Saturday, May 12, 2012

Screw in the Pew: Redeeming (Grace) Qualities

When I started this series I loosely swore to uphold a general aura of propriety and perspective: I am not out to review churches--I am out to have an experience and further my spiritual journey (that smacked of 1/3 hippy, two parts liberal and a smattering of kook).

I do have to be honest and open, however, and honest and open I would not be lest I provided a little background.

I don't have a positive history with Baptist churches. I've been in Methodist, Episcopal, Pentecostal, Jewish, Presbyterian--you name it--but the Baptist and I have not seen eye to eye for a very, very long time.

The last time I set foot in a Baptist church was 2 years ago and I wrote the pastor an email that, while I wouldn't earmark as nasty, was at the least stern and accusatory. I'll tell you why.

One, I am the child of a divorced, single parent who chose to become a pastor. Two, said parent decided it would be in my best interest to attend private school to complete my education. I was taught a lot more than your basic reading, writing, and Aramaic.

At fourteen, I was already the height and shape I am today (minus, er, a few pounds), I wore the same amount of makeup, and had absolutely no appreciation for the word "censor." I also feigned confidence and said whatever the hell it was I wanted to say (including "whatever the hell"). I think Mom had a clue that I wouldn't be meeting anyone else like me at this school. She timidly counselled me that the other girls would probably be fresh faced, Noxema-washed girls with bobby socks and Keds.

That all turned out to be true. A great majority of them were also from Heritage Baptist church. I learned a few things my first year of High School:

1. If you're different, you ain't right.

2. If you're a female, you absolutely need your dad, husband, minister, or a combination of all to tell you what to do at all times or you're in a serious amount of trouble since women are inherently evil.

3. If you speak in tongues, you might be demon possessed.

4. If you raise your hands in church, you might be demon possessed.

5. If you listen to anything but Christian music, you might be demon possessed.

6. If you associate with anyone who is demon possessed you might be demon possessed.

7. Pride and gossip, perfectly wrapped in the trappings of insincerity, will never imply demonic possession and is actually encouraged.

8. It's perfectly fine to identify others as having issues and persecute them daily while never admitting or repenting of your own.

9. Some will be happy to pray for you and quote Scripture to you while ripping your own set of values to absolute shreds--with a smile and sometimes a hug.

10. Adults can and will be total assholes to minors in the name of Jesus.

I realize, of course, that not all Baptists are like this. But understand if you will that just as everyone has their own prejudice based on experience, I harbor mine. This persecution and experience only continued after High School because I reside in Lynchburg, Virginia.

I won't tell you I've been in a ton of Baptist churches, but it seems to me that I cannot attend one without hearing at least one of two things: Baptists have cornered the market on doctrine and women should under no circumstances be leaders in the church.

I got to hear both at Redeeming Grace church Sunday morning.

The pastor based his sermon on John 16 and I will not mislead you by communicating that his sermon was about these two things. It was, rather, concerning how Jesus would send the Holy Spirit to guide us after his departure:

"12 “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

However, he was able to use this to keenly instill in an already aware congregation that women should not be leaders in the church. He also presented an interesting question: if Christ said the above, then how is it that we have different denominations? 

In my hearty discrimination, of course, what I heard was,"How can everyone else be so wrong when we are so obviously correct about anything and everything?"

I appreciated the fact that he admitted he didn't know the answer for sure, but I also have to note that I found some of his assertions contradictory. For instance, he stated that people who do not confess that the Bible is the inherent Word of God are not saved. I am probably one of those people. I believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. However, I also believe that men wrote the Bible and are subject to the same scrutiny--did the Holy Spirit perfectly communicate to them? 

How is it that we are still convinced that women should not be leaders in the church? I suppose the better question in my mind would be, how are women on board with this idea? And can we stop blaming the desire to lead and instruct others on the feminist movement (which, of course, he did)? Women did not wake up to the possibility that they were worthy of basic human rights in the 1960's in America. That is the most dumbass, absurd, ignorant idea propagated by churches--that homosexuality and feminism somehow manifested in the last 100 years in America just to attack the church. I had a Liberty student tell me once that homosexuality had only really become prominent in the last 100 years in America. 

I was like,"Um, just a question--do you know where the word 'lesbian' comes from?" 

The best question may be, if there is a possibility that by having it wrong, an entire people group is restricted to responding to a call from God to leadership and authority in the church, why wouldn't you pursue a more gracious interpretation of a few passages in the Bible? 

But this line of thinking can be extended to any number of things and create a slippery slope into heresy. Of course. Danger lies within this reason. Do not enter. Do not pass go. Do NOT go in there....WOOO! (Ace Venture quote complimentary of High School days).

I did wait until the service was over and then I left. And upon attempting to shake off my offense, like so many times before I assented to the assumption that Baptist's intentions are good. They raise nice families in nice neighborhoods and earnestly desire to create a righteous heritage for their families and community.

The dictionary defines grace as "a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior." My Mom always told me it was often more important to be gracious than to be right. 

Perhaps that is the one redeeming quality she instilled in an otherwise demon possessed offspring. 

How to get Free Herb Downtown

I've heard it say the best things in life are free. I'm not sure if that's always true but I do know this: you can get free herb in Downtown Lynchburg. And like Martha Stewart said--it's a good thing.

I'm a fan of Bedford Avenue Meat Shop. There are several reasons for this. I'm not a big meat eater, but when I do eat meat, I'd like to think it's healthy. It is more expensive, but if you're attempting to eat better then you're eating less and more quality. It's important for me to know what I'm getting as well so, just so you know, "all natural" embodies more than a few factors:

The animals are raised humanely. 

The meat is lower in fat.

There are less chemicals and pesticides. 

There are more vitamins A, E, and Omega 3's

It tastes better. 

And now Bedford Avenue Meat Shop has added a bonus feature--an herb wall with free clippings. You can add them to oils or use them in cooking. I'll attest to the fact they are super fresh and green. They smell absolutely fabulous. They offer basil, cilantro, oregano, dill, and 18 other varieties.

Be sure to watch for my recipe madness....

Friday, May 4, 2012

El Lucy

Since cheese is my favorite food is it any wonder that I love Mexican food?

Here is a picture of me at Mi Patron, my favorite Mexican restaurant, getting a surprise cream to the face on my 30th birthday. I know, I know, it's hard to believe I'm a day over 25.

It seems that La Carreta has been the top Mexican restaurant in Lynchburg for, what, 10 years straight? It's always busy and popular with a variety of demographics although I'll say I've observed the most interesting folk at the location on Langhorne Road. I order the Pollo Loco or a few tacos. I don't enjoy the tomato sauce they pour over the combination dinners. 

I've made a game of trying everything on Mi Patron's menu. I wonder how many folk just order the same thing every time or the standard combo meal. I've ordered the T-Bone steak, spinach enchiladas, and don't be deceived: the doritos special doesn't actually involve Doritos. 

This Cinco de Mayo I will probably spend my time at the El Cazador in Gretna. You can read my candid reviews of other Mexican restaurants in the area on Yelp.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Who Wants to Help Screw Lucy-fer?

Peaks of Otter Wine: some people love it, some people hate it. For those haters among us I say when life gives you lemons make lemonade wine.

The biggest issue that haters have with Peaks wine is that it's too sweet. My thoughts are, why not use Peaks wine to make mixed drinks? Mixed drinks are supposed to be sweet, right?

My first idea for a mixed drink is create a signature Screw Lucy-ifer Bloody Mary which would involve T.C. Trotters Moose Mix and Kiss-the-Devil wine for a truly local beverage (if you think you can handle it). Other ideas are to mix drinks, sans liquor add wine, for a new twist on standard drinks:

Strawberry Shortcake Daiquiri

Puff the Russian Dragon

Irish Cafe Vino

Peach on the Beach

Nuts and Blueberry Muffin

This recipes experimentation will happen soon. The question is, will you be involved?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Despite a lapse for the last few years, I have always purchased vanity plates. It's really a basic requirement for a shameless self promoter. I have considered donating them to a few local restaurants (can you name a few that have plate decor? I can think of 2 right off the bat) but haven't gotten around to digging them out of storage. Of course, my very first vanity plate is something I will never give away: they are signed by the lead singer of Def Leppard and celebrate my favorite band very obviously by proclaiming the name of my favorite album-- ADRNLIZ.

Of course, no one understood what this meant so strangers usually called me Adrian Liz.

I usually either tried to sum up a year or describe a value. One of my more laughable plates was W82M8. I didn't get a lot of dates that year.

There are folks around town who are ambiguously famous. What I mean by this of course is that we have all seen their vanity plates around town and we have no idea who they are. But when we see them we say,"Oh there goes the IZ guy." It certainly doesn't hurt that the IZ guy also drives flashy sports cars. His most recent is a black BMW. His most memorable was a yellow Corvette.

Then we have the people who put their name on their plates (a family member is guilty of this one), the ode-to people (country living, race car drivers, etc), and the people who want you to know they have been a mee maw 3 times.

Then we have the clever group of folk who make their plates difficult to discern. But I have never seen one I haven't guessed. It's another talent wasted.

But alas, this is Lynchburg, so you realize there is at least one Holy Vanity for every other 3 types. Some are more creative than others but you know them when you see them. They are all over the place. Whether generic (I LUV GD) or doctrinal (HECMNBK) if you're paying attention you can see at least one a day.

Tell me I'm wrong. Try it for a week, then tell me I'm wrong.

As for me, I purchased my first vanity plate in a while (due to poverty not lack of narcissism) last year. It unfortunately fits into the memorial category.

I'll be sticking with it for quite some time.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Favorite Place to Take Old People

My Grandmother willingly volunteers to anyone within earshot that I neglect her. I don't mind strangers receiving this information, but she tells my friends and then, later on, they scold me. The conversation goes something like this:

Friend: "Oh your Grandmother is so sweet! Why don't you spend more time with her?"

Me: "You don't see the big picture."

Friend: "She just wants someone to pay attention to her and listen to her. Can't you spend more time with her."

Me: "You don't see the big picture."

Friend: "If I were you, I would spend more time with your Grandmother."

Me: "Bitch. Please."

Once at a yard sale a woman practically beat me up because of some fabrication of truth my Grandmother--in front of me mind you--told some stranger. I almost committed elderly abuse in public that day but just left for the weekend instead.

The truth is, I live with my Grandmother as a courtesy to her, so I can ensure her safety. I am the only single member of the already meager family and anyone who is single realizes that, with absence of children and husband, you are automatically volunteered for these positions since "you have nothing to do."

Never mind I spend 8 hours on the road alone each week and have around 4 hours a day to do laundry, chores, errands, eat dinner, write, and finish (FINISH--HA!) any other thing I need to do. No one does mind this--not a Grandmother nor a judgmental friend.

But believe it or not, when time is made (and duties neglected...or more often SLEEP neglected) I do enjoy spending time with Grandma. I usually squeeze in several Scrabble games a week and today, I committed myself to neglecting the gym so that I could go straight home and assist her with gardening. By "assist" I mean that I handed her flowers: I am not a fan of dirt, bugs, or heat. The people I work with find this abhorrent (this is me, restraining myself from mentioning what I find abhorrent about them).

Then I decided to ask her to go out to eat. This is generally something she doesn't do--something about her teeth not working correctly--but despite her non-existent appetite this evening she decided to go.

We go to Country Kitchen on Lakeside Drive. This establishment has no credit card reader and still naively accepts checks from strangers with a smile. It is also full of old people. And a few Harley riders. And very competent waitresses. And it's cheap.

By the way, when I do spend time with Grandma she talks about how I don't spend time with her. And at this point I'm so used to it that I hardly pay attention. I redirect the conversation and it goes something like this: quilts, house repairs, hemorrhoids, do I owe her money, gardening, how I neglect my dog, she needs new teeth, do I owe her money, where is her (insert random item of the week), dry skin, do I owe her money.

And no, I don't owe her money. And no, I don't neglect my dog: she overfeeds and babies my dog (remind me to tell you the heating pad story).

We order--me, chicken and dumplings with a side of turnip greens and cottage cheese her, beef tips with gravy and whipped potatoes with peas.

She reminds me she won't be around for long. And I know. I remind her if she'd give me all her money now, I can quit my job and devote days to painting the dog's nails and chauffeuring her around. She asks me if I owe her any money.

I don't owe her any money but she owes me: I paid for dinner. Then after dinner I took her to one of my other favorite places to take old people--CVS. I bought Eucerin and hemorrhoid wipes for her. I really tried to talk her into adult diapers but only because I secretly want to borrow them so I don't have to get up to use the bathroom at night.

Then I dropped her off so I could go write this blog. She doesn't understand what blogging is, only that it's something that depletes her time with me. She admonishes me to come home as soon as I can.

I wait to make sure she gets in the house safely, then advise God that He need not admonish her in the same way.

Then I ask Him if He owes me any money.