Friday, May 13, 2011

The Complete Mediterranian Cookbook

The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook : Over 150 mouthwatering, healthy and life-extending dishes from the sun-drenched shores of the Mediterranean, shown in 550 stunning photographs

Author: Jacqueline Clarke, Joanna Farrow
Hermes House Publishers 2006, ISBN: 9781843097921

This book is wonderful. It is also not widely available anymore, at least, by this title.

Two thumbs way up.

Excellent organization, excellent descriptions, excellent tutorials, excellent history, excellent recipes, with excellent photographs. Just as a work of art in an of itself this book is wonderful. OK, you get it. I really like this book. So, what's to like?

The Introduction explains the relationship between the local Mediterranean foods, the recipes, the peoples who made them, and the popular "Mediterranean diet." This is followed by 8 pages of descriptions of ingredients and their unique Mediterranean uses.

The chapters are: Appetizers, Soups, Vegetables, Salads, Fish and Shellfish, Meat, Poultry and Game, Grains and Beans, Desserts and Baked Goods. The chapters are followed by a good index.

As an example of the teaching nature of the text from the recipe for Mouclade of Mussels, [a garlicky, curried cream of mussel soup] the first step states: "Scrub the mussels, discarding any that are damaged or open ones that do not close when tapped with a knife." (p. 120)

I like the assumption that the reader may never have handled fresh mussels. I have never done so myself and would not have known how to properly clean and sort.

Each recipe is beautifully illustrated, clearly listed, with very simply and clearly described steps for preparation and presentation.

I'm hungry.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

For Your Confirmation: Promises and Prayers, Hallmark gift book

Two thumbs way down.

In Confessional Lutheran congregations Confirmation is not a sacrament nor merely a ritual. It is public confession made by the confirmand of his or her baptismal faith and desire to go to the Lord’s Supper as a member of the congregation. Confirmation recognises publicly that a baptized member of Christ’s church has been instructed in God’s Word to the point that that person is now able to examine himself or herself before going to the Lord’s Supper. Confirmation is also the time when the congregation and the pastor publicly testify that they believe the confirmand should be allowed to the Lord’s Supper because that person is now able to examine himself or herself according to God’s Word.

Finding gifts for confirmands that reflect this confession of faith is difficult. And there are many products in this world that are designed for “Confirmation” but have nothing to do with Confirmation in Confessional Lutheranism.

A member asked me to review a gift book from Hallmark. This is an example of a gift that has nothing to do with Lutheran Confirmation. In fact, this gift book undermines Christianity with Marxism, Moralism, works-righteousness and denial of the Resurrection.

For Your Confirmation: Promises and Prayers
2009 Hallmark Licensing, Inc.
Editorial Director: Tod Hafer;
Art Director: Kevin Swanson.
ISBN: 978-1-59530-134-5

Hallmark packages appealing products for any occasion. This product is a beautifully designed and arranged gift book for Confirmation. I’m not thrilled by the lime green color scheme. The design is reminiscent of the release of the Living Bible called “The Way”. And the book seems unavailable at the Amazon and Hallmark websites.

It’s unavailability is a good thing. The volume relies upon 4 notoriously bad bible translations, CEV (Contemporary English Version by the American Bible society), NCV (New Century Version  by Thomas Nelson). MSG (The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language by Eugene Peterson), and the NLT (New Living Translation of the Bible by Tyndale House Publishers. The other translation used is the NIV (1984 The Holy Bible: New International Version: North American Edition from the International Bible Society.)

Under the heading “Congratulations!” this volume offers a generic definition of confirmation as a “very important step in your faith. It means you’ve decidet to take everything you’ve been taught about god so far and make some pretty important decisions on your own.” Thus, Confirmation is primarily assumed to be a “rite of passage” to adulthood. This idea might work for an American Bar-Mitzvah, a Unitarian church,  or even a secular rite of passage. But it does  not work for Confessional Lutherans. 

In Confessional Lutheranism the focus is on the student re-affirming his baptismal vows spoken by his sponsors as an infant and being capable of self examination in preparation for the Lord’s Supper based on sound instruction in God’s Word and agreement with the confession made in the Small Catechism of Martin Luther. This volume has nothing to offer Confessional Lutherans. But it does have much that could distract and pervert.

After the introduction there are 46 short devotions arranged in order as: a hip picture, topic, discussion, Bible passage, and quotations from other sources (sometimes the Bible). 

Topics: The topics tend to focus on issues over which teens may have great concern: “Communication is More than Words” (p. 29), but some seem overly sanctimonious: “Worship Means Showing God You Mean It” (p 185). 

Discussions: The discussions tend to use a gimmick to point to some kind of “truth” which the discussion summarizes.  The Bible verses and quotations are chosen to support this “truth.” Most often these discussions focus on the “social gospel”. None of them speak of the bodily resurrection. The discussions do not  begin to express even the full teaching of the Apostles’ Creed. The Social Gospel is prominent. Marxism is the foundation of the Social Gospel, and Marxism approves of the manipulation of religion for Marxist goals. While the editors of this volume may not have had Marxism in mind when they put this volume together, they certainly did not see Marxism as opposed to Christ. And this is a great fault with this product.

Bible Passage: I mentioned the problem translations above, here are a couple examples parallel to the New King James Version:
2 Chronicles 16:9: NKJV
For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.
New Living Translation (used in this book on page 26:
The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
1 Timothy 6:6: NKJV
Now godliness with contentment is great gain.
New Century Version (used in this book on page38)
Serving God does make us very rich if we are satisfied with what we have.

Sometimes the choice of a passage is just contextually wrong, such as using Zophar’s sanctimonious correction of Job in Job 11 as a proof passage that the reader should motivate himself/herself to better devotion to God. 

Quotations: The quotations used in this volume seem to have been chosen without any consideration of original context, contemporary usage, or the religious and political philosophies of the person being quoted.  A few examples: on page 23 are quotations about the church from Bridget Willard (“Church is what you are and do”), Margaret Meade (!) and A.W.Tozer. Burlesque artist Mae West is cited on p. 27;  Rachel Naomi Remen (!) on page 31 next to Mother Teresa; Nelson Mandela (Atheist and Communist) and Alexander Graham Bell (American Eugenicist and inventor) on page 47.

Not really worthwhile for a gift at all, unless you want to mix Christianity with progressivism, Communism, Eugenicists, Burlesque, and promiscuity. 

Get this book instead:
This won't let you down.