I had lunch recently with my friend Andy Morrison. Andy is in his early 40s and has Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s falls within the autism spectrum of developmental disorders. The condition involves the development of basic skills such as communication and socialization. In people with Asperger’s these skills are delayed and complex in their functions. People with Asperger’s may display eccentric behavior, a preoccupation with specific subjects or rituals, a limited range of interests, and most noticeably problems with social skills.
Andy struggles with all of these difficulties. But one major difference is his vast intelligence. He is a voracious reader with a photographic memory. He fully understands language, has a phenomenal vocabulary, and an encyclopedic mind. I learn from him every time we meet.
Leonardo Da Vinci was a genius. He is loved not only for The Mona Lisa but also for The Last Supper, the most reproduced religious painting of all time. We also adore the work of his contemporary Michelangelo whose sculptures of the David and the Pieta are divinely inspired masterpieces. Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo were amazing artists that continue to make the world better for their having lived.
We are meant to create a beautiful work of art from our precious life too.
The art of our life does not have to be in marble or fresco.
Our great work of art is to lovingly touch the heart of others so our life will be seen as a masterpiece in God’s eyes.
There seems to be a perception among some people that because I have a spiritual page and am devoted to God I am not supposed to speak about politics. I am not supposed to take a side. I’m supposed to turn the other cheek or remain silent and just watch while negative and evil consumes us.
Well, Jesus certainly took sides. He spoke up against those in political and religious influence who abused their power over others. He would be doing the same thing in a huge way today! That gives me the courage to do so also.
It’s time we understand we are in a battle between good and evil. This fight
Growing up in the southern part of the United States during the 1960s I was surrounded by white supremacy and privilege. I’m gay so I know how it feels to be considered and treated less than. Yet, as a gay woman, I go through life with the choice of being out or not and being white I walk through life unaware of my color. My dark skin brothers and sisters still do not have this freedom.
The scientific fact is, all human beings – black, brown, white – can trace our common dark skin ancestors back to Africa.
Each of us is a member of the human race.
That’s why my brown and black friends and I agree we don’t have a race problem. We have a respect problem.
Sociologist Theodor Adorno once wrote that “Triviality is evil.” That might very well be an appropriate epitaph for our nation. We may actually see the end to a great experiment in freedom, creativity, ingenuity, genius, and a once civil society known as America. And it won’t be from a terrorist bomb.
Triviality certainly fits our current political climate. It describes much of religion in America today. It explains our economy and the shredding of fairness in the workplace, in the giant corporate arena, and in the wild untamed monkeyshine behavior of Wall Street and its gang of banks.
2 pounds ground turkey (optional but browned and drained of excess fat)
2 28 ounce cans Hunt’s tomato sauce
1 28 ounce can Hunt’s petite diced tomatoes (drain, pick out peels)
1 6 ounce can Hunt’s tomato paste
1 6 ounce red wine (I fill the empty tomato paste can)
8 ounce pack whole white button mushrooms (remove end of stems, wash, slice and cut into small pieces)
8 ounce pack whole Baby portabella mushrooms (remove end of stems, wash, slice and cut into small pieces)
1 large yellow or white onion (sliced, diced and sautéed in olive oil until translucent)
1 4.5 ounce can diced black olives
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I used garlic in a jar or dehydrated soaked in warm water)
3 bay leaves
1 tsp. Ground fennel (overflowing tsp.)
1 tsp. Peperoncini (red pepper flakes)
1 Tbs. Oregano leaves (overflowing Tbs.)
2 Tbs. Parsley flakes (overflowing Tbs.)
2 Tbs. Salt-free Italian seasoning (overflowing Tbs.)
1 tsp. Basil (overflowing tsp.)
1 Tbs. Brown sugar (overflowing Tbs.)
1 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for sauce not browning onions)
Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently, then immediately reduce heat to low.
Fix lid on pot so steam is allowed to escape. Cook on low for two hours. Stir every fifteen to twenty minutes.
Turn off heat and leave on stove with pot vented to allow steam to escape if you plan to serve within two hours. It’s better if you let sauce sit in pot overnight in the refrigerator.
Reheat right before serving over your choice of pasta or a personal favorite, oven roasted ¼ inch thin-sliced red, yellow, and orange bell pepper. Top either choice with powdered Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Freeze the rest of sauce for later.
Additional Ingredients for Lasagna
In the above recipe substitute a second can of petite diced tomatoes for one of the tomato sauce and add these: 8 ounces Shredded low-fat Mozzarella, 1 container low-fat Ricotta cheese (room temperature) and powdered Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Lasagna noodles.
Make exact same sauce recipe with the second can of tomatoes instead of sauce.
Once sauce is cool, next day is best, lightly coat bottom and sides of deep 9 x 12 baking dish with olive oil.
Boil lasagna noodles according to recipe with 1 Tbs. olive oil in water.
Once noodles are cooked immediately rinse them in cold water to keep from sticking together.
Separate noodles and pat dry with paper towel.
Put layer of noodles in bottom of dish (I use 4 overlapped noodles for the bottom layer then 3 or 4 for each remaining layer). I use all noodles in the box.
Add a layer of sauce mixture (spread evenly to cover noodles but not too thick).
Space teaspoon size portions Ricotta cheese (so there is Ricotta in each piece of cut lasagna).
Spread grated mozzarella cheese over the layer.
Dust with powdered Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Repeat until you have 4 layers and have used all pasta noodles, mozzarella and Ricotta.
End with sauce layer and top with powdered Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (you should have some sauce left to freeze).
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Uncover and bake for an addition 20 to 25 minutes to lightly brown top.
When thoroughly heated remove from oven and let stand for 20 to 30 minutes before cutting and serving.
Of course, I’ve been visited by aliens! Hasn’t everyone?
Okay, I imagine you’re saying to yourself, “Hey, this lasagna lady is nuts.” I get it since close encounters of the third kind are highly suspect. Unless of course, you are discussing the matter with Giorgio A. Tsoukalos or Erich von Däniken. But, if you’re not a fan of Ancient Aliens or have not read Chariots of the Gods, my experience will seem odd. You’d certainly have doubts if the only aliens you’ve encountered are in movies or on TV. If you only know the Klingons, Romulans, Vulcans, or Borg of Star Trek fame maybe you would think I’m a six-pack short of a case.
You can imagine how surreal and strange it must be to grow up with a secret you are not able to share with anyone for fear of being labeled crazy.
Finding others who share the same experience is comforting because you can’t be crazy when someone, anyone, steps up and says, “Hey, that also happened to me.”
Each experience you and I have in life is a unique opportunity to grow our sympathy, empathy, and compassion for others.
Each year my mom and dad’s church holds an auction to raise funds for the community projects it supports. My father is an avid fly fisherman who enjoys tying his own flies. In preparation for the auction, my dad spent several weeks tying flies as his donation. Day after day, he carefully created the tiny lifelike insects, and when he finished, he gently placed each in its own section of a plastic box. In the end there were about forty of his handcrafted flies.
Before the auction, my mom told me about my dad’s efforts. I secretly arranged with the auctioneer to be on the phone so I could bid. The big day arrived, and when it was time for my dad’s item, I received a phone call. The bidding started at twenty-five dollars. Of course, I raised that to thirty dollars. It was countered at thirty-five dollars. I quickly bid forty. Apparently, someone in the audience wanted my dad’s creations, too.
The bidding bounced back and forth between the two of us, until at sixty-five dollars I went for it and bid one hundred dollars.
“Going once . . . going twice . . . sold to the mystery caller on the phone,” I heard the auctioneer say. He asked me to hold while he put my dad on the phone. No one in the audience, except Mom, knew who was on the other end of the line until I said, “Hello, Daddy. I’m so glad I got your beautiful flies.” With that, my sweet father burst into tears of joy. He was so happy and surprised to hear it was me on the other end of the line. He turned to the crowd and said, “It’s my daughter from California.” The entire place erupted with applause.
It feels amazing to be in the position to surprise someone with a gift of kind-heartedness that touches both of you. Being kind
Fundamentalism in religion is primarily the result of a literal interpretation of a sacred text. This is where it starts. This is how it is fueled. It is an approach where compromise is unacceptable, where the whole text has dominance over any individual passage. Consequently, in the fundamentalist’s mind, everything in their sacred text is pure, right, and infallible.
The Christian Bible, the Muslim Koran, the Jewish Torah or Old Testament, are the three primary sacred texts that are often taken by their individual groups of believers as literally true in every word. Hindus have the Bhagavad Gita but they do not worship it in the sense these other religions do their Books. Buddhists have no holy text but instead are guided by sutras or the sayings and teachings of Buddha. Rarely do you see fundamentalists among Hindus or Buddhists.
Mom recently told me she read a letter to the editor in her local newspaper about yoga being the work of the devil. At almost 94 mom is not really surprised by much but she seemed quite surprised to learn some people believe yoga is related to Satan. Really? And who are the people who believe yoga is related to the Devil and why do they believe it? I’m curious because I’ve been doing yoga for over fifteen years and not once have I even had a bad thought much less become possessed by Satan. To learn more I’m joined by yoga expert Barbara Simon.
Our mind has an opinion about everything but that does not mean our mind’s opinions or even the beliefs we hold are true.
It’s responsible to think about why we think what we do and to challenge why we think others must believe what we do.
I feel certain Jesus would question the motivation behind using fear to teach in his name.