Two weeks ago, after reading my explainer on the potential schism within the United Methodist Church, I was asked why Methodists use grape juice rather than wine at Communion. After all, Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding at Cana, and it’s assumed that he was using wine during the Passover (Last Supper) which has become the basis for the eucharistic tradition. So why do Methodists have a problem with wine? The answer is made up of many different threads: history, social justice, entrepreneurship, and the unique Methodist creativity that ties all the threads together.
Every week, Moishe would pray to win the lottery. “Please God,” he would say, “let me win the lottery. I need to win the lottery.”
After several years of this, God finally replied and God’s booming voice rattled Moishe more than a little bit. “Moishe,” God said, “meet me half way. Buy a ticket.” (Hey, God, the Joke’s on You!)
Although the joke above came from a Reformed Judaism website, as far as I’m concerned, the joke could have been written by anyone, for anyone…except for a Methodist. Methodists are not supposed to buy lottery tickets; the stance against gambling in any form goes back to the beginnings of the Methodist movement and even today is enshrined in the social principles (What does the UMC say about gambling?) While the Methodist position on gambling may not be commonly-known or understood (sometimes even by church members), the general public would generally view the principled stance as part and parcel of Methodist DNA. The reputation of the church has long been described as mostly liberal and a leader on social justice issues. That reputation is part of the reason the current homophobic, anti-LGBTQI policies and practices of the church are so baffling to non-Methodists. I would argue, as a lifelong Methodist, that both the policies and the recent, proposed protocol for change are far more consistent with Methodism than most assume, and our reputation is a combination of aspiration and reality; history and hagiographic storytelling; and inspiration and contrivance. This is only one Methodist’s opinion (and these days, I’m more lapsed than not), but after reading the proposed protocol, what some people are calling “schism” in the United Methodist Church, I am considering to be the logical conclusion to an unnecessarily torturous process.
Rather than the standard “we have all the amenities you love!” that most cities try to promote, touting urban sameness rather than distinctiveness or authenticity, the message coming out of Detroit is, “we’re still here! We made it and we’re stronger for it!” (Detroit: Rebranding, Resilience and Redemption)
Throughout his post, Saunders has sprinkled videos which illustrate his point, and as I watched the videos, it occurred to me that while the post was about the rebound of Detroit, it could just as easily be a message of hope for 2020. So I include the videos for your viewing, whether as cheerleading for a city I love or as a reminder that while we have miles to go before we sleep, together we have the resilience to start the work of redemption.
Here is something interesting about food, history, and identity. https://t.co/tjq3ILaprJ
— Dr. Aphra Behn (@Shaker_aphra) December 22, 2019
It’s a fascinating story, and it also reminded me a bit of part of the premise of Michael Twitty’s, The Cooking Gene, which I’m currently reading.
The Cooking Gene is about the influence that the enslavement of Africans by European settlers has had on foodways and history of the Old South. The Cooking Gene includes personal narratives, history, recipes, and folk songs. The recipes have African, Native American, and European roots as the author integrates his Jewish faith into African-American cooking. Twitty emphasizes the African flair that has been added to European and Native American ingredients by African American cooks. Additionally, he discusses plants used in cooking that are native to Africa such as sesame, okra, and sorghum. The Cooking Gene)
We don’t really have any food stories or food legacies in my family. Part of that is because my grandmothers’ recipe boxes were either lost or thrown out when they passed away. Part of that is because the food heritage from Germany and/or England/Scotland is not all that distinctive (as compared to other Western European countries), so even if I have a heritage, I probably wouldn’t recognize it. And part of it is because my immigrant ancestors were so focused on assimilation that retaining a heritage (beyond Whiteness) was not a priority. I can recognize more recent influences: the Depression on the cooking of my grandmothers and mother; the 1950s with the introduction of convenient (AKA processed) foods; WWII on the food my mom was “allowed” or “not allowed” to set before my dad. My dad was more of a feminist than my mom ever was, but that didn’t stop him from decreeing that no lamb should ever be cooked in our home; the smell reminded him of the mutton he ate during the war, and that triggered other memories.
Despite the lack of stories or recipes, I’m still capable of appreciating food. So when I realized that Aphra’s tweet was going to lead to a post, I decided that for the holidays, it was time to go back and dig out some of her anti-troll recipes. As a Village, we never got around to gathering all of her/our recipes in one place, but I wanted to share some of those that would make tasty holiday and New Year fare. So major h/t to Aphra for writing today’s post.
Then Lenson got wind of an old glassworks in Vineland, New Jersey. Vineland and Millville to the south had once formed the nexus of a glassblowing area in south-central New Jersey. The sand there was fine and free of impurities, perfect for glassmaking, but the glass factories, overtaken by modern manufacturing methods, had now closed, leaving dozens of glassblowers jobless. Lenson sought them out and told them he had a plan to put them back to work. (Taylor, Nick. American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work, Bantam Books, 2008, p. 276.)
As a lover of vintage glass, my first thought was that I wanted to at least see a piece of this WPA glass, a possibility I’m still researching. My next thought was that I wondered which glass factories had closed. I found one company that may have been one of those to which the book referred (the endnotes do nothing to solve the mystery), and it’s a fascinating story of hope, beauty, and tragedy.
He was privileged as one of the “Talented Tenth,” but a true ally to poor African-Americans. He was a newspaper editor and a Black Radical who alienated the full-range of the political spectrum, from Woodrow Wilson to Booker T. Washington to other Black Radicals. He believed the good was the enemy of the perfect but left a legacy that inspired the actions of activists of the Movement. He was William Monroe Trotter, and today we learn about him through his own words.