Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How to Make Fresh Mozzarella

This video also has raw Ceviche recipe in part three.
part one:
part two:
part three:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Out of the Closet and into Chastity

This is from Catholic Education Resource:   Link


My pilgrimage from being a homosexual-rights activist to living life as a chaste Catholic began in earnest when I read the writings of a modern-day Protestant martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Notice to Reader: "The Boards of both CERC Canada and CERC USA are aware that the topic of homosexuality is a controversial one that deeply affects the personal lives of many North Americans. Both Boards strongly reiterate the Catechism's teaching that people who self-identify as gays and lesbians must be treated with 'respect, compassion, and sensitivity' (CCC #2358). The Boards also support the Church's right to speak to aspects of this issue in accordance with her own self-understanding. Articles in this section have been chosen to cast light on how the teachings of the Church intersect with the various social, moral, and legal developments in secular society. CERC will not publish articles which, in the opinion of the editor, expose gays and lesbians to hatred or intolerance."

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Outside of the struggles over abortion and euthanasia, there may be no greater battle in the Church today than the one raging over homosexuality. At a time when the Church faces a righteous tempest about the abuse of altar boys at the hands of priests, when gay rights groups target the Mass for sacrilegious demonstrations, and when disobedient clergy preside at same-sex "weddings", it is no wonder traditional Catholics approach the topic carrying little but confusion, frustration, and anger. Most Catholics in the pews do not accept homosexuality, do not want to understand it, and wish, mostly, that the topic would go away -- or at least back into the closet "where it belongs." Others, a minority, in particular associated with the gay caucus Dignity, are only too happy to have the topic discussed -- so long as that discussion leads in the direction of the Church changing its doctrine on homosexual acts. As both a former homosexual activist and current faithful Catholic committed to chastity, I urge instead that all Catholics, laity and clergy, join together to preach the fullness of the Church's teaching on this matter. I implore this because I believe it to be a teaching filled with dignity, truth and self-respect for all people, one which, if preached in integrity and steadfastness, will bring many to a full life with Jesus Christ.
In making this case I will begin by telling a bit of my own history. I do so not to make public that which should be private, but because so much of the public discussion on this issue is either biased or aloof from the actual lives of homosexual people.1 I believe that offering the witness of my journey from gay activism to chastity is necessary to help fill what has become a vacuum in the conversation.

My pilgrimage from being a homosexual-rights activist to living life as a chaste Catholic began in earnest when I read the writings of a modern-day Protestant martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Before reading Bonhoeffer my short Christian life had been marked primarily by my translating sidewalk gay-rights activism into similar activism in the Anglican pew.
Homosexual orientation and the life I had built around it were so central to my primary identity that I could not understand how anyone could object to what I was doing. Disapproval, doubts, objections of all kinds could only be the result of either confusion about what Scripture says about homosexuality or outright bigotry.
After all, I was living proof that homosexual people could live a sexually active life which was both spiritually and temporally satisfying. I had a lover of five years, a condominium in a major urban area, a satisfying job, and a church life as an Episcopalian which, while not perfect, was still a treasure. What more could I want? Yet, in prayer and in quiet times of reflection, I could not avoid noticing some thistles which sneaked into my "gaily" -modeled life.
As committed an activist as I was, I had to admit the shallowness and sheer improbability of many gay-friendly theologians and scholars when it came to Scripture and homosexual acts. Beyond the solid observation that Scripture does not discuss homosexual orientation per se,2 authors as diverse as John McNeill (formerly S.J.), Sylvia Pennington, John Boswell, and Virginia Molenkott went wandering into scriptural speculations which, while creative, really asked their audience to suspend belief about the clear meaning of the original text.
When discussing what the apostle Paul "really" meant when he condemned homosexual acts in Romans 1:18-23 and 1 Corinthians 6:8-11, these authors alleged that Paul must have been condemning something other than the homosexual relationship of today since he could not have known anyone of confessed homosexual orientation. An argument for blessing homosexual acts was based on this reasoning, and it asked me to conclude that, had Paul known of the participants' orientation, he would have approved of the acts, even though nothing in his other letters indicated this would be so.
Likewise, the condemnations against homosexual acts in Leviticus were dismissed with the suggestion that the acts condemned there had more to do with ritual prostitution than with "loving" homosexuality. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed (Gen. 19:1-25), these authors allege, not because of homosexual offense, but because the people of the towns were greedy, corrupt, and inhospitable to strangers.
Each of these, while claiming fidelity to traditional scriptural exegesis, took interpretation in a radically new direction and ignored the strong possibility that greed, corruption, and inhospitality might have gone hand-in-hand with homosexual offense. Was it reasonable to assume that homosexual acts had nothing to do with the cities being destroyed, in view of the large part they played in the drama of Lot's departure?
So, there were little cracks in the theoretical foundation upon which I had built my life. There were also problems with how I saw "gay theology" lived out around me. Most gay Christians I knew differed little in their lives from gay pagans, agnostics, and atheists. Gay Christian worship services, while sometimes worshipful, were also often as sexually charged and "cruisy"3 as most bars I visited. Early on I decided to try to make a nearby non-gay Episcopal parish my spiritual home, and my experience there, contrasting sharply with what I saw of gay "worship", forced me to admit that many of my arguments in favor of gay Christianity were modeled more on a theoretical ideal than on practical experience.
A final source of pre-Bonhoeffer doubt came in the relationships I formed with non-gay, theologically orthodox Christians. Here were people who, I had been told, should have hated the very ground I walked upon and despised me for my sexual orientation. After all, hadn't much of the gay flight to the cities been to get away from traditional Christians? Yet the people I encountered loved me, even while they strenuously disagreed with the choices I was making in my life. Agreement, I came to realize, might be nice, but it was not a prerequisite for friendship and real affection. The ground was ripe for the Holy Spirit to work a revolution, and that revolution began in a dramatic way, with Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
I remember the day clearly. It was early in the spring and raining. My then-lover and I had spent much of the miserable day in a shopping mall and had split up to pursue our own bargains, his in clothes and mine in books. I was in a discount bookstore, poring over a disorganized pile of titles, when I saw it, The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I opened it, and I can still remember its first sentence as though I were reading it right now: "Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace."4

I was hooked. It was as though those lines had been written just for me at just that time. Scooping together the loose change in my pockets, I bought the book, brought it home, and devoured it. Here, from this man martyred on Adolf Hitler's order, I heard a message which both commanded and terrified me. Would I, could I, give my life for Christ? Where had I compromised? Did being a Christian really mean going along with what my world was telling me, or did being a Christian mean being different, being wholly Christ's?
Swiftly I began reading everything about Bonhoeffer that I could get my hands on. With Bonhoeffer came other committed Christian authors, some of them Catholic. Augustine's Confessions convicted me of my own spiritual timidity and encouraged me that God never gives up on us. Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle awed me with the depth of communion possible in prayer, and Mother Teresa's life and writing showed me the potential fruit of such a prayerful life.
These took residence on my shelf next to books by Richard Foster, who writes powerfully from the Quaker tradition. His Celebration of Discipline and The Challenge of the Disciplined Life made me want to re-examine the role Christianity played in my all-too-modern life, specifically in the area of my identity and sexuality. Gradually I began to understand that my sexuality was not something I owned, but something God owned in me, and that the clear witness of Scripture was to a dual purpose for sexuality. Sex, in God's intention, is meant to do two things: provide for the procreation of children and build up husbands and wives in the love, respect, and life of each other. How did this square with the kind of sex with which I was most familiar, particularly in light of its inevitably transient nature? After all, homosexual sex is completely and unalterably divorced from the responsibility of procreation. Is this really how God intended we should use our sexuality?
After many months of indecision, I could remain dishonest no longer. The life I had been living for so long was a life of cheap grace and I knew it. In the light of Scripture, Tradition, and reflection I could only conclude that God demanded of me the same thing he demands of all unmarried Christians: a chaste life. So it was that I stepped out in faith from almost everything I had thought most important and dear to me. If Christ wanted chastity, I would be chaste. Everything else and everyone else I placed in his hand.

From there my journey to the Catholic faith was swift, drawn along as I was by the three realities which make the Catholic Church so attractive to homosexuals who seek to live in sexual purity and fidelity.
First, the Catholic Church is the only Christian institution that not only preaches the truth of chastity for homosexual people but offers practical, tangible help for achieving it.
Second, the Catholic Church is the only major Christian institution to recognize that we really do not know what causes homosexuality. The Church will not demand heterosexual conversion as a condition of fellowship, nor will it decide, in advance, that homosexual people are not capable of being responsible for their own decisions and actions. This position contains, as its corollary, the dramatically counter-cultural notion that homosexual people have as much human dignity as anyone else and deserve not to be patronized -- something which my more liberally-minded Episcopal Church did (and does still) with depressing regularity.
Finally, the Catholic Church possesses the truth, not simply in this dogma but in all its dogmas. Seeking assistance to live a chaste life may have been the road I traveled to Rome, but once it was in my view I could see so much more. The Catholic Church, I came to understand, was meant in itself to be a means of grace in my desire to lead a life closer to God. In its sacraments, particularly reconciliation and the Eucharist, it offered an enormously important avenue for drawing nearer to Jesus, and it would offer those to me no matter my sexual orientation.
Yes, I had doubts. No one in my family had ever been Catholic. Many of them were and remain anti-Catholic. Yet the truth which had drawn me this far would not let me tarry longer than absolutely necessary, and I entered the Catholic Church at Easter 1993.
How has it been? Rough but wonderful. Nothing could have prepared me for the strength I would draw from a Catholic relationship with Christ and no one could have prepared me for how difficult it would be to lose friends and strain family relationships because of this choice. Anyone who thinks there is a gap between Catholicism and evangelism either is not a Catholic or is not living a Catholic life in an open way. Simply to confess a belief in a Catholic view of Christ is to take a counter-cultural position which demands apologetics and explanation. Faithful Catholics who are homosexual do it every day and find in both the exterior witness and interior dialogue a remarkable path to deeper faith.
Occasionally I am asked what I expect of the future, and I sometimes run out of time trying to answer. The truth of the Catholic Church's doctrine on the subject of homosexuality and homosexual acts is so profound and such a real expression of love that it can easily dominate conversation. Yet it is a teaching which is frequently ignored among traditional Catholics and derided by heterodox Church members. This is a shame and must be corrected, for the sake of all those hundreds of thousands who seek a similar message and might enter the Church if they heard it. In my opinion clergy and laity, have an obligation to state the truth of Christ wherever we are and to whomever would hear it. We cannot allow a person's orientation to be an issue if we are to be faithful to the One who has called us. Here then is what I would hope Catholics would do in the future:
First, I hope all Catholics will learn what the Church teaches about homosexuality. Homosexuality, in the Catholic view, is a tendency toward disordered sexual acts, but it is not a sin in and of itself. In this it can be said to be no more sinful than an inclination to heterosexual fornication or adultery. The vast majority of homosexuals cannot be said to choose to have the desires they have, and many, including myself, find living with them, in the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a "trial" (CCC 2358).
Second, I hope traditional Catholics will get over being shocked and disapproving that homosexual people exist in our world and culture. This is an attitude that goes beyond simply and properly disapproving of homosexual acts; it comes perilously close to condemning homosexual people as human beings.
I think we must all agree that this is something Jesus Christ does not and would not do and, in fact, warns us away from doing (Matt. 7:1-5, Luke 6:36-37). This disposition, I believe, has done much to swell the ranks of homosexual Catholics whose behavior seems bent on hell -- not simply out of the blindness of sin, but also because no one has ever offered them the truth in love. Love without truth can degenerate into selfish violence, but truth without love is brutal.
Third, as hard as it might be, faithful Catholics must learn to recognize that not all homosexuals are child molesters. The current scandals of priests abusing altar boys has lent a level of popularity to this prejudice, but making the term "pederast" interchangeable with "homosexual" is not only uncharitable, but borders on slander.
Fourth, I hope Catholic clergy will be more encouraging to homosexual people about their dignity as human beings, created in the image of God, and their vocation to chastity, which they share by virtue of that dignity. More homilies ought to take this admonition from the Catechism to heart: "Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession, and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons. And he is called by grace to a covenant with his Creator, to offer him a response of faith and love that no other creature can give in his stead" (CCC 357).
This essential dignity is insulted when traditional Catholics condemn homosexual people out of hand and when heterodox Catholics patronize us by trying to make believe that homosexual activity -- like other genital activity outside of marriage is not sinful and damaging to our ultimate relationship with God. Ironically enough, both groups are guilty of much the same attitude: defining homosexual people not by the virtue to which they are capable with God's grace, but by activity which that grace can empower them to resist.
Fifth, I hope more bishops, clergy, religious, and lay people come to acknowledge and support the powerful ministry of Fr. John Harvey, O.S.F.S., and his group, Courage.5 Starting from a small seed of concern, Fr. Harvey's organization has grown over the years to become a vital and supportive presence to thousands of homosexual people who are either leaving an actively gay life or who struggle privately against an inclination to homosexual sin.
Courage chapters around the country provide an important ministry of compassion because it is often in such places that the bare bones of Church dogma can be fleshed out in chaste friendship. It is not good for a man to be alone, Scripture teaches, and groups such as Courage can provide a needed antidote to the loneliness or emotional isolation which can inflict many who seek to live a chaste life. The Church recognizes this necessity: 'Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection" (CCC 2359).
Given that this teaching is the authoritative doctrine of the Church, how is it that so few of the dioceses in the United States have a Courage chapter? It is a scandal that some dioceses have not even explored beginning a Courage chapter -- or have rejected one outright. To deny homosexual Catholics a haven at the foot of the cross is a sin against charity and provides evidence of disturbing meanness of spirit.
Sixth, if there is one overarching teaching that the Church should emphasize in the future, not only for homosexual Catholics, but for all Christendom, it would be the role Christ our Redeemer plays in the formation of our primary identity.
Identity is like a pair of glasses. It is through our understanding of self that we interpret and view God, people, and our world. This is why Paul, in writing to the Church in Corinth for the second time, explained, "From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way" (2 Cor. 5:16).
What was it about his readers that Paul thought would change their way of looking at themselves and each other? It was living in the light of faith in Christ Jesus. Consider this definition of "gayness," which I have developed after over a decade of reflection on the question: Being gay means giving oneself over to one's sexual orientation to the point where it becomes a foundation and center of one's identity.
One can be a person with a homosexual orientation, but one cannot be "gay" in the modern context and be a person with just a homosexual orientation. In the act of self-identification, "coming out," which is so important to the gay community, one sacrifices individual personhood for identity in the group. Homosexual orientation moves from being a peripheral aspect of one's personality to being a defining aspect.
If you are a Christian who has made this choice, I believe there is reason to examine your heart for evidence of idolatry. I have observed that once a person has made a decision that he is not merely homosexually oriented, but is gay, then orientation tends to be a dominant aspect of his identity and everything else -- society, faith, institutions, and even God -- will be viewed and judged through that particular lens. Homosexual orientation is not a choice for most people, but being gay is, and it is this choice which motivates homosexual groups ranging from Dignity to Act UP.

Such a wrong understanding of our identity, I believe, is the source of these disastrous errors because rooting ourselves in anything outside of Christ undermines our efforts at obedience or following him.
If I, whether homosexual or not, do not unite my primary identity first and forever with that of Christ, then any notion I might have of ruling or restraining behavior will never succeed. It is to the identity of Christ, his whole self present in the Eucharist and remembered in the creed, to which I owe my first allegiance. All others, relationships, desires, thoughts, and hopes should be ordered around that one great truth and exist only in relation to him.
In the three years since pledging myself to a chaste life in obedience to Christ, I have communicated about this issue with dozens, if not hundreds, of homosexual men and women, people of all faiths and of none. God has seen fit to use some of what I have written to influence a few to re-examine their assumptions about faith, sexuality, and identity. Some have been led to change their opinions. Others have not. I have been struck at how few have rejected the teaching of the Church outright. Instead, at the risk of being overly broad, the objections I have faced have been of three general types.
First, in an argument based on confusing celibacy and chastity, some advance the notion that while a few may be called to be celibate, the vast majority of homosexual people are not meant to restrain their sexual desires for a lifetime.
Second is a closely related argument which can be summed up, roughly, as "God made me this way, so what I do must be pleasing to him." Here too a few raise the objection that to expect them to sacrifice genital sexuality is to ask them to act "unnaturally."
Finally, some say, "God is love. What I do with my lover has love as its focus. Therefore God must approve of what we do, or at least not disapprove of it, since God is love."
I have encountered a mix of these almost from the beginning, and I think it might be useful to point out how they might be answered. People who confuse chastity and celibacy need to be reminded of what the Church actually teaches about the two (paragraphs 2348-2350 of the new Catechism are a useful resource) and they need to have that distinction brought home in a practical manner. They often need to be reminded that homosexual people are not the only ones God has called to lifelong chastity as lay people. After all, if a heterosexual man or woman can live chastely, why is a chaste life impossible for a homosexual man or woman?
While it is true that this is not a reality all willingly embrace, it is nonetheless true that the same call of obedient dignity that precludes homosexual genital activity also precludes heterosexual genital activity outside of marriage. Chastity is not a matter of extraordinary grace, but is a minimal standard for Christian men and women, no matter their orientation.
Those who argue that homosexuality is God-given need to be reminded of basic facts. Homosexual people are not mentioned in the Bible at all, and if God really created an entire third gender of human beings, wouldn't he have said something about it? Moreover, that something exists does not prove that it exists as God envisioned it. In fact, Scripture teaches the opposite.
Death, disease, and pain came upon not only human beings, but upon all of creation because of Adam's sin (Rom. 5:12, 8:20-23). We bear this fallen creation in our bodies and in our minds, down into our very genes if the evidence of such diseases as hemophilia and Tay-Sachs are to be believed.
That most homosexual people cannot recall ever deciding to be homosexual does not mean that God loves homosexual sex any more than he loves adultery, fornication, or idolatry. Orientation may not be a choice. Actions almost always are.
The third line of reasoning can best be addressed by probing what is meant by "love," both in the mind of the persons engaged in the conversation and in the mind of Christ as well as the magisterium of the Church. If one truly loves another person, does one join him in activity that frequently causes harm? (Even before the arrival of HIV, sexually-transmitted disease in homosexually-active men was the subject of epidemiological concern). If one loves the other person, does one demand that he serve as a sexual object? Can sexually-active homosexuality ever be more than this, given that there can be no other ultimate object than pleasure?
Modern people need to be reminded that God destined a dual purpose in sex, unity between man and woman as well an avenue for the procreation of children. When one completely and intentionally removes either one of these conditions, the use of sex degenerates into misuse. I have left love for the end because, in the end, that is what this debate is all about. There is an old saying that all the best lies have an element of truth. This is nowhere better illustrated than in the discussion of homosexuality.
Gay activists appeal to the public mind by defending their "right to love whom they choose." In doing so they count on the muddled understanding of love which is so much abroad right now, and on the lie that all loves are equal.
But while they teach truth in generality, there is falsehood in their specific. As much as gay activists might wish to claim gay love imitates the divine, it is simply not so. At the heart of divine love is the transcendent desire to lose self in the good of the other, and, as both my life's experience and reason have taught me, an actively homosexual life precludes that desire. True love, Christ's love, will not bow to the whims of erotic enchantment or desire. True love knows restraint.
Christ told us, just before he showed us, that there is no greater love than that we lay down our lives for our friends (John 15:13). The greatest love is his, the perfect sacrifice of self that others might benefit. It is this most holy, most difficult, most chaste form of love to which homosexual men and women are called. We are summoned, like the apostle Paul, to pour ourselves out for the good of the Kingdom, sharing with many the talents and fruit which, had we been heterosexually oriented, we might have shared primarily with spouse and children.
I do not mean to write glibly about this particular cross. If my words here sound bloodless or impersonal, it is only because I do not wish to make myself the focus. The story of the emotional struggle and sacrifice which have come with this path is long and deep enough that it cannot be told here. Although I have not dwelt on the emotional details, faithful Catholics need to know that there are devoted, chaste homosexuals in their parishes, religious orders, and apostolates and that many of us live lives of deep sacrifice for the sake of the Kingdom. Most of us are quiet. Many of us you will never know. But all of us stand in need of your prayers, charity, and good will.
I end with two quotations relevant to identity and discipleship. The first is from Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. Julia is explaining her decision not to marry her lover, after their affair and after divorcing their original spouses. Her words have to do with choosing to serve God or something else -- a choice we each face:
"How can I tell what I shall do? You know the whole of me. You know I am not one for a life of mourning. I've always been bad. Probably I shall be bad again, punished again. But the worse I am, the more I need God. I can't shut myself out from his mercy. That is what it would mean; starting a life with you, without him. One can only hope to see one step ahead. But I saw today there was one thing unforgivable...the bad thing I was on the point of doing, that I am not quite bad enough to do; to set up a rival good to God's."6
The second is from Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship:
"And if we answer the call to discipleship, where will it lead us? What decisions and partings will it demand? To answer this question we will have to go to him, for only he knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ, who bids us to follow him, knows the journey's end. But we do know it will be a road of boundless mercy. Discipleship means joy."7

Catechism of the Catholic Church on Homosexuality

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms throughout the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on sacred Scripture, which present homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity [Gen. 19:1-29, Rom. 1:24-27, 1 Cor. 6:10, 1 Tim. 1:10], tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered" [Persona Humana 8]. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. 2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition: for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. 

Courage chapter forming online to
help homosexuals lead chaste and holy lives

Members of Courage, the Catholic ministry of support to homosexual-oriented men and women who seek to lead chaste lives, have begun to form an online version of a local Courage chapter via e-mail and the Internet. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time such a group has sought to form primarily through electronic communicationMuch as a local Courage chapter, the online version will aim to keep small the number of people in individual groups. This will better enable support and friendships to form. Other teatures will include general anonymity (except to the moderator), a chaplain participating, and a commitment to prayer and to spiritual growth. As is the case with local Courage chapters, members do not have to be Catholic. All that is required is a willingness to seek a chaste life in accord with the Catholic Church's teachings on homosexuality.
The goal of Courage Online is not to supplant or interfere with anyone's participating in a local, face-to-face Courage group, but to support those homosexuals who may be geographically remote from a local chapter or who, because of denominational or other uncertainty, may feel unprepared to participate face to face.Courage was established with these goals:

  • To live chaste lives in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality.
  • To dedicate our entire lives to Christ through service to others, spiritual reading, prayer, meditation, individual spiritual direction, frequent attendance at Mass, and the frequent reception of the sacraments of penance and the Holy Eucharist.
  • To foster a spirit of fellowship in which we may share with one another our thoughts and experiences and so ensure that none of us will have to face the problems of homosexuality alone.
  • To be mindful of the truth that chaste friendships are not only possible, but necessary to celibate Christian life and to encourage one another in forming and sustaining them.
  • To live lives that may serve as good examples to other homosexually-oriented people.

  1. For the sake of brevity and more readable prose I use the term "homosexual" for homosexually-oriented men and women. Readers should not think, though, that homosexually-oriented people can or should be defined only by their sexual orientation.
  2. This is not surprising considering that even now there is no universally accepted definition of "sexual orientation," much less what causes it and whether or not it may be changed.
  3. Cruising is a practice among sexually active gay men of seeking out partners for sex. A "cruisy" place or event is one where a lot of "cruising" takes place.
  4. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: Macmillan. 1963)45.
  5. For information on the location of Courage chapters, write to Courage, c/o St. Michael's Rectory, 424 West 34th Street, New York. NY 10001. or call (212) 421-0426.
  6. Evelyn Waugh. Brideshead Revisited (New York: Dell, 1960).309.
  7. Bonhoeffer. 41.

Anyone interested in participating sincerely in this ministry is invited to send e-mail to me. My address at American Online is dcmorrison, and on the Internet it is Each correspondent's identity will be kept confidential.  Link

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ditch That Protein Powder

I found this awesome blog that I really like. I am posting this in its entirety.

Protein Powder in a Smoothie is not Healthy
If there’s anything that greatly concerns me, it’s ladies who are pregnant drinking smoothies fortified with protein powder and munching on other high protein/low carb “health foods” in their quest to reach the magical number of protein grams per day recommended by their obstetrician or midwife.
When I was pregnant with my third child, I was horrified at one prenatal visit to find a basket of soy protein bars in the waiting room! This was at a birth center staffed by midwives no less!
While adequate protein intake is indeed important during pregnancy, getting this macronutrient via highly processed protein powders and high protein foods is a disastrous choice.   This is because these same ladies that are drinking high protein smoothies and protein bars are very likely avoiding saturated fat at the same time.   A diet high in protein and low in fat rapidly depletes Vitamin A stores.
Whole foods containing large amounts of protein naturally include protective amounts of fat such as eggs, grassfed beef and other meats. On the other hand, high protein processed foods are devoid of any fat in most cases making them particularly dangerous.
Depletion of Vitamin A stores during pregnancy is a dangerous problem as Vitamin A is critical to preventing birth defects such as cleft palate, cleft lip, major heart malformations, and hydrocephalus.  Vitamin A is also the “beauty vitamin” responsible for symmetry in physical and facial features.
Vitamin A deficiency from consumption of high protein foods is not assisted by prenatal vitamins either as these worthless pills do not contain true vitamin A but instead the synthetic version, Vitamin A Palmitate or the plant based version beta carotene – little of which is converted to true Vitamin A.
Vitamin A depletion when consuming high protein processed foods is also risky for the average individual as well.  Symptoms of Vitamin A depletion include:
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Kidney problems
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Thyroid disorders
Negative calcium balance is also a risk with high protein, lowfat diets which means that more calcium is lost than what is taken in.  Consequences of negative calcium balance include bone loss and nervous system disorders.
Know anyone who drinks a high protein smoothie everyday for lunch who develops a bizarre neurological disorder out of the blue?  I personally know several.
I’ve wondered about the stories in the news recently of young, healthy, vibrant male athletes, some only in high school, who inexplicably drop dead during competition.  Could these young men be eating lots of protein, much of it processed, while on a lowfat diet in order to build muscle and strength as recommended by bodybuilding magazines?   Such misguided advice would rapidly deplete Vitamin A stores which could potentially lead to heart arrhythmia and sudden death.

Other Problems with High Protein Processed Foods

Besides depletion of Vitamin A stores, high protein processed foods contain potentially large amounts of MSG in the form of protein isolates.   Separating protein from its food source during manufacturing results in the creation of MSG – the amino acid glutamic acid gone bad.   Therefore, MSG is present in high protein processed foods but it is not on the label because it is not technically added to the final product.  It is only created during manufacturing and therefore can be conveniently unlisted on the label.
Don’t buy into the “low temperature dried” protein powder fallacy as well.   While low temperature processing and drying of protein powders is a less damaging manufacturing method, it still denatures the protein.  Whey protein in particular is very fragile and cannot be dried or powdered.
A good rule of thumb is that no protein powder is a safe protein powder!

Good Alternatives to Protein Powder

Need a protein boost in smoothies and want to avoid the protein powders now that you realize the dangers to your health in using them?   Try gelatin instead – it has 7 grams of protein per tablespoon.  Gelatin is a colloidal substance which means it attracts digestive juices to itself similar to raw foods full of enzymes.  Hence, gelatin is helpful to the digestion and contains a protein kick to boot.
Another option would be to add nutritional yeast (Frontier is the best brand as it has no additives and is low temperature dried) which has 8 grams of protein per serving.
Be aware that even natural gelatin contains small amounts of MSG, so if you are particularly sensitive, you may wish to choose nutritional yeast as the better alternative.


The Herbal Infusion “Wonder Water” Effect

This is from Sarah at Healthy Home Economist: link
The terms “herbal infusion” and “herbal tea” are typically used interchangeably.
The two terms are in fact quite different as a properly prepared herbal infusion is much more potent and easily absorbed than plain herbal tea.
If you plan to use herbs therapeutically as in use of nettle tea during pregnancy to tone the uterus and prepare for natural childbirth, it is best to prepare herbal infusions instead of herbal tea.
The ease of assimilation and increased potency of herbal infusions is due to careful preparation which involves boiling of the water and steeping of the herbs for anywhere from 30 minutes to 8 hours depending on the type of plant matter used.
The boiling of the water releases any dissolved gases from the water into the air which are not reabsorbed by the water due to the tight fitting lid on the steeping jar.  These dissolved gases can interfere with the rapid and complete assimilation of the nutrients released into the water by the herbs as they steep in the cooling water.
This boiling of water to release any dissolved gases and then cooling of the water in a glass jar with a tight lid to restrict the gases from redissolving back into the water is referred to as the “wonder water” effect.
Using the wonder water principle, how should herbal infusions be properly prepared?
Very easily as it turns out.

Preparing Herbal Infusions

Roots and Bark
If making an herbal infusion using the roots or bark of a plant, use one ounce of plant matter per pint of water to be used.
Place the correct amount of plant matter at the bottom of a glass mason jar and fill to the top with boiling water.  Screw the lid on tightly and leave at room temperature for 8 hours.
Use one ounce of dried leaves per quart of water.  Place the leaves in a quart mason jar and fill to the top with boiling water.  Tighly afix the lid and leave at room temperature for 4 hours.
Flowers and Seeds
One ounce of flowers per quart of water should be steeped in boiling water as it cools in a mason jar with a tight fitting lid for no more than 2 hours.
One ounce of seeds are steeped in a pint of boiling water, again with a tight fitting lid on a mason jar and only for 30 minutes.

Herbal Infusion Dosage and Storage

Once the herbs have steeped for the proper amount of time, strain out the plant matter and drink 2 cups per day if you weigh between 125 – 150 lbs until the infusion is used up.
Add an additional one half cup per day for every 30-40 lbs additional weight.  Similarly, if you weigh less than 125 lbs, reduce dosage by one quarter cup for every 15-20 lbs.
Herbal infusions spoil rapidly so it is best to make and use them up as soon as possible.   Store unused portions in the refrigerator for no more than a day and then prepare a fresh batch.

What? White Rice Better Than Brown?

From the Healthy Home Economist:  link
*My last videoblog titled “Healthy Chinese” drew some comments from folks questioning my choice of rice.
Why was I using white basmati rice instead of brown?   Isn’t brown rice the healthier choice, after all?
Ok, I’ll spill the beans, rice.   Here are my reasons …

Truth is, neither my husband or myself have ever enjoyed brown rice.   Every time we eat it, it just seems to not sit very well in our stomachs.  It, well, uh, sits like a brick for lack of a better word.
I’m never one to force feed a food to myself that doesn’t intuitively seem to be something my body enjoys receiving – even if politically incorrect.   So, for our entire married life (19 years and counting!), I’ve always served white basmati rice in our home.
White rice just seemed to digest a whole lot better for us.   That to me was reason enough to choose it over the brown rice.  
You are what you digest, after all – not necessarily what you eat!
End of story?    Well, not quite.
You see, a few years back at the annual Weston A. Price Conference, I became familiar with a new book called Fiber Menace.    The author, Konstantin Monastyrsky, was a speaker at the Conference that year and his talk about the dangers of a high fiber diet was really buzzing around amongst the Conference attendees.
Now, Mr. Monastrysky’s point about the dangers of a high fiber diet was in relation to high fiber from grains, not fruits and veggies.   In other words, folks who eat a bowl of All Bran every morning to keep the bathroom visits regular are unknowingly ripping their insides to shreds.
The basic premise of Fiber Menace is that grain fiber plays a leading role in many gut related ailments including colon cancer.
When I first learned of this information, my preference for white rice over brown rice started to make more sense.   Perhaps the brown rice didn’t digest that well because of all that fiber?  
Chalk one up for the white rice.
A second piece of information which seemed to further validate my preference for white rice came in the Spring 2010 Issue of Wise Traditions magazine (p. 28-39).  
Ramiel Nagel, of Cure Tooth Decay fame, wrote a thought provoking article in that issue on the devastating effects of phytic acid in the diet.    Phytic acid is a very powerful blocker of mineral absorption in the gut.
In this article, Mr. Nagel writes that brown rice is very high in phytic acid and that soaking reduces this potent anti-nutrient by very little.   He also maintains that the traditional method for preparing brown rice is never to eat it whole (with only the husk removed), but rather to pound it in a mortar and pestle in order to remove the bran layer too – coincidentally, the primary source of the phytic acid.
Nagel goes on to point out that experiments have shown that milled rice, the rice that results from this pounding process, has the highest mineral absorption from rice.   Mineral absorption from whole brown rice is much less as the phytic acid from the bran greatly interferes with the absorption process.
Which is Better?   Brown Rice or White?
So it seems that brown rice is not necessarily a healthier choice than milled white rice.    Obviously, whether you choose one or the other is a personal preference, but I hope this information helps you sort through the decision with a bit more clarity.
As for me and my family, we will be sticking with the white basmati rice (white basmati rice is more nutritious than plain white rice).   Intuition told me many years ago that brown rice was not something that was sitting well in my stomach or my husband’s and it seems that as the years go by, more research is coming forth to indicate that this decision was the right way to go after all.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Link to article

  Easy Lacto-Fermented Dill Pickles

I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I am to bring you this Russian classic – lacto-fermented dill pickles – known to Russians as maloslnye ogurzi. Unlike the more familiar vinegary dill pickles, the acid in these is produced by the activity of beneficial lactobacilli, which occurs when you expose vegetables to a large amount of salt in an oxygen-free environment.
A close relative of sauerkraut and kimchi, these cukes are both delicious and a breeze to make, with the only downside being their inability to be kept for a long time. Not that it’s an issue – at our house, they disappear faster than I can ferment a new batch. The upside is of course the fact that the beneficial bacteria in these are alive, making them a healthful accompaniment to many meals.
If you have never tried these, expect the flavor to be somewhat different from what you might be used to. Not at all vinegary, these are mostly sour and salty, with perhaps a slight touch of bitterness that is not at all unpleasant.
Meanwhile, the method itself is absolutely elementary (making it my favorite during this busy time of year):

Prepare your produce and pack it into crock/jars:

  • These can be made either in a ceramic crock, like my 2-gallon crock above, or a mason jar (or several).
  • I like to choose really small cucumbers for pickling as they are usually the crunchiest.
  • The pickles will be their crispiest when pickled the day they have been picked.
  • Wash your cukes thoroughly using a vegetable brush. Take special care to clean between all the little bumps as dirt could lead to spoilage.
  • Wash your crock in hot, soapy water and rinse well.
  • Trim off both ends to facilitate the fermentation and to remove the blossom end, which contains the enzymes that promote softening.
  • Pack your cukes tightly into a crock or a mason jar, along with whole garlic cloves, lots and lots of whole peppercorns, and whole dill stalks, stems and all. I like to have some dill on the bottom and some on top. Another very traditional addition would be oak or black currant leaves, both of which promote crispness and add a wonderful aroma. Note that all of the above ingredients should be thoroughly washed as well.
On adding whey: While Sally Fallon recommends adding whey to your lacto-fermented pickles, it is entirely unnecessary for the fermentation to take place, nor is it traditional.

Prepare the brine (makes enough for 4 quart jars):

  • 4.5 tablespoons of pickling salt (which contains no additives that could interfere with the fermentation)
  • 2 quarts of water (if you live in town and don’t have a well, filtered or distilled water is your best bet)
Add salt to the water, bring to a boil, and boil until the salt has dissolved.
Pour the boiling brine over the contents of your crock or jar(s).
If using a crock, weigh the contents down with a plate to assure that everything is submerged, hence creating the anaerobic environment conducive to the growth of lactobacilli.
If using a jar, you can weigh the contents down with some oak leaves (my husbands’ method), or just by packing everything so tight that nothing can float to the top.
  • Do not seal your jars. Place a clean, moistened cloth over your jar or crock instead, securing with a rubber band or a piece of twine.
  • Leave your jars on the counter at room temperature (it doesn’t matter whether or not the jars are next to a window) for 3 days.
  • In 3 days, remove the cloth, taste your pickles, and if you like the taste, screw on a lid and transfer them into the fridge. If you feel that your pickles could use some more acidity, however, feel free to leave them on the counter for another day or until the desired flavor has been achieved.
  • Note that the brine will turn milky/cloudy (above) and may develop white foam on top, the bottom, or the contents. It may also appear slightly slimy, and will grow increasingly so after you’ve transferred your jars to the fridge. These are a normal part of the fermentation and need not be a reason for concern.
  • Once refrigerated, the pickles will last for a couple of weeks, but their acidity level will increase with time as they continue to ferment slowly in the fridge (hence the increasingly cloudy brine). Because of their short life, don’t make more than your family can consume within that time frame.

Monday, September 05, 2011

History of Vitamin 'C'

From Radiant Life:

We are often asked about all natural Vitamin C and how it compares to Ascorbic Acid.  What's wrong with Ascorbic Acid? How does it differ from natural Vitamin C?

Thousands of bottles of ascorbic acid are purchased everyday under the misguided assumption that ascorbic acid is the same as vitamin C. In reality, ascorbic acid is an isolated nutrient that is part of vitamin C but it is not the whole vitamin C.
You are getting cheated if you buy ascorbic acid thinking it is vitamin C. But that may be only a partial injustice! Studies over the last several years demonstrate that people taking high doses of ascorbic acid put themselves at risk for a number of health challenges. One study demonstrated that doses of 500 mg a day or more of ascorbic acid increase the incidence of arterial plaque buildup. Another study indicated that gallstones are more likely to appear in those taking ascorbic acid.
You may ask, what about all the studies done by Linus Pauling and other reputable researchers who have proven the benefits of Vitamin C and ascorbic acid? Let us put a little perspective on this:  

Back in the 1930's ascorbic acid was isolated out of little red peppers by Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi who won a Nobel Prize for his work. What he also found, which has mostly been ignored until recently, was that ascorbic acid was far more biologically available and active while it was still in the red pepper.  

Scientists of the era of "Better Living Through Chemistry and Science" (which we have been experiencing for the last sixty years) decided to take the discoveries about Vitamin C and "improve" on Mother Nature.

They found that extracting ascorbic acid from natural foods, such as the red peppers, cabbage, cranberries, gooseberries, or acerola berries, is relatively expensive. Ascorbic acid can be created in the laboratory much less expensively (and of course much more profitably). Scientists discovered that they could take corn syrup, mix it with hydrochloric acid, and voila: ascorbic acid! (By the way, the corn is more likely than ever to be genetically modified and of course not organically grown.)

Years later, scientists discovered what Dr. Szent-Györgyi had discovered about ascorbic acid: it is not as effective when detached from the whole food matrix! So they went about trying to determine what other factors there could be in the whole food that would make the ascorbic acid work better.

First, they discovered the importance of bioflavonoids, so they figured out how to produce these synthetically in the laboratory, to be added to the ascorbic acid. Then they found that ascorbic acid worked better as a mineral ascorbate and they worked on that! Then they found that fat-soluble ascorbic acid was superior, because it went directly to the liver vs. water soluble ascorbic acid. In fact if you put 100 mg of ascorbic acid in the body, within a few hours at least 90% of it would be excreted in the urine. If you put 10 times more into the body to account for a 90% loss it would cause diarrhea. So they experimented with various things and concluded that if you attach the ascorbic acid molecule to another molecule, in one case a metabolite, the ascorbic acid will stay in the body longer (they didn't seem to care why it stayed in the body longer, but it stayed in the body longer and hopefully that was a good thing).

Today there is a broad variety of ascorbic acid products with various things attached to them. With all this research, time, thought and dollars being put into creating a synthetic vitamin C, the fact remains that none of them can come even close to the potentials of what Mother Nature makes. One important factor that science has not been able to duplicate is the special kind of energy that holds living food together. Whether this energy is found in the enzymes or in the energy patterns of whole food structures, it is unlikely that science will ever be able to reproduce it in a laboratory. This may be one of several reasons why studies have shown that the body will absorb close to 100% of the vitamin C that is consumed as part of a whole food, whereas barely 10% of the "stripped down" ascorbic acid is absorbed.

Again it is an issue of what we are willing to put into our bodies. Mother Nature has created foods for us that are complex and designed to be metabolized by our bodies in a synergistic way.

Natural whole food sources of vitamin C include: Amla, Camu, and Acerola

Friday, September 02, 2011

Beautiful Pro-Life article from the Chicago Sun Times

Article on Amanda

“A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them,” as the famous Victor Hugo verse goes.
Facing adversity, criticism and an uncertain future for her conjoined twins, Amanda Schulten says she chose life.
Despite the devastatingly low probability of survival, the single Marengo mother-to-be said that, for her, there was just no other option.
Joined at the heart, her daughters — whom she’s already named Hope and Faith — should be given a chance to live, Amanda said, no matter how long those lives may be.
Strong in her Catholic religious beliefs, Amanda said she loves her children unconditionally and cannot interfere with God’s will.
“He has a plan for me, and for them,” she said. “We never know when our last day will be. We have to enjoy it, and appreciate health while we have it.”
Amanda has created a blog about her experiences at, which tells the story of her journey throughout the pregnancy. On the main page is the poignant poem she penned, “I Love You.”
“No matter what happens, my soul will never leave you; If difficulties come here, I will never disappear,” the poem begins.
“I’m sure you would be proud to call me momma,” she writes, “for you are a special gift to me.”
Dark days
With delivery inevitably soon, Amanda has made it a long way from April 1, when she first learned she was carrying twins during a routine ultrasound at Elgin’s Sherman Hospital.
“My family thought it was an April Fools joke,” Amanda said. “We were so excited, but we wondered why they didn’t give us pictures.”
Later that evening, Amanda received a phone call from her doctor saying she needed to come in the following Monday morning.
Not thinking much of it, she went to the appointment alone, where she was given the distressing news.
“The doctor said the babies won’t make it, and termination is the best option,” Amanda said. “I broke down. I wasn’t thinking about abortion, I was thinking, ‘Will they survive?’ Not ‘I want them to die.’ ”
Amanda never returned to that doctor’s office. But dark days would follow in the form of depression and loneliness, as many around her didn’t agree with her decision.
“Some people were really supportive and thought I was doing the right thing … while others, not so much,” she said. “They would say things like, ‘the kids would suffer’ … ‘I’m selfish if I keep the babies because of how short their life span is’ … ‘they’re just going to die anyway.’ ”
One heart, in spirit
The girls have separate heads but are fully connected at the torso, sharing a heart, a liver, and two lungs and kidneys. One twin never developed a lower body, so they share two legs, one of which is clubbed. They each have one good arm, and one has another half an arm.
Conjoined twins result from a fertilized egg that begins to divide into identical twins but never fully separates — a rare occurrence found in only about 1 in 100,000 pregnancies.
A Caesarean section is almost always necessary, and roughly half of the babies are stillborn. If they make it past birth, survival rates are low.
Although Amanda heard about 7-year-olds surviving similar conditions, the oldest documented twins sharing a heart are 3½ years old.
“My goal is to have the oldest living conjoined twins,” she said.
With support from her family and church — St. Charles Borromeo in Hampshire — Amanda is now being cared for by an obstetrician who handles high-risk pregnancies at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Still, the prognosis isn’t good.
“Doctors kept telling me they aren’t going to survive much longer,” Amanda said. “Every day, I wake up thinking, ‘Is today their last day?’ ”
Amanda was admitted to the medical center on Monday, well in advance of her Oct. 11 due date. She will remain there until delivering.
It isn’t her first time in the hospital during the pregnancy. She had a kidney infection in May and, a few weeks ago, spent her 21st birthday at Sherman Hospital being monitored for high blood pressure.
The blog retells the journey.
Besides providing photos and updates, it also offers ways to donate to help the family.
Amanda said her needs are great as a single mother unsure how to prepare for the arrival of her special daughters.
“I didn’t have a baby shower, so I really have nothing,” she said. “It’s so hard to plan for them … for their clothes.”
Amanda said her blog has been a double-edged sword, with some contributors lifting her up, and others telling her to get an abortion.
“People say really mean things. I am constantly deleting things,”
Amanda said she will stand by her choice. “If they were in my shoes, maybe they’d see it differently.”
Amanda said if mothers don’t protect their children, who else will?
Perhaps really three are sharing one heart, as she, too, shares theirs.
“You know you’re really a mom when you’re willing to give up your whole life for them,” Amanda said. “I will love my kids always and forever, no matter what.”
Here is a link to her blog: