Monday, April 29, 2013

Lenten Lolz: The Recipe Edition!

This is the last edition of Lenten Lolz, as we are now in Holy Week and things are going to be OMGBUSY for me between services every night and preparing for finals. Without further ado, I give you The Recipes:

In the Orthodox Church, Lent means fasting. And fasting means coming up with creative ways to make lentils taste better. In Great Lent Unplugged, Jean Hoefling gives us an entire chapter dedicated to helpful Lenten recipes.

We have Air Tacos. In making air tacos, one swoops a taco shell through the air, hoping to pick up leftover prayers and chapters of Isaiah. It’s simple, delicious, and fun to make.

A classic is a Crust of Dry Bread and Melancholy Glass of Water. The penitence in this meal is palpable.

Hoefling discusses the Semi-Festive Bean Thing, known better as “plaki”. Green beans of all types drowning in tomato sauce and onions. We are given a passage from Proverbs on the Semi-Festive Bean Thing.

How long, O Lenten fasters, will you love this bean obsession? Behold, I will pour out my thoughts to you. There will come a time when you will call upon me, but I will not answer. I will be overcooked, with runny broth, or burnt on the bottom of the crock. They will seek me diligently, but I will not answer, for I will be turned into roast lamb and 27 platters of baklava on Pascha morning.

My favorite, by far, is the recipe designed to last through Holy Week. During Holy Week, there are services every night, at 7, no matter how many people pretend to not know when service is going to start, and that’s why they were late. If you’re interested in getting to church on time, a quick meal is always welcome. Thus, we have Large Vegetable Sitting By Itself. By taking a large vegetable (Hoefling recommends a pumpkin), cooking it whole, and plopping it on the table, one can have a center piece and something to eat every time you run by to go to church again.

On the subject of fasting, my priest likes to tell us of a conversation he had with a woman during the Lenten season. She mentioned how easy it was to fast every year. Fr. Jon asked why.

“Oh, I’m already a vegan. I eat like this all year.”

Fr. Jon tried, to no avail, to explain to her that the point of fasting was sacrifice, and perhaps she should find something else to give up. It went over her head.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go buy a pumpkin.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Entry 70 Predictions

Lenten Lolz Part 3

The end of Great Lent Unplugged gets increasingly serious. Jean Hoefling may love a good laugh, but she also, as pointed out initially, realizes that “IT’S THE REPENTANCE STUPID”. However, we still get a few lulz.

The Ladder of St. Climacus is an icon showing the “ladder to heaven”, surrounded by demons attempting to shove people off, because there’s nothing worse than Stair-Pusher-Downers.

Surrounding them on all sides is a host of weasel-faced, anorexic hobgoblins in ballet tights. These wield toy bows and arrows, salad tongs and kite string against the climbers, in a fiendish ploy to drag them down to…wait a minute. Salad tongs? Everyone knows certified demons carry pitchforks, or for reasons of economy, fistfuls of fiery darts. We are undoubtedly dealing with unlicensed demons here. One poor pilgrim has succumbed and fallen head first into a beanbag chair on the desert floor. In icon code this head-in-the-bean-bag-chair is some sort of hell image, suggesting in a symbolic way that in hell everyone’s head is stuck in a beanbag chair.

Hoefling even designs her own “Ladder of Divine Ascent Interactive Icon Game” to use for evangelism.

Fun and natural way to explain Hell’s Bean Bag Chairs to Unsaved Neighbors!

Further on, during a description of what happens when one converts, and the classes involved, Hoefling gives us a few examples of where their converts are coming from.

Fundamental Fundamentalist Fundamentalism, Cogent Calvinism, Feel-Frothy Faith, Rabid Reformity, Liturgical Washouts, all survivors of Cultural Relevance, Theme Sundays, Happy Churches, Being Born Again, Have You Got the Victory, and whatever that thing is we don’t like about Thomas Aquinas.

Tune in next week to hear about some fantastic Lenten meals!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Lenten Lolz Part 2

In my reading of Great Lent Unplugged, I've discovered Jean Hoefling loves anachronisms. Take, for example, her description of Jesus teaching his disciples.

"Tell us again," James or John would beg, "about Satan's faulty logic, pansy haircut and the fake forked tail he wore taped to his fleece devil suit. And don't forget to mention the gold lamé cape everyone knows is completely overstated for an afternoon temptation." "...and please go into vivid detail about the cape ripping on the pinnacle during one of his most hilarious temptation lines. We thrill especially to the part where he dangled by the ripped cape 700 feet over the Kidron Valley."

Sometimes these anachronisms are more subtle.

To the Celts, life was a rowdy adventure full of talking too loud, interrupting people, and making fun of pointless religions. Thankfully, there were no editors of the National Geographic around at the time to be scandalized by such politically-incorrect zeal.

We also get an interesting version of St. Columba's antics.

"Round up the catechumens!" he'd shout to his assistants, "We'll illumine a few right now under this blessed, lightening-scarred oak tree." At this everyone would tremble, for all present knew that Broichan, the local druid wizard, had already reserved that tree for morning incantations and a rhubarb pie-eating contest. "Fiddle-dee-dee!" St. Columba would chortle merrily, and go right on with the baptisms. 

Presumably St. Columba was the medieval version of the Internet troll.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Lenten LOLz, Part 1

Great Lent Unplugged, by Jean Hoefling, is a guide for those hapless Western converts to the Orthodox Church preparing for the fasting season that is Lent. The conventions the "cradle Orthodox" (as the author calls them) take for granted are endless sources of wonder for those of us raised to be toe-tapping, casserole-loving Baptists (or variations thereof-the point is, casseroles are a must). Hoefling (a convert herself) manages to laugh joyfully over these conventions while portraying the beauty that can come with Lent.

Apparently the founders of the Church were not overly fond of laughter, which Hoefling acknowledges, then promptly goes out of her way to make the reader laugh anyways. Christians have as much to laugh about as to be somber about.

I decided to pull out some gems while reading this book, because when something from a book about Lent makes you laugh loud enough to cause people to look at you in concern, it must be shared.

     Like the cumin-tithing Pharisees of old, it is easy to get wound up about bonbons and butterfat and forget the Great Lent is first and foremost about abstaining from sin. This is where the Church Fathers' Lenten tee shirt idea comes in. At one of the Councils, someone proposed a somber repentance-purple tee shirt to be worn by all Faithful during Lent. It was to be inscribed in black upper case: "IT’S THE REPENTANCE, STUPID."

     But so many ask me: "It's all fine and well to ponder bloodless Eden by the hour, but how does one actually get started on that first fast? What is the key to dealing with long-term celery?" To help answer these questions, I asked several seasoned fasters in our parish for words of encouragement to people just entering the process. Their answers were varied: "Giving up happy hour is a killer."

     New Orthodox must fix this rule sternly within their hearts: animals eaten during Great Lent must be completely devoid of backbones. There is something about backbones that drove the Church Fathers crazy at the merest thought of them. This is why they organized the Synod for the Dismissal of Backbones: "Lent is to be free at last from those incessant and irritating backbones that pop up everywhere," the Holy Fathers decided. "We are so annoyed by them it is interfering with our theosis. We don’t want the Faithful uttering the word during Lent. Nobody back in Eden wanted backbones around, and neither do we." 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I haven't done a Marble Hornets predictions post in a while, so...

We are approaching Entry #69, which means we've been at this a long time, and there are going to be many, many dirty jokes over on the Unfiction forums.

But apart from the fact that mentioning "69" turns everyone into middle schoolers, we have a few tantalizing clues.

We know that Jay and Tim are in hiding from Psycho!Alex. We know they are looking for something. We know that Alex is looking for them, and that Hoody apparently finds this all hilarious. We have a picture of Tim (the actor) doing a balancing act over that log from Entry #21. We just recently got an unspoilery screenshot from The Great and Powerful Troy, which shows an unshaven, disreputable Jay gazing out into the distance in the middle of the woods.

What does it all mean? Well, that's what I'm here to tell you.

Clearly Tim and Jay have returned to the Woods of Filming to return to the red tower. Why? Because it's the only clue they have, and the only place that Trosephim are allowed to hang around now, because authorities don't like amateur filmmakers anymore than the Slender Man does.

Jay will climb the ladder, because hey, why not. He begins to contemplate the forest, such as how trees are everywhere, and dirt is a precious commodity to the American economy. Alex arrives on the scene, and gets into scuffle with Tim. Hoody arrives as well, and naturally The Operator shows up to save Alex again, because Alex just keeps getting into these sorts of things, he doesn't know why, he's just a rebellious kid, and Hoody flees and Tim starts turning into BatTim Masky. Jay will have a sudden revelation on the nature of grass and fall out of the tower in surprise, crushing Alex. The Operator shakes his fist and flees, and a good time is had by all.