Monday, October 29, 2007

Red Beans And Rice And Bishop Katharine

When I saw the post at OCICBW about Bishop Katharine, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, mentioning red beans and rice in a sermon in Dearborn, Michigan, I thought surely that it was a joke, but, indeed, it is not.

From Episcopal Life via MadPriest:

The Executive Council is meeting in a hotel not too far away, and usually when we meet in hotels we're not the only group there. When we met in Chicago last year there was a convention of North American Roman Catholic nuns. This time it's a missionary Baptist gathering. I was walking through the convention center yesterday morning, and some of the doors to the meeting rooms were open. One group was hearing about family ministry, and from another room came a booming voice talking about prayer. He said, with the wonderful cadence of the best of Baptist preaching, "fasting and prayer go together like red beans and rice."

And of course, he's right. Fasting is enriched and made meaningful through prayer, and prayer becomes deeper when it's connected to some kind of fasting. And the combination of beans and rice is significant -- in order to get a complete protein, you have to eat them together -- either one alone is incomplete, and a healthy diet needs both. The same is true for prayer and fasting.

But the more I thought about that image, the richer it became. There's a wonderful irony in comparing fasting to eating. Particularly when you think about the emotional aura around red beans and rice -- it's not just survival food, it's the kind of comfort food you bring out for a feast, like those great and abundant images of the heavenly banquet. In a deeply real sense, we can't know the gift of either fasting or feasting without the other -- the feast that comes at the end of Lent is a greater joy when we've really fasted. The daily evening feast in the month of Ramadan is spiced by the discipline of fasting through the sunlit hours. Prayer is deepened through fasting, both the prayer of desire and hunger, and the prayer of gratitude at being filled.

Then, Bishop Katharine continues on to preach about the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. I'll let you go to Episcopal Life to see how she connects one to the other.

Now MadPriest believes that this sermon is conclusive proof that the PB is a secret reader of OCICBW. Again, stooping to quote myself, I said this in the comments over there, with only the barest trace of irony:

Of course, the Baptist preacher and her visit to New Orleans had nothing to do with the PB's forming the rich image of a heavenly banquet consisting of red beans and rice. It is definite confirmation that she reads OCICBW.

The PB's recipe is surely not for eating.

Yes, please, do not eat the red beans, if you use the recipe for cooking them in the cartoon over there.


  1. Well, let's hope she reads the Mad One. Even in his strangest posts he makes more sense than almost anything that comes out of the primates' meetings. But we'll know for sure if she starts referring to herself as the "Grand Tuftina".

  2. You need to include something else distinctive in a post and in posting it suggest that KJS include it in a forthcoming sermon. In the unlikely event this happens, you'll have a better idea, won't you?

    The Trinity of Barbecue (Mustard, Vinegar,Tomato) might be pushing it just a bit, I suppose - doubt Julian of Norwich had much to say on this, tho' there is that Bernini statue of the angel chomping on one of St. Teresa's ribs that you posted a week or so back. What, I wonder, was the sauce?

  3. John, indeed!

    Lapin, what about the trinity of jambalaya, crawfish etoufée, and gumbo. Would that work?

  4. Perfect! And if she followed up on it, it would get the ChristiaNazis over on the right-wing blogs in SUCH a snit! They've still got 'em in a more or less permanent wad over the "Mother" business.

    Back in my earlier days, when I was suffering from Avatar Insecurity, I briefly toyed with a late-medieval stained glass fragment - the original is at Long Melford in Suffolk, a very distinguished church. The fragment shows three rabbits. Some hypothesize that this is a representation of the Holy Trinity, tho' the notion of the Trinity as three conjoined bunnies sounds a bit shaky to me, even for the late middle ages.

  5. Would you call that window bizarre, Lapin? :-)

  6. That was the thought behind it, Susan.

  7. Lapin, your suggestion about mustard, vinegar, and tomato making one barbecue sauce is no more ridiculous than all those proofs of the Trinity Augustine included in that mind-numbing De Trinitate. And definitely much tastier.

    Maybe you could do a culinary update of the Athanasian Creed....



Anonymous commenters, please sign a name, any name, to distinguish one anonymous commenter from another. Thank you.