Sunday, February 16, 2014

a proposed lenten diet for pregnant cook and non-pregnant eater; filthiness of past eras

Matt and I are trying to figure out how he can fast for Lent when I'm not. The Nativity fast was weird. At first he tried just fasting during the day when we were not together, then eating whatever I made in the evening, but he said that it's pretty hard to get into the swing of things that way, and eventually we just stopped trying. We both felt rather disconnected from the rest of the parish without fasting. Lent offers more opportunities to go to services and eat with the rest of the church, and there's not that whole distracting secular Christmas preparation thing, so I think it will be better. But we both still want to make some kind of effort. As for me, I don't think it will hurt my baby a bit for me to stop eating sugar and checking Facebook. Matt feels that this is rather a low bar for him, though, so we thought for a while about how he could fast to some extent without feeling like we're on totally different programs.

We came up with an idea that might work. I'll prepare some chicken and ground beef and freeze it in individual portions, which I can then add to the leftovers I eat for lunch at school. I don't really need to eat meat more than once a day, if even that, especially if the rest of the meals that I prepare are high in vegetable proteins. There's nothing unhealthy about the way we eat during Lent, since it's mostly lots of vegetables and legumes, usually cooked in olive oil or coconut oil. It's just that I don't want to omit dairy and meat products. In fact I think that I'll probably end up eating more protein this way than I am now, since I will eat the beans and stuff I make for Matt as well as the meat I make for myself.

This seems like a good way for me to get the protein etc that I need from meat, without torturing Matt by roasting chickens and broiling lamb racks willy-nilly.

By the way, 100 grams of protein a day? Good lord. That's one recommendation that I just read. (Others say 70 grams.) A can of tuna has 40 grams, an egg has 6, a glass of milk 8, a 4 oz hamburger 28. Most beans are 7-10 grams for a half cup. It seems to me that it would be pretty hard to get enough protein on a vegetarian diet. It would be possible but I can't imagine eating that many beans. Soy could get you there, but I have beef with soy and hardly eat any except tofu once in a while.

On the reading front, I finished The Hunchback of Notre Dame a while back. After you get through all the architecture stuff, which I told Matt reminded me of my anxiety in reading the damn catalog of ships in the Iliad ("Am I going to need to know what boat this guy came from later? Will this flying buttress be used in a metaphor about someone's soul?")  it's actually a pretty melodramatic, romantic tale. I would even call it "pathetic" in you know, the other sense of the word. I was surprised at how quickly it read. The main impression that I was left with is that medieval people were pretty savage. I could have been ready to receive that impression because I was also reading Nietzsche's Genealogy of Morals at the same time, in which he rhapsodizes (I won't say "argues") that morality and society have much darker origins than we like to think. But Hugo shows you so many scenes of the masses enjoying public tortures or executions that I don't think you need Nietzsche holding your hand to come to the conclusion that 14th century Paris was not a very nice place.

The older I get the less romantic I am about the past, and the more skeptical of any "golden age" mentality. I think when we look back at classical Greece, Holy Russia, American pioneer days, or whatever era strikes our fancy, we should not imagine that the people of that era were basically like us. Although we are often pleasantly surprised by the freshness and familiarity of ancient writers, for example, in many ways they were probably shockingly different from us. Most of the great authors whose works have lasted a long time are writing from a place of great privilege, and you just can't underestimate the chasm between democrats like us and aristocrats. Just read Democracy In America and you will see how even as late as the early 1800s, a man from a country as similar to ours as France found many of the American characteristics that we take for granted remarkable enough to... remark on.

Most of us would be very sad and confused if our time machines broke and we were stuck in an era without separation of church and state, legal enfranchisement of women and blacks, great tolerance and general equality, centralized government, and almost religious respect for individual liberty, among other luxuries like shampoo (however much we complain about the ill-effects of those things these days!) I know this sounds like a very simplistic progressive stance, but I've come to it through long periods of disgust for the postmodern era as well as flirtations with primitivism, so I feel qualified to say that although every pendulum can swing too far, things are actually not so bad now! We've lost some good things, but we've gained some good things too. We may have thrown out some babies, but some of that bathwater was really bad.

We can all at least agree that we are glad that we do not live in Hugo's Paris of the late 1300s, which was very dirty, disorganized, and cruel.

Also, I'm trying to finish Being as Communion by Met. John Zizioulas. I started it when I was a catechumen (so that's ... 6 years ago?) and I keep trying to finish it, but it might just take the stupid courage of my baby brain to brazenly succeed. It ended up being more technical than I thought it was going to be based on the first part, and I'm not sure how interested I am in it any more, but I WILL finish it. Then I would like to read St. Basil's Hexaemeron (on the six days of Creation) for Lent. Recent conversations and the Search the Scriptures podcast have rekindled my interest in the patristic interpretation of the creation accounts, and it's actually rather timely for Lent.

Also, I am trying to figure out how to get the Charlotte Mason books on education onto the Kindle. I read them online at school, which is an extreme juxtaposition. I enjoy them so far. A reader recommended them when I complained that there was nothing for a dame like me to read between the inanity of modern baby books and the insanity of Enlightenment philosopher's ideas about education, and I think that Charlotte Mason pleasantly fills that void for me so far.

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