Sierra Nevada – Sidecar

The Sidecar I know is a classic cocktail. cognac, Cointreau (or, if you’re cheap like me, triple sec), and lemon juice. Although I personally preferred the White Lady variant, which replaces the cognac with gin. For a time after I turned 21 I became obsessed with cocktails and mixing drinks. I charitably blame my mother, she knows why! I quickly became bored with modern staples like the Long Island Ice Tea and the AMF and (because I was/am insufferable) began to focus on the classics and their variants. The sour, the daquiri, the negroni, martini and yes, the sidecar.

Like I noted in my review of the IPApaya, fruit forward IPAs are the new ‘it’ thing. This I suppose is a variation of that because Sierra Nevada took their famous pale ale and added a citrus twinge to it. The result is nothing like the sidecar cocktail (which uses lemon juice, not orange juice anyway, maybe they should have called it a screwdriver?) but is a solid, fruit forward beer with a refreshing bright profile.

I have to wonder how long this fad will last. It’s definitely more interesting than “moar hops iz moar better” but it must be harder to market. With fruit forward beers the advertising and labels have to focus around fruit, and fruity drink are what GIRLS drink. Not manly men in plaid flannel and beards with axes who drink craft beer. Hop heavy beers had incredibly violent names with a focus on nuclear explosions and other weaponry. New Belgium’s newest mascot for their line of IPAs is a skeleton. A SKELETON.

Still, definitely a better alternative to the tepid torrent of shandy variants Leinenkugel puts out in an attempt to capture the Mikes Hard/Smirnoff Ice market.

Mouthfeel: Bright and happy

Aroma: Like a Florida summer. You be the judge of that

Hops: Citrusy hops. What else would it be?

Je Ne Sais Quoi: Doesn’t live up to its own hype. Could work as an obnoxious drink alternative on St. Patrick’s Day though.

Overall: B-


Remedial Covenant Theology

On May 21st, 2017 my son will be received into the life of the Christian church through baptism. Ordinary water representing something truly remarkable, the sign and seal of entry into the Covenant and God’s promise to us as well as our children.

While I have a working grasp of the theology of paedobaptism, I have to admit it’s shaky, or at least not as strong as I’d like it to be. After all, just up until recently the two sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper were almost interchangeable in intent and purpose in my mind. I’ve since learned better, but being so wrong for so long shows me that it’s definitely time to brush up on the fundamentals. After all, paedobaptism isn’t an end in and of itself, it’s simply an important part in the working of Covenant Theology, a Reformed distinctive. It’s not just about practicing paedobaptism, it’s about doing it within context of the correct framework, in a way that separates us from the Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, or even our good friends the Lutherans.

So what better time to deep dive into this than the weeks leading up to my own child’s baptism? I apologize if this topic is off-putting at all to some, but thankfully I know for a fact that no one reads this blog and the entire exercise is purely for my own benefit.

To guide my study through this, as the video above suggests, I’ll be using R Scott Clark’s primer on Infant Baptism and Covenant theology. Specifically I’ll be focusing on his podcast series ‘I Will Be a God to You and to Your Children‘. Why R Scott Clark when there are so many other books and resources I could use? Well, the Heidelblog is free and readily accessible, and in my opinion a rich resource for researching traditional Reformed theology (and piety and practice as I’m sure RSC would be quick to point out). Dr. Clark has the ability, especially on his podcast, to explain what can be complicated and confusing concepts in a clear and concise way. RSC is also an ordained minister within my own church’s federation, as well as a professor of Church History at Westminster Seminary California (where my church seems to source the majority of our summer interns). So not only does he know his stuff, but it’s the stuff my own church confesses and would approve of.

Weirdly and lastly though, it’s because I disagree with him on some important matters. Dr. Clark holds to Exclusive Psalmody and acapella worship (I’m still wrestling with the issues of images of the Trinity, specifically the Son, and the 2nd Commandment). I don’t, and I used to think those were crazy positions that only backwards loonies would hold to. But Dr. Clark is able to argue his case in a compelling and intelligent way that impresses me a great deal.

I always respect someone who can take what I thought was an easily settled, black and white issue and make me step back and think ‘Dang, those are some good arguments’.

I Heckin’ Love Science

Apparently there’s a march for science going on today. That’s fantastic, I love science. Despite what some may think considering my homeschool background, my family never shied away from the subject. I would watch Bill Nye and Beakman (my younger sister and I can still recite the ‘fat head’ Bill Nye skit), read Asimov’s books on the solar system for kids, Richard Feynman was a personal hero of mine, and my whole family even enjoyed atheist-utopia shows like Star Trek (we were a Deep Space Nine family. Or at least, that’s what I mostly remember watching). My dad even owned a serious telescope and was a member of the local astronomy club. We just didn’t live up to the stereotype of the religious homeschoolers who had to bury their head in the sand at the word ‘evolution’. While other Christian kids we knew (who were educated in Public schools) would burst out in tongues in biology class when evolution was discussed (as some sort of misguided witness), my parents recommended that we study and learn the subject matter properly. I think their approach worked, by not treating it as something unholy or dangerous, it was never anything that threatened my faith in the slightest.

Unfortunately, I think my parents had a higher regard for science than a lot of “pro-science” advocates I see today. “Science” (Although really it’s pop science, not science proper) has become a weaponized political tool to wield against the rubes and yokels who have different political opinions than you do. It doesn’t matter if those rubes and yokels are engineers and PHds and know more actual science than almost anyone else you know.

Pop Science has become a form of virtue signalling and it takes almost no effort to get involved. All it really takes liking pages like “I Fucking Love Science” on facebook and then sharing Hubble Telescope photos, or some new (not yet peer reviewed) discovery  with comments like “WOW!!” and you’re in. It’s almost as easy as changing your profile picture to show solidarity behind a cause or victims of a tragedy, and almost as meaningless.

This is how dystopias begin.

Pop Science is the new priesthood that’s here to save us and the sentiment isn’t even hidden, that’s why Bill Nye has a new show called “Bill Nye Saves the World”. But priesthood always has competition. That’s why Pop Science is often not just closely allied with the New Atheism and sharply opposed to religion, but even philosophy itself. The two most visible Science celebrities, Bill Nye and Neil Degrasse Tyson by their own statements  see philosophy as useless at best and dangerous at worst. The truly thing about this is that science without philosophy is worthless, as one marchers sign I saw today said, “Science doesn’t care about your opinion, it just is.” That is scarily accurate. And science that is not kept in checked by philosophical pursuits like ethics, value, and aesthetics is a horror to behold. It’s one of the the biggest lessons the 20th century had to teach us that we have ignored outright

Of course the Science marchers aren’t being keyboard warriors, they actually are going out into the world in an attempt to accomplish… something. I applaud them for that. In fact, the local event here in my hometown appears to be much more than a simple march, but an entire educational event with talks, actual scientists holding AMAs and more. If my son was a bit older this is exactly the sort of event I’d want to take him to on a weekend. Just like I plan to watch Carl Sagan’s Cosmos with him and take him to the OMSI when he’s old enough as well.

If you engage in an event like this, be sure to check your heart. Do it for real enthusiasm, or real concern, don’t do it to be smug or in an attempt to showcase your superior morality. I’m a Christian, and I acknowledge that I’m much more left leaning than most and issues like conservation and sustainability weigh heavy on my mind. In religious circles these topics fall under the theology of stewardship, it’s actually something discussed quite a bit. But there are people I know, people much smarter than me with impressive degrees in STEM fields, that disagree on some aspects of this. It would be the height of folly and pride to treat these educated people dismissively as if they’re fools. If you don’t know anyone like this, or even like me, might I suggest your personal circle is a bit too closed? If we’re truly interested in dialogue, science, and advancement, we have no room for echo chambers.

Full Sail Brewing – IPApaya

Citrus, tropical and fruity IPAs seem to have become a trend. The previous fads of the hopbomb IPA and the session IPA are slowly receding in the face of this new craze. While it has always been almost a matter of course to note the “grapefruit under/overtones” of an IPA, it is now something that is being consciously pursued by the brewers.

Full Sail Brewing’s IPApaya is being billed as a “vacation in a bottle” and at first this drink confused me. I associate the word “papaya” with a either a local sub-par thai restaurant or a hot dog joint that my New York friends wouldn’t stop talking about for awhile. The papaya itself is a fruit I have never tasted or have any preconceived notions of. Lets check it out.

This is perfect. The papaya perfectly illustrates my revulsion to fruit in general. Mishappen coloration of the shell, fleshy pulp underneath, some sort of curry/peanut butter cross breed in the core embedded with a multitude of pill bugs. Fruit is an edible horror I will never understand.

But not having any idea what an actual papaya tastes like leaves me pretty clueless as to whether this beer fulfills its mission or not. I suppose the damning note is I can’t detect a shred of anything unusual or unique about this beer that centers its identity around a unique ingredient. It’s a bit more citrusy than standard IPAs but that’s it.

All in all it’s a solid if unremarkable IPA which is rather damning given this touts itself as a rather unique beverage. I think this beer would have come across much better if it simply advertised as just another citrus or tropical IPA instead of trying to shoe-horn in some kind of unique identity

Or maybe I’m a complete idiot because I have no idea how a papaya should taste and pap-heads will go crazy over this beer. If you’re a pap-head and that’s your reaction… cool. I wish I could get that excited over this.

Mouthfeel: Appropriate

Aroma: Clean like a breeze.

Hops: There are definitely hops.

Je Ne Sais Quoi: Sadly misleading

Overall: B-

Kill Your Weekends

For Easter Sunday the New York Times released an editorial where Ross Douthat implored secular liberal readers to start going to church again in order to save the aging and dying mainline denominations (Think PCUSA). I have to admit, I did appreciate a few of the things he had to say. Such as the benefits of church communities that societies like the Freedom From Religion Foundation will never match.

Do it for your political philosophy: More religion would make liberalism more intellectually coherent (the “created” in “created equal” is there for a reason), more politically effective, more rooted in its own history, less of a congerie of suspicious “allies” and more of an actual fraternity.

Do it for your friends and neighbors, town and cities: Thriving congregations have spillover effects that even anti-Trump marches can’t match.

Do it for your family: Church is good for health and happiness, it’s a better place to meet a mate than Tinder, and even its most modernized form is still an ark of memory, a link between the living and the dead.

… Finally, a brief word to the really hardened atheists: Oh, come on. Sure, all that beauty and ecstasy and astonishing mathematical order is because we’re part of a multiverse or a simulation or something; that’s the ticket. Sure, consciousness and free will are illusions, but human rights and gender identities are totally real. Sure, your flying spaghetti monster joke makes you a lot smarter than Aquinas, Karl Barth, Martin Luther King. Sure.

But the real problem and explanation for why these churches are dying in the first place quickly comes to light when Douthat informs his readers that the mainline have done their absolute best to make us comfortable already, so won’t you please throw them a bone and attend already:

I understand that there’s the minor problem of actual belief. But honestly, dear liberals, many of you do believe in the kind of open Gospel that a lot of mainline churches preach.

You say you’re spiritual but not religious because you associate “religion” with hierarchies and dogmas and strict rules about sex. But the Protestant mainline has gone well out of its way to accommodate you on all these points.

And therein lies the rub. By all accounts, the mainline churches should be booming with growth. Yes yes, they are still the largest denominations in America by a large margin (apologies to my LCMS friends, you are much larger than NAPARC but the ELCA is twice your size) and will continue to be even after they lose half a million more congregants over the next couple years. But by all accounts, they’re doing everything right by becoming as accommodating as possible. Why aren’t the membership rolls growing by flinging the doors open wide and establishing no barrier for entry?

This reminds me of an episode of a podcast I regularly listen to, the Judge John Hodgman Podcast. On this show, author and former minor television personality John Hodgman settles real-world disputes his guests have. It’s a great show because it shows a wide swatch of human experience that is utterly foreign to me. From a dispute about having dinner with the extended family five nights a week to whether or not the master bedroom should be turned into a dedicated VR room (and decorated like the Holodeck from TNG), the problems may vary in consequence, scope or importance, but each is real and Hodgman, while funny, also treats each case seriously and in probing often finds, as he puts it, “the crux of the matter”.

The episode this reminded me of ‘Separation of Church and Date‘ bowled me over because it revealed to me what’s common knowledge (I tend to have my head in the sand on many issues). In this episode the dispute is that a woman would like her boyfriend to attend church with her a couple times a year. The boyfriend has set a limit to the number of times he’ll attend church each year, and would also like for attending weddings with religious elements to count towards this limit. My immediate reaction was “Suck it up. We all do things we don’t want to do for the sake of a healthy relationship and besides, going to your friend’s wedding should be something you look forward to no matter what the circumstances are. Stop being a self-absorbed oaf and go be an actual partner.”

Then I learned more about the exact situation. She didn’t just want him to attend church with her on Easter, Christmas and a handful of other weekends. She was in seminary, training to become a pastor herself. One of the events he didn’t want to attend was her own ordination. The Judge then delved into her beliefs as a future “Minister of Word and Sacrament”. She claimed to agree in “something greater than human kind” and when the Judge clarified by stating, “Right, you believe in God” she retorted with “As a label” and when asked about the afterlife she said she was indifferent (Indifferent about the resurrection of the dead, closing tenets of both the Apostle and Nicene creeds?) and said she preferred, as if it were somehow mutually exclusive, to focus on the here and now and making the world a better place.

Someone award her the Kuyper prize.

And so now she found herself in a situation where her live-in boyfriend of 10 years was ambivalent about attending her ordination ceremony. And really, who could blame him? Of course he’s ambivalent, it’s an ambivalent religion with no stakes that makes no claims that demands nothing of you. What’s the point of a Christian religion where its own ministers and elders won’t even clearly state that they believe in God? That’s why fewer and fewer people are willing to give up their Sunday mornings for a glorified social club with a dress-up aspect. Why miss Easter brunch specials and NFL Sundays for some quasi-belief in next to nothing? The denomination even has ministers who deny the deity of Jesus Christ and the Trinity, in violation of the creeds and confessions they allegedly subscribe to, and no one even blinks at this.

This sort of fuzzy belief at best, and belief in nothing at all at worst has a name and it’s not Presbyterianism, Reformed or even Christianity. It’s agnosticism and atheism. And if the focus is rallying people around political and social causes, that’s what Parties and Committees are for. That’s why Douthat’s pleading to save the mainline will fall on deaf ears. His marks aren’t stupid, they know full well there’s no point in attending these churches and they won’t be conned into it. The only reason that they’re still around is simple inertia.

The great newspaperman H.L. Mencken summed this up in his obituary of  J. Gresham Machen in 1937 (1937, remember that whenever anyone tells you this has only happened within the last few years or decades):

What caused him to quit the Princeton Theological Seminary and found a seminary of his own was his complete inability, as a theologian, to square the disingenuous evasions of Modernism with the fundamentals of Christian doctrine. He saw clearly that the only effects that could follow diluting and polluting Christianity in the Modernist manner would be its complete abandonment and ruin. Either it was true or it was not true. If, as he believed, it was true, then there could be no compromise with persons who sought to whittle away its essential postulates, however respectable their motives.

Thus he fell out with the reformers who have been trying, in late years, to convert the Presbyterian Church into a kind of literary and social club, devoted vaguely to good works. Most of the other Protestant churches have gone the same way, but Dr. Machen’s attention, as a Presbyterian, was naturally concentrated upon his own connection. His one and only purpose was to hold it [the Church] resolutely to what he conceived to be the true faith. When that enterprise met with opposition he fought vigorously, and though he lost in the end and was forced out of Princeton it must be manifest that he marched off to Philadelphia with all the honors of war.

Moreover, the doctrine that he preached seemed to me, and still seems to me, to be excessively dubious. I stand much more chance of being converted to spiritualism, to Christian Science or even to the New Deal than to Calvinism, which occupies a place, in my cabinet of private horrors, but little removed from that of cannibalism. But Dr. Machen had the same clear right to believe in it that I have to disbelieve in it, and though I could not yield to his reasoning I could at least admire, and did greatly admire, his remarkable clarity and cogency as an apologist, allowing him his primary assumptions.

These assumptions were also made, at least in theory, by his opponents, and thereby he had them by the ear. Claiming to be Christians as he was, and of the Calvinish persuasion, they endeavored fatuously to get rid of all the inescapable implications of their position. On the one hand they sought to retain membership in the fellowship of the faithful, but on the other hand they presumed to repeal and reenact with amendments the body of doctrine on which that fellowship rested. In particular, they essayed to overhaul the scriptural authority which lay at the bottom of the whole matter, retaining what coincided with their private notions and rejecting whatever upset them.

It is my belief, as a friendly neutral in all such high and ghostly matters, that the body of doctrine known as Modernism is completely incompatible, not only with anything rationally describable as Christianity, but also with anything deserving to pass as religion in general. Religion, if it is to retain any genuine significance, can never be reduced to a series of sweet attitudes, possible to anyone not actually in jail for felony. It is, on the contrary, a corpus of powerful and profound convictions, many of them not open to logical analysis. Its inherent improbabilities are not sources of weakness to it, but of strength. It is potent in a man in proportion as he is willing to reject all overt evidences, and accept its fundamental postulates, however unprovable they may be by secular means, as massive and incontrovertible facts.

These postulates, at least in the Western world, have been challenged in recent years on many grounds, and in consequence there has been a considerable decline in religious belief. There was a time, two or three centuries ago, when the overwhelming majority of educated men were believers, but that is apparently true no longer. Indeed, it is my impression that at least two-thirds of them are now frank skeptics. But it is one thing to reject religion altogether, and quite another thing to try to save it by pumping out of it all its essential substance, leaving it in the equivocal position of a sort of pseudo-science, comparable to graphology, “education,” or osteopathy.

That, it seems to me, is what the Modernists have done, no doubt with the best intentions in the world. They have tried to get rid of all the logical difficulties of religion, and yet preserve a generally pious cast of mind. It is a vain enterprise. What they have left, once they have achieved their imprudent scavenging, is hardly more than a row of hollow platitudes, as empty as [of] psychological force and effect as so many nursery rhymes. They may be good people and they may even be contented and happy, but they are no more religious than Dr. Einstein. Religion is something else again–in Henrik Ibsen’s phrase, something far more deep-down-diving and mudupbringing, Dr. Machen tried to impress that obvious fact upon his fellow adherents of the Geneva Mohammed. He failed–but he was undoubtedly right.

I apologize for the length of that quotation, but it really hammers home the point and it’s a criticism we Christians should take to heart when we’re worried about being respectable in the eyes of society and our critics. We cannot win respect by throwing essential doctrine off the ship. Altering our religion to make it appealing will only confirm what they already knew, that it truly means nothing at all. If you want respect then you should emulate Machen and strive for a consistent and intelligent defense of the faith. Attending a compromised church out of guilt, as a matter of merely connecting with community, or because a columnist begged you to because the mainline has tried so hard to be palatable to you, is not just pointless, it’s soulless. You’re better off watching football Sunday mornings instead.

Monolithic Inerrancy

While researching an entirely unrelated topic, I stumbled across a quote from J Gresham Machen’s most famous work, Christianity and Liberalism, that caught me by surprise:

It must be admitted that there are many Christians who do not accept the doctrine of plenary inspiration. That doctrine is denied not only by liberal opponents of Christianity, but also by many true Christian men. There are many Christian men in the modern Church who find in the origin of Christianity no mere product of evolution but a real entrance of the creative power of God, who depend for their salvation, not at all upon their own efforts to lead the Christ life, but upon the atoning blood of Christ—there are many men in the modern Church who thus accept the central message of the Bible and yet believe that the message has come to us merely on the authority of trustworthy witnesses unaided in their literary work by any supernatural guidance of the Spirit of God. There are many who believe that the Bible is right at the central point, in its account of the redeeming work of Christ, and yet believe that it contains many errors. Such men are not really liberals, but Christians; because they have accepted as true the message upon which Christianity depends. A great gulf separates them from those who reject the supernatural act of God with which Christianity stands or falls.

This has instantly shot Christianity and Liberalism to the top of my reading list so I can read this in its full context because I almost can’t believe this is an accurate quote. Machen was no liberal, on the contrary, he was forced out of Princeton and the PCUSA for his commitment to orthodoxy and went on to found Westminster Theological Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in response. Yet this statement of his that can be found in nearly any Reformed Church’s library, is broad and charitable enough that if it was posted in the average Reformed Facebook group we’d have a holy horde doubting his salvation.

But at least Machen was simply being charitable towards others here. He himself fully held to the belief that the Bible was wholly divinely inspired and without error. He just didn’t think we should brandish those with a less strict subscription as being heretics. The same can’t be said for this inconvenient quote from one of our favorite thinkers:

The Book of Job appears to me unhistorical because it begins about a man quite unconnected with all history or even legend, with no genealogy, living in a country of which the Bible elsewhere has hardly anything to say.”

You see, the question about Jonah and the great fish does not turn simply on intrinsic probability. The point is that the whole Book of Jonah has to me the air of being a moral romance, a quite different kind of thing from, say, the account of King David or the New Testament narratives, not pegged, like them, into any historical situation.

In what sense does the Bible ‘present’ this story ‘as historical’? Of course it doesn’t say ‘This is fiction’: but then neither does Our Lord say that His Unjust Judge, Good Samaritan, or Prodigal Son are fiction. (I would put Esther in the same category as Jonah for the same reason.)

Are we prepared to condemn or at the very least, treat Lewis as dangerous because of these views? His books are doubtless in our church libraries, we trust him with our children (Including his book The Last Battle which contains that troubling story of Emeth). If we give Lewis a pass for these views and welcome him into our homes, are we prepared to do the same for someone who might be sitting in the pew across from us?

Inerrancy is a particularly tricky subject. I’d bet that no matter how strict you consider yourself on the matter there is someone out there who would take your view as insufficient. If you hold to anything other than 6 day, 24 hour creationism you can find yourself on the outs very quickly (despite this not being a controversial subject until relatively recently). If you rightly think that the Earth is spherical and revolves around the sun there is a whole cabal out there who will gladly inform you that you don’t take passages like Joshua 10 seriously enough. Think the Theory of Relativity is a legit scientific theory? Reconstructionists will tell you that you don’t take God at his word.

Obviously I believe the Bible is the inerrant and divinely inspired Word of God, but for each individual that says this, the term ‘inerrant’ is up in the air. I think we should be careful to not try to make the Bible authoritative over subjects that it doesn’t claim to have authority over. That we don’t twist it to say things it has no intention of saying. At the same time, we must be careful that we don’t work overtime to diminish it so that it ends up saying nothing at all

Tradition in Progress

The two who make it all worthwhile

Having a kid has made me think a lot more conscientiously about establishing traditions for Gideon to grow up with. Family traditions center us and provide a rhythm, structure and familiarity to life that I think is important.

Tradition is more than repetition, it’s anticipation.

Gideon is far too young to engage in the holidays other than being put into cute outfits. Maybe next year we’ll start considering egg coloring, egg hiding and what significance, if any, rabbits will play. A lot of these events will probably be played out at my parent’s house, which is fantastic. Tradition should be multi-generational. But I also want to be sure that a holiday’s traditions aren’t all entirely focused outside our home. Egg activities and Easter dinner with the grandparents is wonderful but we also need to focus on our own little individual family unit as well.

I’ll have a couple years to research and come up with some unique activities (I’m thinking Easter Bonfire for one) so right now I’m focusing on food.

Food is the beating heart of tradition. Nearly all holidays and celebrations revolve around it. Thanksgiving dinner, Birthday cakes, Christmas cookies, Fourth of July BBQs and Halloween candy. Tradition is about community and we eat with our people, so it makes sense that food is nearly always at the center of our observances.

Being the primary cook in my household means I can grab the reigns of the menu and steer the ship in the direction I want. This will generally always mean one thing:

No ham.

Now ham is FINE, I will never turn up my nose at ham when it is prepared and presented for me. I will eat it gratefully and without complaint. I would never cook ham of my own accord though. That’s because, as I said, ham is simply fine. It is a staggeringly average meat that a lot of people love to a degree I don’t understand. I wish I understood, life would be a lot better if I were gaga for ham because it’s a centerpiece for nearly every major holiday.

The weird thing about ham is that it’s not even a matter of disliking pork products in general. Bacon, sausage, pork chops, pork ribs, pulled pork, and pork loin are all foods I love that reach levels of flavor far beyond baked ham. Ham is fine, it’s just a bit boring, and what I don’t want for a holiday is boring.

So this was my initial run for my Easter Eve dinner.

Roasted Rosemary Red Potatoes – Diced up an armful of red potatoes, tossed them into a bowl. Drizzled them with olive oil and tossed to coat. Seasoned with Johnny’s and crushed rosemary. The texture could have been much more consistent. That will need to be improved.

Macaroni Egg Salad – Dice a dozen hard boiled eggs, several celery stalks, a batch of green onions and half a red onion. Mix with cooked and chilled macaroni and add a dash of Worcestershire sauce and some smoked paprika. Season. This turned out great but the original recipe called for 2 lbs of macaroni which was far, far, far too much. I need to get my grandmother’s recipe and try that.

Lamb Shoulder Chop – Prepare a mint and basil sauce (that’s a post all for itself) and let the lamb marinate in it for at least a couple hours. Toss some butter onto a cast iron skillet and plop the chop down. Before flipping over be sure to baste with the remainder sauce. I’m not married to the shoulder chop, a lot of eating around the bone. I’ll probably experiment with another cut next year if I can fine one.

The lamb is obviously the hero of the meal, our ham substitute. I don’t know why we don’t eat more of it in this country, it’s easily up there with my favorite proteins but it’s too expensive to eat as regularly as we might eat chicken, pork, or even beef. That’s a shame, I’ve heard that in Britain that mutton (different from lamb, I know, but still) is one of the most affordable proteins available. For now, I’ll reserve lamb for special occasions and Easter is obviously the appropriate holiday to indulge in it.

I’m also thinking this meal is missing something important, mainly a soup. If I can source it at a good price I think I may try to add coney stew next year, along with prepping the dishes that will keep well (the egg salad, obviously) the day before to cut down on muss and fuss on Saturday. I may also use my Traeger for the lamb next year, rather than the cast iron. Sadly my trusty smoker pal is out of commission for the time being as I give it a thorough cleaning. Assuming I can put it back together, it should play a very prominent role in all these new food traditions.

White Horse Inn: Implications of the Resurrection

For Easter meditation from the White Horse Inn:

“Jesus is our intercessor. Paul says, ‘Who shall condemn us? He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all. How will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died, more than that, who was raised, who was at the right hand of God interceding for us.’

“What a wonderful doctrine – to think that Jesus didn’t just finish it and go home. He went into the heavenly sanctuary where he had to cast out Satan, our accuser. So now, he is in the court room. We have a loving Father and a defense attorney and there is no prosecutor and he’s interceding every day for us. And because he has been raised, we will be raised as well.” -Michael Horton

John Calvin – A Little Book on the Christian Life

Ever had the problem where you read about the rich young ruler who departed from Jesus in sorrow when he was told to sell all his possessions and follow Him and think “Well, I’m not rich so this isn’t really my problem.” This little book will solve that problem. It pierces the heart of our pride, shows how we arrogantly corrupt our best qualities, turn our vices into virtues, and mock the nobility of others.

If Calvinists read this booklet and took it seriously I don’t think we’d have the reputation we do now. We prove Calvin right as we delusionally turn our pride and conceit into (self) righteousness