Skyrim Cover

I’m not a gamer, but I’m married to one so I know some of the lingo. And because of that, I appreciate the main theme from Skyrim, which has been covered by youtube artists a lot lately. This is my favorite cover so far:

Excerpt on Love

Currently, I am reading GK Chesterton’s Saint Francis of Assisi. In the very first chapter, as he deals with the problem of writing about a medieval man to a modern culture, I found this gem:

The practical reconciliation of the gaiety and austerity I must leave the story itself to suggest. But since I have mentioned … the rationalistic admirers of St. Francis, I will here give the hint of what it seems to me most advisable for such readers to keep in mind. These distinquished [sic] writers found things like the Stigmata a stumbling-block because to them a religion was a philosophy. It was an impersonal thing; and it is only the most personal passion that provides here an approximate earthly parallel. A man will not roll in the snow for a stream of tendency by which all things fulfil [sic] the law of their being. He will not go without food in the name of something, not ourselves, that makes for righteousness. He will do things like this, or pretty nearly like this, under quite a different impulse. He will do these things when he is in love. The first fact to realise about St. Francis is involved in the first fact with which his story starts; that when he said from the first that he was a Troubadour, and said later that he was a Troubadour of a newer and nobler romance, he was not using a mere metaphor, but understood himself much better than the scholars understand him. He was, to the last agonies of asceticism, a Troubadour. He was a lover. He was a lover of God and he was really and truly a lover of men; possibly a much rarer mystical vocation. A lover of men is very nearly the opposite of a philanthropist; indeed the pedantry of the Greek word carries something like a satire on itself. A philanthropist may be said to love anthropoids. But as St. Francis did not love humanity but men, so he did not love Christianity but Christ. And for the modern reader the clue to the asceticism and all the rest can best be found in the stories of lovers when they seemed to be rather like lunatics. Tell it as the tale of one of the Troubadours, and the wild things he would do for his lady, and the whole of the modern puzzle disappears. In such a romance there would be no contradiction between the poet gathering flowers in the sun and enduring a freezing vigil in the snow, between his praising all earthly and bodily beauty and then refusing to eat, between his glorifying gold and purple and perversely going in rags, between his showing pathetically a hunger for a happy life and a thirst for a heroic death. All these riddles would easily be resolved in the simplicity of any noble love; only this was so noble a love that nine men out of ten have hardly even heard of it.

I have to admit that St. Francis is more a fascination for me than a role model. In fact, I strongly disagree with some of the things he did for his faith, like renouncing his father instead of honoring him. However, one reason I love reading about this man’s life is that religion was so much more than just a philosophical set of ideals and principles to him. It was the central romance of his life. He didn’t just follow the “good, moral teachings” of Jesus. He loved him ardently.

I’ve lately had many conversations on the tension between law and grace, between faith and actions. If we do good things just to live up to some philosophical or ethical ideal, we’re completely missing the point. But if we love and delight in our God, those good actions and deeds will naturally flow from us. May we live ever more and more in light of the love of Jesus our Messiah!

Grace and peace,
-Meg

Mysteries of the Middle Ages

Lately I have been obsessed with all things Medieval. Not too long ago I read Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose – a multiple-murder mystery set in a medieval monastery. I think that may have been what ignited this sudden interest. I have also enjoyed reading Thomas Cahill’s previous four “Hinges of History” books*, so I picked up his latest – number five in what is projected to be a series of seven – Mysteries of the Middle Ages and the Beginning of the Modern World.

Cahill describes this book as more of a “patchwork quilt” approach to history than a chronological telling of a cohesive story. He certainly captures the colorful and variegated sense of the Middle Ages as he introduces the reader to such characters as Abelard and Héloïse, Saint Francis of Assisi, the anchorite Hildegard, and the formidably beautiful Queen Eleanor. He vividly dresses them in the fabrics of the day: from the light and colorful clothes coming out of Languedoc to the heavy and uncomfortable habits of the friars. He builds cathedrals and stone castles and then shines light behind the “belle-verrière” – incredibly detailed and colorful stained glass. In short, I find Cahill’s writing engaging, entertaining, and leaving me wanting more. (I’ve added one of the biographies of Saint Francis to my reading list because of this book.)

However, Cahill doesn’t pull punches when he has an opportunity to sensationalize. He strikes me as the kind of author who doesn’t let historical fact get in the way of a good story. I have no doubt he does his research and, as a resident of Rome, knows these places and stories behind them. However, I don’t think I would put stock in his particular telling of historical events. He’s also not afraid to interject political opinions that, quite frankly, I often did not find relevant to the story he told. (Somehow he was able to rant for a paragraph about President Bush in his section on the crusades.) He also approaches religion academically – that is, he appreciates how religious thought has shaped human history, but he’s very quick to criticize religious ideas. These are the reasons I gave him only 3 stars in my Reading List.

Yet, as I mentioned earlier, I still love his writing. I devoured his first four books before this one, and I’m impatiently waiting for book six in his series which is, so far, 6 years in coming.

*The previous four books are, in order: How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role from the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval EuropeThe Gifts of the Jews: How a Tribe of Desert Nomads Changed the Way Everyone Thinks and FeelsDesire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus, and Sailing the Wine Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter.

My All-time Favorite Chicken Salad

I was craving a good chicken salad for lunch today, so I pulled out my favorite recipe. And I made TONS of it… twice the normal recipe. But here’s the normal recipe:

You’ll need:

2 cups of shredded chicken
3-4 baby dill pickles (or sweet pickles, or a stick of celery if you don’t like pickles)
1/2 cup of roasted almond slivers
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (fresh is best)
1/2 cup real mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste (I really like using cayenne pepper in place of black pepper)

Start with the chicken. You can use canned chicken if you prefer, but I really like to use roast chicken. Ideally I like to roast my own chicken in the oven or the crock pot, but today I was lazy and just bought a pre-roasted chicken in my supermarket’s deli. Plus, it was about $2 cheaper than the un-cooked variety. And it smelled so good in my car on the way home.

If you are using a whole roast chicken, begin by shredding it. I doubled the recipe today and one whole chicken produced enough meat to do a little more than 4 cups. You can either be fancy and use two forks to pull the pieces of chicken, or you can be lazy like me and put on a couple of disposable gloves and just go at it with your own fingers. I find that easier and quicker.

If the chicken is still warm, cover it and stick it in the fridge until it cools before you go on. If it is cool, go ahead and chop the shredded chicken into smaller, more chicken-salad-looking pieces.

Then chop up your pickles into small pieces. (Or celery, or grapes, or apples, or whatever you’re using to add crunch!)

Finally, add the chicken, pickles, almonds, lemon juice, mayo, salt, and pepper to a mixing bowl and mix well until everything is coated. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Serve with crackers, or on bread, or just eat it straight with your fork. Then go get seconds!

Enjoy!
-meg

Recipe

2 cups of shredded chicken
3-4 baby dill pickles (or sweet pickles, or a stick of celery if you don’t like pickles)
1/2 cup of roasted almond slivers
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (fresh is best)
1/2 cup real mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste (I really like using cayenne pepper in place of black pepper)

1. Shred and then chop up 2 cups of cold chicken. Also chop up the pickles.

2. Add all the ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix well until all ingredients are well coated. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.