Here was the problem: I needed dinner ready by 7:15 p.m. But I was going to be out of the house for the two hours before that.Further complicating things, I had a pork tenderloin that I wanted to turn into pulled pork. But my typical stove top method of braising it until it falls apart wouldn't work if I wasn't there to keep an eye on the pot. And I hadn't planned far enough ahead (welcome to my world...) to have time to use the slow cooker.The solution? Braising the pork in the oven. It's faster than a slow cooker — but equally hands off — yet far gentler than stove top cooking. And along the way, I discovered a whole new — and so very effortless — way to make a rich sauce for my pork that had the added benefit of slipping in some vegetables.It actually was pretty simple. I brought a blend of white wine and chicken broth to a simmer, then added chopped butternut squash, sliced onion and my pork tenderloin. I returned the whole thing to a simmer, then popped the pot in the oven and walked away for two hours.By the time I got home, the pork was so tender it was falling apart. So were the vegetables. So I used a slotted spoon to fish out the pork, then I pureed the squash and onion. Add barbecue sauce and the pork (which was so tender it pretty much pulled itself) and I had a vegetable-rich barbecue pulled pork. The sauce was incredible, in part because the squash gave it a great natural sweetness, as well as a velvety texture.BUTTERNUT BARBECUE PULLED PORK
Someone recently told me about a movie titled “God’s Not Dead.” It stars Kevin Sorbo of Hercules fame, Dean Cain of Superman fame, and Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty. After I looked up the synopsis and read the critical reviews I decided to go watch it.The movie critics gave it a failing grade. One critic, who gave it a D-, said it was based on the premise of urban legend. At the end of the movie the credits read something like this film is inspired by ... then it listed court cases that have been brought against colleges and universities across America that have discriminated against students by violating their freedom of speech and religious liberties - the list was quite long. So, for that critic to say the film is a depiction of urban legend he’s either biased or misinformed.Some of the brightest minds in history, atheists, claimed they were once believers in God. On the other side of the coin you have C.S. Lewis, a brilliant English philosopher, who was an atheist then became a devout believer in a Divine Being.There’s a small faction in today’s society who are neither tolerant nor believing of such things. It’s their quest to change minds and quite often in a militant way.Such are those who make it their life’s work to remove every ruminant of God from society. They long to remove the words “In God We Trust” from American currency and eradicate the Ten Commandments from wherever they may be displayed.Why do they condemn or hate God so? If He’s nonexistent as they claim why don’t they just treat it like a myth, like the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, or Santa Claus and not give it a second thought?
People around the world gather to wave flags, stare in awe at fireworks, throw candy, and line the streets to watch parades that commemorate a historical event. Many times these parades are linked to current revelry of food, drinking, and a full out party atmosphere. They are fun events. We enjoy them. All the while the true cultural-historical reason for the commemoration is often misplaced. Forgotten are the lives that were committed, and even lost, to bring about such historical events.Around the world today such parades have commenced. On this day, communities of faith join together in the celebration, clinching onto palm branches, yelling “Hosanna.” Hope is in the air. Today is known as Palm Sunday. It commemorates Jesus’ ride on a donkey toward Jerusalem and the people who welcomed him with praise. This story has become so familiar to the modern day family of faith that we often miss the revolutionary power of the event. The people of the day were under occupation and they believed that Jesus was coming to overturn the oppressive and corrupt political systems of the occupiers. Those in power saw this man from Nazareth stirring up the everyday people and making trouble. So by scheming means those in power arrested him, ridiculed him, falsely tried him, tortured him, and finally used a cross to kill him as a public form of showing what happens to those who resist.On this day some 2000 years ago, we might take into account that Jesus was not ushering in a new time of power, might, and authority that was to overthrow the oppressive occupiers. By riding a donkey (a symbol of peace and humility) rather than a warhorse, Jesus was resisting the continued fighting and turmoil that was brought about by the oppressive occupiers. Jesus sought a new revolutionary idea — active resistance through non-violent means to fight the systems that oppress. His invitation of a peace-filled resistance was too simple and revolutionary. So the parade of welcome turned to an uprising against him and his WAY. Today we often cheer for our heroes, but it is said that you should never meet your heroes because then you will learn who they really are. As modern families of faith, we might want to see who our Jesus really is. Many say we believe in Jesus and we get comfort. Yet that is very different from believing in the WAY of Jesus.Two things we can do:1) We might return to scriptures and reread the stories of faith through the lens of a revolutionary man who came to resist the powers of oppression through the way of peace. We might want to read again how he sought to stand up for the woman, children, poor, and the outsiders who were being cast down. All the while he used non-violent means to advance his kingdom.2) This week, known as Holy Week, we might choose to embrace an active belief in a new WAY. This week we remember the great suffering of one man that led to his death. He chose to suffer with and for all who are in loss, pain, suffering, and who are oppressed. Might we embrace the fact that he has partnered with each of us in our current day suffering? He is with you in your suffering.