Tuesday, November 28, 2006

More tap or more theology?

For those of you that want a little more tap with your theology, I have two offerings:

1. Stone's Double Bastard Ale. This beer is not only fun to order ("Make mine a Double Bastard, please!") but it is also close to brewing perfection. If you don't believe me, check out the rating on ratebeer.com - a mere 100%. It is related to the other wonderful Stone product, the Arrogant Bastard (another fun one to order) which is Stone's hop happy IPA. Hops make a beer bitter or leave that dry tangy feeling in your mouth. I personally love hops. The Double Bastard is super hoped but instead of making your mouth pucker, the overdose of hops gives the beer a slightly sweet taste with a smooth hoppy finish.

2. Bells Hop Slam. Bells is another brewery that is not afraid of the hops. This one is smooth but plenty hoppy.

Both of these are rich in flavor and contain more alcohol than your usual beer. For those reasons, I'd suggest drinking it slowly and sticking to just one an evening.


For those that want a little more theology with your tap, here is an offering from Rumi:

The wine of divine grace is limitless:
All limits come only from the faults of the cup.
Moonlight floods the whole sky from horizon to horizon;
How much it can fill your room depends on its windows.
Grant a great dignity, my friend, to the cup of your life;
Love has designed it to hold His eternal wine.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Valley of Dry Bones

The combination of warm weather and finding a rose on Thanksgiving drew me outside and into my garden today. I decided it was time to prepare the garden for winter. As I walked out the back door, I commented on what sad work I was about to do. My husband responded, "Yes, but the garden has to die before it can return next Spring." Oh, he is so wise!

It is indeed almost time for my garden to die and my job today was to prepare its passing. This is a complicated task. Some perennials such as ferns must be left alone because their dry leaves serve to protect the delicate roots during the snow and frost. Others want to be clipped back so the plant can begin to store up much needed energy. And others such as the hosta, fall apart at the touch. Where once stood a thick leafy plant is now smooth dirt with no visible sign of life. I am slowly learning what each plant needs, mostly by trial and error.

The saddest sight, however, has to be the impatients. At the first frost these delicate annuals, shrivel and collapse. For years, a lady in my neighborhood has surrounded her home in impatients. At first frost, these beautiful flowers become what I have come to think of as the valley of dry bones - rows and rows of fragile pale green stems hanging lifelessly over pots and sidewalk.

What is amazing about any garden is that next Spring it will be completely different. Each plant that "dies" will come back transformed. I've even seen flowers change color due to a difference in the acidity of the soil. Some will return wild and bushy while others seem to have fit themselves into their space. Part of my joy in gardening is waiting to see what form the plants and flowers will take each year.

Most (if not all) religious traditions remind us that death or losing one's life is part of the faith journey. In Matthew we read that "those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it."

Rumi (in Mathnawi) adds this:

A man started to break up the earth with a spade.
A fool came and shouted at him, "Why are you ruining the soil?"
"You idiot!" the man cried. "Go away and don't bother me!"
Understand the difference between destruction and growth.
How could this soil become a rose garden or wheat field
Before its broken up and made ugly?
How could it become orchards and harvest and leaves
and fruit
Before it is utterly destroyed and torn down?

In preparing the soil, in adding fertilizer, in caring for each plant, I believe I am taking part in some very small way in the death and resurrection of life. It is my hope that as I prepare the earth for winter, I am preparing my own soul as well. I know that I too must be "utterly destroyed" and "lose my life" before I can find my life or become a beautiful rose garden.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Best American Holiday

Here are a few Thanksgiving ponderings I thought I'd share:

1. I love Thanksgiving because it is not a church holiday. Sure the church tells us to be thankful every day of the year, but it has not tied itself to this particular American holiday. I love the fact that I woke up this morning and did not have to prepare for a worship service. I just hung out and waited to eat. Too bad Christmas isn't this relaxing.

2. People are passionate about their turkeys whether they roast, fry, smoke, or grill them. Personally, we like to grill ours but then again, we grill EVERYTHING! I love asking someone how they prepare their turkey....they will usually go on and on about the perfectly balanced seasoning and the precise method used. Don't mess with a person turkey technique!

3. Why don't we eat the Cranberry sauce that comes in a can on days other then Thanksgiving? It's so good! After all, anything that slides out of a can, makes an audible plop on the plate, and retains the exact shape of the can has got to be good!

4. Why do I eat too much every Thanksgiving? I have years and years of experience with eating and that experience has taught me how much is too much and yet, every year at exactly this time of night, my pants are too tight and I'm regretting that second piece of pie. Seems moderation would be a more appropriate response to thankfulness but I have not yet succeeded in such loftiness.

Hope you all enjoyed your non-church, Turkey based, gelatinous Cranberry, gluttonous holiday!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Reason to Get out of Bed

Most of us want to wake up in the morning and have something to look forward to. We want to head to a job we love or at least find interesting and then come home to do other things we enjoy.

Yet, not all of us experience joy in our jobs. Frederick Buechner in his book Wishful Thinking, defines vocation as the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet. A person's vocation can be his/her career or something he/she does outside of a 9 to 5 job.

Those of us gathered around our Theology on Tap table are in our 20s and 30s. We all admitted to wanting to find our vocation. We spent most of our time talking about whether or not we had found that in our jobs. Some of us think we have and some of us are sure we haven't. All of us agreed that we want to believe that what we have to offer (our skills, our energy, our interests) is needed somewhere.

Of course, finding one's vocation is not easy. It may take a great deal of trial and error. It may take several job changes. It may mean finding something outside your job. But we are young and we still have 30 or so years left of labor. I think the search is worth it.....because I want a reason to get out of my warm cozy bed each morning (besides the fact that I need to use the restroom!).

Stupid quote of the night: "So is that Kyle with a C or a K?"

Shawn recommends ABC's cask conditioned Major Hops

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I'll meet you at ABC

Our next Theology on Tap gathering is this coming Sunday, November 5th, at 7:30 PM at the Appalachian Brewing Company. Join us for good conversation and great beer. This week we'll discuss vocation - one of my favorite topics.

Here are a few questions to ponder before our gathering:
1. When have you felt happy, peaceful, energized, or fulfilled?
2. What were you doing at the time and who were you with?
3. Where is the intersection between your gifts and the needs you see in the world?

Now that you have the questions, I expect a very lively conversation!

Despite Chad's recommendation, I'm not going to order the Porter. There are too many other good options.