I need to thank and credit, as well.

Second Isaiah
I'm always thinking a lot about how much I love 2nd Isaiah of the exile (I need to figure out how to post some of my Isaiah graphics here). Check out the persistent theme of redemption and hope running through these verses, and particularly humanity's salvation physically located in the midst of the natural creation's redemption—the Reformers' theology of God's descent and infilling of everything created so recapture these passages! Related to these 2nd Isaiah texts, note well Luther's theology of the ubiquity of the Risen and Ascended Christ! [...looks as if I'm being excessive with the exclamation points?!]

from Isaiah 41

8 "But you, Israel, are My servant,
Jacob whom I have chosen,
The descendants of Abraham My friend.
9 You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth,
And called from its farthest regions,
And said to you,
"You are My servant,
I have chosen you and have not cast you away:
10 Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.'
18 I will open rivers in desolate heights,
And fountains in the midst of the valleys;
I will make the wilderness a pool of water,
And the dry land springs of water."

Isaiah 43

Isaiah 43:1

1 But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
3 For I am the LORD your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

Isaiah 43:1-2
11 I, even I, am the LORD,
And besides Me there is no savior.
12 I have declared and saved,
I have proclaimed,
And there was no alien god among you;
Therefore you are My witnesses,"
Says the LORD, "that I am God.
15 I am the LORD, your Holy One,
The Creator of Israel, your King."
16 Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea
And a path through the mighty waters,
18 "Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.
20 The beast of the field will honor Me,
The jackals and the ostriches,
Because I give waters in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert,
To give drink to My people, My chosen.
21 This people I have formed for Myself;
They shall declare My praise."

Isaiah 44

23 Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it!
Shout, you lower parts of the earth;
Break forth into singing, you mountains,
O forest, and every tree in it!
For the LORD has redeemed Jacob,
And glorified Himself in Israel.

Isaiah 51

Isaiah 51:3

3 For the LORD will comfort Zion,
He will comfort all her waste places;
He will make her wilderness like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the LORD;
Joy and gladness will be found in it,
Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.
4 "Listen to Me, My people;
And give ear to Me, O My nation:
For law will proceed from Me,
And I will make My justice rest
As a light of the peoples."
Walter Brueggemann essentially comments,

Of course the trees sing and clap their hands—no more clear-cutting! Of course the seas roar and everything in them rejoices—no more toxic waste and pollution!

Milk and Honey, Reign of Heaven: right here In the Land
Although I like mystery (how can you be a theologian and not be drawn to mystery?), I absolutely love paradox! On that theme, I need to ask how you can be a Christian without the mysterious paradox of God's clearest self-revelation in the vulnerability of a human, amazing and overwhelming and drawing you into itself? Look in the manger and look at the cross, insists Martin Luther! Milk and honey is a sign of the fullness of the sovereignty of God; in Jesus of Nazareth we meet face-to-face the embodiment of the realization of the time of salvation, the epoch of the Reign of Heaven. But this paragraph began with milk and honey! Flowing honey and surging milk begin with fertile land and rivers of usable water. Ample milk means abundant cattle grazing on luxuriant grass, producing healthy calves and fertilizing grains and vegetable gardens. Of course it includes bees pollinating fruits and flowers, vineyards and other food crops. Hearty vineyards, healthy fields and sufficient water. Dairy and beef, honey and harvest lead to nourishment for the farmers, their families and the community, with overflowing everything to sell at market or barter and trade in order to acquire whatever you cannot produce on your own. Likely I've left out a slew of probable connections, but my intent is clear: heaven's blessings aplenty on earth!

However, Israel became Israel, receiving the identifying name, not in the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey but in the desert of the trek toward that promised-landed freedom. In the desert's sparse economy, with surprising gifts like water from the rock and manna from the sky, Israel and Yahweh encountered each other into the kind of relationship that later would enable God's people to recognize God's paradoxical self-revelation in the preached Word and proffered sacraments...

Now and here, like Christ Jesus, face-to-face with the world, the church is the incarnation of the fullness of the time of salvation, the era of the Reign of Life; as persons of the ekklesia, of the church, our sacramental liturgies and lifestyles replay God's paradoxical self-revelation in the exodus desert, recognizing and celebrating God's sustaining presence in, with and under creation's commonest stuff, the utmost essentials for life produced from the heart of the earth.

We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway


But, with God in charge of those days to come, we can have some ideas about a little of what will happen! First of all, (once again!) I need to include one of my favorite passages from Martin Buber's The Prophetic Faith:

In The Prophetic Faith, Jewish theologian Martin Buber writes,
"[for Jeremiah] Not the priest but the prophet he regards as the mediator between heaven and earth, messenger of God and intercessor in one. The contact between godhead and manhood in his view is not bound up with the rite but with the word...the word comes again and again from heaven as something new, and makes its abode within man...and the man who has to make it heard is over and over again subdued by the word before He lets it be put in his mouth. This is not the expression of a familiar deity, with whom man comes into regular contact in fixed places and at fixed times. He, Who speaks, is incomprehensible, irregular, surprising, overwhelming, sovereign. Therefore it is the virtue of this word, and of this alone, to lead, that is to say, to show the way.[my emphasis] ...In order to speak to man, God must become a person; but in order to speak to him, He must make him too a person." (pages 164-165)

Stewardship, Jesus and Us, the churches and the Church
Early on in the Genesis narrative God charges humanity with stewardship of everything created; that's a Yahwist text, meaning it's early! Moving forward quite a few centuries, the Heidelberg Catechism includes (approximate paraphrase), "Why is the Son of God called Jesus, meaning Savior?" "Why is he called Christ, meaning anointed?" Then the probing, "But why are you called a Christian?" "Because by faith I share in Christ's anointing, and I am anointed to reign with Christ over all creation for all eternity." Many of us (most of us?) exercise our baptismal calls to prophecy and to priesthood infrequently, but our everyday lives are replete with insistent opportunities to claim the co-sovereignty over creation we share with the crucified and risen One, or more accurately, the stewarding reign Christ graciously shares with us.

Anticipation is another pungent biblical theme!
There's a famous quote credited to Martin Luther (I've read a fair amount of Luther, but can't cite any source, so I'm saying credited to him): "Sin boldly, but trust even more boldly in the Risen Christ!" That's a glorious reality for every person, every community, and all creation to anticipate!

That's almost all for this evening...but one more Heidelberg Catechism paraphrase: we move from Christmas, with the mystery of Spirit in flesh, to Ascension, with the mystery of flesh in Spirit!

May joyful anticipation of the crucified Jesus of Nazareth, now become the Risen and Ascended One, always sustain you!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

San Diego Padres at Petco Park


Beach Towel Night!
In another expression of Americanism, Friday evening [since this'll stay on this blog for untold ages, the date was yesterday, 15 July 2005] again I attended another winning game at San Diego's extraordinarily state-of-the-art Petco Park. Amazingly, it was Beach Towel Night, so I arrived home with my awesome Padres towel that folds up into its own bag.

San Diego Padres 10, Arizona Diamondbacks 7

Read all about it.

Fireworks from Navy Pier

Toward the ballgame's finale, fireworks from the not-too-distant Navy pier amounted to a short display, but plenty enough to crown the evening.

Half Moon, Nighttime Sky

Remember Janis Joplin's 3-times platinum Pearl? Yesterday evening's moon reminded me of "Half Moon."

Spirit in the Sky

My review of this game gets to include some Pauline theology--believe it! At the top of the 9th they played Norman Greenbaum's famous Spirit In The Sky!
When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that's the best
Prepare yourself, you know it's a must
Gotta have a friend in Jesus
So you know that when you die
He's gonna recommend you
To the Spirit in the sky
That's where you're gonna go when you die
When you die and they lay you to rest
You're gonna go to the place that's the best
Never been a sinner I never sinned
I got a friend in Jesus
So you know that when I die
He's gonna set me up with
The Spirit in the sky
Trevor Saved the Game!

The absolutely unparalleled Number 51, Trevor Hoffmann's save added up to number 26 for this season and a career number 419.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Stewed Tomato

Because I wrote this for an online site, this restaurant review is shorter and less detailed than the others. Terrific restaurant; I am so looking forward to going back there—soon, I trust!
Stewed Tomato is a cool restaurant in the once-seafaring, now tourist and residential town of Harwich on Cape Cod. The town was settled around 1665, named after Harwich, England, and incorporated in 1694; currently Harwich Center is one of the Seven Harwiches.

Stewed Tomato Review

Though it's been several years since I was there, the Stewed Tomato at 707 Main Street in Harwich Center is one of my fondest memories and one of the prospective experiences I anticipate with the most yearning and the greatest longing. As a little kid I visited Harwich all the time—my grandparents owned a house with gardens on Church Street near Bay Road, eight furlongs from Pleasant Bay Beach. A few years ago, when I returned to the Cape after some time away, my friend Heather introduced Stewed Tomato and me to each other and I fell in love: in love with the food – especially the breakfasts – and, of course, in love with the matchless ambience! I highly recommend Stewed Tomato for breakfast, lunch, dinner and whenever.

Most recommended: Kitchen Sink Omelet; coffee.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Get Together

Once upon a time, The Youngbloods produced a major hit, "Get Together."

In May 2004, Wilson Phillips, in their California CD, included "Get Together," with its poetically expressive call to love despite the fears we all experience all too often.


wilson Phillips California

Wilson Phillips: Carnie Wilson, Wendy Wilson, Chynna Phillips

here's Sony's WP site;

and a WP fan site.

Get Together

Love is but a song we sing
And fear's the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Though the bird is on the wing
And you may not know why

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now

Some may come and some may go
And we will surely pass
When the one that left us here
Returns for us at last
We are but a moment's sunlight
Fading in the grass

If you hear the song we sing,
You will understand
You hold the key to love and fear
In your trembling hand
Just one key unlocks them both, you know
It's there at your command

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now

Right now
Right now

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Dublin House in Seaport Square

Another one! This takes us back to the same section of town in an earlier, simpler guise rather than in its later, increasingly sophisticated one:
Old-Fashioned Setting, Real Food: The Dublin House in Seaport Square

On a recent weekday afternoon we had lunch around two o’clock at Dublin House, a restaurant and bar at 9 Stanton Street in Seaport Square. With its vintage mahogany walls, Dublin House exhibits a solid, stable air. It has survived the population shifts, retail business exodus and the rest of the crisis of the central cities. It is so much a survivor from another era that one gets the impression it will stay that way, even as another change – gentrification – arrives at Seaport Square.

The atmosphere of Dublin House is Irish, although the clientele – judging by the limited sample of four other diners we saw while we were there – reflected the diverse population of the area. Irish origins show in the faded country scenes of the wallpaper above the mahogany wainscoting, in the waitstaff’s lively conversations with the regular customers, in the traditional Irish melodies found amidst the top forty and country-western jukebox selections (the Irish songs were sung by Bing Crosby, we might add).

Dublin House is open from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. and serves food until 7 p.m., with the same menu for both lunch and supper. Consequently, the plates we ordered, although a bit high for a workday lunch, are quite reasonably priced if ordered in the evening. Three of us were together this time, so we were able to sample a variety of selections. We ordered Fish and Chips, on the regular menu at $5.75 and two of the several daily specials: Chopped Sirloin Steak and Hot Open Turkey Sandwich, at $5.25 each. The fish part of the Fish and Chips was fried haddock, and it was outstanding in both appearance and flavor. The portion was very generous, as were all that we had, and the filet had been dipped in a light batter and browned perfectly--we can hear someone on TV saying “fried to golden perfection!” The chips were steak fries, and they were greaseless, well-browned and well-cooked on the inside. Along with these went good cole slow made without too much mayonnaise and a generous helping of Tartar Sauce.

Both the Hot Turkey and the Chopped Sirloin came with a choice of mashed potatoes or fries and string beans or cole slaw. The Hot Turkey came from an actual turkey or turkey breast and was not the synthetic-tasting pressed stuff called turkey roll. It was real! The Chopped Sirloin, looking like a large hamburger (definitely more than ¼ lb.) was greaseless and well-flavored. Both meats were served with gravy, and the two gravies were different. That with the turkey was light and suitable for poultry; the Sirloin gravy was definitely beef. Our string beans were canned, but they were served hot and did not detract from the meal. Our potatoes were real, like the turkey, and not packaged reconstitutes. We should add that before the actual plates arrived we were given ice-water without having to ask, and a basket of good packaged wheat bread (six slices) plus a small plate of butter.

To us, the hallmarks of the fare of Dublin House are the “realness” of the food and the ample portions. Consequently, although we had to wait good twenty minutes before getting our food, we would like to think this was related to its authentic quality. Perhaps there were actually mashing the potatoes! A more likely explanation, however, is that we came at a slow time when the kitchen is not prepared for quick service. We assume food delivery during real lunch hours is faster.

Although our meals cost more than one would care to spend on lunch every day, the menu did contain less expensive items. Sandwiches were available from $2.95 for a Grilled Cheese to $3.95 for a Bacon Burger. So one in quest of a $4 lunch could be well satisfied.

A few final words remain to be said about the physical atmosphere of Dublin House. The bar is well separated from the restaurant section, a wall with only one small opening between them. The women’s rest room, although not well-scrubbed and gleaming enough for a TV commercial, is clean and well-supplied. The restaurant is dimly lit, which we found restful. There is no air conditioning, which might prove a problem on the hottest of days, but we were comfortable when it was in the low eighties outside.

All things considered, if you’re in the area of Seaport Square, you can’t go wrong by ducking into Dublin House for lunch or dinner, just as we did!

The Search for Breakfast

This is not among my most sparkling literary achievements, but it portrays the neighborhood’s social location fairly well, though without any seriously sociological or anthropological commentary (no theological insights, either—after all, the weekly publication was not remotely church-related). With more protective changes of faces and places, in this review I’m still hiding the burden of guilt!
Pete’s Eats and Sam’s II
The Search for Breakfast


What makes a restaurant a good place to have breakfast on the way to work? We recently looked for the answer in two local eating places.

You might wonder how people who used to rely on the Lockout Diner for breakfast on the way to work have been managing to last on the job until lunch. Well, one possibility is that by now they have found Pete’s Eats at 468 Southfield Avenue, down the street from where the landmark diner used to be.

Pete’s opens at 5:30 a.m. weekdays and Saturdays, thus making it a good place for those who begin their day early. The service is friendly, efficient, and most important, fast. The food is cleanly-prepared, not greasy, and the portions more than adequate. A cup of fresh drip coffee is 95¢ ordered separately, with a free refill if you have breakfast; otherwise a second cup is 80¢. The menu lists the expected standard breakfast items at reasonable prices, with six combinations. They range from the Number 6: $1.99 for one egg, homefries, toast and coffee, to the No. 1, called “Super Beat the House”: $5.49 for three eggs, choice of bacon, sausage or ham; three pancakes, toast, homefries, juice, coffee.

For our breakfasts at Pete’s we chose the No. 3: two eggs, homefries, toast and coffee, with three sausages. This combination was $3.79, and grapefruit juice added an additional 85¢. We also had a single order of three pieces of French toast ($2.75), coffee, and a medium orange juice (85¢). The three sausages were well-browned and drained, and the eggs had the right degree of doneness. The homefries also were crisp, although for our taste they could have been browner. Also well-cooked and greaseless was the French toast, which was prepared with an adequate amount of egg to give it the appropriate golden color. Our only quibble would be that it might have been browned a bit more on the outside.

The service was fast and pleasant. The server brought our coffee while we decided on what else to order and it was only a few minutes from order to service. This was a little after 8:30, so the place wasn’t crowded, and we would expect it to take a little longer during peak hours, but the efficiency we found leads us to expect fast service at all times, an important factor when having breakfast on the way to work. All things considered, Pete’s Eats is a good addition to the Southfield/Patton Square area.

In the Naugatuck area, we tried another breakfast place that opens at 6 a.m., early enough for most folks on their way to work. Sam’s II, within sniffing distance of Willow Bay, offers a quiet atmosphere, good food and competitive prices. Its location in the Pilgrim Mall complex on Mohegan Boulevard means more than ample parking at breakfast time.

The bill of fare at Sam’s also includes classic American breakfast items; à la carte and complete meals are available. They offered us strong, flavorful coffee as soon as we arrived and then chose the same breakfasts as we had had at Pete’s, but at Sam’s the coffee and bacon were included on a combination with the French toast. The homefries were cooked with onion and diced rather than sliced. Otherwise, the food was comparable to Pete’s, as was the service.

In general, the offerings were similar to those at Pete’s, although the combinations varied, and the prices, although there were some differences, were close.

The greatest difference is in the atmosphere of the two eating places. Pete’s is pocket-sized and well-lit; the three tables and seven counter stools seat a total of nineteen people. Sam’s is fairly sizeable and not brightly illuminated. The booths provide sufficient privacy to allow for comfortable chatting with friends or spreading out the newspaper while eating breakfast. Since the place is large, one would not feel compelled to move on quickly after eating.

To partially answer the question we asked in beginning this review, most would agree that convenience, fast service, good food at reasonable prices and cleanliness are most important. We found all of these at both Pete’s Eats and Sam’s II and hope you will too!

Romans 8:1-2

There is therefore now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus
will set you free
from the law of sin and death

There is therefore now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus
has set me free
from the law of sin and death

There is therefore now no condemnation
for those who are in Christ Jesus
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus
has set us free
from the law of sin and death

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Twenty-Five Waterfront Drive

Okay, all of you readers—since writing restaurants reviews for the local radical rag was probably my all-time favorite job anywhere at any time, I’ve decided to post a few more. These reviews are a indispensable part of my journeying this far by faith, but judiciously I’ve changed names, places, and some other specifics to continue protecting the guilty. As I chose my revisionist designations, I noticed how constantly I’m pulled back and forth between seacoast and desert. No surprise! But this time I stuck with the coast...
Twenty-Five Waterfront Drive: Bright Spot in Seaport Square

Twenty-Five Waterfront Drive was sunlit and inviting as we stopped by a little after one o’clock for Sunday brunch. Twenty-Five Waterfront Drive? On the southwest corner of Waterfront and Seaport Street, it’s Seaport Square’s newest dining establishment, and it’s decidedly taking a bow toward gentrification. It has an air of class-consciousness: its name; its décor—highlighted by single fresh daffodils in depression-glass bud vases; creamy-colored linen tablecloths and beige cloth napkins; its somewhat eclectic though traditionally American bill of fare.

First impressions: a very clean, well-contained room with a seating capacity around 70, a lot of natural light, an abundance of large, healthy plants and about a dozen framed prints by local artists. White walls, a single brick wall, an unobtrusive dark Dhurrie-type rug, black ceiling and dark brown molded chairs add up to an aura of self-assured warmth and soft edges. Unfortunately, too-loud music and talk from a commercial radio station also was part of the initial impression.

Written on a wall-mounted chalkboard, the brunch menu for that day included griddle cakes or French toast for $5.85, with specialty griddle cakes, ham, bacon, or sausage an unspecified extra amount; a choice of four different omelets for $6.95; $7.95 for steak and eggs; Turkey Wellington or ham and yams for $8.50; fresh-catch of local fish and a vegetable-of-the-day for $9.35. Fresh cantaloupe or grapefruit was listed at $2.35; mimosa (a champagne and fruit drink), $2.75. The menu board cited a fairly extensive variety of wine and beer. By this neighborhood’s standards these prices are about average, although possibly a little lower than you’d pay for comparable fare in some other sections of the city.

We began our meal with sweet, flavorful fresh cantaloupe served with a sprig of parsley and a slice of lime. For entrées, one of us opted for an omelet – The Waterfront Drive – the other, for French toast. he omelet was chock full of chopped onions sautéed until transparent, crumbled sweet sausage, and sliced mushrooms, browned until golden and eased onto the plate so it looked like a half-moon. avory hash browns, diced and blended with onion and cilantro accompanied the omelet, as did a grilled English muffin and jelly. With a glass of white Chablis ($2.65), it added up to a satisfying blend of flavors and textures.

The French toast also deserves a sound commendation! Three hefty slices made from a substantial bread, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and spread across the plate arrived at the table. The outside was well-browned; the inside, the color of beaten egg; the edges, a trifle irregular from excess batter; this French toast was well-soaked in vanilla-flavored batter and a trace of an unidentified spice. Coffee and a selection of teas each were $1.45, each refillable.

Twenty-Five Waterfront Drive currently is open Monday-Saturday from 7-10:30 for breakfast; Wednesday-Saturday 11-3 for lunch, 5-10 for dinner; Sunday, for brunch only, from 10-3.

The association of Seaport Square and Twenty-Five Waterfront Drive will be interesting to watch in the months to come, since the restaurant’s existence may foreshadow the future of the area. What does Twenty-Five Waterfront Drive say about commercial and residential investments and opportunities in Seaport Square? Waterfront Drive and Seaport Street is enough of a crossroads location that the restaurant’s patronage potentially could be quite varied, but Twenty-Five Waterfront Drive’s name and atmosphere probably would be likely to attract either those who already consider themselves “gentry” or those who are self-consciously upwardly mobile, rather than those from other groups who now make Seaport Square’s surrounding area their home.

If Twenty-Five Waterfront Drive is a sign of things to come, does this mean additional shops and stores of the same general type? Does it thus signal the closing of still more businesses and the reopening of shuttered storefronts? Does it mean a future Seaport Square whose stores and homes will not be available to many of the people who live there now? Twenty-Five Waterfront Drive is both a culinary bright-light and a place to watch in an area to watch; I encourage you to try its food and to keep an eye on its future and the future of Seaport Square!

Friday, July 01, 2005

love after love

After I posted this, I realized it already had a place on this blog, and on at least one other, suntreeriver: poetry and other passions, but it so bears reviewing, rereading and believing again!

Derek Walcott's Nobel citation:

for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment.

From my fall 2001 management class, this poem - by the 1992 Nobel Laureate in Literature - says it all!

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was yourself.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes;
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

from Colossians

For devotional reading and for a reality check, often I read and meditate on deutero-Paul—I especially love the cosmic Christ of Colossians, and this morning I'm posting some favorite passages. Potentially there is so much to comment on, but I'll let the text speak for itself. The translation is NKJV.
from Colossians 1

9 For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

from Colossians 2

11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

from Colossians 3

1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

from Colossians 4

5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

18 This salutation by my own hand—Paul. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Amen.