Monday, November 23, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration

I just finished reading and signing The Manhattan Declaration (MD), and I urge you to do the same. The Manhattan Declaration is a document affirming the sanctity of human life, the sanctity of marriage, and the rights of conscience and religious liberty. All three of these items are under siege in our culture today, so a group of Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians have drafted this statement and call upon others to defend life, marriage, and religious liberty.

You really should read the entire document, but I would like to highlight the end, which clearly states my position dead-on:

“Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.”

The bold emphasis is mine of course, but clearly states where I personally am in all of this. I understand that if the government chooses to impose more taxes on me to fund their programs, than I am morally and ethically bound to abide by those when I submit to the leadership of my country. I also understand that all people in this glorious country of mine have the right to choose paths that I don't agree with. I don't however, have to agree with them and should not be required to support them with my tax dollars if they are unethical. I cannot support something that is in complete opposition to what my Lord and Savior calls me to protect. Life is sacred, Marriage is sacred and I will not go against that very basic principle. I think this is why its such a volatile issue in this country. In today's America however, this traditional view is falling by the wayside as our government intervenes more and more in our lives to equalize society. Much of this is done in the name of tolerance.

Tolerance in the Miriam Webster dictionary is defined as: a sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own. In today's political climate we are told that tolerance means that all individual beliefs, lifestyles and truth claims are of equal value. This simply is NOT true. This kind of tolerance condemns discernment and says you need to accept all truth claims and lifestyles as if they were your own. Its asking you to make your worldview one that accepts every kind of thinking and all other worldviews. Yet this new type of tolerance goes beyond just respecting other worldviews. It also demands that I not impose my worldview on anyone else. It means that I will be labeled intolerant for attempting to share Christ with others. I must abandon my worldview because it is socially offensive, while Buddhists, New Agers and Hindus, etc., do not have to because their faiths are all-inclusive. In the past we were taught to study opposing truths and evaluate them. Now we are to study and appreciate them; no deep thought required.

As the political climate changes it has gone beyond being asked to tolerate these views. Now we are being asked to support them monetarily through taxation. This is where I feel compelled, like many other Americans, to draw a line in the sand. The Manhattan Declaration is just one of many attempts by conservatives to stand up to what I would like to label as oppression. For so many years we turned the other cheek as the morality of our nation started to fall. But no longer. We must stand before its too late. "If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all." Isaiah 7:9 NIV

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sharon's Best Baked Beans

I have been trying to master making baked beans from scratch for sometime. Our favorite brand is Bush's and while I love the flavor, I have never appreciated the ingredients that are typically included. I started experimenting with navy beans several months ago and I finally think I have a recipe worth sharing. They take a while to make, but the end result is really yummy and if you like Bush's you should enjoy these.

2 cups dried navy beans
8 cups of chicken broth(divided)
1/2 cup chopped onion
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 cup molasses granules(I get these through our Bread Beckers Co-op)
2 tsp mustard powder
2 T chili powder(I use homemade, if using store bought, whatever tastes best for you)
2 T liquid smoke
5 slices nitrite free bacon

Soak your beans overnight in water. In the morning, drain and replace water with 4 cups of chicken broth. I use home canned broth, so its unsalted. You should avoid adding any salt at this stage of the cooking process as salt slows the softening of the beans. Before pouring the broth over the beans, I remove the fat from the surface and place that in another pot to saute the onion and garlic. If the broth doesn't cover the beans, add some water. Bring the beans to a boil, reduce to a simmer and allow to cook until they are nearly tender. In the meantime, you can saute the onions and garlic in the chicken fat or a little olive oil(a tablespoon will suffice). Once they are starting to caramelize, pour all of it into a large 7qt crock pot. Spread out in the bottom and sprinkle the molasses granules over them. Add the mustard powder and chili powder and then the liquid smoke. Lay the slices of uncooked bacon over this, put the lid on and turn the crock on high. The bacon will begin to cook and the seasonings will meld together and form a nice sauce.

When the beans are just about done, the liquid will be almost gone. Pour the entire pot into the crock pot and stir everything together. Let the beans continue to cook on high in the crock pot until everything thickens and the beans are fully cooked.  Allow to cool and then refrigerate. The next morning, add 4 more cups of broth and cook on high again until liquid is gone and they have a thick sauce. Season to taste with sea salt(about 2 tsp) and pepper and a little more chili powder if it needs a little kick.
The beans are ready to eat. There are some ways to vary this recipe(see below).

1. When sauteing the vegetables, add a 1/2 cup of chopped red peppers. Finish as directed.

2. When sauteing the vegetables, add some chopped green chilies and eliminate the chili powder. Finish as directed

3. When the beans are poured into the crock pot. Add a package of diced hot dogs to the mix. Finish as directed.

4. for a more tomato-based sauce, add about 1/4 cup of tomato paste when you put the beans in the crockpot. Finish as directed.

4. When the beans are finished, ladle several scoops into a 11x17 pan, covering the bottom inch of the pan. Make up a batch of drop biscuit batter and spread over the top of the beans. Bake at 400 degrees until the biscuits are browned. You can also sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top of the biscuits during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

This post is a part of Fight Back Fridays by Food Renegade