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Wedding bands ehowcomNorman and Joyce Johnson celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary a few days ago in July 2015.

The two grew up in the same area of Sheffield, South Yorkshire, and met early in adolescence.

Joyce was quite taken by Norman. When she found out he was attending night school, she, too, enrolled, although they took different courses.

They were married during the Second World War. Norman requested weekend leave. The ceremony took place on Saturday, and Norman returned on Sunday night.

He was among those safely evacuated from Dunkirk. In his pocket was a photo of Joyce which he’d wrapped in a 100,000 Deutsche Mark banknote to protect it.

Amazingly, although he had to swim to the rescue boat, the banknote and photo survive to this day.

After the war, Norman worked for the English Steel Corporation. Joyce took in laundry.

They have two daughters, Carol and Sue, seven grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.

Although they went through the same life experiences as any other couple of their time, Joyce said:

we lived happily ever after.

Norman explained:

the secret to a long and happy marriage was ‘being easy-going with each other’.

He said: “I can honestly say we’ve never fallen out. We’ve been very happy indeed.

“We’ve done very well really.”

Congratulations to the happy couple!

Let’s take a few pages out of their marital notebook!

Princess Charlotte of Cambridge was christened at the Church of St Mary Magdalene in Sandringham on July 5, 2015.

The newest member of Britain’s Royal Family wore a replica of the christening gown Queen Victoria’s daughter the Princess Royal, also named Victoria, had in 1841. The original is too fragile to be worn.

The Duchess of Cambridge borrowed the pram used by Queen Elizabeth for her children.

Prince George was dressed similarly to his father Prince William when the latter was his age: red shorts and a white shirt with red ornamentation across the chest.

The Daily Telegraph has an excellent set of photos from the day.

The paper also has a diary of events and personalities which is well worth reading.

Rain did not deter a huge crowd from gathering on ‘the paddock’ — public area — outside the church. Some had travelled from the United States. Eighty-year old Terry Hutt made a cross-country journey from Somerset to Norfolk for the occasion. He had also camped out at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington (London) awaiting Charlotte’s birth nine weeks ago.

By the time the ceremony began, summer sunshine abounded.

The Lily Font was used for the first time since 1841. It was created for the Princess Royal Victoria that year. A Kensington Palace tweet explained that the decorations on the font — lilies, water lilies and ivy — represent ‘purity and new life’. The Lily Font is part of the Crown Jewels collection at the Tower of London. A matching ewer was also used. It contained water from the River Jordan.

The Telegraph listed the order of service (see 16:30 entry):

Kensington Palace has released details of the order of service.

The Duke and Duchess have chosen two hymns, Praise to the Lord, The Almighty and Come Down, O Love Divine.

The lesson is from Matthew 18, verses 1-5, read by James Meade.

The anthems are I Will Sing With The Spirit and God Be In My Head, both by John Rutter.

Members of The Sandringham Church Choir are singing at the service.

The processional organ music is R. Vaughan Williams’ Prelude on “Rhosymedre”.

The recessional organ music is G. F. Handel’s Overture and Allegro from Concerto VIII in A.

Matthew 18:1-5 reads as follows:

Who Is the Greatest?

18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me,

The Archbishop of Canterbury, James Welby, performed the baptism — assisted by the Rev Canon Jonathan Riviere, Rector of the Sandringham group of parishes — and gave the sermon (see 17:41 entry). The Archbishop said (in part):

It seems that different forms of ambition are hard wired into almost all of us. At a baptism our ambitions are rightly turned into hopes and prayers for the child, today for Princess Charlotte. Everyone wants something for their children. At our best we seek beauty, not necessarily of form, but of life.

In the reading from Matthew 18, Jesus is trying to turn one kind of ambition, an ambition for place and prestige, into an ambition for a beautiful life. To be great in the Kingdom of Heaven, he tells his very pushy disciples, is not about position but about beauty of life, a life that looks like his, and his example is someone unimportant in those days, a child …

Such beauty of character begins with baptism, and is established in the habits of following and loving Jesus Christ, habits to be learned from parents and God parents, and the whole community of the church.

Let us pray that the Princess grows up to be a model of faith and practice.

A private tea was held afterward at Sandringham. It included the sharing of the top tier of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding cake. This is a heartwarming British tradition. As our wedding cakes are heavy fruit cakes, they keep well, particularly with fondant and royal icing!

On Heidelblog, Dr R Scott Clark recently featured a quote critiquing Pope Francis’s theology.

The quote comes from D C McAllister who writes for The Federalist. Her article is entitled ‘Pope Francis Does Not Get the Gospel’.

I encourage everyone who thinks Jesus’s messages were about economic comfort to read what she has to say in her very thorough examination of the New Testament.

As Catholics and Protestants know, Pope Francis, whilst working in the opulence of the Vatican, plays frequently on middle-class money guilt:

“Poverty is at the very center of the Gospel,” Pope Francis declared. “If we remove poverty from the Gospel, no one would be able to understand anything about the message of Jesus.”

McAllister posits that whilst economic poverty appears in the New Testament, so does spiritual poverty. Spiritual poverty is more important and what Christ came to relieve through His ministry, death on the Cross and overcoming death in His Resurrection.

She writes (emphases mine):

Francis is reminiscent, in some ways, of the disciples in Bethany. While Jesus was there, a woman anointed him with expensive perfume. When the disciples (and especially Judas) saw what she did, they became indignant and said, “Why this waste? This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Jesus rebuked them. “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

To rightly interpret this scene from Matthew 26 (repeated in Mark 14 and John 12) and to understand why putting material poverty at the center of the gospel is so terribly wrong, we need to look at a verse from the Old Testament that Jesus is quoting. When he says, “The poor you will always have with you,” he is referring to a passage in Deuteronomy 15, which tells of canceling debts in Israel every seven years. At that time, every creditor was commanded to cancel any loan made “by a fellow Israelite.” This was not a grace extended to foreigners—only to God’s people. “You may require payment from a foreigner, but you must cancel any debt your fellow Israelite owes you.” If God’s people were perfectly obedient, there wouldn’t be any poor in Israel (although there would be in the rest of the world).

She observes that even Israelites found this hard to obey, and poverty still existed. We have lived in a fault-filled fallen world since the moment of Original Sin.

But, returning to Francis, she says:

Money has nothing to do with the gospel. When Francis says material poverty is integral to the gospel, he is robbing people of the true message of salvation and the grace of Christ. If material poverty is the “center of the gospel,” Christ is no longer at the center of the gospel. Grace is no longer at the center. Only materialism and works. Francis has, with this statement, exchanged the truth for a lie.

E Burns, a Heidelblog reader, hit the nail on the head with his comment, which reads (in part):

Interesting read on the Pope. The social gospel is sadly alive and well. Truly no better than the health wealth prosperity gospel. Whether social or prosperity gospel or the “you always need to do more” gospel, or “be more monk like” gospel or Jesus plus my works gospel or Jesus plus my……fill the blank, it will always fall far and away short of The Biblical Gospel.

Pope Francis has indeed with this statement, exchanged the truth for a lie.

Money won’t buy us happiness, virtue or Salvation, but neither will poverty. Getting the Gospel right is the preeminent theological, Biblical, and life issue humans face. So many false ones out there. So crucial to the very Salvation of a person and properly giving glory to God is this issue, that the apostle Paul declared anyone changing it or otherwise adding to it should be cursed. Even if a sweet sounding angel from heaven should attempt it, we should not listen. Galatians 1:1-10

Economic poverty and, more importantly, spiritual poverty will exist until the end of time. Some of the former occurs because of injustice, corruption and indifference. It can also depend on individuals’ immoderate lifestyle choices which the West tries to correct through the welfare state: ‘Some people cannot help themselves so we need to keep bailing them out for the rest of their lives’.

Logically, some of us would call perpetually taking state taxpayer money for that purpose theft. The welfare state was intended for a hand-up, not a hand-out. It is based on the same principle as the Israelites’ forgiveness of debts every several years. Unfortunately, it has blown out of all proportion.

Pope Francis spends little time talking about grace, but then, the Catholic notion of grace is not viewed doctrinally as a merciful gift from a loving God, but as a state of being involving something one must work for to achieve periodically and ephemerally.

Presumably, Francis can only preach about economic unfairness in order to remain palatable to a worldwide audience. To speak of Christ bringing us salvation as the principal mission of His ministry, death and rising again would offend those of other faiths.

It’s a lamentable state of affairs — worse yet, a false understanding of the Gospel, which is misleading to many.

Admittedly, he’s not the only clergyman guilty of this. I can think of a number of Protestants, too. However, none of them is in the public eye as much as the Pope.

Bible evangewomanblogspotcomThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur (‘Beware of False Prophets’, Parts 1 and 2).

Matthew 7:15-20

A Tree and Its Fruit

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

————————————————————————-

These verses are part of the Sermon on the Mount, the content of which is in Matthew 5, 6 and 7.

This passage ties in with and follows on from last week’s, which concerns the narrow gate.

Jesus tells His audience to beware of false prophets (verse 15) who come in an agreeable appearance — sheep’s clothing — but who are, in reality,  ravenous wolves, evil and soul-destroying.

John MacArthur unpacks what our Lord means. ‘Beware’ is (emphases mine):

a severe word.  Literally, in the Greek it means, hold your mind back from.  Don’t ever expose your mind to the influence of a false prophet.  Don’t pay attention to, give heed to, follow, notice, devote yourself, don’t even put your mind in his vicinity.  They’re dangerous, they pervert the mind, they poison the soul.  You see, we see the results of what they do in 2 Peter: “Many people follow their pernicious ways.” 

He explains ‘sheep’s clothing':

The wool of the sheep, when it was sheared, was made into cloth for garments; the mark of a shepherd was he wore a wool cloak.  Israel is much like California; the evenings are very cold, even in the summer it cools down, and they needed that.  The idea is not that he comes dressed like a sheep; the idea is that he comes dressed like a what?  Shepherd, wearing the garment made from the sheep. Sheep’s clothing is just another term for wool.  And so as the false prophet wore the garment of the prophet, the false shepherd wears the garment of the shepherd.  It isn’t that we’re dealing with a sheep who’s infiltrated, it is that we’re dealing with a shepherd who has infiltrated. 

Britain’s left-wing Fabian Society has a stained glass window which has a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing (image here, above the globe the men are forging). Admittedly, that is a secular image, yet they’re being honest about themselves! Avoid them and all their works, including the Labour Party and London School of Economics! But, I digress.

In verse 16, Jesus says that we will recognise them by their fruits and asks His audience, by way of simple illustration, whether grapes can be gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles. It is impossible. He develops this further by discussing good and bad fruit (verse 17), the former coming from healthy trees and the latter from diseased ones (verse 18).

Diseased trees are cut down and burned (verse 19). In other words, false prophets will be eternally condemned.

Therefore, we can judge prophets — these days, clergy — by their fruits (verse 20). Those bearing bad fruit might be greedy or lustful.

Just as bad if not worse, and increasingly common these days, are those who lead us from the narrow gate. Are they preaching salvation? Are they telling us to repent? Are they encouraging us to examine our sin? Are they preaching Christ crucified? Are they presenting Christ biblically in their sermons? Are they teaching us about the doctrines of grace and mercy? If not, they are wolves.

Liberation theology, economic justice, environmental worship, syncretism (combining other deities with Christianity) and many more postmodern aberrations are signs of wolves.

We have many wolves in our midst, sometimes whole denominations full of errant clergy taught at seminaries which promote false, worldly, un-Christian, unbiblical teachings.

In many ways, many clergy of our era are rather similar to Christ’s era with self-righteous, false, dangerous Pharisees and scribes. Whilst the Jewish leaders of our Lord’s day prescribed legalism for everyone but had lax rules for themselves, our clergy teach us that anything goes. Both are equally bad. Our errant clergy are responsible for leading their flocks to eternal condemnation, unless those people pray for discernment and leave for another congregation with a true shepherd.

In closing, Matthew Henry has this advice for evaluating clergy:

What do they tend to do? What affections and practices will they lead those into, that embrace them? If the doctrine be of God, it will tend to promote serious piety, humility, charity, holiness, and love, with other Christian graces but if, on the contrary, the doctrines these prophets preach have a manifest tendency to make people proud, worldly, and contentious, to make them loose and careless in their conversations, unjust or uncharitable, factious or disturbers of the public peace if it indulge carnal liberty, and take people off from governing themselves and their families by the strict rules of the narrow way, we may conclude, that this persuasion comes not of him that calleth us, Galatians 5:8. This wisdom is from above, James 3:15. Faith and a good conscience are held together, 1 Timothy 1:19,3:9. Note, Doctrines of doubtful disputation must be tried by graces and duties of confessed certainty: those opinions come not from God that lead to sin: but if we cannot know them by their fruits, we must have recourse to the great touchstone, to the law, and to the testimony do they speak according to that rule?

It’s not a sin to walk away from a church with a false prophet — pastor — at its head. In fact, one is doing the right thing provided one continues to pray often and study Scripture during a search for godly preaching.

Ignore false teachers who say you must stay with their churches or you are condemned. They will try to intimidate members of the congregation who see through them. I once knew someone like that. Fortunately, he retired not long afterward. We now have a vicar who preaches and teaches the Word of God.

Next time: Matthew 7:28-29

One of the things I never understood was the viciousness of certain Americans when France refused to join President Bush’s war on terror 14 years ago.

Referring to the French as ‘cheese eating surrender monkeys’ — bouffes-fromage singes capitulaires — was beyond the pale, not to mention renaming French fries as ‘freedom fries’.

If it weren’t for French help during the Revolutionary War, American independence might not have been sustainable.

France spent much more than it gained by helping American patriots. In fact, the country’s national debt ballooned, a situation which eventually contributed to open, bloody revolt — the French Revolution. America pledged future trade with France, but, out of necessity, reneged by 1793 and remained neutral in future conflicts between Britain and France.

France’s motivations for involving themselves in the fate of the former British colonies were to avenge Great Britain’s victory in the Seven Years War and to help America’s Founding Fathers whose brilliance they greatly admired. It could be argued that France and America defined the Enlightenment.

On a practical level, King Louis XVI was concerned that Britain might make certain concessions to the former colonies and that, together, both might unite against French territories in the West Indies. Prior to 1778, the king discouraged his military men from actively helping the Americans. However, the Treaty of Alliance signed that year between France and the United States committed both to achieving America’s full independence, nothing less.

General Lafayette and the French touch

Prior to 1776, the French had been watching American colonists’ independence movement with great interest. They saw it as the perfect embodiment of Enlightenment ideals. A group of French agents began covertly shipping gunpowder to the patriots months before the colonists declared their independence. After the Declaration of Independence was signed, Benjamin Franklin sailed to France in December 1776. He was the toast of Paris, well received wherever he went. Thomas Jefferson was also enthusiastically welcomed on his visits.

By 1777, France was shipping more arms and men to America, although not with the official permission of Louis XVI. The Duc de Choiseul enlisted Frenchmen for army and navy reinforcements. Pierre Charles l’Enfant sailed to the United States to fight with the patriots.

Gilbert du Motier Marquis de Lafayette.PNGSimilarly, the Marquis de Lafayette ignored the king’s orders to not get actively involved and, like l’Enfant, fought with the Americans. He was only 20 years old. However, he had a charming personality and military prowess beyond his years. He served under George Washington and eventually became a combat general. His diplomatic manner helped to legitimise the American cause among Europeans. Wounded in 1778, Lafayette returned to France until he could return in 1780. After the war, he served in France as a parliamentarian for several years. At the behest of President James Monroe, he returned to the United States for a 24-state farewell tour in 1824. He was widely feted during his stay.

Sail Training’s brochure on Lafayette and the reconstructed ship L’Hermione — more about which below — tells us (p. 5):

– Lafayette said of his participation in the American cause: ‘Why not?’ His can-do spirit prompted Americans of the day to call him ‘our Marquis’.

– During his service with George Washington, Lafayette became a trusted, loyal friend of the future first President. He served with distinction, including at the Battle of Brandywine.

– Once he returned to France to recover from war wounds, Lafayette further rallied the French to the patriots’ cause. It was his influence that encouraged Louis XVI to approve France’s formal involvement in the Revolutionary War and recognise the young Marquis as one of Washington’s generals.

L’Hermione and Lafayette’s return

In 1780, Lafayette sailed back to the United States on a new lightweight frigate, L’Hermione.

Lafayette said the ship ‘sailed like a bird’. Less relaxed, no doubt, was the commander, Louis-René de Latouche. Although Latouche was 13 years older than Lafayette, he was already awestruck by the young general’s reputation at home and abroad. He was also very concerned that Lafayette arrive safely in Boston. Describing the journey as ‘agréable‘, he later returned to France where he led a distinguished naval career.

L’Hermione’s arrival in Boston Harbor on April 28, 1780, was met with a 13-gun salute. Lafayette sent word to Washington: ‘Here I am’. The Massachusetts revolutionary council invited Lafayette to spend time with them. Immediately afterward, he went on to meet with Washington and give him the news that he had 5,500 French volunteers and five frigates available.

Meanwhile, the Massachusetts revolutionary council asked Latouche to sail to Penobscot Bay in Maine to check on British strength at Fort George. Latouche completed the week-long mission in May 1780, then sailed to Rhode Island. A few weeks later, L’Hermione was attacked and damaged by HMS Iris in the indecisive Action of 7 June 1780.

In 1781, L’Hermione sailed to Philadelphia. Members of the Congressional Congress toured the ship and paid tribute to her.

By then, Lafayette was on the frontline in Virginia. Employing guerilla techniques, he played a pivotal role not long after in repelling General Cornwallis at Yorktown. L’Hermione was part of the blockade in Chesapeake Bay which sealed the victory and forced the British to surrender.

Lafayette returned to France shortly thereafter. It is prescient that his final words to Washington were ‘Remember your adopted son’. The two never met again. Washington died before Lafayette’s farewell tour in 1824.

In February 1782, L’Hermione returned to France. She sailed to India as part of a squadron to help Suffren fight the British.

When peace was declared after that conflict, the ship sailed back to her home port of Rochefort in April 1784. In September 1793, employed in another French battle with the British, L’Hermione was shipwrecked in stormy seas off Le Croisic in Brittany. A court-martial found her pilot Guillaume Guillemin du Conquet responsible. Commanding officer Captain Martin was honourably acquitted.

The new L’Hermione on tour on the East Coast

L’HermioneHermione - Bordeaux pont de pierre - 2014.jpg captured the imagination to such an extent that a team of shipbuilders and sponsors felt the need to rebuild her.

France’s Centre International de la Mer came up with the idea in 1992 and construction began in 1997.

The new ship, pictured at right, launched in 2012 but underwent subsequent rigourous seaworthy trials in 2014 to ensure she could sail across the Atlantic to the United States. Whilst the build is largely faithful to original plans, certain modern modifications have been necessary.

L’Hermione set sail from La Rochelle on April 18, 2015, and arrived in Yorktown on June 5.

Some readers might have already had a chance to see her in Virginia, Maryland or Philadelphia. L’Hermione is docked in New York City over Independence Day weekend then continues north along the East Coast. The Hermione 2015 website has a schedule of dates. Click on the individual cities and towns in the right hand column for a list of events.

Enjoy the weekend!

I wish all my American readers a very happy Fourth of July.

And, without further ado, here’s a toast to the French touch!

Yesterday I discussed a French cookery show, Dans la peau d’un chef (France2), presented by Christophe Michalak, head pastry chef at Paris’s Hôtel Plaza-Athénée.

That post gave easy suggestions for achieving the French touch on a raspberry tart.

Today’s entry gives Michalak’s tips for piping two colours of crème Chantilly — thick, sweetened whipped cream — on desserts.

Michalak uses a mix of 400g double (heavy) cream, 80g of marscapone, 40g of sweetened condensed milk along with a dash of orange flavouring and vanilla. This thickness creates the perfect consistency for professional piping.

I think I would replace the sweetened condensed milk with an equivalent of icing (powdered) sugar, because I would have to use the remainder of the condensed milk in another dessert right away.

He then divided the whipped cream into two bowls so that he could colour one pink.

You will need disposable piping bags for this recipe.

Michalak used two piping bags which he then put into a slightly larger one for piping. The white cream goes into one of the smaller bags and the pink cream goes into another. Flatten both bags and cut the ends before slipping them one on top of the other into a larger piping bag. Cut the end of the larger piping bag.

Taking the bag into one’s hand, press down to make it balloon-shaped, then start piping the top of the dessert. You might wish to do a short test run on a plate to ensure the colours come out the way they should. Start at the side, work towards the top in a circular manner, and two colours of cream will appear, neatly and separately. It’s absolutely stunning — and, with a bit of practice, not that complicated.

The French touch — demystified and doable!

This video (16:42 minutes long) shows Michalak making Tulipe à la fraise — Strawberry Tulip — which has a fine moulded crust, topped with gianduja (chocolate-hazelnut paste) melted with Rice Krispies, a small amount of cubed strawberries in jam, a scoop of strawberry sherbet and the piped whipped cream. A small slice of strawberry and tiny mint leaf go on top in the centre.

The whipped cream part begins around the 12-minute mark:

Other tips:

1/ The crust — called cigarette pastry — is simple to make: 100g (three or four) beaten egg whites, 100 g icing sugar, 100g of softened butter and 100g of flour with a pinch of salt added. This same pastry is used to make rolled tuiles, similar to cigarettes, as well as the flat rounded-edged langues de chat (cats’ tongues).

2/ When the cigarette pastry has finished baking in rounds on a Silpat or other non-stick silicone sheet, remove them immediately to mould over the tapered bottom of a drinking glass or small bowl. Leave to rest for a few minutes.

3/ When using cigarette pastry for a tart, Michalak puts a small amount of the gianduja-Rice Krispies mix on top of the base of the crust before adding anything creamy. This is so the base remains crisp. You could also use a few biscuit crumbs to achieve the same effect.

If anyone would like me to translate the Tulipe à la fraise recipe, please do not hesitate to let me know in the comments below or on any of my other posts.

When the Cannes sun got too hot late in the afternoon, I normally retreated to our hotel room to watch three television shows: Des chiffres et des lettres (France3’s word-and-numbers game show, the forerunner of Britain’s Countdown), Questions pour un champion (also on France3, a tough but congenial general knowledge quiz) and — in between the two — Dans la peau d’un chef (France2).

One of France’s most famous chefs, Christophe Michalak — head pastry chef at Paris’s Hôtel Plaza-Athénée — presents the show with an equally accomplished guest chef (a different one every week). Michalak and his guest alternate showcasing their recipes with two contestants who then have to make them on their own with minimal help from the chef. The chefs then judge the contestants’ efforts, and the successful home cook wins €1,000. One contestant won €16,000 during May and June 2015.

Dans la peau d’un chef appealed to SpouseMouse and me for two reasons: Michalak demystifies French cooking for the home cook and gives us the secrets behind beautiful presentations! It’s a surprisingly friendly show, given the techniques involved. Admittedly, the contestants find preparing the dishes — one per show — stressful in the time permitted.

In the YouTube episode below (14:35 minutes long), Michalak tells us how to prepare a stunning raspberry tart. It has a base of melted white chocolate and crushed French shortbread biscuits (sablés) topped with a soft sponge with raspberries in it. Homemade raspberry coulis with a dash of Tabasco, a scant teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and a few fresh raspberries mixed in at the last minute act as the ‘glue’ between base and cake as well as the fixative on top of the cake for the fresh raspberries.

In the video Michalak sets aside half the raspberries for the top and dusts them with icing (powdered) sugar. On the finished cake — which he assembles starting at the 10:25 mark — he carefully alternates the dusted raspberries in neat rows with the plain berries. So simple! So striking!

This dusting of berries is quite common on French pastries. We saw it everywhere. Some tarts and cakes had dusted berries on two end rows. Whatever the presentation, we would not have known how it was done unless we’d seen Michalak’s demonstration.

Michalak also gives three other presentation ideas:

1/ Once the base and the cake are assembled one on top of the other, with the last half of the coulis in place for the raspberries, dust the edges with icing sugar. This gives a professional appearance on the sides and around the top.

2/When the berries are in place, intersperse a few slices of fresh coconut between them. Alternatively, this could be a few fine shards or curls of white chocolate or tiny mint leaves.

3/ When placing the tart on the presentation plate, put it at a different angle. Michalak’s cake was a diamond in the middle of a square plate.

With just a few simple techniques we can all recreate the ‘French touch’ for Sunday lunch or a special occasion. 

As France2 and France3 are geolocalised, Dans la peau d’un chef is not available for general global viewing. The YouTube videos are the most one can see.

One of the amusing things from this episode from June 16, 2015, was that the champion that week, Barbara, did not care for desserts much less making them! We are most curious as to how she got on in the following week.

In closing, Francophones can find the recipes on the France2 site. Anyone who would like to have me translate this particular recipe can get in touch in the comments below or on any other post.

Following up briefly on my recent criticism of sexist language, particularly in BBC2’s Chefs on Trial, the remaining eight episodes of the show aired in June 2015.

The show’s presenter, Alex Polizzi, a very successful female British hotelier and entrepreneur, couldn’t stop calling the male contestants ‘darling’.

Yet — yet — she certainly had a go at one of the prospective chefs interviewing at Amélie’s in Porthleven, Cornwall. When asked about his dish by the restaurant’s female proprietor, he called her ‘love’ during his explanation.

Polizzi jumped in and gave this guy a piece of her mind. After he returned to the kitchen, she expressed her incredulity as to how a male job candidate had the brass neck to call his potential employer ‘love’.

In principle, she’s right.

Yet — yet — she called all the candidates ‘darling’ throughout the week, including the offending candidate!

She continued with this appalling behaviour in the final four episodes of the show which featured the Indian restaurant Potli in London.

Double standards — sexist ones — seem acceptable for Polizzi. Is it because she comes from the wealthy Forte family? Did she consider the male applicants as little people who were beneath her?

I found her broad smile particularly brittle and artificial. To make it worse, sometimes she came across as coldly paternal, at others, gently maternal. In the final episode at Potli, she bluntly announced that one of the three finalists would be eliminated after the first course, then asked, ‘Is that okay?’ As if anyone could have — or would have — objected!

The juxtaposition of these mixed messages in her manner were offputting and started overshadowing the programme, which was very well made. One couldn’t help but wish all the candidates all the best in their careers.

Advice for Ms Polizzi: address others in the way you would like to be addressed. If you’re going to call men you don’t know ‘darling’, don’t be surprised when they call a woman they don’t know ‘love’.

It’s been a long time since I’ve tagged a post with ‘Church of Gaia’.

Yet, this syncretic sinfulness remains alive and well.

My reader Underground Pewster recently wrote about prayer petitions from the Episcopal Church’s Blue Book, likely to be used at their General Convention which started on June 25, 2015 and ends on July 3, 2015.

What he cites reads as if it were written by people who have a death wish for humanity (emphases in the original):

Most of what follows comes from the SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIALS From the STANDING COMMISSION ON LITURGY AND MUSIC (SCLM)

A Litany for the Planet: 

On rocks and minerals that form the foundations for life,
Creator, have mercy.
On volcanoes and lava flows that reveal the power of earth’s core,
Creator, have mercy…

I for one pray that God will show no mercy on volcanoes and lava flows. Was that prayer written by the guys who run the lava flow cruises or helicopter rides in Hawaii?

On micro-organisms of endless variety, the complex and the simple,
Creator, have mercy (
pp 248-9)

I hoped this one would go away when I pointed it out three years ago, but I guess we will soon be praying for multidrug resistant tuberculosis along with botulism, salmonella, and HIV.

Too right! What are these people thinking?

And it gets worse. The Blue Book promotes syncretism — combining Christianity with other religions’ deities — strictly anathema. In this case, the Episcopal Church has a prayer to the Native American Great Spirit, Gitchi Manadoo. It can be found in the Blue Book on p. 243 in “Prayers of the People Honoring God in Creation”, Form 2. Briefly:

[Gichi Manidoo,] Great Spirit God,
we give you thanks for another day on this earth.
We give you thanks for this day
to enjoy the compassionate goodness of you, our Creator.

Whoa!

Underground Pewster investigated further and discovered the following information on native-languages.org. Two brief excerpts follow, with more on Pewster’s admirable post:

Gitchi Manitou is the great creator god of the Anishinaabe and many neighboring Algonquian tribes. The name literally means Great Spirit, a common phrase used to address God in many Native American cultures.
As in other Algonquian tribes, the Great Spirit is abstract, benevolent, does not directly interact with humans, and is rarely if ever personified in Anishinabe myths–

Also:

It is Gitchi Manitou who created the world, though some details of making the world as we know it today were delegated to the culture hero Nanabozho.

Hmm.

We do need to be careful about whom we are addressing our prayers and supplications. Although certain tribes consider the Great Spirit and the Christian God to be the same, He is not.

Another thing Episcopalians would do well to remember is that (emphases mine in purple):

the same SCLM geniuses who are foisting Gitchi Manitou on us are the ones who prepared the liturgies for same sex marriages

Underground Pewster followed this post up with a round-up of Episcopalian Summer Solstice services which appeal to their inner Druid.

To show the falsehood of such services, Pewster has helpfully provided a lengthy quote from St Augustine of Hippo’s Confessions, part of which is cited below. Those unfamiliar with Augustine’s personal story should note that he came to Christianity well into adulthood after years of libertinism and paganism. This is part of what he wrote about Creation:

I asked the earth; and it answered, “I am not He;” and whatsoever are therein made the same confession. I asked the sea and the deeps, and the creeping things that lived, and they replied, “We are not thy God, seek higher than we.” … I asked the heavens, the sun, moon, and stars: “Neither,” say they, “are we the God whom thou seekest.” And I answered unto all these things which stand about the door of my flesh, “Ye have told me concerning my God, that ye are not He; tell me something about Him.” And with a loud voice they exclaimed, “He made us.” … I asked the vast bulk of the earth of my God, and it answered me, “I am not He, but He made me.”

As Christians, it is essential that we remember the Creation story in Genesis, Jesus’s references to God as Creator in the Gospels and keep St Augustine’s quote in the forefront of our minds.

May we never fall into the trap of syncretic worship and break the First Commandment.

God speaks pinkerwjhharvardeduOne of my readers, LCMS member Brad Grierson, recently wrote a short but essential post on pastors’ sermons, ‘Jesus is not a cameo guest star’.

A brief excerpt follows:

Too many pastors treat Jesus as the cameo guest star. It’s absolutely amazing how these so called pastors can spend over an hour preaching on finances or good sex and never touch the gospel. They just bring Jesus out, bound and gagged mind you so that he doesn’t interfere with the message, and say, “Hey look, it’s Jesus,” thereby giving the impression that the Son of God actually approves of what is being said despite having absolutely nothing to do with him.

I couldn’t agree more. I have heard too many modern sermons from Protestant and Catholic clergymen alike who shoehorn Jesus into their preaching as if a mere mention — a sentence or two — will do. And, as Brad Grierson says, the clergyperson might be falsely linking Jesus’s sayings with unbiblical concepts.

Grierson’s advice is to hightail it out of churches where the Word is not preached. Where the Word is not preached, the Gospel is lacking.

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