Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category (feed)

Delicious recipes for Christian Orthodox fasting

I am not religious at the slightest, but my brother’s family is. They were fasting during the first 15 days of August (Orthodox Christians usually fast before Christmas, Easter and leading to Mother Mary’s day). Greek Orthodox fasting disallows all blood animal products, meaning that eggs, dairy and meat from fish/birds/mammals are disallowed, but shellfish are allowed (because they have nothing that resembles red blood — obviously a convenient technicality even if the Bible mentions pork and shellfish as unclean in general). On Good Friday, olive oil is disallowed too.

As a kid I was forced to fast for Easter (usually just the week before), and I hated every minute of it (even if I loved the Easter time in general). Truth is, while my mother is an excellent cook, she has a limited repertoire when it comes to recipes and ingredients. She only wants to eat and cook the recipes passed to her by her mother. She is extremely closed-minded regarding new ingredients and tastes (I can easily picture her face of disgust when I mention mushrooms or shellfish, for example). This severely limited our tastes during the Holy Week, making it almost as unbearable (on purpose, I suppose) as the tortures Christ had to undergo for the week.

So here are some very nice recipes I have gathered that could really make the fasting time pleasant. They are all Mediterranean-inspired, and delicious, all carefully cooked by Kalofagas — a Canadian Greek cooking blogger. Some of the recipes might include some dairy elements, but these can easily be omitted without diminishing the taste of the dish.

Mussels Saganaki With Mustard. Omit the feta cheese. Great with mushroom wild rice.
Vegetarian pizza, with non-dairy (fasting) cheese (sold in some places in Greece). I did this twice for my brother and his wife in August. I used non-dairy hard cheese, bell peppers, chili peppers, tomatoes, olives, onions. Mushrooms are equally nice but unfortunately in my home area, Epirus, very few people trust mushrooms so I didn’t use them.
Prawns saganaki. I cooked this last night! It was delicious. Omit cream cheese.
Prawns Tourkolimano. Again, omit feta cheese.
Grilled Sesame Scallops. Great when served with some pasta or fries.
Tomato Fritters (omit the egg) and Kolokithokeftedes (again, use fasting cheese). Serve with a fasting dip, like the Macedonian Makalo (which is the Greek version of ketchup), or Hummus.
Tagliatelle With Zucchini, Tomato and Fresh Herbs. Add some stir-fried shellfish or mushrooms to make this recipe even better.
Potato Salad for Good Friday (no olive oil). And another potato salad too.
Vegetable soup.
Briam Florinis.
Thai Green Curry With Scallops & Shrimp. Might be a bit difficult to get all the ingredients in Greece.
Soup With Mussels and Ginger. Omit the heavy cream.
Greek Chickpea Soup. Substitute chicken stock with vegetable stock (note: not all vegetable stocks in the market are vegetarian).
Scallops Provencal.
Shrimp With Capers and Dill
Octopus and Pasta Bake
Cuttlefish Lemonato, and Artichokes a la Polita
Dolmades Gialantzi
Black-Eyed Pea Salad, and Octopus With Vinegar
Ladenia (Greek pizza)
Kampanoules With Peppers and Basil (omit the cheese)
Seafood Pasta
Shrimp With Mastiha liquer
Cuttlefish With Saffron and Potatoes
Melitzanosalata (Eggplant Salad)
Spanakorizo. Another local variety asks for more spinach, and some lemon too.
Rice salad
Shrimp Salad With Avocado and Pasta Shells
Roasted Red Pepper Dip
Imam Baildi
Rice Salad
Leonidio, Tsakones and Eggplant (replace feta cheese with tofu)
Fassoulotavas Makedonikos
Shrimp and Pasta

And of course, there are all the “normal” Greek fasting foods, ranging from bean soups to lentils (in this lentils recipe omit the sausage, and use olive oil), and from yemista (use some olive oil) to green beans (use some olive oil).

Girl, 17, killed in Iraq for loving a British soldier

A 17-year-old Iraqi girl was murdered by her father in an honour killing after falling in love (no sex) with a British soldier she met while working on an aid programme in Basra, it has been claimed.

This is why I don’t even wanna hear some shit that some westerners are writing about muslims that “they are not all like that” etc etc. Well, here’s the thing: 80% of them are, in the most fanatical countries. Yes, I pulled this number out of my ass, but I can very well imagine how life is for women in most of these countries, while the rest of the westerner who surprisingly try to excuse the muslim culture can’t.

I have a father, who while he is a Christian in a European Community country, has more in common with the muslim way of looking at women and their rights (or lack thereof), than with the rest of the westerners. And the rural place I am coming from, it’s full of such men like my father. Greece is in the crossover between Middle East and Europe, and so older people in rural places are still very old fashioned. Things are turning of course, but I’ve already lost something there.

So, don’t give me that shit about how the muslim world is misunderstood. Between the forcing of women in marriage, genital mutilation, honor killings and daily beatings, I dislike that culture more than anything in the world (and ANY culture that doesn’t respect women’s lives), and I hope these men who engage in these actions die a horrible, slow death. Yeah, go ahead and call this blog post a “hate post”. But I’ve been the victim more than once of such behavior in my life, and not only I can’t condone it, but I have no choice but to fight it any way that I can.

Update: To explain this blog post: I certainly don’t mean disrespect to people who live in these countries but are NOT abusive. But what I write here is NOT just about the death of this girl and other honor killings. So please stop emailing me about “how can you criticize 1 billion people when only 1000 can do these things”. You see, what I am criticizing here is the WHOLE women rights problem, and that doesn’t adhere to just 1000 abusive patriarchs, but to about what, 100, 200, 300 million men? That’s a BIG number to simply ignore. You don’t have to kill your daughter for me to dislike you. A simple beating of your wife is enough to put you on the same bag with people I don’t like (this INCLUDES westerners btw). And especially when the government does not recognize equality between males and females, then the whole establishment is wrong, not just “a few people going bad”. And as I said above, I have no choice but to fight that, because I am a woman, and I’ve been there myself.

One man’s hero is another man’s…

“Austrians are locked in a nationwide debate touched off by the brief display in a prestigious Roman Catholic museum of an etching that depicts Jesus Christ and his disciples having a [gay] orgy during the biblical Last Supper”, reports CNN.

Austrians and who ever else is offended by this, should shut up. This is no different than the Muhammad cartoons in Denmark. Depicting someone having sex, or actually depicting someone at all, are all wrong reasons to get angry about. We westerners made fun of the Muslims about the cartoons, but many westerners are not as open minded as they think they are either.

It’s the Church’s right to remove the artwork of course, but don’t go against the artist. If this artist is actually gay, his artwork is nothing more of how he sees Jesus in his eyes. Kind of like the black Jesus and black Madonna that you see in Africa. People CHANGE the way they see God, in order to fit better with their own lifestyle and beliefs. It’s their right to do so, just like it’s the church’s right to remove the artwork. But don’t crucify the artist for seeing the same God in a different light than you do.

Besides, God is a fictional entity (in my opinion), so envisioning him one way or another, is always acceptable. Now, Jesus is quite possibly a historical person, but still, we haven’t really seen him for real, we never saw him on TV or heard him on the radio either. So envisioning him differently than anyone else, is cool too. People should just grow some skin.

Twisting

So, this is the next big thing for those who can’t give up religion: “I see God’s hand at work through the mechanism of evolution”, says Francis Collins, the director of the US National Human Genome Research Institute. So basically, if you are religious and you can’t give it up, and at the same time you can’t refute evolution anymore, that’s the next big argument: God chose evolution.

I guess now Jews didn’t plant the fossils in the 1920s for the scientists to find, and the world is indeed older than 4,000 years? Wow.

YouTube censoring anti-Scientology clips?

A guy claims that youtube’s Anonymous Anonymous videos are all censored. I don’t know if this is true or false, but I know that even on Digg now their posts are “buried” and never see the light of the front page anymore. I don’t know if this is just coincidental, or people had enough of the Anonymous Anonymous group, or if organized Scientologists fight back the same way as the group does. Hopefully Youtube clears up the situation.

Regarding Anonymous Anonymous’ actions, while I fully support their opinions about Scientology, I don’t think they go the right way about it. If they want some action against this for-profit “religion” (for the record: I personally don’t consider it a religion), they should write to their congressman, raise money to post ads, and educate people to not join the cult. Picketing outside the Scientology offices proves and brings nothing at the end. Scientology is what it is, and it’s not going to change, so picketing outside their offices is a waste of time.

My religion

For years I’ve been ranting against organized religions, but I was never comfortable calling myself either an agnostic or an atheist. I couldn’t fit on any of the two types. Tonight, I finally figured out what I truly am.

I am an atheist Christian. Or better yet, an atheist humanist.

I live by the core teachings of Christianity which is forgiveness, love, and occasionally being the good Samaritan when the opportunity arises. I try hard to be what someone would call a “good person”. And at the same time, I don’t believe in the existance of God, or any supernatural power for that matter, or the fairytales of Jesus Christ coming back from the dead (nice trick Peter).

“Religion” should just be a way of life, a code of conduct, a guidance on ethics (as long as these ethics are not abusive or narrow-minded). The old stories, the clergy and the churches never had and will never have a place in my life (or death).

Update: Apparently some have similar beliefs too (not necessarily exactly the same).

Religious fanatism

Thousands of Sudanese, many armed with clubs and knives, rallied Friday in a central square and demanded the execution of a British teacher convicted of insulting Islam for allowing her students to name a teddy bear “Muhammad.” […] The protesters streamed out of mosques after Friday sermons, as pickup trucks with loudspeakers blared messages against Gibbons… […] “Shame, shame on the U.K.,” protesters chanted.

That’s what you get from unintelligent people who are pushed by their religious leaders to go left or right. I mean, think about it. The “official” punishment for this “crime” is 40 lashes. Regardless if this is a fair punishment or not, these guys stormed out of their mosques and demanded execution instead. This just shows people who don’t know what they are doing and are easily convinced by their leaders. They show no personal character.

And no, I have nothing against Muslims. I have everything against religious fanatics though, regardless of religion.

Turkey probes atheist’s ‘God’ book

If Turkey wants to enter the EU, that’s just one of the things they need to fix. You can’t prosecute people just because you don’t agree with them.

Regarding Kabbalah (and other mystical religions)

Jewish tradition holds that Kabbalah is so powerful and complicated that only bonafide students may begin to approach it and then only after age 40. Among the elements of Kabbalah are mystical revelations drawn from holy books by recombination of letters and other signs” writes Associated Press.

Yeah, mystical revelations that you learn after age 40, like “There is no God! Gotcha! Hahaha…”.

I mean come on! How can I take seriously mysticism when it’s meant only for people “who can handle it”? It reminds me of Gentoo Linux. If a religion or tradition or whatever is not meant for everybody, then it holds no merit for me. It’s an ellitistic tradition, and these days it has become yet another way to take money off celebrities.

I mean no disrespect to the people who follow it, but myself as an atheist/agnostic, I have serious doubts about such things especially when I read that it’s selective (although it’s obviously less selective if you have money, otherwise Madonna wouldn’t make the cut — heck, even Britney was allowed to follow it). And reading wikipedia’s Kabbalah article on the explanation of what is God etc, it all sounds gibberish. I can’t believe that people still fall for that in the 21st Century.

However, of course, people should be free to believe and say whatever they like just like I do right now, exercising my right to write down my personal opinion and criticize religions (not just Kabbalah — I have nothing personal against it, in fact I much prefer it over Scientology). Richard Dawkins said it best though, about the right to criticize religion:

Think Negative!

You probably heard of the latest stupid craze in America, “The Secret“. It is a book/film that suggests positive thinking to achieve what you want — a book heavily promoted by Oprah. For example, if you want a parking spot here and now, all you have to do is be optimistic about it and visualize it with your head, and voila, it would be there. It’s like having your average 30-year old housewife mastering the power of the String Theory to bend space and time.

Of course, that’s all gibberish. The trend promotes nothing but a modern twist on superstitions!

Personally, I am a pessimist, and this reflects on my review articles (one of the reasons that some of my readers don’t like me). In fact, I often find optimistic people naive. You see, there is a 50-50 chance that a specific bad thing will or won’t happen. I prefer to believe that it will happen, just so when and if it happens, I would be prepared for it and my world won’t collapse. That’s the way I protect myself. The problem with pessimism though is that it can lead to depression. I am often depressed. But at least I am not naive.