Monday, August 1, 2011
The Christian faith is simple, and don't let people -- well-meaning as they may be -- tell you otherwise. The Sacred Tradition of the Church -- replete with its indispensable theological discourse -- is vast and takes several lifetimes of study to appreciate, but the essentials of Christianity are straightforward, period.
Let anyone with ears listen: the Christian faith is simple. And simple, by the way, in my mind means 'singular, without duplicity, pure and without complication', which is its true etymology.
And the story of Christianity is thus: Jesus Christ, true God and true man, came down from heaven to redeem us and to adopt all those who place their hope in Him as heirs of God's Kingdom. Or put another way, that is, the Creedal way:
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ...who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
And this is the authentic Christian story, the ultimate Truth of the universe upon which everything else stands or falls. And it's really refreshingly simple. Sure, it is profound, very weighty indeed; I mean, the implications that are borne from the Christ Event never cease.
But this Divine Love, at its core, is simple, which is why it is 'so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all', as the hymn reminds us. If Christianity were overly ambiguous -- say consisting of some ten steps for self-actualisation or providing some quirky methodology for overcoming our Prufrockian paralyses -- it would mean very little at the end of the day, no?
I suppose I'm saying that if Christianity was all about what we should, could, or didn't do, it would be devoid of its divine origin and regenerative grace; it would, conversely, be all about us, not about what God has and is doing through Christ. It would cease to be simple in every sense of the word. It would become yet another cumbersome, complex and useless scheme for self-help.
So we mustn't forget for one moment that Christianity is SIMPLE! It’s all about what God has done for us through Christ.
And not only is the core of Christianity simple, that is, clear-cut and to-the-point, but Christian Truth is even short, to boot, by which I mean brief -- which once again proves that brevity and profundity are timeless soul mates. The entirety of the Nicene Creed, the succinct and sufficient summation of the Faith, is only two-hundred or so words. Heck, Hamlet's famous soliloquy -- you know it, 'To be or not to be...' -- is thrice as long and hardly changes our lives.
Still, though, Hamlet's speech is the most memorised piece of world literature. But I ask you: is it simple? Similarly, the first verse of the Star Spangled Banner is barely shorter than the Creed, and it ends with a question for crying out loud (can you say confusing or what?)! Yet people recite and take comfort in its quirky and confusing prose. Neither documents are what we would call simple. They may be fun and entertaining, but they’re hardly simple. Actually, they’re rather complex and idiosyncratic, requiring quite a bit of reflection to yield any meaning.
And this leads me to my final point. In a world obsessed with add-ons and frills, and amidst a culture that expends most of its energy debating semi-colons in secular courts of law, I hasten to remind us that by recalling Christianity is both unchanging and dependably straightforward is in fact the most incredible, refreshing and efficacious news we can hear! Don't miss it: Christianity is 'elementary my dear Watson', to borrow a phrase.
Thanks be to God for the straightforwardness that is Christianity!
And I say all of this neither to diminish the profundity nor the vastness that is the living Christian Tradition. Actually, I'm quite keen on the whole Tradition that our Faith has bequeathed to us.
Rather, I mention the essentials of our Faith purely in a manner in which you may find refreshing and as a segue to another simple facet of life; namely, the simplicity of fresh sumptuous summer salads and their role in our cookery.
Don't be fooled or intimidated, brothers and sisters, by enjoying wonderful salads at home. And please don't believe that you should purchase a bottled dressing to add complexity to your greens; make your own – ‘tis simple!
In his cookbook Simple French Recipes for the Home Cook, renowned French chef and culinary expert Guy Savoy warns: ‘We are in danger of losing sight of what is simple, so home cooking has now become a new frontier, an approach we have to learn all over again’. You see, even in cooking we have to be reminded to go back to basics and discover again the roots of our cuisine.
I recall many fond memories of this simple salad as a child. My family made it often, and it is really a basic green salad with a lovely and easily made homemade mustard vinaigrette, requiring only family and friends to enjoy.
Simple Summer Salad
Ingredients for six servings
3 heads of Boston Bibb lettuce (washed, dried, and pulled apart, while trying to keep whole leafs intact)
1 head of green leaf lettuce (washed, dried, and pulled apart, while trying to keep whole leafs intact)
1 egg yolk
2 ½ teaspoons of minced garlic
3 stems chopped green onion
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard (not coarse-grained)
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
5 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
1 ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons of chopped chives
Mix the lettuces together and set aside. Make the dressing by combining all other ingredients except the olive oil and chives in a mixing bowl. Slowly add in olive oil while vigorously whisking mixture until frothy. Drizzle dressing over the lettuce. Top with fresh chives. Serve immediately with a cold fork.