Get out the vote!

Do it! Vote in the midterm elections!

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Vote Democrat- -Republican– Independent– Green Party– Christmas Unicorns– or better yet, just vote your conscience, whether or not that falls along party lines.

Just vote!

I have this crazy idea, that if we (We as American citizens… If you’re from another country and you are able to vote, please do exercise this right as well!) take midterm elections as seriously as we take Presidential elections, our country will be in a much better place to evoke change.

Think about it: The President only has so much power- and that’s a good thing. Checks and balances, keeping government honest. (Honest-ish.)

The current, fall 2014 Congressional approval rating (according to a Gallup poll), has the American public’s approval of Congress resting at an appalling (but hardly surprising) 14%, the lowest for a pre-election fall since 1974.

How many times have we heard of a bill “barely” passing through Congress, or the Senate, or not passing at all? Look what happened to Net Neutrality. Whether or not you “like” President Obama, there’s only so much he can do, and only so much our next president can do. It’s not just about passing bills, either. Local laws are important, both for their direct effect in the lives of individual states’ citizens, and for the precedence they set for the rest of the nation.

Oregon has some issues on the ballot this fall that I feel very strongly about, so I was eager to seize my absentee ballot and make my vote count. Public office is a little harder (Here’s where Republican/Democrat comes in handy, because all the candidates’ promises are vague at best. At least I’m familiar with the voting records of the congressmen and senators.). I want to make a difference in my community and have my voice heard, and this is one way to do it.

Mary Poppins throwback

Mary Poppins throwback

Yes, I voted way before Nov. 4 (My brother alleges they send out ballots to feminists first. How thoughtful of “them.”), but it’s not too late for you to go out and vote, if you haven’t already!

2014, a year to be brave

A new year, a new word. Every year, I choose a specific virtue or value to work on. It’s usually something I feel I have been lacking in my life; in past years I have decided to focus on patience, courage, strength, and perseverance, among others.

Every year, I focus on my word and make a deliberate effort to bring it into my daily life. I push myself to work on it and practice it until it becomes a part of me. Most importantly, I pray over it, and ask God for grace, especially with help on my word (virtue/value) of the year.

psalm 73Those prayers are what give me the strength to keep working on that word, and by the end of the year, I look back and find that I really grew in that part of my life.

The word for 2014 is brave.

Hermione Granger had it right in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Hermione Granger had it right in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The dictionary definition of bravery is having courage. There are so many places in my life where I want to be brave this year.

I want to be brave in my writing; to be brave enough to sit down and write, then to edit, and finally to submit my work for publishing. Humans are supposed to be made up of 55-75% water, but when I sit and stare at a page of my own words and think of letting others read it, I feel like I’m made up of 60% insecurity.

courage doesn't always roar

I want to be brave in having my say and letting my voice be heard in a group. I communicate best on paper or in small groups; put me in a crowd and I lose my tongue. But how can I stand up for others if I can’t stand up for my own opinions? Dumbledore said it best: “There are all kinds of courage,” said Dumbledore, smiling. “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.

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And most exciting of all, I need to practice bravery because I am spending this semester abroad. I leave tomorrow for Wales, UK, my first time out of the country. I will need to cultivate bravery as I meet new people, leave my old boring routine (I do love routine) in the (American) dust, and scamper around the UK doing scary things like navigating London with friend (who shares my directional challenge) and clambering up ropes courses. 

(You can follow my Wales blog here if you’re interested. I should have something up by the end of January.)

"Belle's bravery" By Bloodonthemoon5 on DeviantArt (I don't know anything about this quote, but it's great!)

“Belle’s bravery” By Bloodonthemoon5 on DeviantArt (I don’t know anything about this quote, but it’s great!)

Bravery is about pushing past fear and doing something worthwhile, something good, despite being frightened or unsure. To me, bravery has nothing to do with a lack of fear, and everything to do with overcoming a fear.

bravery-quotes

When I look back on 2014, I want to see a year of bravery.

What about you? Do you have a word for 2014?

“Don’t Worry”

“Don’t Worry”

What the hell

Do you mean:

  ……………………..“Don’t worry”?

Have you opened a

newspaper

this century?

Read some headlines

I dare you—

    ………I’m not talking about

……………………………Taylor Swift’s love life

……………………………Michael Vick’s jail time

……………………………Angelina Jolie’s breasts.

Read about

…..car bombs

 ……….drone strikes

……………..chemical weapons

……………………….Don’t worry

Can you believe:

Blood

On the streets of Chicago

……………………….Don’t worry

Fertilizers

In the waters where we drink

……………………….Don’t worry

Children

Sick with cancer or abuse?

         ……………….Don’t worry

How can a person be

 ………….. illegal

……………………unnatural

……………………………….unwanted?

We are thieves

Stealing their humanity.

  ………………………..Don’t worry

If your eyes were

………..open,

your heart would

  ………bleed.

I think         

                    .it’s time                           

                                            .to worry.

1st Annual National Vegan Baking Day

Vegan Apple Oat Peanut Butter Almond cookies (AKA Everything in the Cupboards Cookies)

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This Friday, Sept. 27 2013, was the USA’s first National Vegan Baking Day. In honor of the occasion, my roommates and I made vegan cookies. None of us are vegan (we made scrambled eggs for dinner before baking), but we are all interested in social justice and food justice, and we’ve been working on eating fair trade and doing Vegan Tuesdays. 

We threw together a cookie recipe that ended up delicious enough to share. So what did we make? Basically, whatever-we-had-around-minus-eggs-and-butter cookies:

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Preheat oven to 350.

¾ cup brown sugar

¾ cup white sugar

½ tsp salt

1 cup PB (smooth or chunky; I used chunky)

3/8 cup veggie oil or canola oil (that’s 1 quarter cup plus a half quarter cup… sorry:)

2/3 cup applesauce

2 tsp vanilla (1 tsp is fine if you must)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 ½ cups flour

1 medium apple cut into small cubes/chunks (OPTIONAL- you can go with a pear or raisins or no fruit instead)

2 cups oats

2 squirts of honey (as much or as little as you like; if you’re going FULL vegan, omit the honey)

handful of almonds (chopped up as fine as you like)

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Mix dry ingredients first in small bowl.

Mix peanut butter, sugars, applesauce, vanilla, honey, veggie oil in a large mixing bowl.

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Slowly add dry ingredients to large mixing bowl.

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Add apple & almonds.

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Bake 11-12 min (on a greased cookie sheet or ungreased cooking stone) at 350 until edges are browned.

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These cookies retain their moisture well and actually look like cookies, but they do tend to be a little undercooked in the middle. The dough is great too; no salmonella worries.

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Try with almond milk!

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Interested in more vegan baking? Check out these lists of egg and butter substitutes for a start.

For Everyone Born, a Place at the Table

In church on Sundays, I often find myself reflecting on the power of song. As a reader and a writer, words hold the most weight for me; I am most drawn to songs whose lyrics are rich in meaning. That being said, though I couldn’t tell you anything about the musical composition of a piece, I appreciate the the way that music magnifies the impact of the lyrics, making the song entirely more moving when sung and played than when read. The church I attend at home has lovely if old-fashioned lyrics, but the quality of the singing (no musical accompaniment) is lacking. Mass here at the university, however, is alive with beautiful, resonant music, the kind that fills you up from your bouncing toes to your vibrating lips, your whole body leaning into the music, one with the community.

Last Sunday, we sang this song:

For everyone born, a place at the table,

for everyone born, clean water and bread,

a shelter, a space, a safe place for growing,

for everyone born, a star overhead,

and God will delight when we are creators

of justice and joy, compassion and peace:

yes, God will delight when we are creators

of justice, justice and joy!

For woman and man, a place at the table,

revising the roles, deciding the share,

with wisdom and grace, dividing the power,

for woman and man, a system that’s fair,

and God will delight when we are creators

of justice and joy, compassion and peace:

yes, God will delight when we are creators

of justice, justice and joy!

I was staggered by the power of this: How radical, how audacious, to declare for everyone born, a place at the table, to call for a system that’s fair for both women and men. This is one of the most exciting aspects of faith: calling forth the radical notion that everyone, everyone, everyone, is equal and deserving of shelter, safety, sustenance, respect, justice– that God will delight where we are creators of justice and joy, compassion and peace. The social justice call of the Catholic Church is one of its biggest redeeming factors to me, the drive that keeps me committed to my church despite the lack of woman leaders and its official stance on things like homosexuality. I grew up with this faith, and it comforts and sustains me– or rather, I use my Catholic faith to communicate to God, and God is the One who is my support. The call to social justice, to helping those in need and working for social and economic equality for the most downtrodden, which is being led by the Sisters, is inspiring and exactly what we as humans should be doing. The motto of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet is, Caring for the dear neighbor without distinction. What a wonderful reminder.

When I looked up these lyrics online, I found an additional, optional stanza that celebrates the “rainbow” of diversity across genders and sexualities, a note that is especially powerful in light of Pope Francis’s recent comments about finding balance in the Church. I think it is important to remember that, while the pope sets the tone for the Church, we as individuals have always been called to make moral decisions; I realized long before Pope Francis’s compassionate focus that I was going to treat everybody with love and respect, as is their right as human beings. I do not hold with this nonsense of hating on gay and transgender folk, and anyone and everyone else who does not fit society’s mold. It wasn’t so long ago that women were marginalized by society, and African Americans and Native Americans– and let’s be honest, these groups and many others (immigrants, LBGTQA) are still not receiving fair treatment today.

These are the things I think of when I hear a hymn like “A Place at the Table.” I am reminded of why I love my church, and inspired to work for God to bring justice and compassion into the lives of others. I am thankful to live at a time and a place where people are working hard to make social justice a reality for all. This Sunday, let’s all remember to to our part in making a place at the table for everyone.