Thursday, February 26, 2009

Related/Unrelated

I've been feeling a little guilty because I haven't been posting any bookish news lately... I've been kind of busy, and I'm sort of plodding through a Charles de Lint short story collection. I'm not a fan of short stories, but these are all sort of interrelated and I love de Lint, so I'm just reading one or two a night. I'm also halfway reading two or three other things, but I think I'm in a bit of a holding pattern until I start something new (or finish one of these other things).

So, related/unrelated, it's the season of Lent. Related, because we just got some books about Lent, which I am going to read. A couple of them are daily-companion books, and the others are informative or meditative. Disclaimer: I am not Catholic, so I really don't know what I'm talking about. Terri is Catholic, and it meant a lot to her for us to observe Lent this year, so I want to learn all about it. All I knew about Lent was that it came after Mardi Gras (but I don't know much about Mardi Gras either), and you had to give something up during Lent, and then comes Easter. Seriously, that's about it. D'Arcy, stop laughing.

So Terri has been helping me. She said I could either give something up, or "do" something. I decided that rather than giving something up, I'm going to do a daily meditative writing practice. This may or may not take the form of a conversation with Spirit/Divine/God/Whoever/Whatever. I've been reading, and Terri's been telling me, that Lent is about clearing away the barriers that keep you from a close relationship with God. So a writing practice seems like a good way for me to feel closer to my own spirituality.

I mentioned that I'm not Catholic. I'm not a member of any formal religion. I wasn't raised in any kind of formal religion -- sort of a mixture of influences from my mom's vaguely Catholic/Methodist background, my dad's Baptist mother, my friends' Christian religions of various sorts, and my dad's interest in Carlos Castenada's books. So... sort of eclectic. It was all very positive, actually. I've always been intensely interested in all things spiritual, and have been a searcher all my life; but always reluctant to adhere to any particular religion. I would very much like to find a spiritual home.

However, right now, it's more important to me to feel connected to Terri and to have a spiritual practice as a couple. I have some problems with the Catholic Church as an institution, but I am putting those aside to participate with Terri, and to do my own spiritual exploration, and to focus on the beauty of the ritual and the season. I'm looking forward to this very much, actually.

So the books we're reading for Lent include:
* The Essential Lenten Handbook, A Daily Companion
* Lent and Easter, Wisdom from Henri J. M. Nouwen
* A Clearing Season, Reflections For Lent

Also, related/unrelated (related to a post from last week or so): The newest brownie recipe is the Cook's Illustrated Classic Brownies. We really liked Mark Bittman's brownies, but they were a little greasy (although it could be that I overgreased the pan). However, I really wanted to try these. The verdict is in: these are really, really good. The only problem was that I overbaked them ever so slightly so the edges are a bit cakey, but they are pretty amazing. We may have a winner.

(do you see why I chose a daily writing practice rather than giving up, say... chocolate?)

Updated: okay, yes, we have a winner! These are really, really good.

9 comments:

Nicola said...

You are killing me with these posts about the brownies. Seriously, can I just have one? Don't you need a third taste-tester???

Eva said...

I enjoy your non-bookish posts a lot, so don't feel guilty about it! :)

I was raised Catholic, but I was uncomfortable with the anti-women feel I always got, so I haven't been a practicising Catholic in years. I do like Lent and Mary, though. lol

I'd love to find a spiritual home as well...I'm just not sure where to look!

Nymeth said...

I love your non-boohish posts too!

I know pretty much as much about Lent as you do. To make things worse, I live in a deeply religious city in a very Catholic country, lol. But I wasn't raised Catholic myself. Anyway, what you're doing with Terri actually sounds really nice.

And I'm glad your brownies turned out so good :D

Tammie said...

ooh. im interested in your views on catholicism---i hope you plan on sharing more. im at a point where i dislike organized religion so it's interesting to me to read about someone who's at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Miss D. said...

Nic: definitely! Next batch, we'll bring some over...

Eva: yes, I have some definite problems with the Church (with many churches) but I am enjoying Lent...

Nymeth: thanks! It's very interesting and beautiful...

Tammie: I'll say more as I think about it more... I'm not exactly a fan of most organized religion, but I do love some spiritual pracitices -- I haven't really figured out for my own self how the two can coexist comfortably in my mind, but this is sort of what this Lent season is about for me -- how to balance a deeper spirituality with my deep distaste for what I view as, frankly, some of the evils of organized religion. So. It's interesting.

Miss D. said...

Nic: definitely! Next batch, we'll bring some over...

Eva: yes, I have some definite problems with the Church (with many churches) but I am enjoying Lent...

Nymeth: thanks! It's very interesting and beautiful...

Tammie: I'll say more as I think about it more... I'm not exactly a fan of most organized religion, but I do love some spiritual pracitices -- I haven't really figured out for my own self how the two can coexist comfortably in my mind, but this is sort of what this Lent season is about for me -- how to balance a deeper spirituality with my deep distaste for what I view as, frankly, some of the evils of organized religion. So. It's interesting.

Kate said...

Oooo, Lent. I was raised Catholic though you could at best call me non-practicing at this point. But somehow I still try to do something for Lent. I almost look at it as an exercise in self-discipline. Every year I give something up, and then keep doing it year after year until I can actually make it the whole Lenten period without. When I was younger it was things like chocolate, Coke, etc. This year - like it's been for the last 5+ years - it's swearing. I made it till almost 9am on Ash Wednesday...so I guess it's swearing again next year too.

But I never thought of doing something instead - I love your idea of a bit of daily spiritual meditation. Love it. I'd never thought of Lent that way, oddly enough.

Anyhow, I'd love to keep hearing how this is going for you!

Stefanie said...

I was raised Lutheran so we sort of did Lent but not like the Catholics. Still, I had a friend who was Catholic and every year had to give something up so one year, I think I was 13 or 14, I decided to join her just for kicks and gave up chocolate for 40 days. Torture! But I did it and have never been so buzzed on chocolate than I was after eating that chocolate bunny on Easter.

regularrumination said...

Deleted!